The Wreck Effect

Oct. 10, 2005
Oct. 10, 2005

Table of Contents
Oct. 10, 2005

SI Players: Life on and off the Field
SI Players: Life on and off The Field

The Wreck Effect

Are crashes that arbitrarily sideline contenders ruining NASCAR's postseason?

FIVE MINUTES after the final race of NASCAR's regular season, in Richmond on Sept. 10, Greg Biffle eased out of his car and started fretting about the one remaining race that worried him the most: the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega. "You never know what's going to happen there," said Biffle. "I just want to avoid getting caught up in a big wreck."

This is an article from the Oct. 10, 2005 issue Original Layout

Easier said than done at Talladega, where cars use restrictor plates that cause them to run in congested packs at 190 miles an hour--and where one little nudge can take out a pack of unsuspecting drivers. On Sunday that's what happened to Biffle, who finished 27th after crashing on Lap 65, and 41st-place finisher Mark Martin, who was one of eight drivers caught up in a Big One,on Lap 20. Neither was involved in the contact that started the wrecks, but both saw their title hopes all but dashed. (Martin is in ninth place, Biffle fifth.) After the race many drivers were campaigning to remove Talladega from the Chase for the Nextel Cup schedule. The intensity of NASCAR's postseason leads to more bumping, which, at Talladega, is dangerous. And in the 10-race Chase, one bad finish--even if it's not his fault--can doom a driver's chances. "Good ol' Talladega," said Biffle after the race. "Just another day at the racetrack. It's what we expect when we come here." --Lars Anderson

PHOTOTOM DIPACE (BIFFLE)UP IN SMOKE Biffle (left) and Martin (above, in car number 6) saw their title hopes crushed at Talladega.PHOTOBILL ELLIOTT/AP (WRECK) [See caption above]