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Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Tuesday July 25, 2006
Throughout my life, I've yet to meet a person that doesn't have a breaking point. No matter how easygoing you are, there's some internal code going on inside your brain that, if entered correctly, will push you over the edge. It's a natural part of being a human being, the internal frustration caused by the ability for someone or something to get you so angry in the first place.
On Sunday, Carl Edwards became a bit more human.
Edwards ended the 2005 Nextel Cup season the sport's hottest young starâ€¦from substitute teacher to champion driver in just a few short years, the fan favorite, G rated personality from Missouri was clearly on top of the NASCAR world. Then 2006 began, and Edwards started the year on top of Kyle Petty's car in the Daytona 500; things have seemed to go the route of a roller coaster for the 26-year-old ever since. Even so, Edwards and anger go along, well, just about as much as Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt do these days, no matter how poorly he's performing on the racetrack. So, excuse me for being just a bit surprised that the mild mannered kid compared more often to Beaver Cleaver than an angry mobster left Sunday afternoon at Pocono ticked off enough to matter-of-factly suggest he'd punch someone else out and leave them bleeding.
That's not to say Edwards doesn't have good reason to be mad. In case you've been living in a cave the past 48 hours, you know Cousin Carl's most recent tale of woe all too well; on lap 31, while riding behind the race cars of Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer, Edwards watched innocently while Bowyer ran Stewart up the race track going through Pocono's treacherous turn three. Stewart's temper didn't like that so much, especially when his car scraped the wall heading out of the turn; so, without thinking he bodyslammed Bowyer going down the frontstretch as payback for his mistake. Bowyer's No. 07 car quickly spiraled out of control, slowing down and turning sidewaysâ€¦right in front of Edwards.
Just like that, Edwards went from a darkhorse contender for a victory at Pocono to seeing his Chase dreams all but end up in smoke. One lap behind in 42nd after repairs were made to his race car, Edwards was downâ€¦but certainly not out. A series of cautions falling at the right time could give the 99 car a Lucky Dog pass, getting it back on the lead lap and giving the team at least an outside shot at a solid finish. Meanwhile, an out-of-line Stewart was penalized a lap, serving a just punishment for unwittingly causing a crash he had no business causing.
Bottom line, the court of NASCAR had served Edwards justice, and while his car wasn't in great shape, there was still hope for a reasonable finish. _Too late_â€¦after two and a half years of being Mr. Perfect, Edwards had finally reached his breaking point in public. Too many weeks this year where he'd seen good runs go down the drainâ€¦too much private anguish over the loss of his crew chief, Bob Osborne, midseason to Jamie McMurray's operationâ€¦too much internal pressure to get back in the win column this season, to repeat the success he'd achieved the year before.
All that caught up with Edwards as his Sunday afternoon at Pocono reached a fever pitchâ€¦just as he caught up to Stewart 35 laps later, on his way to pit road, after Stewart had gotten back on the lead lap. That gave Edwards a perfect opportunity to release his frustrationâ€¦with the perfect push â€˜n' spin to Stewart's already damaged car on pit road.
Around Stewart's car went, putting innocent bystanders on pit road in dangerâ€¦and around Edwards went to his pit box, in line to serve a one lap penalty for the type of rough driving that got Stewart in trouble in the first place. Yet that still wasn't enough to satisfy an infuriated Edwardsâ€¦he made sure to give reporters outside his hauler after the race a thrill ride of comments rarely seen by someone who uses words like "Gosh!" as regular parts of his vocabulary:
"(Stewart) turned into Clint and took both him and I out and probably made it just about impossible for us to make the Chase, and then when I pull up beside him and wave my hand like, "What was that about?" He gives me the finger. I mean, what a jerk. I don't even know what to say. It's amazing to me that someone can be that special."
"If you hold that guy up (Stewart), he gets so upset and then he can wreck two guys and give you the finger. That's spectacularly self-centered. I can't imagine being like that."
"Let me just say this, if it weren't for respect of the sport and the people watching and his team and everything, (Stewart would) be out there bleeding right now."
Of course, as time went on Edwards slowly sank back from PG to a G rated version of his former self, apologizing profusely for putting crew members in danger on pit road with his spin and expressing his regret things couldn't have worked out differently. Unfortunately, that's a regret that may stick with Edwards awhileâ€¦after his lap penalty on pit road, he was put two laps down and clearly thrown out of reach of getting any sort of decent finish. Yes, Edwards' car appeared to be junk after that wreckâ€¦but what if he had controlled his temper, and gotten the Lucky Dogâ€¦what if that gave team and driver the extra motivation to fix that car and bring it to a Top 20 finish, which would have kept Carl with at least a fighting chance in the race to the Chase. What ifâ€¦instead, Edwards is now 235 points behind the very man he spun for 10th in points, six races too little, too late to make up the gap.
All around Edwards on Monday, tired citizens picked up their lives and went to work, dragging through their Mondays with the dull pain that can only symbolize the beginning of another long workweek. It's the type of dull pain Edwards woke up and experienced, realizing that his next set of workweeks will almost definitely no longer consist of battling for the championship he was favored to win back in February.
For Edwards, that pain will last the rest of the seasonâ€¦and then some. After two years of unparalleled success, happiness is no longer the only emotion permanently entrenched in his public persona. And while that makes Edwards more human, that may already have him wishing for simpler times just one year ago.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I agree Carl Edwards became a bit more human but that patience would given them a good finish? Get real.
They were four laps down at the end and even without the one lap penalty for spinning Stewart they would have finished one place ahead of their eventual finish. Wait, they didn’t even get the lucky dog on the caution he spun Stewart any way.
A series of cautions? at Pocono? Pocono is a track not known to produce a lot of cautions that’s why there’s quite a few gas mileage runs there. Kinda’ like a series of cautions at Michigan.
NASCAR did not serve either Clint Boyer or Carl Edwards justice. How in the hell is Stewart’s seventh place finish justice for Boyers 41st and Edwards 39th. With his run, Stewart’s back in the top ten in points and Edwards and Boyer are on the outside looking in with little or no chance of getting there thanks to him.
Stewart wrecked two contending cars and got a slap on the wrist for it. Penalize him for five laps and make sure he has the day he deserves for needlessly ruining two other drivers days as well as their runs toward a championship.
Racing is racing and there will always be incidents and wrecks as long humans drive race cars but intentionally wrecking someone is WRONG. Edwards was not justified in spinning Stewart anymore than Stewart was wrecking Boyer. Until the penalties for this behavior given some serious teeth and it cost something major things won’t change.
Edwards behavior could be expected given his age, experience and level of frustration but Stewart’s should not as he is a two time champion.
As for Edwards’ comments about Stewart during and after the race. Maybe letting the King Bully of NASCAR that someone who can might remove his head is a good thing. It might make him think twice before the stupidity bug bites him again.
To start, Stewart’s reaction to Bowyer was extreme. A bump from behind and a closed fist in the mirror should send the message just fine. But to put the guy in the wall is too much. Yes, Clint needed to be addressed but in a safer manor.
For Carl he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He really got the short end of the deal . Even with a solid car I doubt he could have won the race while Denny was running a rocket but a top ten was possible. Let’s face it, his Chase contention just flew out the window ( a lot like Tony’s finger).
Now have to say I don’t respects Edward’s reaction to Tony. This put Carl at Tony’s lower level. I know Edwards is just human and emotions are hard to control at times but this would have been a great time to show just how much more class he has compared to the two-time champ. I still respect Carl and will continue to enjoy watching his career grow but I hope he continues to put forth the good example. I think that others may understand that ol’ Cousin Carl is not afraid to throw down when called to the carpet.
The one lap penalty served by both Tony and Carl was not enough. Tony still finished 7th after showing his disrespect for anyone younger than himself. But if a stiffer penalty was given to Stewart I think Carl may not have reacted that way. When someone gives me the one-finger salute my rationality automatically turns off and the primal side of my nature comes forward (guess I should stop talking about that at this point).
AT least NASCAR gave the same sentence to Carl that was given to Tony. Fair is fair.
Do I think this drama is over? Yes, I do. Carl has regained his normal composure and will continue to race clean when possible. I will be shocked to see Carl give Tony the boot two weeks from now. Tony will find someone else to pick on and start a new saga in the Tony Tribulations.
i had no problem with how carl handled himself. i would have preferred he put a decent amount of damage on the 20.
i used to be a big stewart fan. i can not stand the dude now, and i am surprised he hasn’t been popped in the mouth yet by another pissed off driver. with all his little temper tantrums on the track, no one should be giving him any slack.
i still can’t believe he got away with blatantly and purposefully crashing someone. hell, if you’re at a go cart track and run into people like he hit clint, they throw you out.
i wonder if tony cringes when he watches tape of himself giving his pocono post race sermon? he has to know he sounds like a complete knucklehead.
anyway, i hope carl can somehow pull off the impossible and make the chase, and that stewart drops to 15th. it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Tony Stewart is the biggest baby on the track right now. it’s a clear case of “do as I say, not as I do.” I don’t know when this foolishness will stop, but given NA$CAR’s kid glove approach to it, not any time soon. Is it not time for NA$CAR to put some teeth into their penalties. Think about what we save… Stewart called into the pits for a one lap penalty – great! Allowing him to work on his car will serving the penalty… how stupid it that. What he ended up with was the freshest tires, on the inside when they went green, and quite able to regain a reasonable position on the track. What NA$CAR needs to do is create penalties with some true teeth to them. If you’re called to pit road to sit for a lap or two or THREE, then your crew can’t touch that car… Period. What Stewart got was a simple slap on the wrist, he knew it, NA$CAR knew it, and most of the fans knew it. But, he is one of their ca$h cows…. can’t upset the gravy train to the NA$CAR bank accounts no can we.
I think that the Edwards response is totally justified!! Tony Stewart is a self centered Jack@#$. He get’s away with alot. If he’s such a stud meet with Edwards after the race and I’m sure Edwards can give him a class a knock him off his high horse. Why shouldnt edwards and bowyer be mad? I think tony should lose points or the points he got for finishing the race should be given to edwards and bowyer.
I think Mark has hit one something. This problem has more than one layer. Yes, NASCAR needs to step up and make their presence known in these kind of situations. I agree that the car should sit on pit road for serveral laps without a crew member touching the car at all. Unless the damage is severe enough to visit the garage, send the car back out for at least one lap before repair, tires, and fuel can be addressed. Now lets not stop there. In this case collateral damage was suffered by another driver. Hit the primary offender with a points penalty. In the past money has been fined but that is nothing to these guys. Get them where it hurts.
At this rate I see Tony causing the next big one at a plate race. And then what, put his nose in the corner? NASCAR, walk the walk!
Tony over reacted and got penalized for what he did-game over. The past few weeks he has been the victim of other drivers, who I might add were not penalized. Too bad his name isn’t Gordon, then he could go out and take out anybody he wants and not get penalized. Oh yeah and to those who are calling him a crybaby and saying that he will cause the next big one at a plate race-you guys try driving one of those race cars.
The trend I see forming with Tony is he’s making quite an effort to become legendary in NASCAR. His intent and my perception are strictly divided though.
Eveyone talks about Stewart’s generosity. I would agree that anyone as giving of his money as he is would be. But, my ‘perception’ has now become that Tony tries to donate his way out of negative publicity AND it also appears to me this is the only way he can clear his conscience.
By invoking Earnhardt in his rheteric this weekend, I also perceive he feels these are the shoes he is trying to fill. He’s FAR from becoming the next Intimidator.
It’s becoming cliche to say that Stewart needs to live by his own rules, but when is he going to get it? Have the temperment issues of the past that lead to his ‘rumored’ time spent in anger management caught back up with him again? I feel embarrased for Mr. Gibbs and Zipadeli almost weekly.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a statement that started off with “I USED to be a Tony fan…”. I think the line is becoming clearer between the true NASCAR fan which enjoys the sport for it’s intended purpose; competition, and those fans who take time out from their WWF schedule to tune in on Sundays. Stewart seems to be catering to the latter.
My advice to Tony…save the money you’re donating to appease the press…you’ll need it to pay off the lawsuit for whichever driver you kill or severely injure in the years ahead. That, or go back to your seat at the front of “Anger Management: 101”.
Like a lot of people, I expected Carl Edwards to have a phenomenal season this year, especially considering all he accomplished in 2005.
While his amazing success last year firmly entrenched him as one of NASCAR’s superstars, it also had to have brought an untold amount of pressure to perform well.
Perhaps missing the Chase this year will be a blessing in disguise for Edwards and his team. Once he’s out of the Chase, the only thing he can do is go for wins – forget about racing for 11th – that team should just focus on the week to week and winning races. I would not be surprised that once the pressure is off, Carl rips off a win or two before the season is out. Granted, they will have to start next year with the same “big picture” mentality, but hopefully with more perspective about things. The guy is a real talent, not a flash in the pan and it’s sometimes easy to forget that this is only his second full year in Nextel Cup. If I was Mr. Roush (and I certainly am NOT!) I would not have Carl run the full Busch series schedule next year. While he’s won a few NBS races this season, I wonder how it’s impacted his Cup campaign.
From what I’ve saw, if a side-by-side bump causes Clint Bowyer to spin out on a straight strectch, maybe he doesn’t need to be in NASCAR’s top level. And thank god drivers still do get mad and bump each other on the track. It’s what made NASCAR so popular. All these newbies to the sport don’t like it, watch the IRL. Who really cares what you think about Stewart. Call him what you want. Here’s something else you can call him; a 2 time Champion,
I am SICK of this innocent bystanders in danger crap. What about the innocent bystanders, in this case, fellow competitors that Stewart put in danger in the first place!? And at race speeds.
What Carl did was wrong, and he said as much, BUT, when he did it, it was in a more controlled manner than Stewart. Carl said that he purposely spun tony to the OUTSIDE of pit lane.
Perhaps had Stewart’s actions gotten another competitor hurt or even killed, we’d be all be a little more upset with Tony.
Just cause someone is a Champion in any particular sport doesn’t mean they are a stellar individual. (Unless you are a mindless ‘follower’. Lord knows we got enough of those in this country.)
There is a tremendous divergence between the Louden incident and the Pocono incident, and its quite obvious, Ryan may have caused the issue with driving hard into the corner, there was no obvious malintent in the incident.
Tony at Pocono obviously had control of is car, or he would not have gestured out the window prior to swerving to his left, and in to Bowyer.
Quite simply, and the only way to address this type of blatant action, is when intentional action is taken, the instigator should not be allowed a finnishing position higher than the car or cars that were damaged as a result of an obvious intentional act. Intent is the hard thing to judge, and I would believe NASCAR to err on the side of caution, however, I would be hard pressed to find anyone who would not have judged Stewart’s actions at Pocono to not be intentional.
CARL LET YOUR FISTS DO THE TALKING, DON’T BACK DOWN TO A BULLY. MAKE A STAND! THE CARL ARMY
The problem I see is that this isn’t the first wreck Stewart has caused. If there are incremental penalties, getting increasingly more severe as the infractions occur, just as they do the Crew Chief for cheating, then Stewart should have gotten more than one lap.
People who are saying they used to be Tony fans all I’m going to say to you guys is FAIR-WEATHER fans. I can admit what Tony did at Pocono was stupid but I’m still proud to be a Tony fan.
If anyone of us had any idea what it takes to be a champ in motor-sports racing, we wouldn’t be reading this stuff anyway. However, since we are, Smoke is free to do what is allowed by NASCAR to protect his title. No matter if is is the 24, the 17, the old 31, the 07, or the ALL-Tel Dodge…in a season as long as NASCAR has, you show how you should be treated. Nobody is a nice guy at 200mph. Smoke has earned a few free rounds at my house whenever he wants to collect!!! jwc
Tony make things happen. I just love to hate him. Comparing Gordon to Stewart is comparing apples to oranges. Jeff was methodical on his payback and did it when it really counted. Tony just blows up
Carl was never going to get the lucky dog…the cautions just didn’t fall that way. And although we knew he’d be penalized for it, a huge cheer went up in Edhead land when he spun Tony…sure, he shouldn’t have done that anywhere near pit lane, but it’s nice to know our guy is human, and won’t take things lying down. Great article, Tom.
Had stewart been penalized and put on probation for intentionally wrecking Kenseth at Daytona then maybe he would calm down or maybe he could set out Indy
Tony definitely needs to sit out a race or two. I would love for it to be Indy. Carl made a lot of new fans Sunday. I’m so glad he didn’t put up with Tony’s bs. WTG Carl!
Carl Edwards better look out at Indy or he might just get Smoked!!! Like he would stand a chance in a brawl with Tony. All he can do is backflips.
First off, what Tony did was silly, but I agree with Rusty Wallace’s view on ESPN.com. He said Bowyer jerked the car away from Stewart’s bump, which caused him to spin. ROOKIE mistake…although it was a ROOKIE that kicked the field’s butt twice at Pocono. So Bowyer is part of the mistake. Edwards is another. Who tries to pass two cars bumping against one another?? DUMB!!! And now we come to Edwards’ payback. ON PIT ROAD??? How stupid! He could have really gotten someone hurt. And for those who say Tony doesn’t get what he deserves…HORSE CRAP. He spun Jeff on pit road at Bristol and was fined and put on probation…but not NASCAR’s new POSTERBOY. And for all those “I used to be a Tony fan”...I USED TO BE A CARL EDWARDS FAN. And to those Earnhardt people…TONY IS THE NEXT BEST THING…a heckuva lot better than Earnhardt JR…
Recent articles from Tom Bowles:
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If you want to know more about Tom Bowles or to view all of his articles here at the Frontstretch, check out his archive and bio page.
Want even more Tom Bowles? Check out Tom's archive at SI.com.