By admin | July 18, 2010
By Richard Allen
Before getting into the issue at hand in this piece I want to first say that I have been a Carl Edwards fan since he first came into the Camping World Truck Series. As a matter of fact, I have one of his T-shirts hanging in my closet.
With that said, however, the move he made on Brad Keselowski on the last lap of Saturdayâ€™s Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Gateway International Raceway was dirty and cheap. Not only was it dirty and cheap but it could have even been deadly. And furthermore, it caused a great deal of expensive damage to people not in any way involved in the feud between these two drivers.
As the two drivers took the white flag signifying one lap to go, Keselowski made a move to the inside of Edwards. When they reached turn one the two cars touched which allowed Kieslowski a slight advantage. After racing essentially side by side down the back stretch and through turns three and four, Edwards turned his car left as they roared toward the finish line hitting Keselowski in the right rear.
After the contact, Keselowskiâ€™s car veered hard right and head-on into the outside wall. Then, on a track which has walls on either side of the front straightaway, the helpless car slid in front of oncoming traffic and was hit hard by several other machines. Luckily, Keselowski and the other drivers were unhurt but several cars were destroyed.
â€œI just couldnâ€™t let him take the win from me,â€ Edwards unashamedly declared in victory lane in reference to the turn one contact initiated by Keselowski. â€œMy guys work way too hard for that.â€
In its early history, NASCAR was a rough business. Wild crashes, fights and retaliation were somewhat commonplace. However, in recent years the sport has become very antiseptic. So, to those not familiar with the background of this form of racing this rough and tumble type action is new and difficult to grasp.
NASCAR announced a policy of â€˜Boys, have at itâ€™ at the beginning of the 2010 season and as a result, the driving has gotten a bit rougher and the barbs a bit shaper.
But even with the â€˜Have at itâ€™ policy, this incident crossed some sort of line. Back in the old days, one thing that was considered off limits was the right rear of another driverâ€™s car. Contact in that part of the car causes a head-on impact with the wall and thus opens the door for heavy damage and serious injury.
But although the move was dirty and even taboo in the racing world, there can be no punishment for it. Edwards, in my opinion, should not receive any points reduction, fine or probation. The reason I say this is that when NASCAR introduced â€˜Have at itâ€™ they spelled out no guidelines. They did not say there are limits, they simply said, â€˜Have at itâ€™. It cannot be assumed that everyone knew what they meant.
I defended Edwards when he wrecked Keselowski earlier this year in Atlanta. In that case, he hit his opponentâ€™s car in the left rear. By the remorse in his voice over the in-car radio it was apparent he did not intend for Keselowskiâ€™s car to fly into the catch fence as it did. He simply meant to send him for a spin after a previous incident in that race had ended his chances at victory.
In this case, however, I am willing to call the move what it was, dirty and cheap. It was not the way to win a race, or even exact revenge. However, he should not be punished for it. If NASCAR wants to redefine the policy that is their business. But no matter how the heads of the sport may feel about the move, there is likely little remorse in their Daytona Beach offices over the amount of publicity the Nationwide Series received from the highlights on SportsCenter.
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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.
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