Thursday, March 11, 2010

NASCAR’s inconsistency is the most frustrating part of the Edwards, Keselowski incident.

“NASCAR has left it up to Brad Keselowski to hand out the punishment with the new Boy's have at it rules.”

NASCAR has labeled the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as the season of “Boy’s have at it”. NASCAR is trying to put more of the racing into the drivers hands. The move is meant to go back to basics with racing in creating hard, competitive and side-by-side racing.

However the move also enables the drivers to handle on-track actions themselves, basically the drivers police themselves. Self-policing can be a good thing, but also a bad thing. The self-policing in someways does create a problem spot though, drivers taking things in the own hands and if they see fit, possibly taking another driver out – payback, retaliation on-track which sometimes leads to a whole new set of problems.

Which brings us back to last Sunday’s heavily discussed incident’s in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway that went down between Good Guy (label made before last Sunday) Carl Edwards and rookie (label made before last Sunday) Brad Keselowski. By the way, it was great to see Brad climb out and ok after such a terrible wreck.

I stand behind what I wrote earlier this week in an article called “Carl Edwards makes a blatant payback move wrecking Brad Keselowski in Kobalt Tools 500 in Atlanta.” in that Brad Keselowski did deserve a wakeup call, but not this way. And that Carl Edwards made the wrong call -- wrong place, wrong time.

On Tuesday, NASCAR placed Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, on probation for the next three series events for a rule violation he committed during the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 7. Edwards’ probation will run until April 14 of this year.

With that all said, here is what I think…

Brad Keselowski

As being a fan of his, this is hard to say, but Brad drives a little aggressively. But he has to understand that having the respect of your competitors is not only hard to get, but hard to keep just ask Carl Edwards now. Brad is a good driver, talented and he will not only win races, but championships.

However while Brad is entertaining and I like to watch his style of driving, racing hard for every position. Brad does however need to give his competitors more room on-track. I believe you give a little, you get a little. But if someone does you wrong, that’s completely different.

Brad’s aggressive driving has been a problem almost since he entered NASCAR a few years ago, but it also got him his ride with JR Motorsports and now Penske Racing. I believe Brad needed a wakeup call from another competitor; however Carl Edwards wrecking him on the straightaway wasn’t it. This move does nothing, except want to race Edwards even harder and possible pay him back, isn’t that the NASCAR way...

Hopefully now Brad will get the message, but keep racing hard. However at the same time with a little more respect. But I hope that Brad (as one NASCAR fan put it to me) follow Carl Edwards around on-track, stay in his rear view mirror most of the rest of the season just to get on Carl’s nerves.

Carl Edwards

Carl lost a lot of my respect on Sunday. While I can understand that Brad deserved a wakeup call and that Carl had every right to be mad at Brad for past incidents (except the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega last Spring, that was a product of the yellow line rule) Carl should have waited until after the race or Bristol.

Carl even said Sunday night on his Facebook “My options: Considering that Brad wrecks me with no regard for anyones safety or hard work, should I: A-Keep letting him wreck me? B-Confront him after the race? C-Wait til bristol and collect other cars? or D-Take care of it now? I want to be clear that I was surprised at his flight and very relieved when he walked aw...ay. Every person has to decide what code they want to live by and hopefully this explains mine.”

This blatant payback move was terrible for Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and the sport as a whole, it was the wrong place, wrong time. You don’t wreck someone at the fastest track on the schedule… Atlanta, come on, I thought he was a veteran driver. I believe that after this incident, his competitors will race him differently including Brad and not in a good way. I also believe that Brad will come back and payback Carl Edwards some day in the future.

I agree with Kyle Petty in a sense (on the incident) when he said “That's just flagrant. That's flagrant. They throw people out of basketball games for that. It's called a T. Go to the locker room. ... This is a black eye on NASCAR. This is a black eye on the competitors. This is a black eye on everybody. I don't care. This is wrong. This was blatant, flagrant foul and he ought to be parked.

"He shouldn't show up at Bristol and that's my opinion. Brad Keselowski said the ball is in NASCAR's court. We're going to see if they've got a pair now. I'm just throwing that out there. They need to park him and send him home.''

The penalty and NASCAR

I believe that NASCAR gave Carl Edwards a gift on Tuesday by giving him a three-race probation. But to me, it isn’t even the incident that has me so frustrated anymore, it’s the fact that NASCAR has no consistency in there rulings. It’s like there is a new set of rules every year in NASCAR and you can’t be doing this.

But I want to add one thing, I want to see NASCAR be more consistent. In the five years that I’ve been blogging here at RaceDriven.com and the 18 years or so I’ve been a NASCAR fan, I have always said that I want to see NASCAR be more consistent in their calls. There calls on race-day, there penalties, everything, they just seem to change it so often, that’s the frustrating part of this incident and the sport itself.

Bottom Line

I believe that the incident between Edwards and Keselowski was the wrong place, wrong time. Edwards simply was so upset at Keselowski that Edwards thought that on-track payback was the not choice.

As for penalty, it was a gift. I was expecting something, at least 50 driver/owner points and a $50,000 fine, however I don’t think a suspension would have been in the cards. But this was NASCAR’s chance to send a message to Carl Edwards and to all of the drivers that we are giving you more room, but if you take a mile, we will penalize you.

NASCAR said Carl Edwards “crossed the line”, but penalty says “Boy’s have at it”, do what you want. But be warned that you other competitors have the same right to do it to you.

As for payback, retaliation on-track, it’s a part of NASCAR, it’s been happening almost since NASCAR began. I understand it and accept it so long as it’s done in a normal way sort of speck. But this move by Edwards was reckless, plain and simple. I’ve seen retaliation done at Richmond, Bristol, Martinsville, you name it and in simple ways. For instance, driving down into a corner, hitting the rear bumper or rear quarter panel and spinning out the other driver, it’s all part of racing.

Now I just have to wonder, how many more drivers are going to do blatant retaliation moves on-track in 2010 and how long can NASCAR keep this “Boy’s have at it” attitude up before something even bigger happens, there has to be a breaking point somewhere?

Photo credit: AP via Yahoo! Sports NASCAR section