Fans have a lot of freedom at NASCAR races to roam around as they please. There are few areas truly off limits. Access is even granted to some of the garages.

When visiting Talladega Superspeedway before the 2019 season officially started, former Cup Series driver and three-time champion Darrell Waltrip shared a story about the one time he raised concern to then-NASCAR CEO, president and chairman Bill France Jr. about spectators being too close to the actual race cars, specifically at Martinsville Speedway.

“(Dale) Earnhardt, bless his soul, he comes to me one Sunday morning and says, ‘Let’s go,’” Waltrip said. “I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ He said, ‘We’re going to go talk to France. We can’t work on these cars with all these fans in here. We got to get something done about getting these fans back away from cars so we can work on them. Come on, let’s go.’ I said, ‘All right, I’ll go with you.’”

The two went to France’s hauler together. But once Waltrip opened the door, Earnhardt pushed him and closed it shut. Waltrip was left alone.

“I’m like, well, I’m here,” Waltrip said. “France is like, ‘What do you need?’ I told him about what Dale and I had been talking about, and he didn’t like that. He didn’t want to hear that.

“He said, ‘You better be glad they’re here to watch you, and you better be glad they’re here is all I’m telling you right now. So get your butt on back out there and work on your car. You better be happy about that.’”

Safe to say the message hasn’t changed as years passed.

Alabama’s own track is now offering admission to its brand new Talladega Garage Experience for the October race. In the garage itself, there will be a fan viewing walkway just feet away from the cars and teams. A separate 35,000-square-foot open air social club will then be next to the garage. Victory lane will now have a celebration plaza for fans alone, too.

And those are just some of the main additions.

“I never complained about people in the garage again,” Waltrip said.

Last Race

Kyle Busch remained in front for the final 17 laps to win the TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix last Sunday and is now at 199 career victories across NASCAR’s three series. Martin Truex Jr. finished second, followed by polesitter Ryan Blaney in third. Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin were fourth and fifth, respectively.

There were 17 lead changes among six drivers. Busch led a race-high 177 laps.

Seven cations came out in addition to the yellow at the end of each stage.

Busch walked away with six playoff points — five for his overall triumph and another for his Stage 2 success. Blaney earned a playoff point for taking Stage 1.

Fast Five

This is where the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings will be updated each week.

• Kyle Busch (177 total points, 7 playoff points)

• Joey Logano (171 total points, 6 playoff points)

• Kevin Harvick (168 total points, 2 playoff points)

• Denny Hamlin (165 total points, 5 playoff points)

• Martin Truex Jr. (140 total points)

Drivers who have won a race: Hamlin (Daytona International Speedway), Keselowski (Atlanta Motor Speedway), Logano (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) and Busch (ISM)

Next Race

The Auto Club 400 is Sunday at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. It’ll be a 400-mile race around the 2-mile D-shaped oval that used to be known as California Speedway. Stage 1 ends on lap 60. Stage 2 concludes on lap 120. Checkered flag should come out on lap 200.

Action is set to air on Fox at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Truex won this race last year.

 

Reach Terrin Waack at twaack@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0229.