The Frontstretch: Fanning the Flames: Fan Reaction To Carl vs. Brad Round II, Including Penalties by Matt Taliaferro -- Thursday July 22, 2010

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Fanning the Flames: Fan Reaction To Carl vs. Brad Round II, Including Penalties

NASCAR Fan Q&A · Matt Taliaferro · Thursday July 22, 2010


NASCAR drew the proverbial line in the sand yesterday that separates “boys being boys” from “boys behaving badly.” Its Wednesday afternoon ruling brought a head to four days of speculation, commentary and outcry from a fanbase and a racing media that increasingly seems to tell NASCAR that it doesn’t like what it sees, and will only know what it likes when it sees it.

Following a near-decade of NASCAR clamping down tighter and tighter on competitors for on-track altercations, it opened the floodgates in January with the now-infamous “Boys, have at it” edict. While many of the drivers have taken advantage of their new-found freedoms, two — Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski — have taken the policy and made an art form out of it.

I won’t document the duo’s turbulent on-track history, because those reading this column are well aware, as I’ll highlight by including your opinions below. But NASCAR’s penalties on Wednesday may cool their jets a bit. And at this point, that’s probably not a bad idea.

Edwards was penalized 60 driver points, $25,000 and placed on probation in all three touring series for the remainder of the season for hooking Keselowski into the front straightaway wall on the final lap at Gateway International Raceway. In turn, Keselowski was also placed on probation for the rest of the season across NASCAR’s three touring series for rubbing Edwards in Turn 1 earlier in the lap. (And just to feed the “NASCAR Hates Jack Roush” conspiracy crowd, it took 60 owner points from the No. 60 team.)

“You can still step over the line,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s VP of Competition, told Sirius XM Radio. “[But] you can’t be wrecking each other this way.”

In other words, intentional wrecking of another competitor done with malice is where the line has been drawn — a line that previously did not exist; or did, but no one outside of a Daytona Beach office building knew where it was. And judging by the emails I received for this column — all of which were delivered pre-penalty and overwhelmingly anti-Edwards — a cross-section of NASCAR fans on the street agree with Pemberton:

Despite fan outcry for a punishment, NASCAR gave Carl Edwards a slap on the wrist for his incident with Brad Keselowski.

I think they should park Edwards, at least for one race, before he kills someone or someone kills him.

Maybe he could take some lessons in driving while he was off. Like how to do a bump and run, how to not send cars sailing thru the air upside down, how to not block cars racing full speed ahead near the finish line (Dega) or how not to hang back and not race in a restrictor race up to the crowd, wreck your teammates and half the other cars in the race (fall race). How not to leave notes in airplanes, how not to enter others’ space and threaten to hit them and land on their hoods, and how not to threaten a teammate. (Matt K.).

This guy sure needs something done to him or for him.
— Sharon Jones

NASCAR wants to tweak the Nationwide Series next year? Here’s an idea: Ban Edwards and Keselowski from running in it. That keeps other NNS teams from getting caught up in their petty and wreckless disputes and hands them a penalty all at the same time.
— Damien Clarke, Arkansas

I’m for the “boys having at it,” but Edwards stepped over the line at Gateway. Of course NASCAR will let it go on, but this time he needs a kick in the pants and it’s obvious Brad’s kicks aren’t dong the job. Earnhardt said it best at North Wilkesboro back in the day: “They should fine the son of a bitch and make him sit out the rest of the year.” Edwards doesn’t have any business in the Nationwide Series anyway.
— Bob Newton, South Carolina

Matt, I’m confused why fans and media are up in arms over Edwards wrecking Kes at Gateway. NA$CAR told the drivers to have at it and that’s what they’re doing. Edwards got a slap on the wrist at Atlanta and what happened at Gateway was no different. In fact, at Atlanta he didn’t keep Brad from winning the race. It’s hypocritical for NA$CAR to do anything different this time. Edwards got a probation earlier. Give him another three races and be done with it!
— Jerry C., Antioch, Tenn.

Matt, the racing has been great this year and I think that doesn’t get said enough. I’m a fan of the changes NASCAR made with double file restarts and green white checkers and “have at it boys,” but there comes a time when some semblance of order must be restored. That time came on Saturday when Carl wrecked Brad again. Turning hard left and hooking a guy into the fence ain’t good hard racing, it’s dirty driving.

Carl made his point at Atlanta and escaped when a scary wreck turned out to not be a fatal wreck and he got a second pass at Gateway. Allowing him to use his car as a weapon is not in the spirit of “have at it boys,” it’s indefensible driving.

I doubt NASCAR will do anything to Carl because they are getting what they wanted, but somewhere down the road these incidents we see as entertaining are going to take a deadly turn. I admit I don’t want NASCAR to reverse its stance, but sometimes a little water on the fire doesn’t hurt. There are limits to everything. Thanks.
— Ann Bellew

These responses, a sampling of what I received this week, were indicative of the whole. In each one — even Jerry’s, which leaned closer to doing nothing than any other in my inbox — a penalty was suggested. And the final one, written by Ann, was especially well asserted and the one I felt best surmised the dozen or so emails I received.

Unbeknownst to her, the point she made closely reflected the one Pemberton made yesterday, that sometimes stepping over the line and giving the crowd a good show is one thing, but intentional wrecking is something else altogether. And as much as I’ve been an advocate of letting the boys settle things on-track, feeling free to swap a little paint when necessary, they should remember that, in extreme cases, NASCAR’s hand is forced into action.

Saturday’s was an extreme case, not because the end result was a violent wreck — that can happen even in unintentional situations — but because of the blatant actions and total disregard shown on the part of Edwards.

Yeah, rubbin’ is racin’, but wreckin’ ain’t.

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07/22/2010 03:39 AM

While I do believe that Brad intentionally rubbed Carl in turn 1 if he had wanted to wreck him, he would have. There is a major difference between RUBBIN AND WRECKING.

Now that the bully has acted twice and Brad and Mr. Penske have let nascar MISHANDLE it, they put Brad on probation to protect Kissin Cousin Carl from the PAYBACK that was sure to be returned.
They might also want to put Brad’s brother Brian on probation since he mainly start and parks why not have Brian park Carl on his way to the garage.

07/22/2010 09:15 AM

Rubbin’ is racing. Hooking a guy on the straightaway is criminal.

Since NASCAR doesn’t seem to want to straighten Edwards out. I think Penske should add another car to just take Edwards out every week until NASCAR finally gets the point that the fans don’t want to see this crap.

07/22/2010 12:16 PM

Penske should just discretely put a bounty on Edwards. Anybody wreck’s him get’s so much money or an engine etc.

07/22/2010 12:28 PM

Joseph – I smile at the thought of a bounty but I really don’t think it will take a bounty for teams to show their displeasure with Crazy Carl. They have long tired of the “I’m Sorry” that he repeats after dumb moves on the track.And fixing all those wrecked cars will not endear him to many teams.

07/22/2010 01:15 PM

wcfan, I am sure if Brad wants to “get even” all he has to do is call Carl and ask to meet him somewhere and attempt to punch him!! Since he is a sissy hiding behind his daddy that won’t happen. But that is what will happen now, we will revert to fights in the pits, since you cry babies won’t allow it on the track….mark my words, they haven’t done away with that, they can’t, it goes on every weekend at local nascrap sanctioned tracks all over the country!!…Brad would look cute with a tire iron wrapped around his neck!!

07/22/2010 01:17 PM

I also wondered how NASCAR arrived at 60 points. Obviously it’s just a coincidence that it’s equal to his car number, but…where did the number come from? I don’t recall a 60-point fine in the past, at least not anytime recently. It does just barely send him behind Keselowski, which may have been their intention. Edwards earned 190 points (now 130) and Keselowski earned 131.

Matt T. --
07/22/2010 02:03 PM

Kevin —

Carl gained 59 points on BK in the standings, so NASCAR negated that & then just rounded up to 60. My guess is NASCAR wouldn’t have done anything had the fan outcry not been so overwhelming. After all, why not announce the penalty on Tuesday as per usual? By Wednesday the avalanche had picked up too much steam to be ignored.

Not saying I agree with their thinking there, just saying that’s what happened.

07/22/2010 03:55 PM

RaceHUB came to the conclusion that Carl was 227 points behind Brad before Gateway. Now, with the penalty, he is 228. So their guess is that NASCAR took away any points gained at Gateway and deducted 1 more.

Either that or someone in NASCAR’s PR Dept. read the points penalty wrong, because Carl was driving the 60 car, and NASCAR didn’t bother to correct them :)

Kevin in SoCal
07/22/2010 05:04 PM

Damien Clarke said: “from getting caught up in their petty and wreckless disputes”

Hey Damien, “wreckless” means not wrecking, which they obviously did a lot of wrecking on Saturday night. The word you want is “reckless”, which means endangering others.

And for sure, Carl Edwards does NOT belong racing in the Nationwide series full-time. He already won a championship there, what does he have left to prove?

Chris in TX
07/22/2010 06:12 PM

Kevin in SoCal,
Carl still needs to prove that he is capable of taking vastly superior equipment, and wrecking underfunded teams’ cars with it. :) (this, of course is not referring to the Penske car, but all the other debris on the frontstretch at gateway)

07/22/2010 09:10 PM

The intentional wrecking started at Talledega, and Brad got to keep the win. What Carl did was wrong, but Carl did not start the mess, Brad did.

Keeping it REAL
07/23/2010 12:30 AM

Drop the weed Tim, and back away. Talladega? Son, that weed is crossing your eyes. Sleep it off, then watch it in slo-mo. Crazy Carl cut down on Kes, drove right over his hood. Kes held his line, unlike Regan who lost a win that way (unjustly). Kes did NOT wreck Carl at ‘Dega, Carl wrecked Carl at ‘Dega. Just like when Gordon drove over the top of Ward’s hood back in ’02. Same deal, different day, different track. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY, blamed Ward for that wreck. I am most certainly not a Kes fan, but why the H E double hockey sticks do you and so many others still think Kes wrecked him at ‘Dega? Wow. Being 420 Friendly is fine, but put it down before you pick up the keyboard and start typing stuff like that!

07/23/2010 01:24 AM

I have to agree though. I am completely amazed that anyone can possibly think BK wrecked Carl at ‘Dega.


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Contact Matt Taliaferro

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