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Edwards' aggression tests NASCAR's new credo

Following Atlanta controversy, NASCAR now needs to respond to the incident involving Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards
Now that the boys indeed have “had at it,” NASCAR has a problem.

In the aftermath of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the sanctioning body must decide to what extent it will discipline driver Carl Edwards for intentionally, blatantly and unabashedly wrecking Brad Keselowski on the 323rd lap of what was supposed to be a 325-lap race.

“Boys, have at it and have fun,” vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said during the off-season, coining a phrase that quickly became the mantra of NASCAR's new laissez-faire attitude toward its competitors.

Embargos against bump-drafting were lifted, holes in restrictor plates were widened to provide more horsepower at plate tracks, and drivers were encouraged to settle their differences on the asphalt. The term “self-policing” was bandied about ad nauseam.

The tack NASCAR would take was clearly evident during championship weekend last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway, long before Pemberton's off-the-cuff remark would become the new watchwords of the sport.

In the Nationwide Series season finale, Denny Hamlin spun Keselowski, as he had promised to do a week earlier at Phoenix, where the drivers had traded shots on the racetrack. Hamlin, who had gotten the short end of the exchange at Phoenix was docked a lap at Homestead for the altercation.

The following day, in the final Sprint Cup race, Tony Stewart knocked Juan Pablo Montoya into the wall between turns three and four. Montoya spent the next 27 laps plotting his revenge, while his car was repaired in the garage area. He returned to the track and spun Stewart.

Because Keselowski and Stewart spun harmlessly, NASCAR treated both incidents with a wink and a nod. No harm, no foul. “Boys, have at it, and have fun.”

On Sunday at Atlanta, however, Keselowski wasn't as lucky. To the accompaniment of an audible, collective gasp from the main grandstand, Keselowski's #12 Dodge flipped over, slammed into the outside wall in the tri-oval, landed on its roof on the driver's side, righted itself and skidded into the wall in turn one.

In the process, NASCAR collected another testimonial to the safety enhancements of its new racecar. Keselowski appeared groggy and sore when he climbed from the car but otherwise none the worse for wear.




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Carl Edwards [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
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Motojunky

March 10, 2010 3:27 AM

I must be missing something. When I used to go to the races as a youngster with my dad, what Carl did to Brad would have been cheered at and very professional. But here's the thing. It was called a demollission derby and that was the objective. Because NASCAR did nothing about this incident ( and various others ), it's now a free for all. What has a driver got to do to be penalised for their actions in the future? Drive up pit lane in the wrong direction. Unbeleivable that NUTSCAR has no balls to set certain guidlines, and falls back on "boys will be boys" principle. At least a circus has a ringmaster, more than NUTSCAR has.

puff - Unregistered

March 09, 2010 2:05 PM

If NASCAR is serious about all this, then the next time that Jeff Gordon intentionally bumps someone, re: Daytona, they'll need to penalize him too. And if action had been taken against Keselowski after he wrecked Edwards before, this incident wouldn't have happened. THEY NEED TO THROW THE BOOK AT EDWARDS. But they need to use the book when all incidents happen instead of a wink, a nod, a laugh, a that's great TV, and a boys will be boys. Either NASCAR takes care of everything or the drivers will continue to work it out between themselves on the track. Thank God Keselowski was okay. What about next time when its Jr or Stewart or one of the Buschs who get in a twist and NASCAR does nothing?



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