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Minter: Gateway Should Serve As Wakeup Call

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 18 2010

Carl Edwards in Victory Lane at Gateway after Saturday night's race. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

NASCAR reached another low point in the “Have at it” era when Carl Edwards wrecked Brad Keselowski on the frontstretch on the final lap of Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race at St. Louis.

Edwards made no secret of the fact that he intentionally dumped Keselowski. He didn’t address the issue of where he did it – on the straightaway in front of oncoming cars. It was much like his dumping of Keselowski in the Cup race at Atlanta earlier this year.

One had to feel for Bob Keselowski, who had to sit by once again and see Edwards put his son in grave danger. Bob Keselowski has been around long enough to remember that people do get killed in race cars. Just the fact that he used the word “killed” several times in a live TV interview show that at least someone at the track was aware of what could happen as a result of “Have at it” gone wild.

The really disappointing part so far this time around is the lack of any response from the people who are supposed to be policing the sport. Races aren’t supposed to be demolition derbies.

Even back in the so-called rougher days of the sport, NASCAR had ways of dealing with undue roughness on the track.

One of my favorite racing souvenirs is a copy of a letter that Pat Purcell, executive manager of NASCAR, sent to Lee Petty in October, 1957.

For those who don’t know, Lee Petty, the King’s dad, had a reputation of being fairly liberal in his use of the front bumper.

Here’s how Purcell put it in his letter to Petty.

“Dear Lee:

“This is a friendly personal note in which I hope I can express myself in such a way that you will take it in the spirit in which it is being written.

“We have received a great many complaints this season about rough driving on your part, and they are now piling in so fast and from so many different directions that it is going to be necessary for someone to put the ‘eye’ on you for the next several race meets.

“Personally, I hate like hell to have to do this because you have always been my ideal of a true sportsman, and I surely hope that nothing ever happens to change my opinion.

“Sincerely yours,

“Pat Purcell”

The difference in Petty’s behavior back in the ‘50s and Edwards’ today is in the speeds and the possible consequences, and in the reaction from the series officials charged with keeping order.

Even with improved safety features in the cars and in the race tracks, wrecking people at 120 or 200 miles per hour will eventually cause a tragedy that can’t be undone.

Edwards almost put Keselowski in the grandstands at Atlanta. Keselowski was lucky to walk away at St. Louis Saturday night as were the drivers who crashed into him.

There are business consequences too. Will mainstream sponsors continue to support drivers, and a sport in general, where intentional, controversial and possibly life-threatening high-speed wrecks are allowed?

And where is NASCAR in all of this? I have no way of knowing whether Carl Edwards got a warning letter after the Atlanta incident. I don’t know whether anyone from NASCAR has had an “eye” on him his year.

I do know that he apparently will be allowed to keep his win at Gateway and that in the 12 hours since the crash there was no word from NASCAR about the incident, one way or another.

Do you ever get the feeling like you’re riding along in a jetliner and up there behind the locked doors of the cockpit, the plane is on autopilot and the captain and first officer are asleep?

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

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 18 2010
6 Comments

6 Comments »

  • Bryan Tucker says:

    Unfortunately Nascar will never drug test Edwards for steroids because they know he uses them and they do not want him to test positive and give the sport another black eye. Face it folks, as long as Brian France, Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton is in charge, this is what we have to look forward to every week. I barely ever watch more than 20 minutes of a Sprint Cup race now and it looks like the Nationwide series will be tuned out altogether if things do not change.

  • Marybeth says:

    Carl tested for drugs after the race? He has shown ‘roid rage’ before. Curious as to what Jack Roush said. Did he lose any cars in the big wreck caused by Carl? He should have all of his points from last night taken away.

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  • Sal says:

    Since Nascar seem to be unwilling or unable to deal with an out of control driver, things will only get worse. Personally, I think Carl whould be required to reimburse every team who suffered damage from his intentional wrecking of another driver. Out of his own pocket. Since he seems incapable of understanding the difference between ‘bump and run’ and ‘intentionally wrecking’, maybe hitting him in the wallet for the damage he caused would get his attention. It astounds me that he feel entitled to win a race at acny cost.

  • Debbie says:

    I was rooting for Carl up until the time he hit Brad. I am sorry but that was totally uncalled for. If you don’t have the car or the skill to pass the person in front of you then you don’t deserve the win. My uncle raced with Mr. Lee Petty and as far as I am concerned, racing needs to take a step back and have a look at the good old days and Nascar needs to impose a few rules on sportsmanship and conduct. Shame on you Carl. Do you really think your parents were proud of what you did? You lost a least one fan last night. I wonder how many more there will be.

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