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Pedley: All You Can Eat Buffets Have Tighter Rules

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 21 2010

Carl Edwards had at Brad Keselowski – whatever that means – at Gateway on Saturday night. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

The message NASCAR sent to drivers earlier this year about their on-track conduct came accompanied by the phrase of “Have at it”. And a cool phrase it is.

It’s folksy, as befitting a sport with rural roots. It’s easy to remember. Gosh knows that it rolls off the tongue with such ease that the media has fallen head over heals in love with its use.

But what it also is, is useless as an official policy statement. It’s open to wild interpretation and offers no specific rules of order. It’s a guideline which is being individually analyzed 43 different ways on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons and with increasingly scary results.

It is that open-ended quality which is confusing drivers and may be leading to a major injury.

During a teleconference on Tuesday, four-time champion Jeff Gordon talked about that aspect of “Have at it”.

“Who’s to say where that line is at right now,” Gordon said about crossing the border between having at it and endangering lives. “But I definitely have some questions when I get to the track to kind of try to clarify that a little bit for myself.”

The topic came up, of course, in the wake of what happened in the Nationwide Series race at Gateway International Raceway last Saturday night.

On the last lap of that race, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski began hammering away at each other’s cars as they clawed for the lead. Keselowski nearly spun Edwards out in Turn One. Edwards did spin Keselowski coming up the front straight as the two headed for the checkered flag.

Keselowski went up the track, clipped the outside wall, rolled to the bottom of the track and was then jackhammered by a couple of other cars which were speeding toward the finish line.

It was damn ugly. The type of wreck which could have seriously injured Keselowski or the guys who slammed into him as he sat helpless on the track. People lose limbs in those kinds of incidents, folks.

Afterward, a now-familiar samba played out.

Edwards said he was just going for the victory and without using the phrase “Have at it”, he at least stood on its premise of doing what’s necessary to get the job done.

After a visit to the infield care center, Keselowski claimed that Edwards crossed the line.

And there-in lies the problem. Nobody seems to know where that line is. Or how wide that line is.

The fact is, you could float an aircraft carrier through the hole of ambiguity that “Have at it” creates.

Edwards was issued a wet noodle slap of probation after wrecking Keselowski big time at Atlanta earlier in the year.

Others – including Gordon himself at Sonoma– have been issued nothing but improved positions on the race track for bumping people out of their way in pursuit of victory.

“Well, I mean,” Gordon said Tuesday, “that’s kind of where I’m anxious to see how far it’s going to be taken before they do step in or if they step in. Those are some questions that I have for Robin and Mike and Darby and Hoots. It’s a question I think on a lot of people’s minds that, This is great, but what’s too much?”

Gordon said he thinks Carl vs. Kes, the Battle of St. Louis Arch Enemies” was too much. Probably because he knows that while cynics love to compare NASCAR to pro wrestling, blows in the former on not issued with fake chairs.

“Right now what I saw happen Saturday night, to me that was right there on that edge of crossing the line if not possibly crossing the line,” he said. “So it’s kind of a new era now. In the past, like I said, I would have immediately thought something would have been done.”

But not now. Not since NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton issued his dictum.

Indirectly, of course, Gordon put the blame at the feet of NASCAR and “Have at it”. And he seemed to say that Edwards and Keselowski are no way done with this thing.

“The thing is,” Gordon said, “the drivers have always taken care of these things on track, whether you knew about them or not. They just weren’t maybe as much out in the open because there would be a fine or there would be some kind of penalty handed down immediately. So you thought from an outsider’s standpoint, That’s over. But, trust me, as a driver, that was not over, that was not the end of it.

“Just how racers go about it, they log that in the back of their mind, and there’s going to be a time and a day. The payback might not necessarily be the same thing that was handed down to you. It could be something different.

“You’re usually going to try to make life miserable for them or do something that is considered necessarily payback that takes away either points or a good finish or makes for a bad day or tears up a race car. Could be a lot of things.”

Great.

With two of the fastest tracks on the schedule coming up – Indy and Pocono – now might be time to deal with on-track conduct with a policy that is more than three words in length.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 21 2010
5 Comments

5 Comments »

  • DID YOU KNOW!

    On January 22, 2010, in the article “NASCAR attempting to energize sport,” ESPN.com reported that NASCAR lifted restrictions on bump-drafting and increase horsepower in an effort to juice up the sport for the fans. The bump-drafting restriction was placed in 1989. [9] Is there aN increase in payback wrecks and did this rule change allow it?

    THE SPORTS MEDIA SEEMS TO WRITE ABOUT DRIVER INJURY IN NASCAR INTENTIONAL WRECKS, WHAT ABOUT THE INJURED FANS?

    Seven NASCAR fans were injured ….while watching a race at Alabama’s Talladega Super speedway, when a last-lap crash sent Carl Edwards’ car airborne and into a “catch fence” in front of the stands. Although the car landed back on the track, some debris from the crash made it through the fence and into the crowd, causing injuries to seven spectators. The incident at Talladega raises questions about spectator safety at sporting events, and legal liability for fan injuries. [8]

    Racing folklore says ” rubbing is racing”. Does this include intentional crashes?

    if NASCAR continues to let the racers settle scores on the racetrack, the repercussions will escalate. Rubbing is racing. Intentionally wrecking a driver and setting the stage for innocent racers to be collected in the process goes beyond simple retribution. At least eight cars were destroyed on Saturday night — including the Fords of Edwards’ Roush Fenway teammates Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Colin Braun.[B]

    NASCAR SENT A MESSAGE FOR THE BOYS TO HAVE AT IT TO DRAW CROWDS

    What exactly does “boys, have at it” mean? [a]

    The message NASCAR sent to drivers earlier this year about their on-track conduct came accompanied by the phrase of “Have at it”. And a cool phrase it is.[C]

    It’s folksy, as befitting a sport with rural roots. It’s easy to remember. Gosh knows that it rolls off the tongue with such ease that the media has fallen head over heals in love with its use.[C]

    But what it also is, is useless as an official policy statement. It’s open to wild interpretation and offers no specific rules of order. It’s a guideline which is being individually analyzed 43 different ways on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons and with increasingly scary results.[C]

    It is that open-ended quality which is confusing drivers and may be leading to a major injury.[C]

    WHEN DOES A BUMP, LEADING TO UNTENTIONAL WRECK RESULTING IN A PAYBACK CHALLENGE RESULTING WITH AN INTENIONAL WRECK, INJURY AND DEATH CAUSE A TORT CLAIM OR A MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE? WHO HAS TO DIE BEFORE THE TRACKS,NASCAR ,OR CONGRESS TAKES CONTROL OF THIS SPORT?

    JUST WHAT IS GOING ON WITH EDWARDS?

    As Carl Edwards understands it, apparently, it means when someone angers you on the race track, you wreck him and you wreck him hard, regardless of what other competitors get taken out in the mess.[A]

    NASCAR will have to determine their answer, and soon.[A]

    Brad Keselowski is a driver who has annoyed many, but none has wrecked him multiple times so forcefully as Edwards has. Twice Edwards has put Keselowski in a visibly and obviously dangerous position. He did it in Atlanta in March and he did it at Gateway International Raceway at the end of this weekend’s Nationwide race.[A]

    Both wrecks were intentional and payback. The first time Edwards was parked. The second time he won the race.[A]

    Sports and Torts

    If a NASCAR driver died in a crash, would the racer who caused it be liable?[4]

    Mabey not!

    It should be noted that in 2006 the California Supreme Court held that intentionally hitting the batter is actually a fundamental part of the game of baseball.60 60 Avila v. Citrus Comm. Coll., 131 P.3d 383, 394 (Cal. 2006) (Even if pitcher intentionally threw at the batter, conduct did not fall outside the range of ordinary activity in the sport).[5]

    Just wondering if the rule change and increase in intentional wrecks should re reevaluated before a fan dies. Just how are those injured fans doing?

    Article attributions
    http://dumpmyspousestockcar.blogspot.com/

  • Marc says:

    Pedley – “It is that open-ended quality which is confusing drivers and may be leading to a major injury.”

    You’re attempting to imply Edwards didn’t know the limit because of NASCAR and an ambiguous rule?

    Edwards unrepentant comments post-race lays that assertion into the circular file.

    He clearly knew the limit and just as clearly went over the line to extract revenge. He knows to blatently turn someone on a straightaway is wrong and I bet you do to Pedley.

    • Rita Bennett says:

      BK has been after Carl since the 1st race of the season and I agree with Nick. Carl is suddenly the bad guy and Mr BK is innocent? Pls he has ruffled more feathers than just Carl’s. I think what the whold thing is about respect or the lack of it from Brad. He is jealous and this is his way of outdoing Carl and Nascar fell for it. I think Brad snoorked Pemberton and Nascar. As far as damge to the other cars..how many last lap crashes have there been this year. If Carl got docked then Brad should have the same penalty. He will do it again before the season is over and Carl will just have to sit there and take it. Yea I’mad!!

  • CHIEF says:

    I’ve been reading an awful lot this week about how terrible Edwards is and how he’s going to lose credibility with whoever. I’ve watched racing for many years and it seem many of the media folk have real short memories. All I can say is remember the #3. Maybe he did his dumping with a bit more style but he sure did a lot of it in his day.

    I agree with Gordon, NASCAR thought up “Have at it Boys” in an attempt to get some people back in the seats on Sunday (or it should be Sunday, this Saturday night stuff don’t make it). Some one will get badly hurt, then the rules will change and no one will be able to get within 6 inches of another cars bumper. (No bump drafting at Dega or not going below the yellow line last year will return)

    I sure don’t know what kid K did to Edwards but he sure isn’t letting up on the kid.

    Maybe “Have at it” is working but when I hear commercials about empty seats at Bristol I have to wonder.

    • Rita Bennett says:

      i AGREE WITH YOU hIEF!!bRAD HAS BEEN AFTER cARL SINCE THE 1ST RACE AND EVERY RACE SINCE THEN. cARL IS JUST HAD ENUFF.