The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Edwards, Keselowski and the Fan Fallout by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday March 11, 2010

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Fanning the Flames: Edwards, Keselowski and the Fan Fallout

NASCAR Fan Q&A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday March 11, 2010


I’m guessing you all know what you’re in for by reading Fanning the Flames this week. Yes, it’s all Carl, all day. So if you’re tired of the coverage, I’m giving you permission to hop on over to McLaughlin’s or Vito’s piece now.

Go ahead. I won’t be mad.

OK, now that I’ve committed writer’s suicide by fending off the lifeblood of the column, I’ll reward those that stuck around with this little jewel which attempts to answer the age old question of what drivers do when they have to go to the bathroom during a race.

I have a few more questions in R&D mode than usual this week, but under the circumstances that’s to be expected. Be patient, for an off-week is a good week to clean out the inbox. Here’s your link to me. Let’s fill ‘er up twice.

And now, on to the Ballad of Carl and Brad …

Let’s look past the Carl/Brad nastiness for a moment. That damn wing can’t be gone fast enough. If NA$CAR was as serious about safety as they want us to believe they would have put the spoilers on in the offseason after Newman and Edwards took off at Talladega last year. Craving ratings is understandable but not at the expense of driver and fan safety. And I can’t resist, Carl should be ashamed.
— Peter Byrnes

A: I tend to agree with you, although I’ve heard whispers that NASCAR’s techies have said there are vents of some sort under the car — or openings that act as vents — that are aiding in flight. I’ll look into that and see what else I can dig up.

Of course, the spoiler is coming in a few weeks, but in the meantime we’ll hear the same mouthpieces that trumpeted the wing as the be-all, end-all just one year ago shill for the spoiler now that it’s NASCAR-approved. You know who you are, TV guys.

What kind of message is the sport sending when it gives Edwards only three races on probation? Carl deserved to be parked for Bristol and maybe Martinsville. I was horrified watching that and it only got worse with every replay.

To think a man would sit in the garage for two hours and plot that course of action out is disgusting. And for NASCAR to condone it and encourage it with their silly “penalty” is plain wrong. Carl lost a fan on Sunday. I’ll take my disposable income to someone else’s trailer.
— Maggie Herm, Houston, Tex.

A: The message conveyed was that since NASCAR’s baseline probationary period has traditionally been levied through the end of the calendar year, the boys are now free to run rampant. NASCAR made just as much a statement with that as Edwards did with his front bumper. You and I don’t share the same opinion on how this should have been handled — and that’s fine — but even with my tempered expectations, I fully expected something north of a three-race probation.

From the fans, to the media, to the drivers, reactions ranged from negative to positive regarding NASCAR’s penalty against Carl Edwards.

If anything is to be gleaned from this ruling, it’s that NASCAR has set a new precedent: Blatant retaliation will get you a three-race probation. No points docking, no fine, no suspension. And if that’s the way NASCAR wants it, fine, but it’d be wise to not reverse stance in two months when someone pulls a stunt half as egregious.

By the way, Robby Gordon and Ted Musgrave must be throwing an absolute fit right about now. More on Robby in a moment.

I’ve heard every media member’s reactions to the Carl vs. Brad battle royale but I haven’t heard what Brad has said since Helton’s announcement. Has he said anything? I’d be pissed to all hell!
— The “Original” Junebug

A: Wanna go fishing with me ‘Bug? Keselowski’s reaction on FOX immediately after the incident went like this:

“It will be interesting to see how NASCAR reacts to it — they have the ball. If they’re going to allow people to intentionally wreck each other at tracks this fast we will hurt someone either in the cars or in the grandstands.”

The most we heard out of him after NASCAR’s Tuesday ruling was, well, it wasn’t him, but his PR person:

“I support NASCAR in the decision they communicated today. They are not in an enviable position when it comes to these matters, but they do an outstanding job. The unfortunate part about what happened on Sunday is that is has overshadowed a win by the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge and an overall solid performance by Penske Racing at Atlanta.”

‘Atta way to be a team player, BK. Sounds like he expected more of a penalty but didn’t want to cross NASCAR with any lip. I’d like to know what he’s saying to his buddies while they’re kickin’ it with some cold ones.

While we’re on this topic, I gathered up some Twitter comments just moments after Mike Helton made NASCAR’s decision public on Tuesday. The beauty of Twitter is that it’s unfiltered. And in this case, it was these drivers’ first, and most telling reaction:

@scottspeed: Yo go #nascar!!! 3 race probation for Edwards! Awsome I love it!!! I bet Keslowski is scared now lol

@dingerworld: I’m really surprised by all negativity towards NASCAR’s decision. They are doing exactly what everyone screaming for.

@RobbyGordon: Just heard the news. I wonder what would of happened to me in that situation? Hmmm someone playing favorites? :)

@kaseykahne: doesn’t sound like favorites to me. Airborne is biggest and only issue. I like Helton’s call.

@mw55: Good call #nascar. You can’t ask the driver to take their gloves off one week and then tell em to put em back on the next.

@kylepetty: For me I am deeply saddened by the decision that #NASCAR made on this issue. I love this business, will always support it, but not this…

@KevinHarvick: i’m thinking about asking for a refund for all of my penalties!!!!

@AllWaltrip (Darrell Waltrip): one of my driver buddies said “mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns” we know who the bull is and now we know who got the horns(chrome)

Let the boys be boys. Well that didn’t take long. Be careful what you wish for NASCAR, you just might get it. Good luck cleaning up that PR mess.
— Brad Davies, North Carolina

A: This isn’t a PR mess. A PR mess would have been if one of the clean-cut, all-American boys with a toothy grin and aw-shucks attitude that was running 150-some laps down had seriously injured a rookie driving his heart out for a top-10 finish. Or worse, if the car had found its way beyond that catch fencing. That’s the nightmare scenario, you know. They’ve got to keep those machines on the ground.

I’m OK with a non-penalty. As a long-time fan that often longs for the “Good old days” (yeah sometimes they weren’t always that good, but don’t tell anyone!) I understand a certain code these guys live by.

Cale and Bobby and The King and all the guys they raced with understood and lived by an unspoken creed that you had to stand your ground. If you let yourself get pushed around they’ll continue to. At some point the other guy has to be straightened out. Carl simply had had enough and it was time to act. From what I gather there aren’t many in the garage that mind the decision by NASCAR either. Brad learned an important lesson Sunday.
— Charles Thomas, a 40 year fan

A: Lesson learned: If a guy whose day you’ve ruined (whether intentionally or not) takes an actual swipe at you with his car, pull a Maverick:

“I’ll hit the brakes and he’ll fly right by me, Goose.”

Another lesson learned: Sometimes the guy you peeved off won’t wait for the optimal time to get his vengeance. I don’t have a problem with “the code” and its repercussions — yeah, sometimes you have to put a rookie in his place. I did think the best way to handle it was to wait for Bristol, though.

Think about it, Carl could’ve called his shot on that Facebook page he’s so fond of, given Brad a couple weeks to fret over it, and given everyone a good show at Bristol. The only reason the Homestead Nationwide race got any play last year was for the same situation, after all.

Spinning a guy intentionally at 190 mph doesn’t fly in my book. And yes, I realize he didn’t know Keselowski would take flight, but that’s inconsequential. There’s a time and a place, and Carl was wrong on both accounts.

With that we’re done. Thanks for hanging around until the end.

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IndyCar Driver Profile: Takuma Sato
Beyond the Cockpit: Tommy Baldwin on Owning His Team, Hall of Fame and the Number Seven


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03/11/2010 07:03 AM

Forget Carl’s revenge for the moment…

Wasn’t his driving down pit lane backwards deserving of a penalty by itself? In the past, that would have been a points penalty.

It would appear that NA$CAR has just ruled that anything goes, no holds barred.

Can we have a To-the-Death Cage Match next?

03/11/2010 07:45 AM

I’ll now cheer everytime Carl Edwards gets punted.

BTW, those who are seriously upset about what he did .. hit him where it hurts – the wallet. I’m sure you can find his sponsors’ websites and let them know how you feel about them supporting a driver like that ..

03/11/2010 10:57 AM

I think the sponsors should drop him as soon as they can. Look at past history dating back to the Junior driver’s door hit because Carl was mad and count all the other stupid tricks since then. Way too many. Maybe he should be renamed “Baby Carl” instead of Cousin Carl. Also he is no favorite of his team mates which should tell us something of his mood changes. In the shop he thinks he is “The Carl”.

JD in NC
03/11/2010 10:57 AM

Well no matter who you think was right. Carl vs. Brad sure has everyone’s attention. Guess what NASCAR will show for all the upcoming race promos! My favorite instance of retaliation was at Richmond in a 2001 Busch race, Biffle had this one coming. I like him now, but he used to ruffle quite a few feathers.

Lucille Hamilton
03/11/2010 10:57 AM

I am so confused. I heard myself that after the Teledega race Edwards said it was not Brads fault. After the insident at Atlanta Edwards said it was not Brads fault, Then why in the HELL did he do a cornball thing like he did? I am sorry I think he has been runnung bad lately and he has to take it out on someone. I still remember after one race where he tried to run into JR and JR had his hand out the window. He also took a swing at Kenseth like a 10 year old. The problem with Carl is he thinks he’s hot and tough when he really just plain old Carl

03/11/2010 01:31 PM

Carl is a clean-cut, all-american kid? About like a serial killer I’d say. He does have the toothy grin with the big teeth, but he’s never been an all-American kid. He HAS been a schizoid aggressive driver more than Brad will ever be. A punk!

No Spin
03/11/2010 03:37 PM

MATT IS SENT THIS TO Tom Bowles: Mark said “The COT wing may have a very slight amount of lift when upside down” the problem is NOT lift it is the wing Stall that is why Nascar can not prove there is a problem, it only takes part of the wink to stall and the car takes over, and you have a flying car. No one has talked about this because they just have no idea what to look for, after all the COT is the greatest thing since sliced bread, sorry that was Joey, I believe what is happing is, and could be proven If you put a small model in a wind tunnel and start turning it different angles it will start flying, with a drastic change of incident on the wing, part of the wing stalls, the trunk becomes a lifting body in some ways like flaps on airplane, I believe Nascar knows all of this but the wing looked cool and the cot was to be different.

Who'd a thought it
03/11/2010 04:52 PM

Let’s put all of this into perspective.

Let’s change a couple of names here and see what the re-action would have been.

Jr., mad at Kyle Busch from an earlier incident, turns Kyle and sends him airborne.

Everyone of you who are
on Carls case would be applauding Jr. and would be mad as hell if he got anything worse than a slap on the wrist. In fact, he would be a hero.

Bottom line, most of you are very hypocritical when it comes to racing.

03/11/2010 08:14 PM

Hey cuz carl we all know what you are .aflac and subway be dammed you are a corporate shue trying to act the good guy . But you showed your colors Sundayhow was brad not at fault early on and thge antichrist later common Carl if you are going to lie make it a good one ive said this about him for years p-lease listen now

Matt T. --
03/11/2010 08:40 PM

A couple things after reading your comments:

Fred: Excellent point about the pit road deal. I thought the same thing myself. Normally that’ll land you in hot water on its own.

Sharon: On jayski’s front page today, Scott’s has its own press release. They are thinking along the same lines as you.

JD: Thanks for the vid!

Lucille: There is more history between these two than just Talladega ’09.

Pepper: A quick glance sure says “clean-cut, all American.” Dude’s from Missouri, after all.

No Spin: Cut back on the vodka, man.

Who’d a thought: Like the perspective, but when a car goes over after an obvious payback, I’m not sure even the name Earnhardt will erase the visual. Plus, we all know Junior doesn’t have that in him.

03/11/2010 09:45 PM

And I thought the references to the WWF were just tongue in cheek. Now it should be “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity, Let’s go Wraslin’ Boys!
Hopefully, the owners will step up and police the drivers or at least make them lease their cars for the NA$CAR Demo Derby.

Robert Eastman
03/11/2010 11:09 PM

Because Brad comes from a family of “Real Racers,” (with the ability to succeed through smarts, hard work, blood, sweat and tears, even when short on funds) I confess that I’m partial in any discussion involving him.
Many times the replays show that drivers cut down on Brad and then blame him for causing the wrecks. That was the case at Talladega and the first incident at Atlanta. Denny Hamlin has also blamed Brad for accidents that Denny himself caused. Another cry-baby is Biffle who blamed Joey Lagono for mistakes that the Biff made.
It seems that some of these “talent-less” veteran drivers refuse to “man-up” for their own screw-ups when it’s just so easy to “blame the rookies!” I guess they’re just jealous of these “young whipper-snapper” phenoms!

Who'd a thought it
03/12/2010 12:09 AM

Sorry Matt, but Jr. did have it in him when he took out Brian Vickers, and half of the field, at Daytona in 2009. Unlike Carl, it took him a week to own up to it.

Matt T. --
03/12/2010 12:37 AM

Who’da: I’m not a card carrying member of Junior Nation, but the wreck with Vickers wasn’t a payback scenario … at the worst it was a mistake. Poor driver judgment or just plain bad driving — your call. Carl went out there looking for revenge. There’s a difference. And let me be clear that I’m not opposed to driver retribution, I just think Carl should’ve handled it better … like saving it for Bristol.


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Contact Matt Taliaferro

Recent articles from Matt Taliaferro:

Fanning the Flames: Of Daytona, Danica, Dale, and Duels
2009 Season Review: Tony Stewart
2009 Season Review: Ryan Newman
Fanning the Flames: Closing the Inbox on the 2009 Season
Fanning the Flames: The Crew Chief Carousel and Other Assorted Oddities