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Friday, March 12, 2010

Role reversal: Incident could make Keselowski a good guy, Edwards a bad guy

It’s amazing how much one incident can change.

Last year, fans everywhere were cursing his name, saying he was a disrespectful young rookie who needed to learn his manners. He was wrecking Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and others far too often, and was just a young punk too big for his britches.

Meanwhile, Carl Edwards was a good guy, “Cousin Carl” the ever friendly pitchman.

The Atlanta incident changed all that.

Now, Brad is the victim. He has gained fans because he was the target of Edwards’ overly aggressive attack at the end of the race, which knocked him out of a top-10 finish and way down to 33rd in the points. He may have been aggressive at times in the past, but he didn’t deserve this kind of retaliation … that is the opinion of the majority of fans I’ve seen responding to the incident.

Meanwhile, “Cousin Carl” is now that bleeping jerk of a cousin you don’t want to hang out with, in the minds of many fans who have rooted for him in the past. He will most definitely lose some fans, and even has been publicly called out by sponsors, the ultimate fear in NASCAR … where money rules all.

I think it would be an amazing thing if by the end of the year, Brad is a fan favorite and Carl has been tabbed as a bad guy. It would be very similar to what happened with Darrell Waltrip, after he was turned around by Rusty Wallace during the 1989 all-star race. He had long been hated by many fans for his big mouth and rough driving, but Rusty’s actions made some of the fans switch over to liking him.

So in the end, while Carl may have been trying to show Brad who to respect, he may have lessened his own level of fan respect, and increased Brad’s level of respect.

I doubt that's what he was hoping to achieve with this move.


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