Kurt Busch wins his first victory of the year, second spring Atlanta win in a row, in the 2009 Kobalt Tools 500, though the talk doesn’t even involve Busch. After a controversial wreck with six laps to go, everybody is talking about Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards.
On lap 39, Keselowski and Edwards made contact on the restart, sending Edwards and Joey Logano into the wall. On the initial replay, it looked as if Keselowski got into the back of Edwards. Though upon further review, Edwards actually came down in front of Keselowski, causing Keselowski to get into him. Either way, blame was placed on Keselowski for the incident.
“He cut down on me on the restart and I couldn't lift faster,” Keselowski said of the accident. “I appologize to him.”
“Looking at that replay, it didn't look as bad as I first thought,” Edwards said. “We were on the restart and I was going for the bottom. 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."
Carl Edwards also added that, “Brad is somebody who doesn't ever give me any room.”
After spending numerous laps behind the wall, Edwards returned to the track, looking to make the points loss due to the incident minimal. However, with six laps to go, Edwards did something that’d become the No. 1 hot topic: He retaliated.
Edwards got behind Keselowski with eight laps to go and took three swipes at him, finally wrecking him on the third try. The result was Keselowski flipping upside down on the front stretch at Atlanta Motor Speedway, not injured, and Edwards being parked for the remainder of the race.
After the wreck, Keselowski said Carl Edwards, “decided to just wreck me intentionally down the straightaway and about killed me and a couple thousand people in the grandstands. It’s one thing to race somebody hard and get in an accident when you’re going for position. It’s another to just intentionally wreck someone at 195 mph at a track like this. I know it's ironic that it's me saying that but I didn't do it on purpose."
After the race, Carl Edwards posted the following on his Facebook page:
Considering that Brad wrecks me with no regard for anyones 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.
Edwards is known to most as the nice guy of the garage area, though his history of on track incidents speak for themselves. He turned Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Atlanta in 2004, bumped into Earnhardt Jr. under the cool-down laps at Michigan in 2006, got into a fight with teammate Matt Kenseth.
Keselowski also has a history of on-track incidents himself, including a long-standing rivalry with Denny Hamlin that has gone on since 2008.
These drivers also have met each other on different occasions. Keselowski spun Edwards at Memphis last year and Edwards got into Keselowski at Daytona, sending Keselowski into Earnhardt Jr. which resulted in Earnhardt Jr. flipping.
However, probably the most famous incident was in 2009 at Talladega Superspeedway. Coming down for the checkered flag, Keselowski ducked under Edwards to make a move for the lead, Edwards blocked causing Keselowski to get into the back of him, which sent Edwards flipping.
With this being said, Juan Pablo Montoya says he isn’t surprised to see what has happened.
“I said that last year because he wrecked a lot of people, I’m sure a lot of people wanted to pay him back,” third-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya said. “Looking at the TV, somebody did.”
“I don’t know what the 12 [Keselowski] did to the 99, and I don’t know what the 99 did to the 12,” Vickers added. “But I’ll bet you the 12 will think about it before he does it again.”
NASCAR has suspended drivers in the past for incidents of rough driving. Kevin Harvick was suspended for cup race at Martinsville after retaliating in the truck race the previous day while Ted Musgrave was suspended in 2007 for getting into Kelly Bires under the caution.
Though drivers that have been not been suspended include Tony Stewart after he wrecked Matt Kenseth in the Daytona 500. Will Carl Edwards be suspended or not?
“Parking a guy for this race is not enough,” Keselowski said. “I think he deserves at least one race. He could have killed somebody in the grandstands wrecking somebody intentionally. Things happen. We wreck race cars. That’s going to happen and they happen out of the pursuit of competition and the aggression to go out and win.
"But they should not happen at tracks like this, at this speed, out of anger or emotions that are not in check at tracks like this at this speed. The bottom line is, Carl is an awesome guy – one of the best in the garage. But he made a move that was uncalled for and cannot be tolerated in this sport, or we’re going to kill somebody."
“I just have no comment on it,” Edwards said when asked about Keselowski calling for him to be suspended. “That’s best.”
Some others within NASCAR Nation, though, agree with Brad Keselowski.
“Well Brad K isn't the first car to flip from Carl this year,” Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s spotter TJ Majors posted on twitter. “Lost all respect I had for Carl today. Get a grip. Obviously has no care for being safe. Park him. Teach a lesson.”
"This is a black eye on NASCAR. He (Edwards) shouldn't show up at Bristol." Kyle Petty said on SpeedTV’s show NASCAR Victory Lane.
Rivalry is something that I welcome to the sport as it does fuel emotions and competition, though there are times when it is taken to far. In reference to Sunday’s incident, this is one that does that.
Payback is something that has been a common theme in stock car racing and for the most part is highly welcome—say hello to karma. If you take enough shots, somebody is going to shoot you back and Keselowski had this coming with his track record. However, there are times where you go beyond that edge and this is a clear example.
Spinning somebody out at a short track where the speeds are around 70-100mph is fine as it’s just normally causes the fellow driver to spin out and then continue on. Those are the types of incidents that allow you to get your message across without further damage.
Though spinning somebody out at 180mph, at the fastest track currently on the circuit, is beyond safe and innocent. As Keselowski pointed out, not only could he had got hurt, but possibly some fans. Maybe this is the first time we’ve seen an incident go as bad as this one did, but it is a sign of what’s possible and why drivers normally don’t make these types of boneheaded moves on big tracks.
Therefore, for putting Keselowski’s life at a greater danger and with his record as stated above, I feel he should be suspended.
Though in general, why go and wreck each other on track? Here’s a better idea: Why not wait 'til after the race and speak to each other face-to-face and get your thoughts out?
The only thing you’re doing by speaking with your car rather than your mouth is 1) making more work for your team and other driver’s crew members who are innocent but 2) hiding behind your actions. If NASCAR wants to get back to it’s roots, then why not a fight like the Allison/Yarborough fight in 1979?
Just my two cents for today. J