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Ingram: Edwards Plays ‘Chump And Run’

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 19 2010

Brad Keselowski's crew gets its driver ready to roll during a pit stop at Gateway on Saturday night. The car did not look as nice as it did here when the race ended. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

From the Monday Morning Crew Chief:

It’s gut check time for Carl Edwards.

Fans appreciate a guy who hates to lose. They hate a guy who can’t accept the fact he got beat.

Since Sprint Cup rookie Brad Keselowski beat Edwards at the Talladega in the spring of last year, the Ford driver has seen nothing but the red mist around the younger driver.

Keselowski does push the issue often enough to raise hackles among a variety of veterans. In the Sprint Cup, he’s just this side of sophomore Joey Logano in that department. But unlike Logano, Keselowski, who grew up in a stock car racing family, appears to have a better understanding of the fine line between hard racing and unacceptable racing.

Unlike most veterans, Edwards seems to fail to understand the fine line between payback in kind and deliberate and dangerous cheap shots like the one taken on the front straight at Gateway to win Saturday’s Nationwide Series race. The incident tore up a lot of equipment among the competitors headed for the checkered flag behind him and luckily ended without serious injury.

For those who like to recall intimidation tactics by Dale Earnhardt Sr., the latter would have never let another driver rattle him so badly and so consistently.

Edwards complains that Keselowski keeps putting him in a bad position. If he told that to the drivers who are in NASCAR’s Hall of Fame – or on their way – they might have a good laugh. The sport of stock car racing is all about putting your fellow competitor in a bad enough position that a pass is all but inevitable.

This is the second in what is now a series of dangerous cheap shots versus Keselowski. Edwards’ “chump and run” moves are distinguished by the fact that any driver, any where, on any track, in any series could do the same thing. That’s why it’s gut check time for Edwards. He needs to stop taking pride in turning motor racing into the lowest common denominator.

That’s a long way from being an intimidator.

It’s worth noting that there was calculation by Edwards when he nearly sent Keselowski’s Dodge into the grandstands in Atlanta during the Sprint Cup race in March. It’s not likely he would have done it had his Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth been leading, thus forcing a teammate into a green-white-checkered finish.

At Gateway, Edwards knew that in a different series he would not face the same post-race management as in the Sprint Cup, allowing him more leeway despite a second high-speed run-in with Keselowski. He needs to spend more time calculating that stock car racing is not a sport madquerading as a personal vendetta, rather that it’s actually a sport.

Meanwhile, back at the NASCAR Nationwide Series hauler, it’s also gut check time. Too often the management of the understudy series in NASCAR comes off as imitation Sprint Cup. There’s a vague effort to imagine how situations would be handled instead of recognizing that the minor leagues are also about management learning to make big league decisions.

In this case, Edwards needs to be given a clear message that it’s time for him to learn about paybacks in kind rather than search and destroy missions. This includes learning to save paybacks after a bump-and-run for somewhere down the road when the need is timely, the better part of wisdom in a championship chase if your chief rival is the one in debt to you.

In case Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash needs to be reminded, the last lap in NASCAR has always been no holds barred – as long as a driver is trying to win the race. That’s what Keselowski attempted in Turn One. Edwards was trying to deliberately wreck his competitor on the straightaway at the flagstand.

At least Earnhardt Sr. had the decency to wreck himself along with Darrell Waltrip on a short track in their infamous meeting at Richmond in 1986. His unexpected and unpredictable move literally cracked Waltrip’s psyche that day and helped make the next decade his own. In Gateway on Saturday night the move by Edwards was sadly predictable and the fissures in confidence all seemed to belong to him.

Quote of the Week: “The way it went, he bumped me and he finished wherever he finished and I still won the race. That’s the only way I could see the race turning out fair.”

– Carl Edwards, after turning Brad Keselowski on the front straight and starting a ten-car crash en route to victory in the Nationwide Series race at Gateway International Raceway.

See ya! …At the races.

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com.

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 19 2010
12 Comments

12 Comments »

  • becky says:

    I do think Carl has anger management problems. I have also been thinking why you never see his wife at the race track and why you never hear him talk about his baby. Maybe she has had her fill of him as well. He is like the kid you played with that has always got to be the winner. If he can’t win than you sure as hell won’t win. Nascar should look at all the other teams that he cost with torn up race cars. I am against so many Cup drivers competing in Nationwide races week after week. I call them Bushwhackers. Maybe it is time for Nascar to stop allowing these drivers to compete week after week in this series. If Carl is so desperate to win the title than maybe he should leave the cup level and go to Nationwide full time. Either way I am sick of him and all his if I can’t win than he’s not going to.

  • Rick says:

    There is an old saying that goes ” Don’t start any trouble, and there won’t be any.” Carl didn’t start it Saturday night, he finished it. He hadn’t touched the 22 all night,even though they were close several times. The reason the drivers have to get their own justice is because NASCAR won’t do it for them. Until there is some sort of penalty for running over somebody for a position, what choice do they have but to get payback on their own? Harvick has dumped Logano at least twice, on purpose, and nothing is done about it. He has every right to return the favor, and I sure hope he does. I have no doubt that if the 22 hadn’t gotten into the 60, there would not have been any issues. But he did. Since everybody, including the writer of this article, thinks Carl is so out of control, please post a list of all the drivers he has wrecked on purpose for no reason. Maybe I’m wrong and you are right. Can’t wait to see the list.

    • Rita Bennett says:

      Rick You are so right…Brad has been a thorn in Carl’s side since Race one of the season. Brad is a loaded keg of dynamit ready to explode. He hates to losse more than Kyle Bushy. It will come back on Brad before the season is over and it won’t be Carl.

  • Kevin Bailey says:

    Carol Edwards gets her panties in a wad any time the kid even gives him a love tap. I don’t particularly like BK, but what Cuzin Carol is doing is outside the bounds of racing. They need to park him for at LEAST a race, fine him, and let him know that NASCAR is serious about keeping its drivers alive. This is the second time he’s intentionally wrecked BK, and the second time he’s almost killed him. This has to stop.

  • Rubicon says:

    Does NASCAR want to be a sport or a death-match reality show? This is going to get out of hand and result in deaths if they don’t clamp down.

  • David says:

    Edwards clearly crossed the line and he, his fans, his car owner, his sponsors, NASCAR and all of the other drivers in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series know it. As in Atlanta, he subordinated any concern for the safety of his fellow drivers to his ego. Because of recent declines in attendance and viewership, I expect little more from NASCAR than a slap on the wrist. But, Edwards just might be in for some old-fashioned socialization. I’ll be interested in seeing if he finds it harder to find drafting partners or less willingness to giving him ground in response to an overly aggressive pass, etc.

  • Harold Harris says:

    Carl will be a danger to himself and others as long as he cannot control his reaction to loss or failure. The Nationwide reaction has not, so far, addressed this in an appropriate mannor. I hope your article is taken seriously by all ruling bodies, Carl and other drivers/owners.
    hh

  • John says:

    Bump and run is Bump and run, you’re right, what Carl did was way over the line and someday, someone will get him back, Carl will lost his temper on the wrong person someday, and Bob K’s comments after the race would have me concerned because if it was a double header race, I’ve no doubt he’d have done what he said. Someday, someone will if nascar, Jack Roush, or someone doens’t sit Carl down and have a long talk with him, or set him down for a couple races.

  • Bob says:

    Edwards has a history of poor judgement. I think it is time for Nascar and his sponsors to deal with him.

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  • Shane says:

    Edwards is the king of the overreaction…it is like getting pushed by a person and turning around and shooting them in the head with a 44 and saying, “I am not the aggressor.” He wanted to win that race so bad that he did not care who he killed to get it.