“We got going on that restart, [he] knocked me out of the way, and I thought, I don’t care if I win this race or not; I don’t care if I finish this damn thing, I’m running into him and getting by one way or another,” Carl Edwards said after winning the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 last Saturday.
Oh, wait… my bad… wrong guy! Edwards did not say that. Whoever it was, though, it sure sounds like they have nothing but intent to wreck the other guy, doesn’t it?
Hold on; I remember now. It was four-time (consecutive) champ, Jimmie Johnson! Had he lost his mind? I remember him saying he was so mad, he was going to wreck Kurt Busch after Busch nudged him to grab the lead at New Hampshire, and that was just a couple of weeks ago! Wow, Johnson must have been suffering from ‘roid rage if he, Mr. Vanilla, was going to purposely wreck someone for a simple bump and run!
So what is the difference, you ask, between Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards?
That answer is: plenty. Johnson had several more laps to go to try and catch Busch. He also had a crew chief telling him to calm down and “just hit your marks” to help him catch Busch. Edwards had no such luxury.
The thing about last Saturday night’s race is simple. It was simply a matter of time. Edwards and Brad Keselowski had raced each other CLEANLY for 199 laps, with one exception (for which Keselowski apologized on the radio), and, of course, the final lap. There was no more time. There were no more laps. As Carl said, “I did what I had to do to win the race.”
I was stationed on the photographer’s scaffold just inside turn 2 all night long, and it was my observation early on that Keselowski was better than Edwards in turns 1 and 2. Brad could keep his car glued to the white line, and he did, the entire race.
Edwards, on the other hand, could keep it down there with fresher tires, but as the tires wore, it caused him to run just a bit higher. One ace up Carl’s sleeve was his straightaway speed, which was better than Keselowski’s, as well as Kevin Harvick, who was a major player most of the night.
Now, having said all that, I want to point out a thing or two for those in the media (most of my colleagues on this site) and the fans, who claim that Brad “just did a bump and run” or “he went in too hard and slid up” or “he just rubbed him a bit.” First and foremost, I say to all of you, BS!
As I write this paragraph, I pause once again, to watch the replay… yep, it is still the same! And you can watch it too on this fine posting on YouTube. Now, if you watch that video, and have one ounce of honesty in you, you can see a couple of things, starting at about 10 seconds into it. First of all, Keselowski is a full two and a half, if not three, lanes high in the turn. Secondly, (and this is where the honesty comes in) Keselowski turned RIGHT, into Carl’s left quarter, just as much as Carl hooked Brad on the other side coming out of turn 4. This move is further evidenced by the fact that you can see Brad correct back to the left!
So I don’t care what anyone says; Brad tried just as hard to wreck Carl in turns 1 and 2 as Carl did coming down the stretch. The only problem was, much to Brad’s dismay and surprise I’m sure, was that Carl managed to save it.
Now, I ask you, had Brad managed to complete what he set out to do, would the resulting pileup been any less horrific? Would you then be calling for Keselowski’s head on a platter? I know for sure you wouldn’t have seen Carl’s dad on TV sniveling about how Brad “tried to kill my son!”
Now here is where it gets real interesting.
NASCAR itself did not want to levy ANY penalties against anyone! Apparently, they saw the replay without the clouded vision of my colleagues and a legion of whiny fans, taking the video of the action at face value. But… as with most things NASCAR nowadays, once the fans started whining, they felt they had to do something. So after a few days of peer pressure, the sport buckled, authorizing a penalty we barely see on the circuit. What amazes me most, though, is the fact that the consequences they did render fit the so called “crime” perfectly!
The penalty takes away 60 points from Carl, which is what he gained on Brad, probation, and a small fine. The beauty of it all, though, is they put Brad on probation, too! So, in essence, NASCAR has deemed that the whole thing basically didn’t happen, and at the same time, attempted to get the whiners to shut up! Way to go, NASCAR! You guys actually got this one right… as best as wishy washy fence sitters with no gonads can do.
Ironically, all the whiners who have called for Carl’s head are also mostly those who complain that, since its repaving, Bristol just isn’t Bristol any more, simply because they don’t need to wreck each other to pass! And you call Carl and Carl fans hypocrites?
Bottom line is, neither driver deserved anything more than what was done on the track; but if they had to be punished – the punishment was perfect!
One more parting shot before I go… WTF is up with “the whiny racing parent” being broadcast on TV? I understand their emotion, happy or sad, but they have no place on network TV. This is a big boy sport, let the boys fight their own battles! Parents always end up looking silly trying to fight for their kids!
That’s how I see it, so bring it on! I promise not to have my Dad respond to your misguided hate mail!
Stay off the wall (but never be ashamed to use it if you have to!),