The Frontstretch: Time Will Tell If Cousin Carl Lets Me Down by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday October 24, 2007

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Time Will Tell If Cousin Carl Lets Me Down

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday October 24, 2007

 

A couple of weeks ago, after my personal favorite Dale Jarrett announced he would be retiring from Cup competition following the Spring Bristol race in 2008, I transitioned into fan mode and penned a column explaining just why DJ was my favorite all these years – thanking him for being an all-around classy guy. Also in that column, I mentioned that a few years ago I had selected another driver to step up as a new favorite when DJ hung up his racing helmet.

That man is Carl Edwards.

My selection of Carl was never based on anything he had done, at least to that point, in Cup competition, but rather the way he raced and conducted himself when he was still in the Craftsman Truck Series. I saw then that he was a great young racer with many successful years ahead of him; I have often said since, in print and in person, that time would prove Carl to be just as classy a guy as Dale Jarrett. Up until last Sunday, I've never had any real reason to doubt that.

Now, before I proceed further, let me be clear on one point. I am not (usually) in some fantasy land where I believe everyone I like is perfect. In fact, while I do harbor great respect for many people, I am very careful never to put anyone too high upon a pedestal. Being a gambling man, I figure that if I don't put them too high, if/when they do do something really stupid, I can't be let down all that much.

Having said that, I would be lying if I didn't also say that I was a bit shocked by the actions of Carl Edwards toward Matt Kenseth after last Sunday's race in Martinsville. In an episode that was caught on video, Carl is seen talking to Matt and then feigning a punch at the small Wisconsin native. (You can view the video here.)

While I do concede that the incident is, at first, alarming, having been involved in the Law Enforcement / Security business for many years, I also know that there are two sides to every story, and have learned to reserve judgment until both of them have been heard. Of course, many in the internet community do not have such patience, and are quick to make snap decisions and put one or both parties against the wall before the firing squad.

As soon as Monday afternoon, the hasty accusations began coming in, and it wasn’t pretty. One of the juicier ideas was speculation that, in his effort to maintain his buff physique, Carl Edwards has been using steroids. Now, it has been well documented that steroids can cause erratic behavior in those that use them. While that is a possibility, I find it absurd that the first time I have ever heard of such speculation suddenly comes after the video of Sunday's confrontation. I prefer to reserve judgment, waiting till I hear from all parties involved. Fortunately, I and the rest of the fans didn't have to wait long.

"First of all, I was definitely wrong for showing my anger and putting on an aggressive display towards Matt Kenseth after the race at Martinsville," said Edwards on the Tuesday NASCAR teleconference. "I definitely want to apologize to my fans, to Office Depot, to Matt Kenseth, to DeWalt, to everyone at Roush Fenway for letting it come to that. That was definitely the wrong thing to do."

OK, score one for Carl. I can respect a man that readily admits that he was wrong and takes credit for his actions, for I am the same way. It doesn't happen very often, but hey, when I screw up, I am the first to say so.

"I feel bad about what I did,” Edwards continued. “I feel bad that I got sucked into that turning into such a bad deal. I really look forward to putting my best foot in front of me and going out and doing whatever it takes to be the best teammate I can be to Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle and all these guys. I think we’ve gotten off of what’s important lately, and I know for me, personally, I’m ready to get back on track.”

As I said earlier, when I was told that there had been speculation about Edwards using steroids, thus explaining his actions, I thought it was ridiculous. However, after reading comments by Matt Kenseth, I can see how such speculation gets started.

"His behavior has been real erratic lately, honestly,” Kenseth said of Edwards. “You don’t know what to expect with him. That’s the thing that’s a little bit troublesome. One minute, he has so much respect for you, and he’s real friendly and everything’s so much fun. The next minute he wants to kick your butt and he’s swearing at you. It’s a little scary. You never know what you’re going to get."

To be perfectly fair to you, my faithful reader, I must say that while I have never had anything against Matt, there has always been a little “something,” something I've never been able to quite pinpoint, about the guy that has always given me the impression that he is not quite being honest. Not that he is a liar as such, but more like he is “polished,” so to speak, much like a politician. There is something about him that I just do not trust.

Of course, as with any altercation, the parties involved will all see things from different perspectives. That is to be expected; as such, perhaps a voice from a more neutral position can give us a truer view of the whole situation.

“Carl is a very bright guy with a huge heart, and he is a hardened competitor,” Roush Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith said. “As Jack (Roush) says, he’ll race a snake down a snake hole if that’s what the race is going to be. You’ve got to let the guys have room to be competitors in their own way. I don’t view him being irrational at all. Carl Edwards has a very profound sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. And so does Matt Kenseth. We have two strong willed personalities, each with a sense of what’s happened, whether it’s been right or wrong or unfair."

Both Edwards and Kenseth agree that, even though they will need to work at being better teammates, chumming around together and becoming best buds is probably just not going to happen.

"We just don’t talk a lot. We don’t know one another well enough, and it’s my opinion that what’s precipitated this stuff is that lack of communication. If it’s irreconcilable, it won’t be because I’m not trying," said Edwards. "I’m ready to do whatever it takes to understand Matt and be good teammates so we can enjoy the success that the people that are doing that are enjoying right now.”

For now, as long as he is willing to step up to the plate, I'm not about throw Carl out with the bathwater as my next favorite driver. However, as forgiving as I am, I may have to reevaluate my decision to grant Carl my respect should future incidents like this arise. Only time will tell.

Don't let me down, Cousin! It's a real pain in the butt picking a new favorite.

Stay off the wall, (and off the ‘roids!)

Jeff Meyer

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Disappointed
10/24/2007 11:23 PM
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My evaluation of Carl Edwards is this ; He comes of as personable in front of the camera but he also appears to go into a bit of a psychotic mode when ever he is in incident on the track.In past altercations with drivers even on the radio there was always a subtle air of brutality that he reaked of that was carefully perfumed with charm and charisma.I said it before and stand by my statement that Carl Edwards strikes me as bipolar;which is no sin and can be treated.

Lynnsy
10/25/2007 03:42 AM
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In all honesty I am just as dissapointed as you Jeff. He’s my guy too. I am new to NASCAR (2005)and I picked Carl for my driver because he was new too and it seemed right. And I now eat, sleep and breathe Carl Edwards. My locker and bench at work is full of Carl Edwards stuff. And of course I’m getting picked on by the other NASCAR fans at work. I don’t believe the roid or bipolar theory. I just want to ask those with the hasty accusations if they’ve never blew up and done something really stupid when they’ve been angry? I know I have so maybe that’s why I can smypathize with Carl. It doesn’t make what he did right (and may I point out again that I’m really disappointed it happened). But realizing it was a mistake and apoligizing for it is a step in the right direction. Have you ever heard Tony Stewart say “I’m sorry”? Yet when he does something stupid everyone laughs and says “that’s just Tony being Tony”. I think Carl will be alright and I’m not tearing any pictures down yet!!! Keep the faith, we are ALL human and make mistakes!!!

Johnboy60
10/25/2007 06:56 AM
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Wow, what a reach for a slant on a story!! Where were you when Kyle Petty was slapping the visor down on the “loud mouth” kid? Given the proper equipment, NO ONE will out run Carl and he doesn’t do it with ‘roids, but with guts. Something that is pretty much gone from all the little pansys running in NASCRAP now. Go to any nascar local track in the country and you will see something akin to that disagreement every weekend. I for one and tired of all the “teamwork” bull and it is not good for NASCRAP but it is fostered by all the little, untalented baby boys, starting with the “king punk” Brian! Wow again, ‘roids what a crock!!!

Steve M.
10/25/2007 07:28 AM
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Hey Jeff, just curious, but doesn’t NASCAR have drug and alcohol testing procedures in place? Instead of speculating, or gossiping, about whether or not Carl is taking drugs, why not just have him pee in a cup and get it over with? As for Kenseth’s comments about Carl being erratic and not knowing what to expect from him; well, my deduction from reading earlier comments made by Carl about Matt not saying two words (willingly) to him in the past 6 months, doestn’t really give Matt much of a platform to say anything. And what I would like to see from you, or your press-mates, would be a story on when one team member (Greg Biffle) slams another team member on national television. Other than 2TonTony doing it, most teams, when commenting on one of their own, may say he was driving rough, or needs to learn the ropes a bit better – something along those lines. Biffle had an oportunity to help the communcation within the Roush ranks, and in my opinion, he totally blew it by giving his obvious one-sided opinion of his friend Matt Kenseth and his team-mate Carl Edwards.

mike
10/25/2007 08:33 AM
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he didnt even come close to taking responsabilty for his behaivor.instead he blamed the little guy he was bullying what a punk

Brooke
10/25/2007 09:09 AM
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All I have to say is at least there is another whiner among the drivers other than Tony Stewart. All this crap with Edwards saying he feels like he is on an island all alone…BULL!!! give me a break and just go and kiss your mom again!!

Brian France Sucks
10/25/2007 09:46 AM
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Nobody’s perfect, but Cousin Carl had y’all thinking that for a couple of years. That being said, I still am a fan of Edwards, and am not a fan of Kenseth. Kenseth appears to be the nice guy, but I’ve seen him dump plenty of guys in the past 4-5 years. Kenseth whined about Carl trying to pass on the outside at Kansas, but he drove into the side of the 60 and it was his fault. Where is a guy supposed to go on a restart if the bottom lane is jammed and you’re much slower than him? Kenseth dumped his future teammate (McMurray) at Bristol and Loudon, so that’s probably why Jamie isn’t his buddy either. And Matt has proven on many occasions that he’s a smarta$$ who shies from confrontation that may be his doing (Jeff Gordon, Bristol). Did Carl cross the line? Yeah, but back in the day or at any small track across the USA, this would be no big deal. What Carl did isn’t much different than the antics of Tony, Kevin, and the rest; just shows he’s human.

Brian France Sucks
10/25/2007 09:51 AM
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And Biffle’s never been one to stand up for himself when confronted (see Kevin Harvick incidents). He’s better at making comments from afar. And the steroid and bipolar thing is laughable. Face it, Carl is human like the rest of us, and his aw shucks attitude was probably in large part to please the sponsors that keep him employed. He’s no different than half of the other guys running Cup.

Randy
10/25/2007 09:51 AM
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I’ve heard the same basic remarks about Carl Edwards from Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Johnny Sauter, Mike Skinner, Greg Biffle, Michael Waltrip and Ken Schrader…KEN SCHRADER! Do the math.

LanetteW
10/25/2007 10:18 AM
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Thank you for the balanced article on Carl. I am a fan of my fellow Missourian but like many I too am disappointed in his behavior on Sunday. He reminds me of my son (who is a few years younger than Carl). Both are usually well-behaved and easy-going people so when something glaringly aberrant occurs, it garners far more attention. He should not have intimidated Kenseth. He apologized (and still got thrown under the bus by Biffle and McMurray). Now let’s see if he gets back on track. Mr. Roush and his organization does not foster an atmosphere of camaraderie amongst the drivers and it is obvious by their behavior towards each other. Becoming bosom buddies is not required, but respect should be fostered.

Mark Martin Fan
10/25/2007 11:34 AM
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Carl has been mad at Matt since Michigan last year when Carl had issues with Dale Jr. Carl wanted Matt’s support and of course Matt supported his close friend Dale Jr. – Also to Brian France Suxs response, Matt and Jamie are now good friends.
One other thing is I noticed that Carl was the only one of the Roushies not at Biffle’s wedding. Even Kurt Busch was there.. ouch..

Bryan
10/25/2007 01:39 PM
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Seems like Carl feigned a punch at somebody else after an altercation sometime in the last year or so…Was it Dale Jr.? Somebody/Anbody remember that?

jo-jr.fan
10/25/2007 01:44 PM
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first, of all, i am not a fan of hoody doody, or the mouse!but, carl does have a problen, in waiting ,for a driver, to be in front of a camera and then go make a fool of himself.. he did the same thing to jr.
of course, he is goint to try and smooth everything over, because, he sees, how a lot of the fans have turned against, him. someone, needs to wipe that hoody doody sneer off his face!!!

Lynnsy
10/25/2007 02:48 PM
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I totally agree with Steve M. Biffle should have kept his mouth shut about it all together since he is a team-mate of both of them. I know I wouldn’t want to get in the middle of that. With all the crap Stewart has done I don’t know why so many people are so quick to jump all over Edwards? If I was him I’d probably volunteer right now to pee in a cup just to shut everyone up about the steroid thing. Can’t someone work out and be athletic and into physical fitness AND maybe have a bad temper without being on steroids? It wasn’t a smart move on his part but sheesh…. let’s not crucify the guy!!!

Bob
10/25/2007 03:43 PM
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One of the problems I still have with Edwards is in his apology. His first apologizing to his fans and his sponsor. Now if he were truly sincere and remorseful about his action and act, he would be thinking of, and apologizing to Matt Kenseth, his sponsor DeWalt, and Kenseth’s fans.

The other real CS thing he did was to not only interrupt Kenseth’s interview, but then to haul off and fake sucker punch him. That seemed awful bullyish or whatever you want to call it. Definitely not the “real man” type of thing to do.

Stewart is nowhere near my favorite because of his childish act, but he said something real funny and telling when he called Carl the “Eddie Haskell” of NASCAR. I guess meaning whenever June & Ward Cleavers back is turned (read NASCAR and the camera) he sucker punchs the Beaver.

This has made people step back and reassess their feelings and support for one of their drivers. I have been a little leery of Edwards since he plain wrecked Bill Elliott in a stupid piece of driving during a caution when Bill was running around tenth and Carl was about two laps down. I think it was Bristol a couple of years ago in Bill’s last year with the 9 or the following in the 91. At the least, it was one of the stupidest pieces of driving that I’ve seen unless it was somehow intentional (ala Eddie Haskell).

ed
10/25/2007 07:21 PM
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Carl was wrong but it’s nopt the end of the world.

KENSETH seems to bring this type of behavior out of hard charging competitors like Carl, Tony, Jeff and Harvick.

Chris
10/25/2007 08:44 PM
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Well Carl sure put himself under the microscope. Everytime he makes a statement from this point forward will be viewed with a bit of skepticism. Carl needs to remember to race people the way he wants to be raced.

Jack Roush has always taken a hands off approach to individual management of his teams. However he doesn’t like getting calls from Sponsors regarding driver behavior. If Carl had an issue, even after he and Matt supposedly talked about this over the radio, he should have waited until after Matt was done with the interview. I mean it was already 15 minutes after the race when this occured, what is another 5 minutes. There is a time and place for everything. I don’t see the situation over at Roush improving.

Lynnsy
10/26/2007 03:25 AM
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In response to Bob, Carl did apologize to Kenseth and DeWalt. This is a direct quote taken off of an article by David Newton on ESPN.com dated October 23rd. “I was definitely wrong for showing my anger and putting on an aggressive display toward Matt Kenseth,” Edwards said. “I definitely want to apologize to my fans, to Office Depot, to Matt Kenseth, to DeWalt, to everyone at Roush Fenway for letting it come to that. That was definitely the wrong thing to do.”

Steve M.
10/26/2007 06:53 AM
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Lynnsy, you tell ‘em girl!! I’ve watched the CE/MK video clip over and over again and Carl really didn’t do anything to Matt. He kindly escorted him away from the camera man and the reporter. Carl leaned into Matt’s ear to discuss “whatever”…the camera drops its coverage of the two men for a couple of seconds and when it goes back to them, Matt is on one side of the wall and Carl is on the other. Matt clearly says something to Carl (have no clue what) at which point Carl throws a fake punch…not even coming close to Matt. For all you people that are slamming Carl, let’s not forget that Matt has had his fair share of confrontations – on and off the race track. So he’s not as innocent in all of this as what you all may believe. We’ve heard Carl’s side of the story and we’ll probably hear Matt’s side this whole weekend (after he’s had days to figure out what to say to the press). I’m just amazed with everyone who thinks that Carl is another Ritchie Cunningham; but let’s not forget, even Ritchie confronted the Fonz a time or two!!! Aaayyyy, See you all in Atlanta!!!

Diane
10/26/2007 03:35 PM
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Yes, Carl again apologizes. We’ve heard that phoney tune before.
Carl makes me feel he is a split personality. He has his public side for the fans and the side he shows his peers which I fear is kind of scary.
I think he needs help before he goes to far and hurts someone.
I still think he should have been penalized for going back up on the track and ramming Dale Junior’s car at Michigan. That’s a lot of anger. Once again he shows his bully side with Matt. Who is next?

Lynnsy
10/26/2007 04:56 PM
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Yep I’ll tell em’ Steve!!! And I don’t think Kenseth is the innocent victim he’s making himself out to be. And you’re also right about having days to figure out what he’s going to say to the press. And Diane, don’t we all have a little split personality? I consider myself pretty easy going but I’ve been known to break some glass and put a hole in a door before. Should I get some help?

Bob
10/27/2007 10:51 AM
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Lynnsy and all,

It is not that he didn’t apologize to them, he put them second in his statement after he apologized to his fans and sponsors, this is what I have questions about. Think about it. If his remorse was to Matt, Matt’s fans, and sponsors for showing him in a bad light, then he might have stated them first. It just didn’t sound sincere. And please, don’t misunderstand me, I like Carl Edwards. He says very polite and insightful things when he is interviewed or a guest on shows. He has a fresh demeanor when talking about racing, which is appreciated. I’m just hoping that it is indeed genuine. I’m tired of being taken for rides by popular athletes, only to find out that they fight dogs, or beat their wives, or get DUI’s, etc. He’s a lot more interesting than putting up with Stewart, or “my car was junk” Martin, or Gomer Waltrip.

As far as Kenseth being not innocent of this, in this instance. Wasn’t he the one that was taken out by Edwards? Carl caused this whole incident. It was Martinsville, so it goes with the territory. But if it was your fault, own up to it, and move on, don’t add to it by faking a sucker punch to the guy, I would have went after him if he did that to me, that was chickensh#!.

 

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