This is part of a series of posts sponsored by Talladega Superspeedway. Whether you are making a week-long vacation out of it or coming just for a day, make sure to plan your Talladega experience today. This is more than a race. This is Talladega.
Last week, I wrote about my favorite race I've ever seen in person: The 2010 Aaron's 499. And while it was the best race I've witnessed with my own eyes, I've missed a few Talladega races that might have given it some stiff competition.
Thankfully, no one called me out for my pick. No one said, "Well what about when Dale Earnhardt Sr. came from 18th to first with only four laps left in 2000?"
I wasn't there. If I had been, last week's post might have been different.
No one said, "Dude, how about when Brad Keselowski won in '09 and Carl Edwards had his incredible crash racing to the finish, and then Edwards jogged to the finish line like something out of Talladega Nights?"
I'm embarrassed to admit I wasn't at that one, either.
And no one brought up the controversial Regan Smith/Tony Stewart finish in '08, which is still debated as if it happened recently and set the stage for so much of the yellow-line drama we've seen since then.
Guess what? I wasn't there for that one either.
So what gives? Why have I missed so many of the great Talladega finishes?
I kick myself all the time for it, but my excuse is that while at a former job, I didn't used to make my own schedule – and I wasn't always assigned to Talladega.
But looking back, I probably I should have gone anyway. One of my favorite hobbies is collecting those "I was there!" sports moments (and according to my bank account, I've spent way too much money trying to pursue that interest).
And yet when I could have hitched a ride with a co-worker down to Talladega and had a great shot at seeing one of the "I was there!" moments, I didn't go?
What was I thinking?
It especially bugs me that I wasn't at the Keselowski/Edwards race two years ago. That one was totally epic, and I remember standing in front of my TV at home with my hands on my head in disbelief over the finish.
As soon as the adrenaline from watching the race wore off, the jealousy began to creep in: All the other writers are there, and I'm not! (After all, what kind of NASCAR writer misses a Talladega race?)
So as a result, I keep showing up at Talladega hoping for moments that will top that one – as if it'll somehow make it better that I missed one of the incredible finishes. I think last year's Aaron's 499 was pretty awesome, but I'd love to see even more great races in person so I can feel OK about missing the other highlight-reel endings.
Eight of the 23 closest Sprint Cup Series points race finishes since the advent of electronic scoring have come at 'Dega. That's more than one-third of them.
Obviously, as long as I make my own schedule, Talladega is staying on the list.