NASCAR drivers welcomed return of 'cheering' fans at Talladega

It may have been one of the smaller crowds to attend a NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway but the fans were heard loud and clear.

NASCAR drivers welcomed return of 'cheering' fans at Talladega
Fans hold a sign in support of Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards /Sylvania and Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Interstate Batteries
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports with fans
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards /Sylvania
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Ally and Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Valvoline
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Dent Wizard and Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards /Sylvania
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Menards /Sylvania
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta and Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Light
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Valvoline, Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Kroger, Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Realtree, Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Monster Energy
Darrell Wallace Jr., Richard Petty Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Victory Junction

Monday’s rain-delayed GEICO 500 was the second race since NASCAR returned to action during the COVID-19 pandemic on May 17 to host fans.

Around 1,000 guests – members of the military and their families – were allowed to attend the June 14 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Up to 5,000 fans were allowed at Talladega and a significant number still showed up when Sunday’s race was postponed by rain until Monday afternoon.

While dwarfed by Talladega’s large grandstands, Monday’s crowd still made themselves heard during pre-race ceremonies, when driver Bubba Wallace briefly took the lead in the race and when race winner Ryan Blaney enjoyed his post-race celebration.

“Yeah, it was definitely nice we had people in the stands, they stuck around after it rained. We got really lucky the weather cleared up to run the whole race,” Blaney said. “They are excited.

“Man, it was so great just to have fans back. The atmosphere of them cheering was back. Before and after the race, we love that stuff. Drivers, we love support. We love putting on good shows.

“Just to see even though it was 5,000 people, it was really cool to just get that cheering again, see everyone having a good time, that they enjoyed the race.”

Read Also:

With fans in attendance, Blaney was able to continue one of his postrace traditions, which is to collect the checkered flag and hang it over to a young child.

“I was lucky the little boy and his father were really close,” he said. “Figured what a better welcome back present for fans to come to NASCAR races than do that for that kid.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished runner-up to Blaney in the race, said the fans’ presence was especially noticeable pre-race when drivers, crews and NASCAR officials as a group pushes Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet to the front of the starting grid and stood with Wallace during the national anthem as a sign of solidarity.

On Sunday afternoon, a noose was discovered in the garage stall of Wallace’s team. NASCAR and the Birmingham (Ala.) office of the FBI have opened an investigation into the matter.

“It was nice to hear them before the race. It wasn’t dead quiet like (it has been),” Stenhouse said. “Chanting 'Bubba' at the start, pretty special to be able to hear that. I think those fans were glad to be here.

“When Bubba took the lead, when he got to the lead, came down the front straightaway, we were only two-wide at that point. I looked at the stands, watched all the people jump up and cheer. That was pretty cool.

“Those are things that we haven’t had in a long time.”

The next race on the NASCAR schedule where fans will be allowed to attend is the July 15 All-Star Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where attendance will be capped at 30,000.

Read Also:

shares
comments
Why NASCAR’s support for Wallace was a huge moment for the sport

Previous article

Why NASCAR’s support for Wallace was a huge moment for the sport

Next article

FBI: Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime

FBI: Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020