TALLADEGA, AL (WBRC) - There screamed The Washington Post headline following Sunday's Geico 500: "There's No Easy Fix for NASCAR's Talladega Problem."
With all due respect for a fine newspaper, I ask you the question: Is there really a problem at Talladega, and if there is, who says it needs to be fixed?
Two times a year, the world's best race drivers take part in the craziest, most unpredictable demolition derby on earth, and the race fans eat it up.
The Sprint Cup races at the Talladega Superspeedway are among the most-watched, most covered, most talked about of the year. So does Talladega really need fixing?
It all depends on who you ask. Ask a driver who has been caught up in a Big One, and you will hear opinions uttered by drivers such as Chris Buescher, who hung on tight Sunday as his race car barrel rolled to a stop.
"I'm pretty sick and tired of this place right about now," Buescher siad.
I asked Casey Mears if he felt relieved every time he left the Superspeedway. "Of course, especially if your car is in one piece," he responded.
Austin Dillon, who finished third on Sunday, added, "I went flying at Daytona last year and for guys who haven't done it, it's just not a fun thing."
We approached six-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. after his second wreck of the day.
"When I was younger I used to get upset about how I finished and what happened here, but I don't anymore. You just can't take it home with you," Earnhardt said.
Sunday's Geico 500 ended up being one of the most memorable Talladega races ever--heck, there wasn't a Big One, there were FOUR of them!
A total of eight wrecks swallowed up 33 of the 40 drivers entered in the race. By the time the last few laps arrived, the tri-oval smacked of bent fenders and duct tape--heck, even Junior's steering wheel fell off.
But while driver safety is of the utmost importance, the men and women in the stands are who NASCAR wants happy.
So then, what to do with Talladega? Two drivers going airborne and landing on their roofs is never a good thing. Hard hits like the one absorbed by Danica Patrick are downright scary.
"It's the most frightened I've been inside a race car. I have bruises on my arm and my foot, and my chest hurts. I guess I won't be working out on Monday," Patrick said after we caught up with her at the infield care center following her late-race wreck.
Thus NASCAR has a bit of a dilemma: Does it give fans what they want (admit it now, most fans enjoy a good wreck as long as no one gets hurt), or does it slow the cars down?
"We need to jump on this and try to get it figured out before the next couple of speedways in order to keep them on the ground," Dillon said.
Kyle Busch told me after the race, "Three drivers on their roofs was a bit over the quota, even for this place."
So we turn back to Brian France, Mike Helton and the big boys of NASCAR. Are they ready and willing to mess with one of the most exciting (and terrifying) races on their schedule?
Driver Jeff Burton perhaps said it best when he offered up this thought: "Is NASCAR willing to say, 'Look fans, I know you want to see this, but you ain't going to--we just can't do this anymore?'"
So go forward with your day pondering the two sides to the argument: Either NASCAR needs to come up with a solution to these Talladega wrecks before tragedy arrives, or they refrain from messing with a fan favorite.
Does Talladega really need to be fixed?
I leave you with this open and honest line uttered on Sunday at Talladega: "It's dangerous, but it's exciting. I sure like watching it."
Who uttered the line? A race driver named Danica Patrick.