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Sunday, July 19, 2009

NASCAR at Talladega, always thrilling, sometimes scary

Originally written April 27, 2009 NASCAR racing at Talladega Super Speedway this weekend did not disappoint. It was all about action Sunday as a 13-car melee occurred on only the seventh lap, taking out cars whose drivers had a real potential to win. 

Another multi-car wreck occurred near the end of the race, which took out another 10 cars. Ryan Newman, who started this season with hideous luck that weighed on his performance, wheeled past his competitors to make his way to the front of the pack in both Saturday's Nationwide race and again Sunday in the Sprint Cup event. 

For his fans, it was exhilarating. In both races, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was glued to Newman's back bumper, which added push to Newman's already fast run. Saturday Newman drove the #33 car for Kevin Harvick, Inc. Leading into the last lap, Newman had to settle for second place after a photo-finish pass by David Ragan who received a triumphant push by rookie Joey Logano. 

Newman and Earnhardt, Jr. were in the same position Sunday, but finished third after being involved a dramatic last lap crash. For Newman supporters, anticipation was high; the adrenalin flowed. But it was quickly replaced with a horrible sick feeling. During the last lap, Newman's car was passed by what must have seemed like a freight train made up of two bumper-to-bumper race cars driven by Carl Edwards and rookie Brad Kezelowski respectively. 

They shot past him. The two tangled as the car piloted by Edwards went airborne just ahead of Newman who plowed into the flying racecar. As Edwards' car sprung off the front end of Newman's car, it sailed viciously toward the fence headed for unsuspecting fans. 

Fortunately the fence held, though some were injured by flying debris. The injuries were not serious or life-threatening, according to reports. Newman and Edwards were unhurt. A similar take-off occurred in Saturday's race when David Ragan's car touched that of his teammate Matt Kenseth, causing it to roll several times along the back straightaway. He too was unhurt. Though the result was not his preferred option, Newman's points position soared. He ended the race 13th in points after starting 17th.