NASCAR: Through My Eyes

Photo: Lindy Potocnak

By: Kobe Lambeth

Social media is a way to connect with people through the internet. You can include your friends, meet new people, and post pictures or videos. However, it can be used as a weapon to bash a specific cause, individual, or organization. Recently, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding some NFL players who decide to kneel or sit during the playing of the National Anthem. What happened to the days when we could enjoy a football game or NASCAR race without interfering with the complicated world of politics?

Sports used to be a way to escape from the real world and any issues that make living each day a struggle. Now, politics and sports being used in the same context are inevitable. NASCAR team owners, Richard Petty and Richard Childress responded to NFL player protests of the National Anthem that was first set into motion by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season.

“Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country,” Petty told the AP. “Period.

“What got’em where they’re at? The United States.”

According to the AP, Richard Childress shared a similar stance on people who decide to sit or kneel during the National Anthem,

“Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in,” said Childress. “So many people gave their lives for it.

“This is America.”

Once the comments from Petty and Childress were released to the public, many started to make ridiculous accusations about NASCAR. Many do not take the time to understand auto racing, and it makes my blood boil when people do not have any knowledge about the sport, but they stereotype instead of getting the facts straight.

Based on my personal experience, I can assure you that NASCAR has many wonderful people in the sport. In 2015, I was invited by Jeff Potocnak to attend a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway with members of his family. I am forever grateful for the kindness the Potocnak family displayed by taking me to my first NASCAR race. Without knowing much about me, they embraced me with open arms and made me feel like I belonged.

On Dec. 3, 2016, Jeff took me on a tour of the area heavily populated with the sport I love, alongside completing my senior graduation project. I did an interview with NASCAR official, Mark Wendell on the importance of marketing in NASCAR. Wendell and his family were very friendly and welcoming to the stranger who entered their home.

Through my website Daily NASCAR Scoop and More, I have met many fans and interviewed those involved in auto racing who were very respectful towards me. Of course, there are people in the world who do not treat others well, but I am grateful to be in the presence of wonderful individuals who breathe NASCAR and made me feel welcome to be a part of a meaningful sport.

Notable sports personalities Jemele Hill and Shannon Sharpe took shots at NASCAR in response to the National Anthem protests. Hill mentioned the Confederate flag that is still visible at the race track today, while Sharpe wondered why NASCAR does not have their own version of Colin Kaepernick to promote social change. It hurts my feelings to see the sport I love the most get stereotyped by the public. Speak with knowledge not with ignorance.

My challenge to those who are not familiar with the “real NASCAR” should take time to do some research. NASCAR created a Drive for Diversity program in 2004 as an effort to promote more diversity on every level in the sport. It is possible for anyone to be a part of NASCAR if they want to make it their career. Although some drivers may go through financial struggles to make a career in stock car racing, you should never give up on your dreams. There are many opportunities for a dream to become a reality. Coming from an African-American who wishes to be a part of the motorsports world in some capacity, I can assure you that the sport is filled with people who will support you every step of the way. Of course, NASCAR is not perfect as nothing in life can live up to those standards, but I have faith that my favorite sport will prove to the naysayers that anyone will be accepted with open arms.

Instead of letting words divide us, we should come together as one nation to support and understand what a person is going through. We may not share similar opinions, but we are all human beings at the end of the day. This message is bigger than football, NASCAR, or politics. Unity and togetherness is the answer to solving this conflict. As one nation, the United States is a force to be reckoned with if we learn how to love each other, stop bickering, and accept the reality that everyone is different.

 

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Irwindale Speedway Closure Hits Close To Home

Photo: Irwindale Speedway

By: Kobe Lambeth

On Jan. 31, 2018, Irwindale Speedway is set to become a thing of the past as the famed, short track in the San Gabriel Valley of southern California is expected to close its doors. The track has a unique setup of twin paved oval tracks (banked 1/2 and 1/3 mile) and produced exciting action on the track since the late 1990s with stock cars, sprint cars, midgets, and much more.

Sitting with family and friends on a Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway will become a thing of the past at the start of the new year. Memories are made at local short tracks that last for a lifetime. For a NASCAR official, who wished to remain anonymous, losing his “home track” is a massive blow to the San Gabriel Valley community, and it was the site of where he began his journey working for NASCAR.

“Without Irwindale, I wouldn’t be working in NASCAR today,” he told Daily NASCAR Scoop and More.

A big step towards making a career in motorsports is getting to the race track and building relationships with the people who are already involved in the business. What if the closure of Irwindale Speedway prevents someone else in the area from making their dream of being a NASCAR official come true? Having a local short track is a big advantage as it gives one the opportunity to meet people affiliated with NASCAR. Getting aligned with the right people may lead to a great opportunity in the industry. It is sad to think about the potential of a young person’s dreams being crushed due to the closure of a NASCAR home track.

“Your local short tracks are where young racers get their start,” said the NASCAR official. “You have both up and comers and cagey veterans battling it out every week.

“There’s an incredible bond with racing that gets formed at the local track.”

According to the NASCAR official, Irwindale Speedway had a few unique issues that led to its demise and it takes three levels of support to make a local short track a success: track management, the competitors, and the fans.

If one of the three levels of support fails, then the stability of a local short track is severely questioned. Without responsible staff managing the track, it may prevent competitors and fans from showing up. Short tracks are a part of the stepping stone towards making it to NASCAR, so they are vital in the development of tomorrow’s stars. Without fans flocking the grandstands, how are local short tracks supposed to earn revenue to further enhance their facilities? It is truly a team effort to keep a race track in operation.

NASCAR journalist Matt Weaver is known for his love of short track racing as he travels around the U.S. covering those events. He provides excellent coverage and insight of the biggest races at short tracks around the country throughout the year. We need more Matt Weaver’s to promote events at local short tracks. We need to have more members of the media who share Weaver’s passion for short track racing. Getting the word out is important so fans will want to attend future races. Nothing is more special than spending your weekend at the short track enjoying race cars roaring through each turn.

Local short tracks mean a lot to those who take pride in this form of motorsports. Memories are made and opportunities are born across the U.S. at short tracks. The upcoming closure of Irwindale Speedway is a massive blow to the San Gabriel Valley community, especially to those who began their career at the southern California short track. Irwindale Speedway will become a part of short track racing history when Jan. 31, 2018 arrives. The NASCAR official summarized his feelings about the track’s closure in two painful words.

“It hurts.”

 

 

Freelancing Opportunity

Photo: Jim Sands

By: Kobe Lambeth

My senior year of high school was definitely a year to remember. I finally made it after so many years of school from kindergarten in Mrs. Dishmon’s class at Wentworth Elementary as a shy little boy to a grown 18 year old man ready to see what life has to offer after walking across the stage at Reidsville High School.

There were so many memories made throughout my high school years. From the highs to the lows, I am truly grateful for everything that has happened to me these past four years. I have grown as a person and will continue to do so as the next chapter in life will be the greatest challenge of all.

When I think of the memories made in high school, Fall 2016 stands out more than a food stain on a white t-shirt. All seniors were required to complete a senior graduation project on a topic that can be applied in real-world situations. I was blessed to have the opportunity to work alongside RockinghamNow Community Reporter, Joe Dexter, who helped mentor me through my project on NASCAR Marketing.

After spending a semester at RockinghamNow working on my senior project, I knew journalism was the right career for me to pursue. I will begin my life at UNC Charlotte in January 2018, which left Fall 2017 wide open for me to find something to do in the meantime. Sometimes, we leave lasting impressions on those who notice our true capabilities.

During the time of my senior project, I left some people at the office very impressed with my passion for motorsports and the willingness to learn the ropes of being a professional journalist. I am very excited to announce that I will be working as a freelancer for RockinghamNow in Fall 2017, primarily focusing on local high school sports.

“It’s great to have Kobe back in the fold here at RockinghamNow,” said Community Reporter, Joe Dexter.

“When he came in for his senior project last year, it was clear that he was hungry to start his journalism career. His determination and willingness to get it right will take him far and help him grow as he starts his career as a freelancer.

Working alongside Joe Dexter, who has been such an inspiration as my mentor throughout the entire process, will continue to provide more valuable information before I make the journey down I-85 to UNC Charlotte.

Some people may believe that freelancing is not the ideal career choice, but it is definitely a great place to start especially for a student straight out of high school, according to Dexter.

“Not only is it a foot in the door, but anybody that is willing to freelance is showcasing their willingness to step up to the plate when needed and get the tough assignments done,” said Dexter.

“That is a huge part of growing as a young journalist and building a name for themselves. Another major part in growth is getting repetition and freelance opportunities allow up and coming journalists to do so in a professional environment.

I will also have the opportunity to work alongside RockinghamNow Sports Editor, Jim Sands, who has been a vital part of my transition to becoming a freelancer. He will teach me the right ways to cover an event in a sports-minded environment, which will require taking high-quality photos, recording statistics. writing recaps of games, and much more.

According to Sands, being versatile in such a competitive industry is essential to having a career that will last for many years.

“Journalism is constantly changing, and if you want to survive and be successful, you have to adapt to the way people chose to consume their news,” said Sands.

“If you don’t learn how to master the new technology and continue to grow, then you could very well find yourself on the unemployment line.

During these next few months, I am anxious to learn from two established professionals such as Dexter and Sands as they will pass on their knowledge to a new generation. It will be crucial for me to absorb as much information as I possibly can and take full advantage of the unique opportunity that I have been given.

Sands considers it a privilege to teach a student fresh out of high school the most important roles in the daily life of a journalist, before the adventure in the heart of NASCAR community begins in just a few months.

“To work with a young man that is willing to put in the time and effort to learn what it is like to compete in such a challenging field, in my eyes, is a responsibility I don’t take lightly,” said Sands.

“Kobe cares about what he is doing and holds himself to a very high standard. That is part of what sets him apart from most people.

 

Cisneros: “Media has impacted NASCAR in different ways”

Photo: Savannah Blanco

By: Kobe Lambeth

Teenagers in high school often daydream about their future following graduation. Patrisia Cisneros, a 15 year old sophomore, at Valley Center (CA) High School, seems like your typical student but has a deep passion for NASCAR. The pre-race prayer, National Anthem, the command to start engines, and the best drivers in the world going to battle every lap fuels Cisneros’ dream to be a part of the sport in some capacity.

“I’ve been a race fan for 6 to 7 years,” Cisneros told Daily NASCAR Scoop and More.

Outside of her love for NASCAR, Cisneros is a member of her high school’s (Valley Center High School Jaguars) Track and Field team, enjoys spending time with family and friends, and helping out others in need. There are many opportunities to be a part of NASCAR and Cisneros has already done her research narrowing her options down to a few possible career choices.

“A few careers that I’m looking into are sports photography and engineering,” said Cisneros.

In general, sports photography is a great way to get to the race track as a photographer taking pictures during race weekends. Journalists at the track will likely need photos for their articles and having a photographer can prevent a journalist from “double duty.” Sports photographers will be needed as “media has impacted NASCAR in different ways”  by providing breaking news and analysis to the fans. Engineering involves hardcore math and science, which plays a major factor into the product viewed on the racetrack.

As sports photography and engineering are the top career choices of Cisneros, it appears that she is clearly comfortable with one over the other.

“I love taking pictures and NASCAR, so I thought why not put the two things together,” said Cisneros. “This year I started learning some things about photography and it’s something I would like to do as a career.

NASCAR is the one sport that Cisneros truly loves compared to other worldwide sports. However, there is so much more to NASCAR than the on-track product.

“NASCAR is more than a sport, it’s more like a family,” stated Cisneros.
Her claim can be backed up based on the reaction following Austin Dillon’s terrifying crash at the end of the 2015 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Dillon’s  No. 3 car went flying into catchfence, ending a wild crash filled race at the iconic speedway. Crew members from other teams ran onto the track to check on Dillon immediately after the crash. Teams may be rivals for over thirty weeks out of the year, but NASCAR is a family sport at the end of the day.
The atmosphere of NASCAR has truly sparked Cisneros’ confidence to be a part of the sport after she completes her studies. In ten years, she intends to make her dream a reality.
“I see myself living my dream, traveling, and having a great job that I’ll enjoy for years to come.”

2016: Year in Review

Photo: Jim Sands

By: Kobe Lambeth

Dear 2016,

Where did the time go? It felt like I was celebrating the beginning of a new year yesterday and here we are again. A lot has changed in 2016 and I would love to take some time to reflect on a year that has been like a roller coaster at an amusement park.

In November 2015, I launched my own website Daily NASCAR Scoop and More after a very brief stint with The Apex. Many lessons were learned at the start of a new chapter in my life. Previously, I wanted to be a mechanical engineer for a race team, but sometimes we must be brutally honest with ourselves. I finally decided that it was not in the cards to be an engineer as I do not have the math skills to be successful in this area.

This left me wondering if I cannot be a mechanical engineer, then what will I do after high school? Every morning before school, I typically check motorsports news-based websites such as Sportscar 365 to start my day. There are a plethora of extremely talented journalists today in the world of motorsports. Articles written by those individuals made me realize something special about myself.

Throughout my years in school, teachers have always praised my writing skills, so why not pursue a career as a motorsports journalist? I carefully researched the position and discovered that I am truly capable of making it my career. A fellow high school student named Aaron Durant, who has similar aspirations approached me with the idea of joining The Apex. It was very intriguing so I took the offer, although the relationship did not last very long. During my brief stint with The Apex, I learned so much about myself, which led to my decision of starting Daily NASCAR Scoop and More. The experience helped expand my writing skills and I grew tremendously as a person. I would not be where I am today without Durant and The Apex pushing me to improve each and every day.

Now, I reflect on this entire experience as 2016 is nearing its final destination. It has been a fantastic 13 months of writing, building connections, and expanding my horizons in many areas. In general, 2016 has been a challenging year with more responsibilities, difficulties, and interesting circumstances as I am close to entering the world of adulthood. Overcoming any challenge is always a victory.

One word to describe my senior year of high school at the halfway mark is “busy.” The year has truly gone by extremely fast, but shocking revelations about life in the future weigh on my mind. College applications, scholarships, and the senior graduation project caused plenty of stress this semester, which is totally normal for high school seniors around the country.

I chose NASCAR marketing for my senior graduation project and it was quite an experience. We had to do a research paper, portfolio, product, and present our findings to judges, in order to prove that we are the expert on our topic. My most memorable experience from completing this project is learning from a community reporter for RockinghamNow named Joe Dexter.

Many days after school, I went to the newsroom and Dexter shared his expertise and knowledge of journalism with me. Throughout this entire process, I learned the importance of ethics of journalism and maintaining a “never quit” attitude to accomplish all of my goals and dreams. As one of the judges of my presentation told me as I was about to leave, “You and your mentor had a special experience where one professional journalist is passing on knowledge to an aspiring student who wishes to be in the same position.” Knowledge is power.

There are not words to describe how special it was working with Dexter for my project. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to learn the correct way to becoming a professional journalist. Speaking of opportunities, I have received multiple offers to join various websites as one of their contributing journalists. Honestly, I did not expect for my articles to gain so much attention this early in my journey, but I am blessed that others are interested in my services. In my best interest, I believe it is best to continue with Daily NASCAR Scoop and More for the immediate future and help my writing skills grow, before pursuing a better opportunity as I progress through the ranks.

On Christmas day, I appeared in my local newspaper, the Reidsville Review, discussing my goals of covering NASCAR as a motorsports journalist. However, I am open to opportunities in open wheel and sportscar racing. The article was published online the day after Christmas and the rest is history. Family and friends were so excited to see the quiet, small town kid following his heart to pursue his dreams of making it to the race track.

I want to thank my family and friends for believing me and my abilities. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have such wonderful people in my life supporting me. 2016 has been a wild year filled with ups and downs. The year ended on a positive note with people in my hometown of Reidsville, North Carolina noticing my true potential, excelling in academics, and knowing I have the support of others as I move towards a future of unknowns.

A close friend gave me some special advice about heading into 2017 and beyond as 2016 is coming to a close. The answer was quite simple. Ride the momentum.

Sincerely,

Your friendly neighborhood future motorsports journalist

Game Review: NASCAR Heat Evolution

Photo: Gamespot

By: Kobe Lambeth

On September 13, 2016, I purchased NASCAR Heat Evolution just like many NASCAR fans who were eagerly awaiting the newest NASCAR game. Based on the feedback I have received by gamers, the overall response to the game as a whole is not good. Some people referred to the game as “a waste of money” or a “massive disappoint.” In my opinion, the game definitely has its flaws as every video game does, but I certainly see much potential in Dusenberry Martin Racing and Monster Games. Please take into consideration that this is their first game.

When I started playing the game, I loved the fact that we have the opportunity to pick our favorite driver, and have the option to use other drivers at any point. At first, one massive disappoint was unlocking tracks instead of having them all available at first. Also, the graphics and physics were not as “authentic” as I expected. An example of a questionable moment was Martin Truex Jr running in the mid-30s at some tracks. Why is a Chase contender running so poorly? Also, a certain driver is finishing in the top 15 consistently, while driving for an underfunded team. Certainly, it is cool to see an underfunded team finish well at a 1.5 mile track, but is that really realistic at a non-restrictor plate track? At this point, I was seriously thinking about quitting the game and completely give up on it. Then, I started thinking how much it reminded me of my days on PlayStation 2. The days of being a seven-year-old boy enjoying life not caring about the graphics nor physics.

After spending a few hours fiddling around with the game, I began to experience the same happiness I felt as a young elementary school boy learning the ropes about NASCAR racing. Of course, NASCAR Heat Evolution is not perfect because I do not think there is a perfect game in existence.

Close your eyes, think for a minute, clear your mind, and listen to what I have to say. There is a timid boy, who is elected as a section leader in his school’s marching band. However, the other students give him a hard time because they do not think he is capable of being successful. The boy feels awful that his fellow classmates refuse to give him a chance and laugh at the fact that he is a leader. How would you feel if you were in this boy’s shoes? Personally, I would feel terrible and deeply hurt if my classmates thought of me as a leader being a big joke.

I want you to think of the game as the timid boy, who is not given a chance to show his true potential because his classmates are too quick to make assumptions about his leadership abilities. To be honest, this is how I treated NASCAR Heat Evolution and I am very ashamed of myself. My mother taught me not to be so quick to make assumptions about others or something like the video game. As I continued to play the game, I enjoyed it and made some adjustments with the AI to adapt to my skills. I cannot tell you to buy the game or not to buy it because the decision is completely up to you. If you have a special virtue called “patience,” then the game is totally for you. If you are not, then please spend your money elsewhere. Patience is definitely required.

How many of you expected this article to solely be about NASCAR Heat Evolution? If the answer is yes then I have proven my point. Never judge a book by its cover.

Meet: Ryan Repko

Photo: Mary Repko

By: Kobe Lambeth

This is the first edition of the “Meet” series where I will introduce you to the brightest young stars of motorsports under age 18. First, you will meet rising stock car driver, Ryan Repko, who has his sights set on making it the top level of NASCAR in the future.

“I currently race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and part time in the CARS Tour,”  said Repko.

“I began racing at the age of 8 at an indoor karting track in Mooresville. There I met several families who raced at a quarter midget track called NCQMA Speedway which is owned by Bobby Labonte. We bought a car and in our first year we won several races and a championship. My ultimate goal is to one day be a NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.”

Ryan Repko, a teenager, looking turn heads as he has hopes of driving in NASCAR’s top divisions in the upcoming years. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is a great place for young drivers to showcase their talent as “you never know who is watching,” according to Repko.

For example, we could see a NASCAR driver like Kyle Busch show up to an event and discover a talented driver like Repko the same way he found Erik Jones. It is good for all young drivers in the lower divisions of NASCAR to try their very best as you could be a lap away from a ride in the top three divisions of stock car racing.

Being a young stock car driver, do you think Repko has a favorite driver or role model?

“My favorite driver is Tony Stewart because he can get in any type of car and be competitive whether it is a sprint car or a cup car,” said Repko.

“My dad is a role model of mine because he pushes me to work toward my goals and to constantly learn and get better.”

It is great that young drivers have a role model in their life to help them strive to be the best they can possibly be on the track. With the inspiration of Tony Stewart and his dad behind him every step of the way, Ryan Repko has a great shot to make the move up the ladder. Away from the track, Repko seems like the typical teenager.

“Away from the track I like basketball, iRacing, and karting,” said Repko.

If you have not heard of Ryan Repko yet, then you definitely will in the years to come as the young teenager pursues his dreams of being a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

Fallout from the GEICO 500

Photo: Talladega Superspeedway

By: Kobe Lambeth

The race was fierce at Talladega from start to finish. With a threat of rain throughout the day, the drivers had to race like every lap would be the last. The intensity of this race was remarkable and truly unbelievable. This was one of those restrictor plate races where I did not see the long single file line near the wall at any point during the race which was pretty shocking.

I must admit that the GEICO 500 was the best race that I have witnessed all season long. We had three and four wide action throughout the race. Today’s racing reminded me of spectacular pack racing from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

However, it appears that spectacular crashes will overshadow the great racing we witnessed. The first scary incident of the day occurred when Chris Buescher rolled down the Alabama Gang Superstretch. There was nothing Buescher could do as he was a passenger along for the ride.

Next, The “Big One” struck as Kurt Busch got into the right rear of Jimmie Johnson, which took out more than half of the field. Luckily, every single driver walked away. The next accident was only of the scariest yet.

Michael McDowell was giving Danica Patrick a heck of a push, but everything went wrong when she got into Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth as his Toyota Camry was sent sailing into the air, before sliding on his roof and coming to rest on all fours.

For me, Kenseth’s crash was one of the most frightening incidents in recent memory at Talladega Superspeedway. However, it was nothing compared to Austin Dillon’s spectacular crash last July. First, I want to applaud NASCAR for everything they do to keep our drivers safe. It was hard to believe that Kenseth walked away from such a scary crash.

Unfortunately, crashes are a part of racing and they are more than likely going to happen at places like Daytona and Talladega. There is nothing we can do to prevent it. I must admit that I turned my television off on the final lap because I was sick to my stomach. After watching Buescher and Kenseth have frightening accidents, I was afraid of witnessing another spectacular crash coming to the checkered flag.

Naturally, there was a crash and everyone survived thankfully. NASCAR has done so much to make the sport safer, but you are never going to stop cars from flipping over. It is basic science.

I absolutely love restrictor plate racing and hope that it stays around for many years to come. Today, it was almost a little too much for me to watch. However, today’s mayhem will not stop me from watching these events in the future.

Racing is a dangerous sport. Of course, some of the accidents were difficult to watch, but we must move onto a brighter future. The best drivers in the world risk their lives each and every week behind the wheel. Some fans love this form of racing while others believe that it is equivalent to playing with fire.

We might not agree about restrictor plate racing, but we should all be thankful that everyone survived the chaos. Thanks to NASCAR’s improvements, the drivers involved were able to walk away and go home to their families. I am positive that they will continue to search for answers to improve SAFER barriers and better ways to keep cars from going airborne.

I never thought I would say this, but I am so happy that Talladega Superspeedway is behind us and am looking forward to Kansas. The threat of rain caused the sense of urgency today and it produced some amazing pack racing, but the crashes will stick with me from this event. There are better days ahead for the sport and I will be ready when NASCAR returns to the superspeedway in October. Safety is once again the hot topic.

What did you think of the GEICO 500?

 

Talladega: Where Dreams Come True and Chaos Occurs

Photo: Talladega Superspeedway

By: Kobe Lambeth

When some people hear the name, “Talladega,” they think of complete chaos, edge-of-your-seat racing, and destruction. Look at this beautiful photo above and tell me this gorgeous scene is a place where you often see the carnage. If you follow NASCAR often, then you know that “looks can deceiving.”

Many years ago, one of NASCAR’s founding fathers, Bill France Sr, wanted to build a track bigger and faster track than Daytona International Speedway. His dream finally came true as “Alabama International Motor Speedway” was built. As time passed, the track name changed to Talladega Superspeedway.

However, one thing has not changed about this historic superspeedway. This is a place where dreams can come true and chaos is also lurking in the shadows.

Sprint Cup drivers, Brad Keselowski, and David Ragan will tell you about the true beauty of Talladega as both drivers scored unbelievable wins in recent years.

In 2009, Brad Keselowski was battling Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Carl Edwards for the victory when contact between Edwards and Keselowski ended with a spectacular crash as Edwards car went airborne, crashing into the catchfence upside down.

Certainly not the way to win your first career Cup race, but this victory showed the world that Brad Keselowski had the potential to hang with the best in the business. Look where he is today as a champion in NASCAR’s top series.

BK Racing’s, David Ragan, also had a remarkable victory in the 2013 Spring race when he and teammate, David Gilliland, led a Front Row Motorsports 1-2 finish. A great day at Talladega can be huge for smaller teams in the field.

Restrictor plate racing is definitely a unique form of racing, which gives every single driver the chance to pull into victory lane. Drafting is the “great equalizer” and gives underfunded teams an opportunity to have a dream day in the tight, pack racing environment.

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Although Talladega Superspeedway is a unique track that can change your life forever, it can also break your heart. Whenever NASCAR goes to the “superspeedways” Daytona and Talladega, there is always a chance for the “Big One,” which is a multi-car crash that happens almost every single restrictor plate event.

The reason for these spectacular crashes is due to the intensity of the tight pack racing. Drivers try to make the move to the front and things happen. Unfortunately, they are unlucky at times. You could ride along in the pack almost the entire race, but get caught up in someone else’s mistake to end your day. It is safe to say that it might take a little luck to be successful at Talladega Superspeedway. There is nowhere to hide.

Restrictor plate racing is risk versus reward.  The best stock car drivers in the world will take the green flag in the Geico 500 as 40 drivers will battle for glory at one of NASCAR’s fastest tracks. The event should provide great edge-of-your-seat racing from start to finish. Will someone battling for the win on the final lap make a mistake and send the field into flames? Is it worth taking that kind of risk just to get the reward?

Some drivers go into Talladega race weekend with the goal of surviving and others see it as an opportunity to make or break their career. When the checkered flag falls on the Geico 500, will we see the usual suspects from Joe Gibbs Racing or Hendrick Motorsports in victory lane? Can an underdog pull off an upset?

Whoever pulls into victory lane will definitely have earned a hard fought victory. The ingredients to success on restrictor plate tracks: stay out of trouble, be confident, make bold moves, hope that lady luck is on your side, and make smart decisions.

No matter what a driver does, it is extremely difficult to put together a “clean” race at Talladega. 188 laps of intense three and sometimes four wide racing in a tight pack is a recipe for disaster. We have 40 soldiers ready to go to battle. Every soldier has a shot to be victorious and make their dreams come true. On the other hand, others might not survive to see the checkered flag as the “Big One” is lurking in the shadows.

This is Talladega.