On-track Battle Spices Up Racing Season

While Kurt Busch’s victory last Sunday at Atlanta was impressive, it took a back seat to the on-track combat between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski.

Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards
The Edwards-Keselowski conflict features a few chapters written over the past season, including the incident at Talladega last April, the Nationwide Series race at Memphis last October, the Nationwide Series race at Daytona just a few weeks ago, and now the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta.

Edwards offered swift retribution to Keselowski for what Edwards perceived to be either an intentional or foolish move by Keselowski early in the race that damaged his car.

After a love tap from Edwards, Keselowski’s car went flying, upside down and into the outside retaining wall. Keselowski was unhurt, and Edwards admitted it was done intentionally.

How was NASCAR to respond after telling everyone they will allow drivers to display their personalities without dropping the hammer every time a driver loses his cool?

“Have at it, boys,” is what Robin Pemberton said.

So, how could NASCAR suspend or levy any serious penalty?

Elliott Sadler said he didn’t think Edwards deserved the probation.

Brad Keselowski
Brad Keselowski
“I guess they’re trying to intervene a little bit, but trying to stay out of it,” he said. “I didn’t think any suspension or anything like that was definitely going to happen, or was worthy of happening. They’re going to leave it [in the drivers’] hands, and we’ll see where it goes from there.

“You have to say this, NASCAR has stuck to their guns to let the drivers talk it out and work it out. The message I kind of got out of NASCAR’s decision was, if you get yourself in this kind of a bind, yes, we’re going to intervene a little bit, but we’re going to let you and the other driver and owner talk about it, because it’s their race cars, and it’s you driving the race car. That’s the message [Helton] sent, and kind of what he said at the beginning of the year, too, that they were kind of going to put it back in our hands. He’s staying true to that point.”

NASCAR is close, side by side racing. Wrecks will happen and tempers will flair but that is the sport of NASCAR. If fans didn’t come to see that sort of thing, then what happened between Edwards and Keselowski wouldn’t have overshadowed Kurt Busch’s win.

Most fans loved it, because with Jimmie Johnson’s domination, there hasn’t been much to keep the emotions going.

This is the kind of stuff that makes racing fun. Just to watch a bunch of cars fall in line and go in circles for three to four hours is boring.

Edwards and Keselowski created excitement.

What happened between these two drivers last week wasn’t the first time something like this happened in NASCAR.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. hooked Darrell Waltrip as the two raced for the win at Richmond, sending both viciously into the fence.

The Allison brothers — Bobby and Donnie — squared off with Cale Yarborough after Cale and Donnie crashed each other on the final lap of the 1976 Daytona 500.

Earnhardt claimed he only meant to “rattle his cage” after spinning Terry Labonte out in turn two late in a Bristol race to win … and heard the Bristol crowd’s boos for the first time in his career.

I believe that NASCAR is intent on allowing drivers to police themselves on the track.

“Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing, boys,” said Darrell Waltrip.

Keselowski said this week that his in-your-face driving style has separated him from other young drivers and put him on a road to success that the vast majority of “developmental” drivers won’t visit.

With that in mind, Keselowski said he’ll continue to race hard, hold his line and keep pushing forward, and that includes this week’s Cup race at Bristol.

For more sports news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.


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