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NASCAR Has to Draw the Line

Mar 7, 2010 – 6:46 PM
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Holly Cain

Holly Cain %BloggerTitle%

NASCAR told its drivers to "have at it" this season. After all, what's a little bumping and heavy banging in the name of television ratings, improved attendance and high marks on fan surveys, right?

Four races into the season, however, even NASCAR has had to draw the line somewhere.

Across Carl Edwards' forehead.

Call it unintended consequences or simply a case of mixed messages. But NASCAR, Edwards and Brad Keselowski, who was on the receiving end of Edwards' retaliatory 180-mph temper tantrum, are very lucky someone didn't get seriously injured.

Running 156 laps down -- yes, 156 laps down -- Edwards intentionally turned his Ford into Keselowski's sixth-place Dodge with seven laps remaining in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The impact sent Keselowski's car airborne and it flipped and crashed roof-first into the outside wall -- a frightening and unnecessary crash.

It was payback for an earlier collision between the two, which caused Edwards' team to make lengthy repairs that resulted in him being so far off the pace.

Might it have also been payback for a much more famous collision between the two? Last April, Keselowski hit Edwards' car from behind, sending it airborne and into the front-stretch fencing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, injuring seven fans while Keselowski motored on to his first career Sprint Cup Series win.

Edwards was immediately black-flagged Sunday and parked for the afternoon, and worse yet for him, summoned to the NASCAR hauler to "meet" with officials.

"Wrecking someone at 195 miles an hour, that's not cool,'' an obviously flustered Keselowski told the FOX Sports television broadcast after being cleared and released from the infield medical center.

"Intentionally wrecking someone like that, that's not cool and could get someone killed in the grandstands. I know it's a little ironic for me to be saying that.

"It'll be interesting to see how NASCAR reacts to it,'' Keselowski continued.

"They have the ball. If they're going to allow people to intentionally run into someone at tracks this fast, we will hurt someone either in the car or in the grandstand."

For his part, a non-contrite Edwards never shied away from what was obvious in every video replay -- you could actually see his white gloves on the steering wheel turn right into Keselowski's car.

On his way to NASCAR's version of the penalty box, he stopped and told the broadcast, "Brad knows the deal between him and I.

"The scary part is that the car went airborne which was not at all what I expected.

"At the end of the day, we come out to race and people have to have respect for each other. I wish it hadn't gone like it did, but I'm glad he's OK.

"We'll just go on and hopefully not have any more incidents together. That would be the best thing.''

There was no immediate word on a penalty or any punishment for Edwards, but you can bet NASCAR will take action.

This accident will make all the sports highlight reels for the next couple of days and will probably draw more attention than the victory by Keselowski's Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch. Any attention is not necessarily good attention, however. And Edwards, of all people, should be super-sensitive to the perils of playing schoolyard bully at 190 mph.

NASCAR may need rivalries. It doesn't need recklessness.

"For my disclaimer, I don't really know what happened today except for my own car," Matt Kenseth, Edwards' Roush Fenway Racing teammate, said after the race.

"I think every situation is different. All the rules are pretty well-defined, but there's still going to be balls-and-strikes calls.

"I'm not commenting on the situation but just in general, you can't have people go nuts, get people hurt, all that kind of stuff at 200 miles an hour.

"I don't know what all went on. But I think NASCAR usually is pretty objective when they look at that."

Filed under: Sports