My Brain on NASCAR: Talladega is home of ‘the big one’

col-cathyelliottIf the success or failure of an event — oh, let’s say a NASCAR weekend, for example – can be measured by the sum of its many moving parts, then the May 7 race at Talladega Superspeedway was an official doozy.

Daytona International Speedway, despite all its glory and success, didn’t quite satisfy its builder, NASCAR co-founder Bill France, Sr. He wanted something bigger. So, after failing to secure a location in the Raleigh, NC area, in 1968 he ended up breaking ground on an old airfield in Alabama, officially giving birth to NASCAR’s longest, fastest and arguably most dangerous track.

Talladega Superspeedway is, in pretty much every way you can think of, literally “the big one.”

The Geico 500 on May 7 race was no exception. The wrecking ball started rolling during qualifying, when Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., driving the No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing, won the pole position, only the second of his career.
That was pretty exciting. Despite his obvious talent behind the wheel, Stenhouse hasn’t quite managed to reach the levels of success and fan popularity enjoyed by some of NASCAR’s other “young guns,” most notably our usual suspects, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. Winning the starting spot at Talladega was a great moment for him … except for the small issue of who he took it from.

In what has unfortunately become Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s farewell tour, Stenhouse’s moment in the sun clouded up the day for many fans when he snatched the pole from Junior and held onto it. For Stenhouse, whose career to date hasn’t exactly been full of stellar moments — although mark my words, that’s going to change — the moment was definitely a big one.

No doubt many fans assuaged their disappointment, as so many of us are wont to do, with food. A relatively new menu item available at the track concession stands for the low, low price of only $12 is a monstrous meatball featuring a center of blended mozzarella and pepper jack cheesed mixed with pulled barbequed pork.

It is then coved by a layer of ground beef and rolled in a panko bread crumb and parmesan cheese mixture before being — wait for it — deep fried and finished off with a dollop of barbeque sauce and a spaghetti garnish.

It even has a Fred Sanford-worthy name: the “Big One.” (Insert your own “Get ready, Elizabeth, I’m coming to join you” joke here.)

The race itself did not disappoint. With fewer than 20 laps remaining, a massive wreck sent several cars flying through the air, taking out nearly half of the remaining field.

Wrecks like this are the rule rather than the exception at Talladega, delighting some and horrifying others. Sad to say, for some fans a carnage-free race at the legendary track is somewhat of a wasted day, but happily, no one was seriously injured.

In the closing laps, it looked like Kyle Busch would cruise his way to the win until Ryan Newman wrecked on the backstretch and sent the race to overtime. Stenhouse, thanks to a push from Jimmie Johnson, went on to take the lead on the final lap, earning his first Cup Series checkered flag.

It was a great victory not only for Stenhouse, but for Roush Fenway Racing. Once enjoying a seat at NASCAR’s top tier of success, the team’s bright spots have been scarce in recent years. Although it remains the winningest team in NASCAR history, RFR has been through a rough patch lately. Specifically, the team’s last win prior to Stenhouse’s day in the Talladega sun came way back in June of 2014, when Carl Edwards won at Sonoma.

“It felt like a validation,” said legendary team owner Jack Roush, a 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee. “And I figured they would let me stay around for a while. All these years later, we’ve been fortunate to get a lot of wins, and Ricky is the ninth driver that we have had win for us in a Cup car, with eight of those guys getting their first win for us. I think that says a lot about the organization and the opportunity that we have given young drivers over the years.”

For RFR this win was truly a big one.

At the end of an exhausting, exhilarating day, Stenhouse was greeted in Victory Lane by his girlfriend and fellow competitor Danica Patrick, who laid a flashy ol’ Hollywood-worthy smooch on Talladega’s newest champion.

As happy moments go, that may have been the biggest one of all.

Comments

comments

Johnson fires 64 to sneak back in hunt for claret jug

Johnson fires 64 to sneak back in hunt for claret jugFormer Coastal Carolina University All-American and Myrtle Beach resident Dustin [more]

CCU's Chadwell to fill in for Moglia at Sun Belt preview

CCU's Chadwell to fill in for Moglia at Sun Belt previewThe Sun Belt Conference and Coastal Carolina announced today that [more]

Pelicans fall; host fireworks, wrestling legends Saturday

Pelicans fall; host fireworks, wrestling legends SaturdayP.J. Higgins provided all of the offense for Myrtle Beach [more]

Rabon is Coastal's lone rep on 2017 All-Sun Belt squad

Rabon is Coastal's lone rep on 2017 All-Sun Belt squadCoastal Carolina had only one player named to the 2017 [more]

CCU taps Oklahoma coach to lead men's golf program

CCU taps Oklahoma coach to lead men's golf programJim Garren, who helped Oklahoma to three straight NCAA Championship [more]

Effross tosses gem to give Pelicans doubleheader split

Effross tosses gem to give Pelicans doubleheader splitMyrtle Beach fell 5-3 in game one of Thursday's doubleheader, [more]

App State picked first; CCU last in Sun Belt football poll

App State picked first; CCU last in Sun Belt football pollThe Appalachian State Mountaineers are the favorites to win the [more]

'The Blind Side' story takes turn as Panthers cut Oher

'The Blind Side' story takes turn as Panthers cut OherThe Carolina Panthers released offensive tackle Michael Oher, the subject [more]

Former CCU player Jordan returns as assistant coach

Former CCU player Jordan returns as assistant coachCoastal Carolina head women’s basketball coach Jaida Williams announced Wednesday [more]

Panthers rehire Hurney to fill general manager post

Panthers rehire Hurney to fill general manager postThe Carolina Panthers turned to a familiar face to fill [more]

Hodges' grand slam lifts Pelicans to rare series win

Hodges' grand slam lifts Pelicans to rare series winJesse Hodges' grand slam in the sixth inning of Tuesday's [more]

Clemson picked to finish behind FSU for ACC title

Clemson picked to finish behind FSU for ACC titleClemson football coach Dabo Swinney spent the offseason trying to [more]

Mutiny set for PDL Eastern Conference Championship

Mutiny set for PDL Eastern Conference ChampionshipThe Myrtle Beach Mutiny will carry a 10-game undefeated streak [more]

Panthers fire GM Gettleman week before training camp

Panthers fire GM Gettleman week before training campThe Carolina Panthers fired general manager Dave Gettleman after four [more]

Rucker tosses another gem as Pelicans split double dip

Rucker tosses another gem as Pelicans split double dipMike Rucker dominated in the finale of Monday's de facto [more]

Weather plagues Pelicans for second straight game

Weather plagues Pelicans for second straight gameMyrtle Beach and Buies Creek both scored a run in [more]

MB's Grigg continues hot summer with national title

MB's Grigg continues hot summer with national titleWhen Holden Grigg returns to Myrtle Beach High this fall, [more]

Former Chant Wilson nets deal in Austrian pro league

Former Chant Wilson nets deal in Austrian pro leagueFormer Coastal Carolina University basketball standout Elijah Wilson, the third [more]

Winston-Salem rallies past Pelicans in seventh inning

Winston-Salem rallies past Pelicans in seventh inningVimael Machin's home run was not enough Friday as the [more]

Pelicans fall to familiar foes following blockbuster trade

Pelicans fall to familiar foes following blockbuster tradeIn a game that saw three Myrtle Beach Pelicans relocate [more]

Tigers tap Terry as interim coach pending Jordan case

Tigers tap Terry as interim coach pending Jordan caseLongtime Conway High assistant football coach Carlton Terry has been [more]

Mutiny put finishing touch on near-perfect campaign

Mutiny put finishing touch on near-perfect campaignThe Myrtle Beach Mutiny turned in a perfect ending to [more]

Rucker flirts with no-hitter as Pelicans shut out Dash

Rucker flirts with no-hitter as Pelicans shut out DashMike Rucker twirled seven shutout innings Wednesday to help lead [more]

Ex-Chant Morrison returns to Strand as Dash reliever

Ex-Chant Morrison returns to Strand as Dash relieverFormer Coastal Carolina University right-handed pitcher Mike Morrison returns to [more]

St. James' Knaffle verbally commits to South Carolina

St. James' Knaffle verbally commits to South CarolinaSt. James High golfer Smith Knaffle has had a busy [more]

Johnson fires 64 to sneak back in hunt for claret jug

Johnson fires 64 to sneak back in hunt for claret jugFormer Coastal Carolina University All-American and Myrtle Beach resident Dustin [more]

CCU's Chadwell to fill in for Moglia at Sun Belt preview

CCU's Chadwell to fill in for Moglia at Sun Belt previewThe Sun Belt Conference and Coastal Carolina announced today that [more]

Comments are closed.

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach