Carl Edwards made it clear he’s fed up with Brad Keselowski. Dale Earnhardt Jr. started on the pole but never led a lap, and Team Chevy seems to have the only cars with tire problems.
As the Wheel Turns is an irregular publication that tries to answer questions, solve conundrums, and extricate quagmires occurring on race day and throughout the racing community.
While I try to cover all the bizarre strategies by drivers or crews, and sometimes aberrant decisions by NASCAR, there are times when one event may take up the main focus of an article.
This is not one of those articles.
With just a handful of laps to go at Atlanta, Edwards, who was over 100 laps in arrears courtesy of an earlier incident with Keselowski, put a bumper to the rear quarter panel of Keselowski’s No. 12 Dodge and sent him flying into the turn one catch fence.
In a situation of role reversal, the accident was extremely similar to what happened to Edwards at Talladega in 2009, courtesy of Brad Keselowski.
Speaking with the media just after exiting his car, Edwards made it clear he was glad Keselowski was ok and had no intentions of getting his car airborne. He was quick to point out that Keselowski has never given him any room on the racetrack.
While not admitting he wrecked Keselowski on purpose, race officials took immediate steps to park Edwards and summon him to the NASCAR hauler.
It’s not the first time Edwards has had problems with drivers. Dating back to 2006, Edwards had had issues with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, and Kurt Busch.
Keselowski is not an innocent bystander. His aggressive driving habits and well-documented issues with other drivers— most notably, Denny Hamlin—have depleted his respect value in the garage.
NASCAR said at the beginning of the year they were going to let drivers be themselves and “have at it.”
This most recent incident is certainly not what NASCAR had in mind, but sends a message that maybe years of pent up frustrations could culminate in a deadly combination of speed and stupidity.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., started the weekend off at the pinnacle of the speed chart and racing grid, but spent the race mired deep in the pack.
After qualifying on the pole with a COT record-setting time, Earnhardt Jr. didn’t lead a lap and was slowly shuffled to the back of the pack, and was never able to mount a charge.
This week, tires seemed to be the problem du jour for the No. 88 Amp Energy Chevrolet.
Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t the only Chevy experiencing tired tires. The majority of teams fielding Chevy’s, and a couple of Toyota teams, were shredding right front tires faster than a recycling plant.
Dodge, the eventual winner of the race, and Ford teams seemed unaffected by the tire anomaly.
Photo Credit: David L. Yeazell