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Ingram: Tandems Are Better Than 4-Wide, Formula 1

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 18 2011

Two-by-two racing has become the nature of racing at Talladega Superspeedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

From the Monday Morning Crew Chief™:

Talladega, Ala. – The Top Ten reasons why I like tandem racing at Talladega:

1. It’s the best racing in terms of speed and skill. (Most of the world’s major series were in action this weekend, including an extraordinary Formula 1 race in China. But even the 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte couldn’t match the demands of tandem racing – much less the finish on the plains of Alabama.)

2. “The Big Ones” are smaller. (For years, drivers and fans have decried the huge multi-car incidents at Talladega. NASCAR has tried everything from roof flaps to changing the fuel tank sizes to break up the big drafts. Tandems have done it better than anything else in the restrictor plate era.)

3. Two-car pods drive the complainers crazy. (Not enough contact at Bristol? Well, there’s more than enough at 200 mph at Talladega. Mid-race snoozes? You’ll miss some extraordinary recoveries, if nothing else, if you nap during Talladega. All that passing for the lead at Talladega is meaningless? Yeah, right. Just like the first four cards dealt in five-car stud are meaningless.)

4. The little guy looms large. (Just as Trevor Bayne had a shot at winning in Daytona, the team of Tommy Baldwin Jr. and driver Dave Blaney had a legitimate chance to score the biggest upset since

Little dogs can run with the big dogs at Talladega. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

the days of Ron Bouchard and Richard Brickhouse.)

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not on board with the new style of racing, even though he helped push Jimmie Johnson to the victory. (I guess NASCAR doesn’t build its rules around Earnhardt Jr. winning at Daytona and Talladega after all.)

6. Tandem racing sells tickets. (Two years after Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski introduced the tandem concept at Talladega, everybody knew what was coming. In a stadium with 131,000 grandstand seats, reasonable estimates put the crowd count at well over 100,000, including the infield, which remains as wacky and weird as ever.)

7. The “exchange” is one of the more demanding maneuvers in motor racing. (If you don’t get the switch done right, you’ll lose valuable time, especially in the closing stages. Is it more difficult than less cooperative overtaking? No. But in many respects, it’s more interesting in terms of overtaking the other tandems.)

8. Some guys just can’t seem to get the hang of it. (Which proves it’s not as easy as it looks. See Michael Waltrip at Daytona and Kurt Busch at Talladega.)

9. The drives are more friendly than usual on tandem racing weekends. (Maybe it’s just me, but the cooperative and spontaneous aspect of racing in pairs – the drivers never know who they might be “dating” at any given moment during the race – seems to put them in a more cooperative and friendly frame of mind prior to the event. Hell, some drivers even dropped into the media center at Talladega at times other than their appointed media conferences. Next thing you know, drivers might start thanking the fans first when they get out of their cars instead of their sponsors.)

10. There’s still only one winner. (That would be the individual who does the best job and gets to the checkered flag first.)

Quote of the Week: “It’s like a cat and a dog eating from the same bowl.” — Jeff Burton’s description of tandem racing.

See ya! …At the races.

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, April 18 2011


  • LJBurgess says:

    By golly I’ve found someone to agree with on the interwebs!

    (I especially liked the Bristol/”fans” dig.

    There’s nothing “wrong” with NASCAR Cup racing, never has been, never will be, no matter what format they use.

    If there is a problem, it’s with the so called “fans”, the noobs, the ones that bandwagoned on in the late ’90s. They can’t and won’t be satisfied no matter what NASCAR does. It’s “generation whine” and their ilk that cries the loudest.

    In the “golden age” of NASCAR, if two cars finished on the lead lap it was considered a close race, I know, I was there. What we’ve experienced since the early 1990s is truly NASCAR’s gilded era.

  • jlpmghrs says:

    You should have just saved time and written “DURRRRR” instead of this drivel.