It was a crazy day at Talladega.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., in what is likely his final race at Talladega, started on the pole. Earnhardt also narrowly escaped not one but two late wrecks that decimated the field:
12 cars still on track, but that includes David Ragan who is clearly not going far. pic.twitter.com/euGIqwKBlP
— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) October 15, 2017
That kind of fortune might have had some people expecting Dale Jr. was destined for a win at one of his best tracks. Earnhardt has long been one of the sport’s best restrictor plate drivers, playing the draft beautifully en route to 6 wins at Talladega (along with 4 more at Daytona, including two Daytona 500 victories.)
Unfortunately, despite starting on the inside of Row 2 for the last restart, Earnhardt couldn’t find an avenue to the front. (His final charge thwarted by an aggressive Joey Logano block, which seemed rather short-sighted from Logano, in a number of ways.)
Instead, it was Brad Keselowski leading the pack to the checkered flag:
That means there’s only five races left in Earnhardt’s full-time career, and considering health and a history of concussions were a main impetus for his retirement, he doesn’t seem a candidate for any extended runs as a replacement driver in the future.
Hopefully he picks off a win before he leaves the sport, though. Obviously there are still plenty of talented drivers in NASCAR, but for a long time now, Earnhardt has been the one name that really resonated with casual fans or even non-fans. Plus he’s just generally a really cool guy, the rare superstar who seems incredibly down-to-earth.