The Frontstretch: Sunday a Poor and Contradictory Showing for Edwards, NASCAR by Bryan Davis Keith -- Tuesday March 9, 2010

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Sunday a Poor and Contradictory Showing for Edwards, NASCAR

The Yellow Stripe · Bryan Davis Keith · Tuesday March 9, 2010

 

Hypocrisy: the act of pretending to hold beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities or standards that one does not actually hold.

A lot of terms have been used to describe Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500. Ugly. Marred. Over the top. “Oh, and Kurt Busch wins.” But there’s only one word needed to describe the race’s defining moment that saw Carl Edwards deliberately send Brad Keselowski spinning, a violent wreck that flipped the No. 12 car on its roof.

Hypocrisy.

After spending the entire offseason pledging to take a “boys, have at it” approach to their racing in 2010, only four races into the season, NASCAR was back to its old ways, running away from the message they were drilling into the fans they had left faster than a Frenchman from a conflict. The sanctioning body wasted no time after Edwards took his shot at Keselowski, parked him for the remainder of the race and called him to the Oval Office trailer for a friendly chat. Later, Robin Pemberton deviated even further from their new “hands off” pledge, refusing to rule out the chance that NASCAR would levy additional penalties this afternoon.

NASCAR has persistently pledged to let the drivers handle matters on the track themselves. Yet, despite persistently pretending to hold these beliefs, they’ve gone back to disciplining drivers themselves. Hypocrisy.

Maybe Carl didn’t intend to re-enact his Talladega flight…but he didn’t appear to regret his attack on Keselowski’s bumper, either.

There are a million different reasons being floated out there for NASCAR to be given a pass for reneging on their “have at it” pledge for 2010. Carl Edwards was out of control and over the top with his actions. He also drove backwards down pit road. Keselowski’s car flipped and nearly got into the catchfence in a wreck that looked eerily similar to Talladega’s infamous finish in April 2009. Edwards wrecked him at one of the highest speed locations anywhere on the track.

Yes, the wreck was ugly. Yes, it was dangerous. But like it or not, that’s the reality of drivers’ policing themselves. It’s brutal, violent, and in the case of cars with wings, flipping isn’t out of the question. Furthermore, it’s unpredictable, and it always will be, because perceptions regarding who is at fault and how egregious offenses are will always vary between cockpit to cockpit.

It’s certainly a dangerous proposition to see this side of drivers policing themselves. This is especially true in Edwards’ case, given that under these rules NASCAR pledged to abide by, a driver whose history includes threatening to violently assault a teammate at Martinsville, actually hitting Kevin Harvick in the garage at Charlotte, trying to start an altercation with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Michigan, and has just as long a rap sheet of on-track incidents as devil incarnate “Special K” has just as much of a right as anyone on the track, according to NASCAR’s new thought process, to determine when he’s been wronged and how his competitors should pay.

But that’s reality in a sport that is as competitive and dangerous as stock car racing. There is a collective risk to taking part in it, be it racing against men far more aggressive than most in overpowered machines, or being willing to pay large sums of money to sit mere feet away from possible calamity and death.

And while I personally have and will continue to chide Edwards for an unnecessary, inexplicably violent outburst that was in no way justified, I, like NASCAR and everyone else that saw the events at Atlanta not named Carl Edwards or Brad Keselowski, am in no position to judge who was right and who was wrong. That should be left to the drivers to decide. NASCAR pledged to leave that to the drivers to decide. They acted like a bunch of frauds and did not.

But NASCAR wasn’t the only hypocrite exposed this Sunday. Just as his white gloves were visibly seen wheeling the No. 99 Ford into Keselowski’s Dodge, Edwards gave up any supposed high ground that he has been taking in his “feud” with Brad Keselowski. Instead, he engaged in on-track activity that embodied absolutely everything that he has been railing against since Brad stormed onto NASCAR’s biggest stage.

Edwards was quick to rationalize his violence in the garage Sunday before meeting with NASCAR, noting that he and Brad had history and that Brad knew what it was. Yes, Keselowski sent Edwards flying while racing for victory at Talladega. Yes, Keselowski gave Edwards the old bump and run at Memphis to take the checkers. Yes, Keselowski got into Edwards on Sunday. Never even mind the fact that in two of those three incidents, Edwards showed the stock car of IQ of Danica Patrick – assuming another driver would slow down to accommodate having their bumper swiped across – just look at Edwards’ rap sheet.

This is the same driver that ran over Elliott Sadler to win a Nationwide Series race at Richmond, and that wrecked half his team and damn near half the field at Talladega in the fall of 2008 through aggressive bump drafting. He also bowled all over Kyle Busch to win at Bristol. The history speaks for itself; all this aggression, all this contact that Edwards seems intent to hold against Brad Keselowski is the very same kind of thing he’s made a career out of doing.

Just like Denny Hamlin before him last year, who after weeks of trash talking about how dirty a driver Keselowski was, decided the best way to deal with it was to run him over in much the same fashion of racing that he’d been whining about all season long.

The only real difference between these feuding drivers can’t be seen on the race track…they do race hard, make contact and they don’t always make friends. The difference is in the attitude they take towards it. While Keselowski has polarized fans and drivers alike with his no apologies outlook on hard racing, Hamlin and Edwards are both students of NASCAR’s new school. Thanks to equipment, they’ve run up front since the first time they got behind the wheel. They’ve become accustomed to success far earlier in their careers than drivers from years past, and as such they really seemed to have struggled with the change drivers like Keselowski, who threaten to bring to a sport fans that want to see a turn back to the old-school days. They’ve put themselves and their peers on a plane not to be touched or disturbed, and if Edwards’ justification for his actions Sunday were any indication he felt that he had been sufficiently wronged to stage yet another brazen attack on a fellow competitor.

The record really doesn’t manifest that. But hey, spinning a driver in an attempt to teach a him a lesson is, well, within Edwards’ right, as well as it was for Hamlin at Homestead last year.

What it also does is to portray these critics of Keselowski for being the hypocrites they are. Both Hamlin and Edwards have scored numerous wins and enjoyed tremendous success because they are talented drivers, but also just as much because they’re raced aggressively, in the exact same manner they’ve now turned to chastising a fellow competitor for using. All three of these guys have wrecked drivers, started conflicts and gone over the ragged edge to take the checkered flag. Only difference is two out of three consider themselves above the other.

In the end on Sunday, be it the drivers or the sanctioning body, hypocrisy was on display at Atlanta Motor Speedway. No wonder all those race fans still aren’t sold on this whole “NASCAR is on its way to resurgence” bandwagon.

Contact Bryan Davis Keith

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Brian Mc
03/09/2010 01:57 AM
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Great article Bryan. I started off totally disageeing with where you seem to be going with it but then you got deep into it and made some great points I hadn’t thought of. Much more to think about now.

Stephen HOOD
03/09/2010 07:41 AM
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My problem with the Denny/Brad feud and now the Carl/Brad feud is exactly what you brought up. Both Denny and Carl expect the “respect” of ten or twenty year veterans when it hasn’t been but a couple of years since they were in the same place as Brad. It seems to me that they are acting like frustrated sophomore fraternity brothers who are turned loose on the unsuspecting freshman pledges. They talk about earning respect, yet they earned their supposed right to respect by driving in a similar fashion to Brad. I’ve wondered how successful Kyle Busch would have been the last few years if some of the more seasoned veterans had decided to send Kyle a similar message to the one Carl and Denny are trying to send to Brad (but I deviate).

Another problem I have with this incident is Carl’s denial that he didn’t mean for Brad to end up airborne and in the fence. Is Carl stupid? The speeds on the straightaways at Talladega are slower than the speeds at Atlanta, yet Carl didn’t think that Brad might end up in the air? I don’t buy it. Yes, he meant to spin him, but Carl didn’t bump Brad and break. Carl bumped Brad and continued full throttle, pushing Brad’s car into the air. Would there even be a discussion if Carl has just shot at Brad out of his window with a revolver and missed. The motive is the same. If I had committed a similar action to my neighbor because I felt disrespected, I’d be in jail facing attempted murder charges. I think believe Carl’s actions were way out of bounds, and NASCAR ought to say so. Had the same thing happened in the middle of a straightaway and Carl was on the lead lap and chasing Brad for position and got a little loose, I’d feel completely differently. But untempered revenge has no place in NASCAR.

Rufus
03/09/2010 07:48 AM
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Steven, you call out both Carl and Denny for thinking they should be getting respect, yet you don’t call out Brad becasue he thinks everyone should bow to him. Why is that? To me, ever since his move to literally throw Edwards into the stands, Mr. Keselowski seems to feel that he is the next Earnhardt, and everyone should move over when they see him in their rear view mirror. I will give him this, that he is an extremely aggressive driver, and most likely doesn’t care who he try’s to step on. I’m waiting until he try’s to step on someone like Tony and spins him out! When that happens, Brad better acquire a one-way ticket to Brazil and hide out for ten years!

Josie
03/09/2010 07:53 AM
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THANK YOU SO MUCH for this article! I had begun to believe I was the ONLY one on this planet who couldn’t figure out how Carl and Denny believed they were “without” sin! In this day and age of “instant results” or you’re out…rookies can’t afford to sit back and let the veterans hog all the glory..sponsors and owners are ready to pounce on a driver not “up to speed” and there is always someone ready to fill a vacant seat. I like the “new era” of rookies..they are coming in reminding me “a la Tony Stewart” when he was a rookie! I really think some of these veterans need to “put on their big boy panties” and race..and quit whining..and quit thinking they are “entitled”. Carl has made his own mistakes..causing himself and others to wreck..and yet he fails to take responsibility for it..and continues to blame others..right now it’s Brad because the kid has a “pair”. Yeah..Brad could tone it down a little..and I am sure he will figure it all out..BUT he needs to keep on racing hard and not let a few of these “blowhards” get him down..I get the feeling Carl is more mad Brad is beating him then he is about any on track “activities”..and Carl wants to beat the kid down…put him in his place..well Brad has every bit as much right to that “inch” on the track Carl said he didn’t give him..and if Carl already felt he had problems with Brad..why did he try and “slide” in front of him on lap 40? Sounds to me like Carl was trying to make a point…saying “I’m a veteran and you WILL back off”…and that’s just not racing.

Ben
03/09/2010 09:17 AM
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Carl seems to have forgotten when he refused to give an inch to another driver in 2004. It was chalked up as a racing deal, just the same way Carl getting wrecked by Brad was a racing deal. I guess Carl AKA “Eddie Haskell” doesn’t see it that way —

http://www.nascar.com/2004/news/headlines/cup/10/31/dearnhardtjr_ams/index.html

Mike In NH
03/09/2010 09:28 AM
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I’m not sure if it’s hypocrisy that these drivers spent weeks complaining about Kes before spinning them, as it was realization – the realization that NASCAR wasn’t going to do anything about it like they had been for the last several years no matter how much they (Denny and Carl) complained. And in Denny’s case, NASCAR’s decision not to do anything was made quietly without a meeting with the drivers, so while the idea of a driver getting out of the way because he’s new is absurd (as opposed to slow or over his head and in the way), the expectation NASCAR would do something was not absurd.

I’m sure now that the new reality has dawned – or maybe it hasn’t if they wind up penalizing Edwards today – you’ll see less complaining and more “policing”.

leedanielson
03/09/2010 09:29 AM
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Take that stupid wing off the cars and these cars will not be doing these acrobatic acts. Yes, suspending Edwards would be hypocritical. Put him on probation and leave it at that.

Paul Sparks, Jr.
03/09/2010 09:53 AM
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Great points Bryan. Nascar did say it was going to let the drives police themselves, but Mike Helton did say there wasn’t a get out of jail free card. I agree 100% with you on Denny and Carl, guys that drive aggressively and Brad violates their space. Its one thing if Brad takes guys out, similiar to what Ernie Irvan and Robby Gordon have done (driving over their heads), but Brad hasn’t done that. Carl at Talladega came down on Brad, and Brad held his line, and at Atlanta, Carl did the same thing. While some in the garage area may applaud Carl for “evening the score with the rookie”, he should be ashamed of doing so.

Also, you may wish to include Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon into those over aggressive complaining type too. Gordon, who went far below the yellow line to win 2 Daytona 500s, but yet objects to bump drafting, and Kyle Busch for his nonsense about Boris Said.

Nascar needs to allow contact, but at the same time, knock off the deliberate wrecking.

Ironically, I’ve seen Danica be upset, but after she’s been wrecked, not because another car got close to her.

wcfan
03/09/2010 09:58 AM
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Most people who are defending Carl are saying nascar should stay out of it and let the Drivers police themselves. Well what do the other Cup Drivers think of Baby Carl’s action, what are they saying to nascar and each other behind closed doors. The result at ‘Dega was because Carl tried to block and Brad held his line. The year before nasacr punished Reagan Smith for going below yellow line to avoid wrecking Smoke. The lap 40 incident happened when Brad got lose while all the way down on the white line and Carl came down slightly. I believe Carl should by parked for at least one week with a very heavy fine and loss of points, record setting. I also will try to do NO BUSINESS with anyone who sponsers Carl in anything he races. Maybe if the drivers doing the complaining (Carl and Denny)about Brad did not drive like Brad, say Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, something would have been done.

Paul
03/09/2010 10:09 AM
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WCFan, I really don’t think anyone is defending Carl. On the contrary, everyone that has posted messages on any NASCAR related board want’s Edwards out of NASCAR and they want him out NOW! The man has no fans what-so-ever, at least none who would admit to being fans. Shades of Kyle Busch two years ago! Even Kyle is becoming popular, and his fan base is growing by leaps and bounds. As for Carl, I don’t read any defenses for what he did. He took out a future star and, obviously, someone who, despite being a cocky, arrogent, mouthy punk, is a lot more popular and more of a fan favorite, than Carl has ever been. Unfortunately, as a fan of his car owner, I too say that he has turned into a disappointment, and I agree that there needs to be some penalty, be it points and fine, or sit out the next four or five races.

Blu
03/09/2010 10:50 AM
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BRAVO BRYAN!!
We must be twins sons of diffesrent mothers.

I agree COMPLETELY!

wcfan
03/09/2010 11:18 AM
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Paul
Read Tom Bowles column from yesterday and some of the comments, people are defending Carl and his actions, if nascar does nothing Jack Roush should. Like I said earlier I will NOT DO BUSINESS with those that sponser Carl in anything he races, I hope other people will also vote with their money and let sponsers know how they feel about this type of payback.

VaBlueGrass
03/09/2010 11:48 AM
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WCFAN- I’ll actually be buying some Scotts Potting Soil today. But not because of Carl Edwards. Here’s the weird part – I’ll be buying it from Lowes.

wcfan
03/09/2010 01:03 PM
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WHAT THE ****
3 race probation BULL&&&&
Bristol will be a real demo derby now. No Fine and No Points.WWF Here we come

DansMom
03/09/2010 01:45 PM
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What does the World Wildlife Federation have to do with racing at Bristol?

Maybe it will be like the WWE.

wcfan
03/09/2010 03:15 PM
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I am so glad the resident genius took time out of her day to correct me. WWE/WWF, Busch/Nationwide, Winston/Nextel/Sprint.

Mary
03/09/2010 07:01 PM
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If Carl wanted the bottom line so badly, why didn’t HE let up and fall in line behind Brad? Or the team could try to do something to make Carl’s car go faster so he could pass cleanly.

It sure seems like Carl has been getting more and more impatient with others. He certainly has become more unforgiving of others’ perceived wrongdoings in the past 18 months or so. Makes me wonder what he’s putting in his protein shakes.

Ed - GA
03/10/2010 12:35 PM
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NASCAR drivers are like politicians. They forget the past very quickly when the tables are turned.