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NASCAR contradicts itself in Edwards/Keselowski ruling

By admin | July 21, 2010

By Richard Allen

If NASCAR has a Department of Making Sure We Don’t Contradict Ourselves that department is failing…miserably. It has happened so many times in the past that one has to wonder if NASCAR simply doesn’t care that they contradict themselves. Or worse, they actually believe their audience won’t notice.

Earlier this week I posted a column condemning Carl Edwards’ wrecking of Brad Keselowski on the last lap of the Nationwide Series race at Gateway International Raceway, but I also said that NASCAR should not and could not punish him because they had told drivers to ‘Have at it’ at the beginning of the year( ). With no clear definition of ‘Have at it’ then punishment for ‘Having at it’ appears hypocritical.

Well, NASCAR went ahead with the punishment of Edwards, and Keselowski, anyway.

On Wednesday it was announced that Edwards and his team would be docked 60 points, fined $25,000 and placed on probation until the end of 2010. Keselowski has also been placed on probation until the end of the year.

“Both of them are on probation through the end of the year – we needed to do that to help protect the garage area from being caught up in an incident not of their making,” declared NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton.

“These two drivers have a history with each other,” Pemberton went on. “We had talked to both drivers after the Atlanta incident. And even though Carl was put on probation, we had conversations with Brad about their relationship and explained to them that there will be a boundary.

“You fast forward to Gateway and you look at what we feel like was Brad misjudging his corner on Carl and then you look at the retaliation by Carl coming off Turn 4, we felt this had escalated beyond what we should tolerate on the race track. The penalty is to put these guys on notice. They have affected many of the other teams in the garage area and we felt they stepped over the line with their aggressive driving. It was time to penalize.”

As stated, NASCAR claims that a boundary was established after the Atlanta incident. However, no matter what was said in private meetings, the public statement by NASCAR of only putting Edwards on probation for three weeks said all that needed to be said. That light penalty told Edwards, Keselowski and every other driver in the garage that ‘Have at it’ was still firmly in place.

The bottom line is there can’t be a policy of ‘Have at it’ and then be a punishment handed down for ‘Having at it’. If NASCAR had come out this week and said that drivers apparently misunderstood what was meant so now ‘Have at it’ is over then that would have been one thing. They would have received criticism but at least they would not have been hypocrites.

Even if they had come out and said ‘Have at it’ is over for this one or these two drivers they would be criticized for making one or two drivers targets for everyone else. But, they could have responded that those drivers created their own situation by going too far.

Instead, NASCAR will continue to insist that ‘Have at it’ is still in place but the reality is that it is not.

In my opinion, NASCAR’s ‘Have at it’ policy has created some great storylines this year. Gordon vs. Johnson, Hamlin vs. Kyle Busch and Edwards vs. Keselowski are the types of rivalries that can make people want to watch. However, by now taking points away from Edwards, NASCAR has ended ‘Have at it’.

Points are the life blood of a NASCAR team. When threatened with losing points drivers and crew members suddenly will revert to ‘Kiss up to NASCAR’ mode.

Expect to hear plenty of “NASCAR did what they felt was best for the sport” and “NASCAR had to step in before things got out of hand” type statements from other drivers this weekend.

And when something happens on the track, expect to hear the old lines of “He and I will talk it over and work things out” and “We met with NASCAR and everything’s cool” statements.

Carl Edwards should not have done what he did in my opinion. However, he was only doing what he believed NASCAR had instructed him to do. Now, he has been punished for that. The end result will be back to the bland and lifeless.

Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.

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 |

14 Responses to “NASCAR contradicts itself in Edwards/Keselowski ruling”

  1. Mott Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 1:52 am

    There’s a difference between “Boys, have at it”, and deliberately wrecking someone like Carl did. I don’t think you can find a driver in the garage who isn’t named Carl Edwards who doesn’t think that was a nasty move.

    And Edwards has done it twice this year, to the same guy, neither time have I seen Brad do anything especially out of line. IIRC, he wasn’t even responsible for the Atlanta incident, Edwards came down on him. Gateway, I saw Brad bumping Carl out of the way, that’s something nearly everybody does. Bump Brad back out of the way, fine, but don’t turn him head-on into the wall in front of 41 other cars.

  2. mrclause Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Well Rich, just where would you draw the line? Would it take Shelby Howard ending up in the hospital? Brad in the hospital? Something worse? How about the thousands of dollars these trashed cars cost these NNS teams that by any measure are not high dollar teams?
    This is one more argument that the cup “STAR’S” shouldn’t be in the NNS. There is no financial parity for the teams. Who really suffered or came up short with Edwards stupidity? The innocent, underfunded teams!
    The line should have been drawn at Atlanta,but, it wasn’t. Another stupid NASCAR decision! Now there is a semi-line drawn for most to see. It had to be done. If you think that incident was “just racin” then you don’t understand respect or real racers. Edwards certainly doesn’t get it!

  3. Lydia Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Now Rich…let’s be serious…do you REALLY think Carl thought NASCAR was giving the driver’s carte blanche to bulldoze any car he deemed in his way..and in the process wreck a good deal of the field..and THEN rub it in NASCAR’s and the other competitors faces in Victory Lane? We are all grownups here..and given the fact they gave him 3 weeks for the Atlanta deal..and said “they would know the line when it was crossed” and would act accordingly…the penalties handed out were appropriate and ALL parties. As far as being bland…if you take out the “Carl/Brad sideshow” the racing has been more exciting (i.e. Jeff/Jimmie, Juan and the entire field, Jeff/Elliott and entire Infinity field, etc etc)..there has been a lot of good racing..beating banging and moving others out of the way..and it’s for the most part all been done in the spirit of “have at it boys”. I myself don’t need to see a driver intentionally wreck someone and then have to hold my breath as the wreck unfolds to see if all drivers involved are able to exit their cars. I’m sorry you feel “wreckin is racin”…maybe you need to go watch a little demo derby at your local short track.

  4. Ritchie Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Oh well… If Brad keeps up the bump and run to pass rather than on sheer power. Keep dumping him until he gets it. I like Brad and I hope he got the message last Sat night. I see a lot more wrong with the peoples reactions than what Carl did. I’d rattle Harvick’s cage too just for being a loud mouth tool.

  5. Ritchie Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 7:31 am

    One more thing. Carl and brad should have been punished by paying the repair bills for all the wrecked cars.
    Carl pays 80% and Brad 20%. No more.

  6. Justin Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Isnt this a little bit unfair to put Keselowski on probation too? There has never been anything wrong with the bump and run. Plus, the drivers were supposed to police themselves, so put Edwards on probation, and let brad have free reign, so that when Richmond roles around, Brad has the ability to make Edwards pay, by crashing him out at Richmond, and watching him miss the Chase. And that, is why NASCAR made brad pay. They didnt want to see Brad take a Chase spot from Edwards….after that, you put Brad on probation too

  7. Charles Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Richardyou are exactly right, Nascar again showing how inconsistent as ever with their penalities!

    But it is nothing new, remember them taking a win away from Ricky Rudd at Sonoma for hitting, but Dale Sr seemed to get a pass all the time for spinning people out!He hit Terry Labonte at Bristol and nothing was done!

    Showing favoritism is a big Nascar problem, inconsistent penalties, and so on!

    I still think they should let them have at it, and let it run its course, soon it would be self policed, as far it costing race teams a lot of money, I am not really insterested in saving millionaire team owners money so they can buy million dollar yachts and homes at the beach at the expense of us race fans having excitement!

  8. JerseyGirl Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 9:11 am

    NASCAR said after Edwards DELIBERATELy wrecked Kez in Atlanta that there was a line not to be crossed — I’m pretty darn sure that Edwards knew he was over that line when he made the decision to hook Kez on the front stretch.

    Edwards chose that action - it wasn’t a bump and run. I like hard racing but I am not interested in seeing this become a bloodsport.

    I am not a fan of either driver in particular but Edwards has lost any chance of me ever becoming a fan with his continued pattern of bad behavior. From what I see -he’s a nut job. If I were his wife, I’d be afraid to be with someone as volatile as that. I hear that he’s the guest driver on ESPN for their coverage and I don’t plan to watch any shows that he appears on.

  9. Bill B Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Dude, there has to be a line drawn somewhere. “Have at it” can’t mean anarchy.

  10. Lydia Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    @ Ritchie…if you think Brad should “learn how to pass” and not use the “bump and run” you are going to have to include at least 2/3 of the Cup field drivers..and 1/2 the Cup lite field drivers…Bump and run is an accepted part of racing…it goes back to dirt racing..and most drivers give it as well as have it done to them. It’s a skill…and the best I can figure is although Brad is a relative rookie..he is trying to learn the bump and run skill. Carl the veteran, on the other hand…has shown in past races he can’t master the skill of the bump and I guess when the time came for him to “try it again” at Gateway..he knew he didn’t possess the finesse or skill needed to pull it he just dumped Brad. Sorry Ritchie..but the BEST use it..and they use it well.

  11. Ginger Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Nascar didn’t contradict themselves at all. After Pemberton’s foot in mouth “have at it”, Helton said “but there is a line you can’t cross”. Edwards crossed the line and was punished. Unfortunately he’s a driver that has shown he can’t control his temper. Someone has to be in charge of drivers like that.

  12. Richard in N.C. Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Well since you’ve clearly indicated that you think Carl and Brad are idiots, I suspect you will be steering clear of both of them. From what I’m told, Mike Helton can make things real easy to understand - but apparently you think Carl is too dumb to have understood when Helton told him there’s a line and not to cross it. It’s real easy for the media to complain and criticize when you’re not responsible for anyone’s safety.

  13. Barney Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Where in the rule book does it say you can penalize someone for violations they may commit in the future? That is what they did to Brad. Just putting him on notice not because he did anything wrong but because he may?

    Nascar is screwed up.

  14. Stephen Hood Says:
    July 22nd, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Brad got probation because he was complicit in the exchange. It’s like when two boys get into a fight on the playground and both are held partly responsible no matter the circumstances. This approach isn’t always fair but it puts each side on notice.

    I think NASCAR’s probation for both drivers was a brilliant move because it makes retribution from Brad much more costly, and the points loss by Edwards coupled with probation puts him on notice that he can’t win the championship by wrecking the points leader. I don’t think this will put an end to on track action. It may put an end to disproportional stupidity, but probably not…