Woody: Edwards Just Honoring An Old Code
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Back at the start of the season, NASCAR told drivers to “have at it.”
So last Sunday at Atlanta Carl Edwards had at it.
In case you missed it (and it’s hard to do, because every TV station in the Western Hemisphere has been re-playing it non-stop) Edwards bumped Brad Keselowski and sent him on an upside-down airborne ride.
Edwards was down 156 laps at the time. Keselowski was running 6th.
Predictably the howling began.
“NASCAR needs to make an example of Edwards,” shrilled one pundit.
“He has to be stopped,” declared another.
“Fine him! Park him!”
“This can’t go on!”
“Oh my goodness, heavens to Besty!” swooned Aunt Bee. (OK, I made that last one up.)
Some of the same media that a month ago was whining about how boring NASCAR had become are now whining about too much action.
They didn’t like it when cars cruised around single-file with no contact. Then somebody bumps somebody and they get their knickers in a wad.
What we saw Sunday was nothing more than old-fashioned racing payback. Edwards and Keselowski have a history dating back to last year’s Talladega race when Edwards was on the receiving end of an airborne nudge.
Such feuds aren’t new to the sport, although they’ve been relatively rare and mild in the past tamed-down decade.
In the old days the big news would have been if Edwards DIDN’T retaliate.
The Code of the West back then was, you hit me, I hit you back. If it got too out of hand, NASCAR would step in and send the drivers to neutral corners to cool off. Dale Earnhardt once got parked for rough racing, just as Edwards did after Sunday’s incident. That’s enough.
Rough racing has always been part of the sport. Or at least it used to be back in the old days – you know, back when racing was wild and exciting.
Carl Edwards is not a bad guy. He didn’t intend to hurt Keselowski, just “rattle his cage” a bit as Earnhardt did Terry Labonte one hot night at Bristol.
It’s obvious that Edwards is a terribly frustrated driver. He was the biggest disappointment of ’09, an anticipated championship contender who stumbled through a winless season. Now ’10 is off to a miserable start with Edwards buried in 20th after four races.
It was amidst this angst and aggravation that Keselowski, early in Sunday’s race, gave Edwards a nudge that put him into the wall and sent him to the garage. When Edwards came back out he caught Keselowski in a dark alley and dished out some payback.
As the great Richard Petty used to say, it was just one of those racin’ deals.
What made Sunday’s incident so dramatic was the fact that Keselowski’s car went airborne. If it had merely scraped the wall or spun into the infield it wouldn’t have caused such a clamor. It looked worse than it was.
It’s NASCAR’s responsibility to figure out how to keep the cars on the track – bigger spoilers, slower speeds, whatever it takes – but it’s not its job to police the passion.
At the start of the season NASCAR promised to get out of the way and let ‘em race. Let’s hope it keeps its word.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments