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Minter: NASCAR Plods On With “Have At It, Boys”

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 9 2010
You virtually never saw David Pearson and Richard Petty send the other flying into the air during a race. (File photo courtesy of the Wood Brothers Racing team)

You virtually never saw David Pearson and Richard Petty send the other flying into the air during a race. (File photo courtesy of the Wood Brothers Racing team)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Unless there’s something going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, NASCAR president Mike Helton has said “Have at it, boys” a lot louder than his VP Robin Pemberton said it back in January.

By only placing Carl Edwards on a three-race probation for intentionally wrecking Brad Keselowski at Atlanta on Sunday, he essentially said that for now, almost anything goes. In the past, probation from NASCAR has been the same as no punishment.

Once again the safety of the Car of Tomorrow has put NASCAR in a position to turn the sport into something more like a Saturday night demolition derby than a professional racing series.

As long as no one gets hurt – and even with the COT that’s pushing the limits of luck the way things have gone recently  – the sport of NASCAR will continue to be looked at as a metal-crunching crashfest. Already, almost every promotion for upcoming TV races is nothing more than a jazzed-up replay of a string of recent wrecks.

Much of Helton’s time on the press conference was spent trying to separate the fact that Edwards wrecked Keselowsi from the fact that Keselowski’s car flew into the air and into the fence and how rare that flight was on a mile-and-a-half track.

What wasn’t covered was the fact that when a car reaches the point where that collision occurred – the end of the long frontstretch at Atlanta – the cars are going about 200 miles per hour – about the same speed they start lifting off the ground at Talladega.

NASCAR officials and other proponents of “Have at it, boys” will tell you it’s just a way of going back to the old days of the sport.

Well the old days of the sport were more about Richard Petty dueling David Pearson or Bobby Allison. It was about rivalries and battles among competing manufacturers.

Richard Petty and David Pearson built the sport by racing against each other, not by wrecking each other.

They finished 1-2 in 63 different Cup races, with Pearson winning 33 to Petty’s 30.

They did wreck in the 1976 Daytona 500, but it was going for the win and it didn’t appear to be an intentional wrecking on the part of either party. And according to Wood Brothers’ co-owner Len Wood, that’s the only time Petty and Pearson ever wrecked each other the whole time Pearson drove the Woods’ car.

If people really want to take racing back to the way it was back in the day, they need to return to the days when drivers used to settle differences the old-fashioned way, as veteran racing publicist Tammy Brewington pointed out in an email today.

“If these guys have a beef, take it outside or behind the woodshed one-on-one,” she said. “Put the big boys pants on and act like a man, not a road-rage-filled teenager. Lives are at stake, in the grandstands and on track. Carl and Brad both need to be tamed down. Carl cannot take a beat up old car out there with the sole purpose of wrecking someone.”

Brewington, like dozens of other emailers, thought Edwards should have been suspended for a race or two.

“And if Brad does anymore bone-head things, same punishment for him,” she said.

But if Brewington had her way, and Edwards and Keselowski were sent to the woodshed to settle their differences, I’d be more inclined to join in and say, “Have at it, boys.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, March 9 2010
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Charles says:

    I grew up watch David Pearson and Richard Petty racing! Most of the time the “faster car won”, unless a short track where the might rub fenders, but racing was about the car!!!

    Then another generation of drivers came along, Dale Sr, Tim Richmond,Rusty Wallace, etc seems they had this win at all cost approach!they would spin you out even if they didnt have the faster car!!!!! I remember Dale Sr sending Rusty Wallace flipping at Talledaga in 1993!

    So since Dale Sr death Nascar has been on a safety bandwagon, and some of it is good! Then they over extended it, and racing has become boring, the COT is going airborne alot etc!

    Nascar has had a history of bad wrecks, remember Ricky Rudd in Bud Moore car in the 1984 Busch Clash, or even earlier, Maynard Troyers crash flipp almost the back striaght at Daytona in 1970, I mean their are always going to be freak wrecks no matter what you do!

    Nascar really has tried to make a safer car and more proactive aproach to safety than our public highway system!

    I have see twice the needless wrecks on our highways than Nascar, thus I will keep driving, and I will still go to a race!

  • Bruce says:

    Sending a message by wrecking someone is an age old tradition in racing. What bothers me about this incident is that it affected the final outcome of the race.

    Edward’s lapse in judgement was directly responsible for the big wreck at the end. That wreck caused several cars to finish lower than they would have had Edwards not run out of common sense.

    A case in point would be the 38 car. He was running P18 or 19 when Carl’s brain fart occurred. He would have finished there had the incident not taken place because he was the last car on the lead lap I believe. Instead, he was caught up in the last lap mess and wound up P26.

    Carl’s actions had the unintended consequence of other drivers and owners losing valuable points early in the season. We all know how hard it is to make those up. Driver and owner points should have been deducted from Edwards and RFR to help balance the books.

  • lydia says:

    Well…the woodshed thing sounds great…but would Brad be allowed to take a couple other drivers with him to help out? I realize they have a “history”…I also realize Brad is on a few other drivers “hit lists”….but at this point I am totally confused..where does NASCAR go from here? They had their “big opportunity” with this situation to clarify the “go at it boys” mentality…and now they have backed themselves into a very tight tiny corner. A wreck of any kind on the track is serious…a wreck with a car flying through the air and scraping or going over the outside wall is sickening…a gut wrenching and hold your breath till you hear the driver and see all the fans are ok..moment. At this point I expect to see new commercials for NASCAR races…the incident at Talladega played over and over…WITH a tight shot of the injured fans..and a voice over of a Helton saying “GO at it boys”!!!!