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Here’s why NASCAR made the right call in the Edwards case

By admin | March 9, 2010

By Richard Allen

Anyone who has children knows the difficulties involved in disciplining them(and yes, I am about to compare race car drivers to children). Consistency is critical in the effort. If you tell your child that something is OK, as a matter of fact you openly encourage him to behave that way, you cannot turn around later and punish him for doing the very thing you encouraged him to do. Such actions on your part would cause you to lose all credibility in the future.

NASCAR was faced with this very dilemma when one of its competitors did what they told him to do. It just so happened that his behavior resulted in a spectacular incident.

Of course, I am referring to the crash Carl Edwards caused when he bumped Brad Keselowski on the front stretch of the Atlanta Motor Speedway during the final laps of the Kobalt Tools 500. Keselowski’s car flew through the air and slammed the wall much like crashes that have been seen on the larger tracks of Daytona and Talladega.

NASCAR, in a very open and encouraging way, told their drivers to ‘have at it’ and to do a little ‘self-policing’ in the off season. The sanctioning body finally seemed to realize that its sport had become too vanilla with stars who often exhibited the personality of a cardboard box due to the overly corporate mandating of behavior that had come about in recent years. So, their solution was to loosen the reins.

On Sunday in Atlanta, Edwards did a bit of ‘self-policing’ when he intentionally took more than one swipe at Keselowski and eventually turned him around. He was most likely retaliating for an earlier incident the two had but also for previous run-ins in other races.

‘Having at it’ and ‘self-policing’ are the very terms used by NASCAR during the off season. Parents, again I ask you to consider the importance of consistency when instituting discipline.

Here’s another thing to consider. NASCAR has to take almost as much of the blame here as the drivers involved. This horrible Car of Tomorrow they have designed played a significant role in what happened. Not only is the car virtually impossible to set up and drive, it has a well known tendency to leave the ground when turned backwards at high speed.

Races on the high speed tracks have had numerous incidents in which cars turned around would take off yet NASCAR has waited until this season(in the coming weeks) to finally address the issue by replacing the rear wing with a blade spoiler. I cannot say whether or not Keselowski’s car would have left the ground on Sunday had it had a blade spoiler but I can point to plenty of evidence that showed it would with the wing.

Let me offer an example. Last season in the Nationwide Series race in Homestead Denny Hamlin spun Keselowski in somewhat the same way Edwards did in Atlanta. Both incidents took place on high speed 1.5 mile tracks. In the Nationwide race Keselowski’s car spun around a couple of times and suffered no real damage. That series does not use the Car of Tomorrow or a rear wing. Obviously, in the Sprint Cup race Keselowski’s car did suffer considerable damage.

Had Keselowski’s car just spun harmlessly through the grass on Sunday, as it might well have with a blade spoiler, there would have been no debate or no press conference. Hamlin’s retaliation was every bit as premeditated and intentional as Edwards’ retaliation. It’s just that the results were far more spectacular on Sunday.

I think it’s safe to say that NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow helped the situation become more of an issue in the Sprint Cup race than it was in the Nationwide example.

For the reasons mentioned, NASCAR could not have and should not have penalized Carl Edwards anymore than the three race probation they gave him. And for the record, that was probably as much for driving the wrong way on pit road as for the crash.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

19 Responses to “Here’s why NASCAR made the right call in the Edwards case”

  1. Ginger Says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    You forgot that Helton also told them at that same time that “this does not constitute a ‘get out of jail free card’.
    Nascar had plenty of leeway to act responsibly and failed to do so. I don’t think they thought that an idiot would go on track and pull something like Carl did. Since he did, they should have used Helton’s words as a basis for acting accordingly. Nascar has royally screwed the pooch on this one, and I can guarantee they will rue this day for a long time to come. Some parents!

  2. Mrs. Goodman Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 1:52 am

    I completely agree with your words and opinion.
    For once, NASCAR made a wise decision.
    Every driver will now become his own policeman and very mindful of his actions and resulting repercussions.

  3. Clay Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Totally agree!! Kudos for NASCAR for not saying one thing and doing something else. You know what would stop all this retaliation crap. Make the drivers replace the cost of the cars out of their own pocket and help build the replacement, you would then think twice about wrecking someone.

  4. Bill B Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 7:48 am

    So is there any line anymore or is it a free-for-all? Seems to me that this sets the precedent that anything really does go. It’s OK to purposely wreck anyone since every driver has had some incident with every other driver at some point over the years.
    I don’t agree with that personally because I think it has the potential to further send the sport toward the WWF category. I guess as long as NASCAR doesn’t penalize anyone else I can accept it.
    Just out of curiosity is it OK to now have physical confrontations after the race as well? Jeff Gordon got a year of probation for pushing Matt Kenseth. Is that OK now or should he avoid doing that and instead wreck him on the track at 200 mph?
    I just want to know where that line is now.

  5. Scott Beasley Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Nascar is such a joke, there are no rules anymore is what Nascar is saying with this decision. BK may be hard headed and makes some bad decisions on the track, but are you going to tell me Edwards doesn’t? Edwards was the cause of his first wreck with BK, Edwards was the cause of the wreck at Talledega, and in the Nationwide Race at Daytona this year it was EDWARDS that caused that wreck. Yet he blames BK for all of them and he did nothing wrong. Edwards should be the one with the target on his back now. Since Nascar is not going to do anything if you intentionaly wreck someone, it is the WWE on wheels. Thankfully F1 starts this week so I can watch a real racing series that understands how to run a race and a racing series.

  6. Sharon Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 9:23 am

    How could Nascar lose credibility over Edwards’ punishment? They haven’t had in years any credibility to lose!

  7. Justin Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Here is why I disagree with NASCAR in this situation. People like to put every situation into a black and white box. You cant do that. What I mean is, people say, its ok to wreck someone at Bristol, so it should be ok at Atlanta. The difference is, no cars are going into the stands at Bristol. You have to look at each situation, and then compare all of the factors. Wrecking someone at Atlanta, on purpose, at the fastest part of the track, is stupid to say the least. That poor decision requires a penalty by itself.

    NASCAR has now set the president, that if a driver wants to purposely wreck another driver, all it will cost them is 3 races of probation. Cant wait until Hamlin wrecks Keselowski at Talladega….. Because e already know what happens at those speeds….

    That aside, didnt Dale Jr lose 100 points, during the Chase in 2005 (I think) for saying “sh_t” on national tv in an interview? How can you take 100 points away from a driver for swearing, but you take away no points for purposely wrecking a driver. Essentially, Edwards got what he wanted.

    If I was Edwards, I would look at this as a win. In his mind, Keselowski cost him 125 points (give or take) by crashing him. So Edwards went out and cost Brad 125 points (give or take). And there was essentially no penalty for Edwards for doing so.

    With that being said, lets just take a look at the Championship picture. The 48 has been unstoppable. Until now. NASCAR just gave the rest of the field a free pass. So, next week, the 18 can wreck the 48. Then the week after, the 14 can wreck him, the week after the 39 can wreck him, the week after the 16 can wreck him, the week after the 17 can wreck him, the week after the 42 can wreck…….and so on. All of those drivers take their 3 race probation, and we have a new Champ………..

  8. midasmicah Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Bravo! This is what I’ve been saying all along and taking a beating for it. If that stupid wing wasn’t on the car we wouldn’t be having this discussion. This is the only decision nas$car could have made after saying the gloves were off.

  9. Gary Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 11:03 am

    The new 4 car team

    2 racers going for points
    1 blocker to protect the racers
    1 wrecker to take out other teams
    Doesn’t sound like racing to me

  10. wlpelton Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 11:57 am

    While I agree with most of your column. I would have liked to see Edwards start 43rd for the 3 week probation period. That is what many short tracks due in these situations. At least then he would have some punishment for his actions without destroying his chase hopes.

  11. Richard Allen Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    One thing I believe has been misunderstood here.

    To me, this is a case of racing a guy the way he races you. That is as old as racing itself. Just going out to wreck someone with no prior history is another matter. Edwards stated on his Facebook page that he believes Keselowski has wrecked him on multiple occasions and he was in turn racing BK the he had been raced. Had there been no prior history between the two, then a different course of action should have been taken.

    NASCAR’s responsibility is to contain from the outset. If they let it go they are essentially telling the drivers “we aren’t going to do anything about so it’s up to you.”

    My point in this column was to say NASCAR can’t tell drivers to ’self-police’ then punish them for doing so.

  12. The Old Guy Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Richard. I completely agree with you.

    What I think the three race probation really amounts to is a warning to BK. Carl flagrantly took out BK. Next time, you can bet it won’t be flagrant and will look like one of those “racing deals”.

    It would be interesting if you could poll the drivers and find out how many of them approve of what Carl did.

  13. Brian Webb Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Carl Edwards is not the person we all believed him to be. He is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Many of us thought of him as a Ritchy Cunningham or Opie, but he is more like Jeckle and Hyde. He is nothing but a bully and i’m to the point of not rooting for him anymore. He was one of my favorites. I’m not a big Brad fan either, but he is a hard charging racer and why should he have to “lift” for the veterans and give them room. As a racer, I didn’t give anybody anything. They earned there spot in front of me. Too bad and sorry about your day if you think since your a veteran racer and think you deserve respect. You deserve what you can get with the car you have for that day. Nothing more. I became a fan favorite at Crown Point Speedway when it was still open because I raced just as hard for 15th as I would for a top 5 and I didn’t care how long you raced before I got there. AND I MADE MY OWN RESULTS! Brad is very talented, and I think the veterans don’t like him stealing their thunder!

  14. Ritchie Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    good on ya NASCAR.

  15. Justin Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Side note, how come when Kyle Busch drives like an a$$hole, he is praised as a hard charger, who just wants to win, blah blah blah.

    But when BK drives like an a$$hole, he has no respect for veterans, needs to know his role, and deserves to be wrecked???

    I am not sure I understand while some drivers get a free pass on their aggressive style (Harvick, Ky Busch), and some drivers dont (Keselowski).

    Just like, some drivers are praised for their laid back style (Mark Martin, Jeff Burton) and others (Dale Jr) are said to have no heart.

    Guess NASCAR fans are just like the sanctioning body, cant be consistent about anything….

  16. Jim Allan Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    It’s a miracle Brad lived. That roll cage collapsed. Being as Carl freely admitted it was intentional. If Brad or anyone else died or was seriously injured, that would have been a crime scene! You think NASCAR did the correct thing. You can’t see the forest for the trees.

  17. Richard in N.C. Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    One thing that I believe is being overlooked is that NASCAR has put policing back in the hands of the drivers, all the drivers. I believe NASCAR is saying that if someone is being overaggressive it is up to the drivers to handle it - don’t come running to NASCAR. As I recall, it was a bunch of the drivers that finally got Ernie Irvan to realize that he was going too far on the track.

    It sure is curious that Jack Roush has been so quiet in all of this - and from what I’ve read it would appear that no one in the media has tried to get him to comment.

  18. al Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Lets change some names and see if you still feel that nascar made the right call: I say it all depends on who’s on the receiving end.

    replace edwards with Montoya and replace Keselowski with junior.

    could you imagine montoya flipping junior….

    HMS would scream bloody murder and most of the teams in the garage would demand that montoya be suspended immediately!!!

  19. Overra88ted Says:
    March 10th, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Here’s why Na$crap made the right call….Who is sponsoring the Bristol Nationwide race?… SCOTTS. This is Na$crap, follow the $$$! Na$crap will sell their soul for a $1. Three race probation for Carl, no surprise there. Watch him in the SCOTTS car at Bristol.