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Sunday, July 18, 2010

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.

Violent night
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.

Surprise runs
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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Blogger ellen_66 said...

you missed others that had great runs. one of them was Steve Wallace finishing 5th for his first top five of the season and his 8th top 15 in a row. I think he deserves mention too.

July 18, 2010 at 9:31 AM 
Blogger Jayhawk said...

Well you are basing it on the outcome of the "bump." What would be your conclusion had Keselowski's bump on Edwards resulted in Edwards losing control, hitting the wall and then getting hit by several other cars? The act is not the result.

Or are you going to believe that Brad is innocent and did not mean to bump Carl? Say hello to Santa Claus when you see him next Christmas.

July 18, 2010 at 9:31 AM 
Blogger ellen_66 said...

you mentioned some of the drivers who had great runs this weekend, but you failed to mention Steve Wallace who finished 5th for his first top 5 this season, and his 8th straight top 15.

I agree its good seeing Morgan Shepherd run great, would love to see him, and Kenny Wallace pick up good sponcership.

July 18, 2010 at 9:37 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't have said it better. Roid rage is a terrible thing, and Carl has a bad case of it. Crazy Carl is an appropiate name.

July 18, 2010 at 9:45 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

It's curious seeing the reaction to this story ... here and elsewhere online it is pretty evenly split ... some defend Carl and say Brad had it coming, while others agree with me.

While I understand Carl had a right to be angry about Brad's move, I don't see how anyone can defend his overly aggressive return actions, here or at Atlanta. The guy is out of control.

July 18, 2010 at 10:28 AM 
Blogger Donald said...

Why dont we get Denny Hamlin's opion

July 18, 2010 at 12:08 PM 
Blogger Donald said...

Why dont we get Denny Hamlin's opinion on the subject of brad tearing up cars what comes around goes around

July 18, 2010 at 12:14 PM 
Anonymous J.J. said...

"But crazy Carl decided to make a return appearance Saturday night."

That pretty much sums it up. Carl is pathological bordering on psychotic. Nascar needs to sit him.

July 18, 2010 at 1:00 PM 
Anonymous J.J. said...

"But crazy Carl decided to make a return appearance Saturday night."

That pretty much sums it up. Carl is pathological bordering on psychotic. Nascar needs to sit him.

July 18, 2010 at 1:01 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you tap someones rear bumper to get the car out of the way you give a guy a chance to control his Car and not wreck but when you turn into his quaterpanel and keep the gas to the floor that is dirty driving.

July 18, 2010 at 1:58 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was Carl tested for drugs after the race? He has shown 'roid rage' before. Curious as to what Jack Roush said. Did he lose any cars in the big wreck caused by Carl? Carl should have all of his points for the race pulled as a penalty.

July 18, 2010 at 3:06 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey jayhawk. we don't live in the world of 'what would have happened'. the fact is...we live in the world of 'what did happen'. brad bumped carl out of the way to take the lead. carl crashed brad out of the way to win the race. BIG BIG DIFFERENCE..!!!

July 18, 2010 at 4:41 PM 
Blogger ellen_66 said...

We are all forgetting that this is the type of thing Dale Sr. Did all the time, and yet it was o.k. Yet when someone else does it now, its road rage. Whats up with that double standard.

July 18, 2010 at 6:49 PM 
Anonymous Brian H. said...

Steve Wallace like Carl Edwards is a freaking joke. Anybody can outdrive either of them. And Brad K should take out a restraining order against Edwards the idiot!! By the way, what happened to NASCAR's Dec 31 probation period??
NASCAR CANT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!!! I say suspend Edwards the idiot for life. NASCAR will be fine without his idiot!!

July 18, 2010 at 10:40 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

Ellen 66: Regarding the Earnhardt Sr. comparison, I agree many people tend to forget how much carnage he caused en route to 7 titles, but you'll also remember that in 97 when he dumped Terry Labonte and wrecked half the field (the whole "rattle his cage" incident), he was actually booed by the fans at Bristol.

July 18, 2010 at 10:47 PM 
Anonymous Cathie said...

I wrote this and posted it as a note on facebook, but I wanted to share it here as well...and btw, a bump and run does not include tearing the fender off of your own car as the 60 had done...and I am not specifically a fan of neither driver, I prefer the #48...

I swore I was going to let this all go, and wait out Nascar's decision, but I can not. Last night's blatant immature actions shown on the track by one Carl Edwards was totally uncalled for and needs to have action taken against it. I don't care if it's Nascar that steps in and does something; a fine, suspension or banning Carl from any further Nationwide events; or if it is the fans that boycott Carl by way of petition and whatever ways we can find to do it.

To get bumped in turn one by Brad, which the replays clearly showed that he moved down and gave Carl that lane, race him side by side down the backstretch, only to purposely drive into the corner of Brad's car coming off turn 4 and send him into the wall...there is no excuse for professional drivers to behave like this.

The fans wanted more rubbin' and bumping on the track...not a freakin' demolition derby on the final lap each week. If any fans want to see this crap all the time, they are not true fans of racing. One of the definitions of racing, as described best by Tom Cruise in the movie Days of Thunder, is the art of trying to control the uncontrollable. Wrecking fellow competitors is controllable, but the drivers have to man up and realize, they may finish second if they do the right thing. At least they would then know they raced the other cleanly.

Bob Keselowski, Brad's dad, said it best last's asinine, someone is going to get killed at the hands of Carl Edwards. And I feel the only wake up call that means business enough to a racer, is banning them to race, whether it is one race or an entire season. Carl brought this all on himself, and Brad has been racing people a lot cleaner since the incidents back in March, so it was just uncalled for, period.

Through reading some of the articles this morning, it sounds to me like Nascar is going to let it go once again; so it may be up to the fans to take a stand. Nascar claims they listen to the fans, so we all need to contact them and show them that we are not willing to accept this kind of behavior from any drivers. Sure, let them "have at it", but it still needs to be policed to an extent as well. I don't know Nascar's email address, but I am sure if enough of us who agree, re-post this to the different track facebook pages, it will eventually get to the hands of someone higher up in Nascar.

Feel free to copy this and forward it to whomever we can and let's get some action on their part this time. I don't want the next page I decide to design to be a tribute page because of someone being an immature child..."If I can't win, I don't wanna play!"

July 19, 2010 at 3:44 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One point that was missed in all the commotion was the flagman's error in not throwing the caution after Kesolowski blocked the inside lane. Without a yellow, cars raced right into the mess. Several cars would have been saved, not to mention avoiding the nasty (and unnecessary) hit Brad took.

July 19, 2010 at 7:28 PM 

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