Let me preface this commentary; I watch every race from Talladega Superspeedway from the very edge of my seat, whether my easy chair or barstool. There is no denying the excitement of every NASCAR race at Talladega.
Predicting winners, or even survivors is tough though. That whole Big One thing gets in the way.
I don't have a problem with the wildcard nature of Talladega and Daytona. I'm not a fan of restrictor plates. I think there are other ways to protect fans from flying cars. Maybe let the good, fast cars get some separation. Better, taller catch fences. But until something different is done, we'll have more wrecks like this one from 2012 at Talladega.
Big Ones at Plate Tracks are part of NASCAR, and have been since 1988, the first year for restrictor plates. Over the course of a season, the damage done to a championship contender's chances can be overcome, if said driver/team is good enough. But with the new Chase to the Sprint Cup championship rules for 2014, basically breaking the NASCAR playoffs into four mini-chases, Talladega becomes the Clown Mouth hole - to use miniature golf vernacular.
Is it race to win, or race to avoid this?
I guess it's obvious that the answer is, both. But I can't get over the feeling that the Sprint Cup Championship has been gimmicked-up a step too far. This season has a fee of an Aserisk Cup. I could see NASCAR making a reactionary change to the rules next year, if someone like Ryan Newman or Kasey Kahne finds a way to win the 2014 Sprint Cup, due possibly to the elimination of a Jeff Gordon, in a Talladega wreck.