NASCAR's Dirtiest Driver: Carl Edwards
Sure, he's dirtier than a Tiger Woods text message. But the justices would have to excuse Edwards on the grounds he is criminally insane.
Crazy Carl has to be a sociopath. How else could he live with himself after all the damage he's willfully inflicted?
Most of it stems from his feud with Brad Keselowski. For a while it was like the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Henry Kissinger observed, "it's a shame they both can't lose."
Now Keselowski is Iraq, trying to rise above the senseless violence, despite what my opponent in this tussle, Clay Travis, tells you. Edwards is Iran, thumbing his nose at authority and threatening to nuke anyone who gets in his way, including innocent bystanders.
Fans of the Carl and Islamic revolution will disagree, simply because they are blinded by the cause. But expert observers have no doubt who the bad guy is.
"Brad needs to go up there and lay one on (Carl's) lip," Ryan Newman said, "and everything will be fine." I'm afraid it will take more than a punch in the kisser to straighten out Edwards.
Everybody acknowledges that fender-banging is part of racing. They couldn't get rid of it if they tried, and NASCAR isn't trying.
In hopes of ginning up interest, it has encouraged boy to be boys this year. Edwards has taken that edict to heart and acted like a 3-year-old.
His first major tantrum was at Atlanta in March. Edwards felt Keselowski cut him off on a restart on lap 40. He wrecked and had a couple of hours to seethe.
His car was patched up with four laps to go. That was just enough time to stalk Keselowski, who was headed to a top-five finish.
Edwards clipped Keselowski at the most dangerous part of the track. The car took flight and rocketed into the catch-fence and wall.
Edwards' justification was that he was merely retaliating. But this wasn't an eye for an eye. It was a body for an eyelash. And imagine the body count if the cables hadn't held and 3,500 pounds of smoking-hot metal had flown into the grandstands.
"Going out there and purposely crashing somebody, turning right or turning left just to crash them, whether you're winning a race or not, is not 'have at it boys' at all," Newman said. "Some people call it attempted manslaughter. That's closer to what it is."
NASCAR fans reflexively scoff at the notion a road-raged driver could ever face criminal charges. They say no driver would intentionally harm another one, as if intent is the ultimate defense.
Tell that to everybody currently serving time for involuntary manslaughter. But again, Edwards could always plead innocent by reason of insanity.
Like all good sociopaths, he has no remorse or sense of moral responsibility. That doesn't mean he's not kind to fans and small animals -- as long as they don't get in his way.
Even when intentionally wrecking an opponent, there is a gentleman's code. You do it on the smaller, slower tracks to minimize the chance of injury. Atlanta is a 1.5-mile superspeedway.
And you don't clip a car in the right rear. That almost inevitably spins the driver's side toward the wall.
Cardinal rules don't seem to matter to Edwards. He's had run-ins with Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. After a while even Edwards' fans have to wonder if it's always the other guy's fault.
Keselowski and Edwards seemed destined to cross each other's paths every few races. The latest was at the Nationwide race at Gateway a month ago, when Keselowski bumped Edwards entering the final lap.
It was borderline dirty, though nothing that doesn't happen a few dozen times every weekend. The cars ran side-by-side and were heading for a photo-finish.
As they screamed down the final straightaway, Edwards intentionally veered over and clipped Keselowski in the – you guessed it -- right rear fender. It sent the car careening into the wall, back across the track into another wall, then it was T-boned a couple of times by the torrent of cars that had been in hot pursuit.
A few of them were destroyed. But all that was OK since Edwards didn't intend any harm, right?
"I just couldn't let him take the win from me," he said.
The end justifies the means.
NASCAR fined Edwards $25,000 and docked him 60 Nationwide points. Keselowski's father had more behavioral modification in mind.
"I'm sick and tired of this," said Bob Keselowski, a former racer. "I'll get my own damn uniform back on and take care of this. He ain't gonna kill my boy."
There's dirty, there's insane, then there's insanely dirty. So let's just call Edwards NASCAR's dirtiest lunatic. What did he do after the carnage at Gateway?
"I went home and had a really good week," Edwards said. "I rode my bike and hung out with my daughter."
Good thing she didn't bump into him, or he'd have run her into a wall.