Who is most at fault in the well-chronicled history of altercations between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski?
Keselowski often comes across as a brash young man who speaks his mind—remember his introduction at Bristol last August when he referenced Kyle Busch in a none-too-favorable light.
Meanwhile, Edwards is a polished marketer for his sponsors and has an engaging personality.
But to find out who's really at fault in their history of on-track incidents, let's look at the facts. And the facts clearly illustrate that Edwards has a history of overreacting and making questionable decisions and then blaming the results on others (namely Mr. Keselowski).
The first incident between the two drivers occurred in the April of 2009 Sprint Cup race at Talladega. At the white flag, Keselowski was pushing Edwards into the lead. Coming off turn four to the checkers, it was apparent that Keselowski was going to try to get around Edwards and go for the win.
At that point, all mayhem erupted. It's common for writers and commentators to describe the incident as, "Keselowski put Edwards into the catchfence." However, nothing could be further from the truth.
The incident was the fault of two entities, neither of which was Brad Keselowski.
First of all, NASCAR was to blame. NASCAR created the yellow line rule which states that a driver cannot improve his position beneath the yellow line. Keselowski had a choice: either break the rule and forfeit the race, or hold his established position and win the race.
Who is most at fault in their history of altercations?
The previous Talladega race saw Regan Smith go below the yellow line, and his victory was immediately taken away by NASCAR. Keselowski obviously didn't want that to happen, so he stayed right on the yellow line.
Second, Carl Edwards was also to blame. He tried to block Keselowski after Keselowski had already established his position already beneath his car. What did Edwards expect Keselowski to do, check up and give him the win?
No, of course not. Drivers hold the throttle wide open at Talladega and there was no way Edwards could expect any driver to do anything but what happened.
In addition, Keselowski had little to nothing to do with Edwards ending up in the catchfence. That never would have happened without a third car becoming involved: that of Ryan Newman. Edwards had caught some air after turning himself around on Keselowski's car, and he landed squarely on top of Newman's hood. Edwards, of course, was launched up and into the catchfence, tearing his car apart and injuring seven fans.
But Edwards conveniently ignored these facts and chose to hold a grudge against Keselowski for an incident that was mainly his own fault.
In 2010, the story was much of the same.
At Atlanta, Edwards made an overly aggressive move around Keselowski early in the race which resulted in him spending time in the garage while his car was fixed up. Then he headed back out to the track with the express purpose of wrecking Keselowski, who was in the process of wrapping up a top-five run.
Sure enough, he got into Keselowski at 200 mph and sent him flying, this time without the aid of any innocent bystanders to act as launching pads. Keselowski's car sailed airborne and flipped before coming to rest, completely destroyed.
Edwards said after the spectacular wreck that he didn't mean to cause such a crash. Again, Mr. Edwards, think before you act. What do you expect to happen at 200 mph?
Next it was on to Gateway for a Nationwide race. On the last lap, Keselowski was on Edwards' bumper as they took the white flag. He tapped Edwards and got him loose getting into turn one and took the lead heading down the back straightaway.
Coming out of turn four, Edwards turned Keselowski around in front of the entire field, wrecking several innocent cars at high speeds (Keselowski was struck multiple times) and causing a huge pileup as they came to the checkered flag. It was a minor miracle that no one was hurt.
Edwards made a poor attempt to justify his actions which had ruined many race cars (including several owned by underfunded teams) and placed drivers at risk. He said that after Keselowski took the lead on a bump-and-run he had to do what he had to do.
Really? Just ask any of the other drivers whose cars were smashed.
To Edwards, Keselowski making a relatively clean pass somehow justified blatantly wrecking him in retaliation. Edwards couldn't even try to claim it was just hard racing. It was as obvious of a takeout as you'll ever see, plain and simple.
So what can we take away from this?
Edwards generally comes across as a nice guy who wouldn't say anything bad about anyone (other than criticizing his own mother's cooking on national TV, as he did at Texas). But the facts point to a driver who tends to be vindictive and blame others for his own mistakes.
Sadly, Edwards often gets away with it simply by flashing a winning smile, doing backflips in celebration of ill-gotten victories, and then running into the crowd to celebrate.
It's time he changes his ways and owns up to his mistakes, rather than relying on his sunny personality and half-hearted apologies to smooth things over with the fans and with NASCAR.