Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Month of NASCAR, Day 4: 2001 Cracker Barrel 500

Both on and off the track, 2001 was a year for tears of pain and joy.

Part of the pain came from the death of Dale Earnhardt Senior on Feb. 18 at the Daytona 500. On that day NASCAR as we knew came to an end. There had been other deaths in the recent years, Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin in 2000, but it was the death of the Intimidator that shook the sport to its core.

But the pain was relieved pretty quickly when Steve Park, one of Dale Earnhardt Inc’s. drivers won at Rockingham on Feb 25 and once again two weeks later when Kevin Harvick, the driver who replaced Earnhardt, grabbed his first career win at Atlanta by defeating Jeff Gordon in a finish eerily similar to the #3’s win in the same race a year before.

Atlanta has see some great finishes in the last decade, but this one topped them all. Everyone in the crowd was cheering not just for Harvick, but for Earnhardt and the sport. NASCAR needed this race to help move on and those wounds would disappear a little more later in July when Dale Jr went to Victory lane at Daytona.

It’s been 11 years since this race and I couldn’t help but tear up during the the post race celebration as Harvick did a polo victory lap with three fingers lifted into the sky. There have been few days where an entire fan base could rally around one team or person, but March 11, 2001 was one of those days.

What do you remember about the 2001 Cracker Barrel 500?

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A Month of NASCAR, Day 3: 2000 Cracker Barrel 500

I can remember watching this race, sitting on the floor of the living room as Bobby Labonte drew closer and closer to Dale Earnhardt in the closing laps.

But I can clearly remember my heart beating in my chest as the camera on the front of the Interstate Batteries #18 followed the Goodwrench Chevy down the back stretch.

It’s been awhile since there was a finish like this at Atlanta, but this one is a keeper.

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A Month of NASCAR, Day Two: 2003 Aaron’s 499

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will never be able to win, especially at a restrictor plate race, without coming under scrutiny from conspiracy theorists that NASCAR tries to give him an edge. That was no different in 2003 when Junior took the … Continue reading

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In a month I’ll be attending the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Super Speedway with my dad and my two friends Mason and Brian. It’s long been a dream to be able to attend a race at the longest superspeedway in the United States.

For anyone who thinks auto racing is boring, this is the track that proves them wrong. Lap after lap, 43 cars race at 200 miles per hour inches from each other’s fender, trying to avoid “The Big One.” One wrong move and it’s over for a hopeful drive and anyone unfortunate enough to get caught up in the mess.

I’ve watched a lot of restrictor plate races over the years and without a doubt it’s the most exciting type of racing in NASCAR. I was able to visit the track two summer’s ago with my family and of the few tracks I’ve visited, with the exception of Indianapolis Raceway Park: Texas, Atlanta, Kansas, the Brickyard and even Daytona, Talladega is the track that’s felt like pure NASCAR. It hasn’t been exploited for mainstream money making purposes like Daytona, and it’s not a cookie cutter track like Kansas.

Atlanta is just a smaller version of Texas, which is just like Charlotte. Talladega is a beast unto itself. Sure, it’s similar to Daytona, but there’s nothing like the the last dash to finish at Dega, where cars can be as much as 4 or 5 wide going through the tri-oval.

This is the first of many NASCAR/Talladega posts I’ll bring to you in the month leading up to the race on May 6th.

As the video above shows, amazing things can happen at Talladega, as Dale Earnhardt won the 2000 Winston 500 after coming from 17th place to win in the last 5 laps.

Please share your own Talladega and NASCAR memories. What does Talladega mean to you?

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