NASCAR Payback: A Good Thing Or Bad Thing?

Travis SmithAnalyst IIMarch 8, 2010

FONTANA, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, leads Mark Martin, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway on February 21, 2010 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

NASCAR has always been known as the sport that favors the aggressive when it comes to on track issues. Fans love to root for a driver that can really settle the score with another driver over a crash or a bump on the track. Fans saw the payback at an extreme way last Sunday at Atlanta when Carl Edwards crashed Brad Keselowski due to an earlier accident involving those two in which was viewed as a racing incident to many fans. This payback caused by Edwards could end up resulting in a suspension to Carl but it has caused a black eye to the sport.

Dale Earnhardt was loved by fans because he would payback a driver at anytime if a driver had done him wrong. Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd were guys who would payback others if they were crashed out even if it meant taking themselves out of the race. There were and are so many drivers who have crashed others in a race and the fans have made their opinions about the wrecks but overall, payback does bring ratings and the excitement back to the sport.

I know a lot of folks compare the NASCAR payback to the late hit in football or the brush back pitch in baseball but in NASCAR, when you payback someone, you create a lot of attention towards yourself, your team, and your past run ins with other drivers. Carl Edwards posted his feelings towards the crash yesterday in Atlanta. “My options: Considering that Brad wrecks me with no regard for anyone’s safety or hard work, should I: A-Keep letting him wreck me? B-Confront him after the race? C-Wait til Bristol and collect other cars? Or D-Take care of it now? I want to be clear that I was surprised at his flight and very relieved when he walked away. Every Person has to decide what code they want to live by and hopefully this explains mine.”

Payback will continue to always be around in the sport for years to come no matter what the outcomes are on the track. People love to see the raw emotions from a driver no matter who is involved in the incident and it only does good things for the sport when these aggressions actually take place on the track and not on a blog or something. There is a line on what is too much when it comes to payback but as along as a driver continues to give and receive payback, fans of auto racing will tune in.