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."
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