Carl Not Automatically The Bad Guy
By Nick Bromberg | Staff Writer
In the immediate aftermath of the third round of Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski’s ongoing feud at Gateway Saturday night I wasn’t surprised to see media members and fans alike instantly taking sides. The vast majority of those reactions sided with Keselowski.
It it was a presidential election, it would render the barrage of election day media coverage irrelevant. Chuck Todd would be in bed by 11, hours after Keselowski made his acceptance speech. Yes, it was that lopsided.
Why? Edwards certainly isn’t blameless in this situation, but why is he suddenly the bad guy in this round? It’s almost like the NFL, where the guy who retaliates draws the flag, while the instigator and his team get off scot free.
By getting into the left rear corner of Edwards’ car and forcing him into a slide in turn one of that final lap at Gateway, Keselowski gave Edwards every right to return the favor in the last half of the lap. It may have been harmless, a simple overdrive into turn one by Keselowski, or it may have been a calculated move, designed to get Edwards out of shape and out of the groove. Either way, he let Edwards know that he was willing to play rough for the win.
The immediate parallel to the Edwards and Keselowski incident seemed to be the bump-and-run clinic that Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson put on in June at New Hampshire. But Busch bumped by Johnson with seven laps to go, and Johnson returned the favor with two to go. Edwards had half a lap to take care of business. He didn’t have time to calculate a bump-and run-maneuver on Keselowski.
And Edwards thought that he had a shot at passing Keselowski cleanly for the win in turns three and four, which is why he didn’t fire his shot in the corner. It’s the ultimate victory for a driver to cleanly beat another driver head to head after that driver uses questionable tactics to attempt to pass, and by hanging on the outside and giving Keselowski plenty of room, Edwards initially went for that strategy.
But Keselowski got a great bite off of turn four and edged out ahead of Edwards as they emptied out onto the frontstretch. Edwards didn’t have any other options. He wasn’t going to beat Keselowski to the line in a drag race and any slight nudge would still let Keselowski stay in the gas and wouldn’t give Edwards any advantage. Turning him into the wall was Edwards’ only option.
Columbia, Mo., Carl’s hometown, is just two hours west on I-70 from Gateway. Edwards and friends rode their bikes 200 miles on the Katy Trail along the Missouri River to the race. Along with Kansas, Gateway is Carl’s home track. Winning at Gateway means a lot to Edwards, and he felt that he had the win taken away from him in turn one. As he said in Victory Lane, he had to do what he had to do.
Just like Atlanta, it wasn’t Edwards’ intention to turn Keselowski into a wounded opossum in front of the rest of the field Saturday night. The collateral damage of other cars slamming into Keselowski probably wasn’t even in his thought process, just like it wasn’t when Keselowski moved Edwards, knowing full well that even the slightest miscalculation could send Edwards spinning.
Late Saturday night on Twitter, Michael Waltrip said “we make choices. Be prepared to deal with the consequences of those choices.” Sometimes those consequences end up being more severe than we expect.
– Nick Bromberg is a frequent contributor to RacinToday.com32 Comments