*Carl Edwards crossed the line Saturday night with Brad Keselowski*
I, like every single person tuned into Saturday night’s Nationwide Series event, had a relatively wide range of emotions as Carl Edwards battled Brad Keselowski before taking the checkered flag at the same time Keselowski was bouncing around like a pinball, driver after driver T-Boning him alongside the inside wall. They went in this order as the two took the white flag:
_Here comes Keselowski, oh this is gonna be good… Yep, saw that coming, can Sorenson win????!!!! Never mind, Carl kept his foot in it… Keselowski wouldn’t hit him again, would he? Alright, they got through 3 and 4. Photo fin…..Carl turned him!!! Oh (expletive), I hope Brad’s OK… did Carl really just do that again?_
And it went on from there. As we heard Edwards go on to admit in Victory Lane, he essentially turned his rival on purpose with no remorse, leaving us all hoping for a sound bite from the victim himself. But what we got was even juicier, dad Bob Keselowski saying that he won’t let Mr. Edwards “kill my boy.”
At that moment, the mood changed, and suddenly we were all reminded that while NASCAR’s “Have at it, boys” approach may make races more exciting and create new rivalries, there are people driving these cars. They are sons, fathers, and husbands. Bob Keselowski looked like a man who wasn’t just angry at Edwards, but even more so scared and concerned for his son.
This is exactly what NASCAR had hoped for (although like the Hamlin/Keselowski spat last Fall, I’m sure they wanted it in the Cup Series), but after the Atlanta incident earlier this season Edwards should have known this was a touchy rivalry. In Atlanta, Edwards’ retaliation far exceeded the initial contact from Keselowski that started the feud when he sent the No. 12 car into the fence at one of the sport’s fastest tracks. Again, this week at Gateway he took what was a common short track move in Turn 1 and responded by spinning Keselowski in front of traffic on a tight straightaway. That left his rival with no place to go, cars on both sides coming at him as he headed straight towards some vicious concrete.
Edwards said it was a shame that Keselowski couldn’t have raced him clean on that last lap, because he felt his rival had the car to beat regardless. But Edwards was the one who should have just kept his momentum on the outside line off of Turn 4 and seen if it was enough to nip the No. 22 at the stripe. Certainly, there are some that still feel Brad had it coming; I also understand the wreck is a product of two rivals racing hard not only for the win, but for points positioning as well (the gap between the two is now just 168). In the end, though, Edwards dumping Keselowski was much dirtier than what happened on the other end of the track in Turn 1. And after two ugly incidents, NASCAR simply _has_ to interfere before this gets even more out of hand.
*The Nationwide Series needs to limit the number of Cup drivers in the field*
The Gateway, then ORP portion of the schedule is my favorite part of the series calendar because we get Nationwide racing the way it should be — a limited number of Cup drivers combined with a lot of young up-and-comers in the type of equipment that can help them make a name for themselves. It was refreshing to watch Justin Allgaier and Trevor Bayne swapping paint with other prospects like Josh Wise and Steve Arpin, ones who simply haven’t had the opportunity to run full-time in this division.
Those changes mean we saw more racing at Gateway than we have in ¾ of the Nationwide events this season, simply because everybody had something to race for. You had the four Cup guys up front going for the win – and in Keselowski and Edwards’ case, the championship – then, you had your Nationwide regulars fighting for points, and lastly, everybody else racing for respect and another opportunity to race under the bright lights in one of NASCAR’s premier series. We’ll see it again next weekend at ORP, although there will be slightly more Cup guys with the big show across town at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But heading to one of the series’ most competitive tracks, I guarantee next week you’ll see another excellent race all the way through the field. NASCAR is finally considering ways to limit Cup activity in the Nationwide Series, and to that I say… it’s about time. We need more competition like we saw Saturday night.