Bad Boy: NASCAR Brings Hammer Down on Edwards
I think Carl Edwards is lucky that NASCAR got to him before Bob Keselowski got ahold of him.
After Edwards had yet another scrape with Bob’s son Brad Keselowski last week coming to the checkered flag in the Nationwide Series race at Gateway, the elder Keselowski promised to get back behind the wheel of a race car and settle the spat.
“I’m sick of this. I’ll go put on a driver’s suit and take care of this,” Bob Keselowski said, “I’m not going to let him kill my boy.”
In case you missed it, Edwards spun Keselowski while the two were battling for the lead coming out of turn four on the last lap. Edwards took the checkered flag, while Keselowski spun in front of the field before getting nailed right at the start-finish line. The two had been beating and banging for several laps, with Keselowski getting Edwards sideways in turn two.
Edwards admitted immediately after the race that he did, in fact, bump Keselowski on purpose in retribution for the turn two bump. He also admitted to wrecking him earlier in the year at Atlanta.
Had it been any two other drivers, the whole fracas probably would have been chalked up to NASCAR’s 2010 mantra of “have at it boys.” You know, the whole “last lap, get what you can get” stuff. But with the past that these two have — punctuated by Edwards taking out the catch fence at Talladega and Keselowski landing on the outside retaining wall at Atlanta — NASCAR felt they had to make a move to squash the on-track antics of the two talented drivers. So, Edwards got the load of NASCAR heavy-handedness on Wednesday (a date later than usual NASCAR penalties, so many thought “have at it boys” would rule). Edwards got hit with a violation of the standard Section 12-1 (say it with me everyone) actions detrimental to stock car racing/aggressive driving. He was docked 60 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship driver points, fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. For his part of the brouhaha, Keselowski got put on NASCAR double-secret probation until Dec. 31 as well.
“In a nutshell, I think you know that these two drivers have a history with each other,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “So therefore we feel like they are both held accountable in some way, shape or form. I think therefore you look at the turn one and two incident, and then you look at the retaliation in turn four. We feel like the penalty was warranted, and basically by coming up with the 60 points, that puts the points race back to where it was, roughly, pre-event on Saturday night. So it takes away any of the advantage that Carl would have gained by taking out Brad.”
For NASCAR, I think this is a bit of closing the barn door after the horse is out. Pemberton basically set an expectation of behavior with his have-at-it-boys decree in January and it appears as though Edwards has taken it to heart vis-a-vis his on-track relationship with Keselowski.
What has happened is that the whole thing has gotten out of control. This feud that NASCAR would like to market as it panders to the lowest common denominator of “fan” is dangerous.
Keselowski is a lucky man to have walked away from the crash last week — he took a very hard hit after sliding down to the inside of the track with the whole field bearing down on him.
And Edwards is lucky that ol’ Bob didn’t get his hands on him Saturday night.
Contact Andy Cagle by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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