There's a fine line between racing and stupidity; Carl Edwards crossed it
Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Coming to the checkered flag, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski tangle as the battle for the victory during the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250.
There’s hard racing, and then there’s just plain stupidity.
Carl Edwards crossed that line Saturday night at Gateway, when he put Brad Keselowski in an extremely unsafe situation by blatantly causing a last-lap wreck that could have injured Keselowski and several other drivers.
We all remember these guys feuding and Brad flying into the air at Atlanta earlier this year, and we also remember Carl saying that he and Brad should try to avoid racing each other like that in the future, in the best interests of everyone involved. There was even a cooling-off period, and Carl even came over one race to congratulate Brad after a win. They were playing nice, and the feud seemed to have died.
But crazy Carl decided to make a return appearance Saturday night.
I would describe what happened myself, but Brad’s father Bob Keselowski, himself a lifelong racer, described it best after the race.
Visibly shaken and angry, he said, “"Brad got into Carl, getting into turn 1, racing. They bumped, they rubbed. Typical rubbin and racing deal. Carl went and flipped out like he did at Atlanta, tried to kill the kid,” he said, shaking. “I'm sick and tired of this. I'll get my own damn uniform back on and take care of this. He ain't gonna kill my boy. He just overreacted so bad. If he wanted to bump Brad it's one thing. But don't drive him through the inside guard rail. Don't put him in the grandstands at Atlanta. That’s asinine."
That’s about the long and short of it. I know he has a stake in this, but Mr. K nailed it with that description.
With NASCAR’s new “have at it boys” policy, every driver knows more bumping and banging is going to happen, especially at the end of races. That’s what Brad did … he bumped Carl out of the way, not wrecking him, and drove by. If Carl had done the same thing, that would have been a great finish and probably a thrilling drag race to the end.
Instead, he purposely barreled into the back of Keselowski like a madman, in the process tearing up about a dozen racecars who had nothing to do with the earlier incident. Keselowski took a hit so hard he could have easily been seriously injured, and other drivers took hard hits. The fact that Edwards tried to defend this behavior by saying Brad bumped him in Turn 1 shows he has no concept of what the proper amount of retaliation should be.
Keselowski said he could tell immediately that Edwards' action at Gateway were intentional, and that’s not cool with him.
"He turned left into me and wrecked me on purpose," Keselowski said. "I gave him the lane, and he still wrecked me. … I figured out a way to beat him. He wasn't happy with me, so he wrecked me. Wrecking down the straightaway is never cool, whether it's at 200 mph or 120. I'm sorry that's the way it had to end."
Meanwhile, here is Edwards’ not-so-logical explanation after the race:
"I just couldn't let him take the win from me. My guys work way too hard for that. We had a great restart. My guys built me a great car. We came to the checkered flag, and I hate to see stuff tore up, but we came here to win and he took it from us there in Turn 1. Just an awesome race. ... I'm sure some of them don't like that win -- Brad Keselowski fans and stuff -- but, man, I just couldn't let him take it from me. I had to do what I had to do."
Earth to Carl: There is a big difference between doing what you have to do and doing what would be considered assault on the streets of any city.
Tap the bumper, don’t smash it in … it’s a pretty simple rule that you should know after racing your whole life. I’ll give him credit for one thing, though. He’s honest about doing it on purpose and not making up a story about how he didn’t mean it.
Just like Atlanta, Edwards went way overboard and, unfortunately, it looks like NASCAR will once again let him continue his antics without punishment. (At Atlanta, it was even worse, because the incident that angered Carl wasn’t even that bad on Brad’s part, and Carl was several laps down when he wrecked Brad aggressively.)
Edwards met with Nationwide Series director Joe Balash after the race, and Balash didn’t seem too concerned about what happened, calling it “hard racing”
"I think at the last lap there was a lot of hard racing going on," Balash said. "There was some movement on the racetrack. It was a tough finish for a really great race. We've chatted about this evening, yes. We don't talk about any of those conversations [that we have] in the hauler."
Sorry, NASCAR, but my definition of hard racing doesn’t include reckless actions like we saw from Edwards at Gateway and Atlanta. I remember a race where David Gilliland pulled a similar incident during a race, smashing into Juan Pablo Montoya after a previous tangle.
Gilliland was parked for several laps, but Edwards won’t even get that punishment. Instead, he gets a win and a trophy. To top it all off, he trimmed Keselowski's points lead from 227 to 168 points. If I were NASCAR, I’d move Edwards to the back of the lead lap and give Reed Sorenson the win.
I’ll be looking on in future weeks, in both Nationwide and Cup races, to see how this renewed feud is played out. Brad has every right to resort to the thug tactics of Edwards, and I wouldn’t mind one good shot to make a point, but if he’s smart he can’t keep rubbing fenders with Edwards if he wants to win this Nationwide title.
The best course would be to not let this faze him and keep his focus on winning a title.
It’s a shame that while everyone with eyes knows that Edwards won the race in the worst way possible, NASCAR won’t do anything about it. “Have at it boys” doesn’t need to go away, as I like how it has increased the excitement level of the races, but when you act reckless and endanger people’s lives, there should be consequences.
Even before Edwards’ outburst, it was already a violent night, with a rough wreck between the two Joe Gibbs cars, being drive by Matt DiBennedetto and Brad Coleman. DiBennedetto got loose and came down the track, then teammate Coleman smashed into him very hard, leaving both drivers pretty dazed.
Until a late-race incident sent him back to 28th in the finishing order, young Ryan Truex had a solid top-10 run going in his Nationwide debut. Between him and Trevor Bayne (who is probably the most well-spoken young driver I’ve seen in a while, by the way), Michael Waltrip has a good base for his team’s future.
Also, there was another good run by Morgan Shepherd, driving again in the #21 for Richard Childress … I say keep him in there. It’s nice to see Morgan in some decent equipment, even if the sponsorship still isn’t there.
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