NASCAR's 'Have At It Boys' Hits a Spectacular New Low

Jory FleischauerCorrespondent IJuly 18, 2010

MADISON, IL - JULY 17: Carl Edwards driver of the #60 Aflac Ford poses with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway International Raceway on July 17, 2010 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

In January, NASCAR CEO Brian France announced the new mantra to help reinvigorate the personalities of NASCAR drivers by telling them to 'have at it.' On Saturday night, we witnessed the fruition of that mantra with one of the most classless victories the sport has ever seen.

How Edwards and his crew can celebrate a victory is quite simply beyond me. Edwards robbed the sport, and the fans, of what would have been one of the most exciting, and clean, finishes of the year.

This was not a case of Earnhardt v. Labonte at Bristol, nor a case of Craven v. Busch at Darlington. In those cases, each driver was doing everything they could to protect their victory. Bumpers rammed, fenders rubbed, but there was no malice in the battle.

This... this was something different.

Earlier this season, Carl Edwards performed one of the most blatant, and dangerous, moves on track towards a driver in the history of Sprint Cup racing. Saturday night at Gateway, Edwards performed a similar move in the Nationwide Series, this time to 'earn' himself a victory.

Turning another driver for the win, on the straightaway, is an unwritten rule in racing. In the short tracks around the nation, that would be grounds for a good ole whoopin' after the race.

No driver with an ounce of respect for the sport or his competitors would attempt such a move for victory. This becomes even more true when the racing is on a national stage.

NASCAR cannot let an incident like this slide this time. How many times must Edwards be allowed to take out his personal feelings on Keselowski on the track? How many times must Keselowski's life be in jeopardy simply because Edwards' has a personal vendetta against him?

And what kind of standard does it set if a driver can earn a victory in this manner? What's to stop the next driver from simply turning left, mere yards from the finish line to ensure victory?

Edwards cannot simply 'Aw Shucks' your way out of this one.

This past March, after NASCAR essentially gave Edwards a slap on the wrist for sending Keselowski airborn at 180 mph at Atlanta, I wrote that NASCAR was setting a dangerous precedent by condoning such actions.

Saturday night affirmed this fact.

If I were a driver, I would threaten a boycott of the next race. How can the sport assure the safety of its drivers if this type of incident is deemed acceptable? That's not 'Letting the boys have at it.' In fact, in some states, it would be considered assault with a deadly weapon.

While NASCAR not only has to manage its entertainment persona, it also has to manage its public image and the safety of its drivers.  For the latter two, Saturday night proved that perhaps NASCAR's intentions are in the wrong place.

NASCAR dug itself one heck of a hole with their decision in March. I stated then that the whole sporting world was watching how NASCAR would respond and taking note. Now what shall happen when those seem people witness the outcome which was Saturday night's event.

There is one last attempt for NASCAR to restore credibility to its sport. The NFL would not allow a Super Bowl winning clothesline because it is not acceptable play and it is dangerous for the players on the field. NASCAR needs to keep this in mind when reviewing the situation in the coming days.

Already the sport was given one mulligan with the incident in Atlanta. For the safety of the fans, drivers and their families, let's hope they don't use up another one before someone is truly hurt.

Because that's not entertainment and that is not sport... it's cowardice and disrespect. Something Mr. Carl Edwards needs to be educated on.

It took the death of Dale Earnhardt for the sport to realize it was greatly behind on the safety aspect for it's drivers. Let us hope it doesn't take another death for the sport to realize the error of its ways once again.