Either the gloves come off, or they put them back on. Either you ‘have at it boys’ or go stand in the corner for some time out.
Earlier this season NASCAR came down with the edict; they would relax the rules somewhat and allow drivers to tangle on the track ‘Have it boys’ was the exact message.
Several drivers have taken advantage of this with the most recent being a dust up between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski Saturday night at Gateway International Raceway.
On the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide series race Edwards, who had a slight lead, was bumped by Keselowski between turns one and two. Edwards was able to recover and the pair rocketed down the back stretch in tandem.
As they exited the final turn Keselowski was in front slightly and Edwards hit Keselowski’s Dodge on the rear spinning him out of the way. Unlike Edwards, Keselowski wasn’t able to recover and careened into the inside wall only to be hit by another car and sent into a violent spin.
Edwards went on to win, while Keselowski’s father made death threats to the media.
Of course this wasn’t the pair’s first tangle. During the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega earlier in the season, Edwards retaliated for a bump earlier in the race and again tapped Keselowski. That time, Keselowski’s Dodge was sent airborne and flipped into the fence.
In both of the incidents, Keselowski walked away unscathed.
After the Talladega tangle, NASCAR took the two drivers aside for a little talk. After the latest incident, NASCAR officials took Edwards aside Saturday night and talked to him again. Afterwards NASCAR Nationwide Series director Joe Balash seemed to indicate that further action might not happen.
“There was some movement on the race track,” Balash told the Sporting News’ Reid Spencer. “It was a tough finish for a really great race. We chatted about (the finish). We don’t (publicly) talk about any of those conversations.”
This week, some fans and others began calling for severe punishment for Edwards.
“Someone has to be the referee in this. I think NASCAR does a good job of that, but it’s hard to police,” Team owner Chip Ganassi said during a teleconference Monday. “I think each guy should be allowed one move, but you shouldn’t be allowed to use your car as a weapon. I just thank God nobody gets hurt in any of these things. I would like to see more good driving and driving we can respect, not having to crash a guy to win.”
Driver Kevin Harvick, who has had several very public confrontations with Edwards, was clear about his feelings on SPEED channels Wind Tunnel Sunday night.
“I like to race as rough as anybody,” Harvick said, “but there’s still a line when somebody has to rein somebody in and unfortunately, you hope that it doesn’t get to the point where you wind up hurting somebody or you end up killing somebody. Hopefully it doesn’t take that long for NASCAR’s reaction to come, to just get everything under control.”
Monday word leaked out that NASCAR is perhaps looking at some form of sanctions against one or both of the drivers.
Clearly this would send the wrong message. Either the gloves are off or the gloves are on. NASCAR is right in discussing the matter with the drivers and perhaps telling them to cool it or perhaps set some boundaries, but to come down with heavy fines or suspension would tell the other drivers that the ‘Have at it boys’ edict is really just a joke.
Hard racing such as Saturday night has been a staple of NASCAR for years; part of its appeal and allowing more of it was the right thing to do on NASCAR’s part
Maybe the real issue is this; had Keselowski been able to save his car like Edwards did earlier in the lap, then perhaps there would have been no controversy at all. Maybe a better driver would have been able to save his car, as Edwards demonstrated. Maybe in the end, the better driver was able to recover from a bump and go on to victory.
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