Carl Edwards Takes "Have At It, Boys" Racing One Step Too Far

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IMarch 7, 2010

ATLANTA - MARCH 05:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Scotts Ford, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 5, 2010 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by Tom Whitmore/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tom Whitmore/Getty Images

When NASCAR announced at the beginning of the 2010 season that drivers could just let loose, be themselves, and participate in "have at it, boys" racing, all involved expected some fireworks. 

But in today's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards took that new sentiment one step too far, with a payback hit into Brad Keselowski that sent the young driver's car catapulting down the race track.

After being wrecked early in the race by contact with Brad Keselowski, Edwards was obviously on a mission of revenge when he returned with his wounded race car to the track. 

Edwards, who was more than 150 laps down due to the previous contact, found Keselowski, who was running in the top 10 late in the race, and then turned him on the straightaway at close to 200 miles per hour.

After the contact by Edwards, Keselowski's car went airborne, flipped over and hit the retaining wall on the roof of the driver's side. 

Keselowski's No. 12 Mopar/FLO TV Dodge, then turned back onto its four tires and, after some tense moments, Keselowski was able to exit the car under his own power, sprinting to the ambulance for the obligatory ride to the care center.

"We had a great car today," Keselowski said. "That's something I'm really proud of and I'm sorry I didn't get the finish for my team."

"The 99 (Edward's car) just wrecked me intentionally down the straightaway," Keselowski continued.  "I could see he was trying to and I was trying to cut him some slack."

"I let him go at one point as I knew he was angry," Keselowski said.  "I thought, 'I'm cool, I'll let off for you' but that wasn't enough for him."

"He just decided to wreck me down the straightaway and about killed me and a couple thousand people in the grandstands," Keselowski said. 

"It's one thing to race somebody hard and get in an accident when you're going for position but it's another just to intentionally wreck somebody at 195 miles an hour at a track like this."

Edwards saw the incident a little differently, particularly the initial contact with Keselowski in the early laps of the race. 

"We were on the restart and I was going for the bottom," Edwards said.  "I knew Brad was peeking inside, but I thought he'd give me just a little bit of room and he didn't and we ended up overlapping."

"I know Brad (Keselowski) has made his career on being super-aggressive," Edwards continued.  "But it's just a little too aggressive overall for that early in the race and caused us to wreck."

Of the seemingly retaliatory incident, Edwards had a little less to say. "Brad knows the deal between him and I," Edwards said simply.

"The scary part was his car went airborne, which was not at all what I expected," Edwards said.  "I have a lot of respect for people's safety.  I wish it wouldn't have gone like it did , but I'm glad he's okay."

"I think at the end of the day, the best thing for Brad and I to do is not get together anymore," Edwards said.  "And we probably won't now."

"I'm just glad everybody's alright," Edwards said.

This was not the first time that Edwards and Keselowski have tangled, ending in a dramatic wreck.  At the Talladega race in 2009, Keselowski made his move around Edwards on the final lap of the race.

Edwards tried to block Keselowski, the two hit, and Edwards' car went flying through the air and into the catch fence, injuring several fans in the grandstands.

The contact between the two racers at today's race seemed like Talladega deja vu all over again.

And in spite of NASCAR's vow to let the drivers "have at it", the sanctioning body took swift action as a result of the incident today between Edwards and Keselowski.

NASCAR pulled Edwards off the track, parked the car for the rest of the day, and demanded that Edwards make a command appearance in the NASCAR hauler. 

Even after being pulled off the track Edwards finished the Kobalt Tools 500 in the 39th position.  Keselowski was unofficially scored in the 36th spot.