The Frontstretch: Smith vs. Stewart Takes the Heat Off Cousin Carl by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday October 9, 2008

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Smith vs. Stewart Takes the Heat Off Cousin Carl

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday October 9, 2008


I am not a journalist. I am a columnist. As such, I can report or write about the facts as I interpret them. Let’s face it, it’s one of the reasons y’all love me so much… or vice versa.

Having said that, I will tell you now it’s the reason I have Regan Smith’s name first in the title of this article. Simply put, I will give him first billing even if NASCAR will not. I firmly believe that Smith was forced below the yellow line, and no matter how many times I watch the video, I will not be convinced otherwise.

Another thing that I want to clear up is the difference between “blocking” and “forcing.”

Blocking is what you do to keep the other guy behind you. If you try to “block” when the other guy already has his nose beside you, that is a “force.” As I respectfully explained to a highly regarded member of our staff, in the civilian world, blocking is what happens when you get “cut off.” What happens when you get forced? You get run off the road. There’s a key difference here. Getting cutoff is annoying… but getting run off the road is criminal, and Regan should have gotten the license plate number of that car. Oh, yeah; it was number 20! Unfortunately, the NASCAR cops gave the wrong guy the ticket. No surprise there — in either the NASCAR or civilian world.

What was really nice, however, for me as a fan, was the heat that the whole Smith / Stewart debacle took off my (put on fan hat) favorite driver Carl Edwards.

Regular readers know that I had picked Carl to be my favorite when my first favorite, Dale Jarrett, finally retired. I picked Carl for that honor back when he first started flipping off trucks in a way different from what that sounds like. Back then, Carl seemed to be a talented and classy young man with lots of potential. Over the years, I have often said that only time will tell if his class turns out to be equal to DJ. So far, he has not let me down, and the events that transpired on the last few laps last Sunday only served to prove once again that I had, in fact, made a noble choice to fill DJ’s shoes.

“You do the best you can to move as far forward as possible. I was just pushing Greg as hard as I could. It’s my fault, and I apologize to everybody caught up in that wreck. I was worried about the idiots here, and I was the guy that caused that one,” said Carl after taking out about eight Chase contenders.

I found that I ran through a gamut of emotions — just like the fans of a ton of other drivers — as I watched that wreck unfold. I felt everything from being downright livid to drowning in despair; but if you weren’t a Carl fan, I’m sure you stopped at livid. As I braced myself for the derision and even hatred towards Carl that was sure to follow such a massive screwup… well, that’s when Smith and Stewart started their little dance. (After the cleanup of Carl’s mess, of course.)

When you couple the controversial finish with a very humble statement accepting total blame for the big wreck, well, my man Carl comes out looking refreshingly classy in this day and age when most drivers are so quick to blame everyone or everything but themselves. The irony of the whole deal is the simple fact that, had Carl not caused that crash, Regan Smith probably wouldn’t have been in the position he was to create the controversy at the end of the race.

Some expected sparks to fly amongst Roush Fenway teammates after Sunday’s big wreck; instead, the only ones we saw in public were underneath their cars.

So, the big question that came to my mind was what life was going to be like back at the shop for Carl after having taken out both title-contending teammates: Biffle and Matt Kenseth.

“Carl didn’t mean to do it, it wasn’t his fault. He caused it, but he was just trying to help and he pushed me all the way down the back and did everything he could to help,” said Biffle after the race.

OK. Not too bad so far.

“You knew it was going to be crazy, but I actually felt like we were almost home free. Biffle got wiped out, and he wiped me out somehow,” said Kenseth while failing to acknowledge Carl’s very existence.

Ouch. My guess is, Kenseth’s emotions are still somewhere in the livid range!

And now for something completely different…


The very name leaves me livid. Fortunately, I have a beverage that helps to cure that. At any rate, it is nice to see that this fledgling young company is working so hard to get some traction on this whole “making tires to race on” thing they got going now.

During recent testing at Indy, reports are coming in that they have found the technology to make a tire that you can race on for just over 20 laps!

“We’re not all the way there, but we’re pretty close to it,” NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton said. “We were in about an eight- or nine-lap window before (during testing), and that got up to 10, and now we’re in the mid-20 range. So it’s improved 300 percent already. We walked the track last night, and the track was taking on rubber, so that’s a good sign.”

Goodyear’s General Manager of worldwide racing, Stu Grant, went on to explain some of the more “technical” aspects of the tire.

“In simple terms, it’s a softer tire. I use the term stickier. I can say, at this point, we’re really, really encouraged by what we’ve seen at this test so far.”

It’s good to see that they are finally figuring out what to run on at these new tracks such as Indy!

Stay off the wall, (and put your sarcasm recognition glasses on for that last part!)

Jeff Meyer

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
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10/09/2008 03:27 AM

Did ya ever have a friend show up to work, school, etc., that was too hungover, drunk, or stoned? What did ya do with him? You tried to keep him out of site so he wouldn’t get into trouble.

Now think about Carl Edward’s day… they kept him at the back of the pack and had him pit by himself. When he finally did pit with other cars, he managed to spin himself out for no apparent reason. And then when he finally made a run for the front of the pack, he caused the 2nd “Big One” of the day.

Makes ya wonder. :)

10/09/2008 07:39 AM

Great article and summation of things!

And gee, 20 laps on a tire @ Indy! how friggin fantastic!

(oh, and a softer tire? isn’t that what Tony wanted a year ago?)

10/09/2008 11:25 AM

Makes you wonder if Nascar even thought to give Carl a drug test after the race, seems his day would fit their standards for testing. Of course even if they did we would never hear about it, one way or the other.
If the best that Goodyear can do at Indy is less than a full fuel run next year I will turn the race off. I refuse to watch another race like this years mess. Period..

10/09/2008 11:35 AM

If Smith was blocked or forced was never the issue and still isn’t . The only issue is , no matter why he was below the yellow line , he was not allowed to continue on and make the pass . The rule is crystal on that point and has never been disputed , other than people who actually believe NASCAR said “ on the last lap anything goes “ . NASCAR never said any such thing . The idea that Stewart forced Smith below the line can be debated . The fact that Smith passed Tony while below the yellow line is fact .
The fact that Edwards was not the talk of the town after that boneheaded move he made might just be because no one was very surprised that he did it . Even his team mates didn’t seem surprised .
Think back over the years to any NASCAR race where tires ( blowouts , excessive wear , stagger , or lack of grip ) weren’t a big part of the story . I’ll save you the trouble . There has never been a NASCAR race where Goodyear tires haven’t had a major effect on the outcome . And that should never be . The tires should only be one part of the car and of the race , not the determining factor that they always are . Its time for NASCAR to bring on an open competition between the worlds race tire manufacturers . Build your idea of the best NASCAR tire for various NASCAR tracks , test them all under carefully controled circumstances , and award the tire contract to the winner . And have a clause in that contract that states the tire supplier contract will be voided if the tire performance ever decreases .

10/09/2008 11:36 AM

Isn’t it funny how winning a few races with good luck and excellent equipment buys you a free pass when you show that the talent really isn’t there. Championship material???

10/09/2008 11:50 AM

Carl was trying to get himself, & his teammate The Biff. In position to win. When he stops doing everything in his power to win. Starts points stroking like Mark Martin, or Jeff Burton. Then, & only then will get on his case. Secong thought, not even then. Because by then I will have seased to care about him.

Marilyn Courson
10/09/2008 11:57 AM

So did Carl’s apology really count considering he took out several chase drivers!!!!!!! How stupid can he be? Does he think his smirky smile can get him all the way??? Wait Cousin, paybacks are hell!

10/09/2008 12:31 PM

To dawg,

To finish first, you must first finish.

10/09/2008 12:41 PM

Of course Goodyear did extensive testing at Indy before the last Brickyard 400 and told everyone their tire was ready . No matter what Goodyear says , they’ve lost any credibility they ever had .

10/09/2008 01:07 PM

The problem is NASCAR doesn’t seem to have a detalied set of rules to handle every situation.

Take baseball or football. Their rulebooks (publicly available) are lengthy and detailed. Almost every situation is covered.

Why doesn’t NASCAR simply have a rule that states if a driver does X, this is the punishment/solution.

If you break a rule (pass under the line) because another person broke another rule (forcing you there)… what is the OFFICIAL solution?

Award Smith the win? Punish both Stewart and Smith and award Menard the win? Let the win go and dock points?

10/09/2008 02:43 PM

Carl Edwards. Classy? Edwards is a lot of things, but he’ll never, never be classy. You picked a poor substitute to replace a real man of class like Dale Jarrett. DJ would never have pulled such a stunt.

10/09/2008 06:53 PM


I know you were looking for a word to describe him as a “good type” guy. Classy is not it, as Carl is the second biggest goober in the pits (Michael Waltrip is the Joe Montana of Goobers). He does appear to be a good guy, he does stupid stuff, but a good guy. His interviews are usually honest and refreshingly devoid of the sponsorship thanking win one for the team cliche speech that had nothing to do with the question asked type of answer (whew! that was long). You could have done worse picking a favorite(#55) driver(#20) as Carl mostly does (#78) the right thing (except to #17).

bob lewis
10/09/2008 09:44 PM

carl edwards is nothing more than a 7th grade punk. if you’ve watched these past few seasons you surely noticed how he is always strutting around trying to intimidate other drivers, just ask kenseth about edwards “joking” punch last season during an interview. harvick needs to send lil carl crying back into his mommie’s arms the 1st chance he gets saturday night! and what’s the deal with edwards and his mom? most grown men don’t date their mother!

Jeff G
10/10/2008 06:16 AM

Hey bob lewis,

“Now that was funny right there”

Very good post!
I have also wondered about his mom too…


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
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Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.