In  the aftermath of last weekend’s carnage at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was remarkably outspoken about the dangers of restrictor-plate-track racing, saying, “If this is what we did every week, I wouldn’t be doing it, let me put it to you like that.”

As if that wasn’t criticism enough of pack racing at high speeds, Earnhardt punctuated his statement with, “I don’t even want to go to Daytona and Talladega next year, but I ain’t got much choice.”

For a man who generally serves as the poster child for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, those were harsh words indeed (and probably softened greatly compared to what Earnhardt told his crew in the minutes following the last-lap wreck). Could it mean that a Formula One-style driver revolt in the name of safety was in the works?

Not exactly. As Inside Line reports, Earnhardt has toned-down his criticism of the tracks and the style of racing they promote, admitting that his comments were “emotional” and “a bit heat of the moment.”

“I regret making a bit of a scene and not considering the fact that we’re going to be in a totally different race car for 2013,” Earnhardt stated.

While the new cars (which will more closely resemble the production models they’re loosely based on) have been tested at Talladega, it remains to be seen whether they’ll be better or worse in heavy traffic. If horsepower continues to be capped at restrictor plate tracks, can different bodies make enough of an aerodynamic difference to ensure safer racing?

While Sunday’s finish at Talladega may have been what fans expected, sooner or later it ends with another driver death or career-ending injury. Let’s hope that next year’s Sprint Cup cars can deliver racing that’s both entertaining for fans and safe for drivers.