(All photos: Getty Images for NASCAR)
NASCAR NEEDS TO MAKE EXAMPLE OF EDWARDS
Comedian Ron White likes to say "You can't fix stupid." Every time he utters that trademark line of his, he gets tons of laughs.
I bring up that line after looking at Carl Edwards' blatant and fairly obvious intentional ramming of Brad Keselowski in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Stupid, Carl, really, really stupid move. It's a move that shouldn't have happened, but I guess what White says definitely applies to Cousin Carl in this case.
Edwards was 156 laps off the pace – 156 laps!!! – and Keselowski was in sixth-place, closing in on a possible top-five finish, when Edwards slammed into Kes, sending him flipping end over end.
Was it payback for an early-race incident between the pair, the one that kept Edwards off the track for nearly half the race? Or perhaps it was come-uppance for last year's race at Talladega, where Keselowski sent Edwards flying – almost into the grandstands (even though it fortunately didn't get past the catchfence, debris from Edwards' car still injured seven spectators) – while Keselowski motored on for the first victory of his Sprint Cup career.
Don't get me wrong, I like NASCAR's new hands-off, "let 'em race" policy, but Edwards' actions were clearly unacceptable and avoidable. And, as nice of a guy as Carl is 99 percent of the the time, I have a hunch his big smile and buff body are going to be hurting come Tuesday, if not Monday.
Given the number of incidents we've already had between drivers in the first four races of the 2010 season – especially incidents between drivers that have a history with each other, like Edwards and Keselowski – someone is going to either kill or hurt someone if this keeps up. NASCAR's "have at it, boys" policy needs to be tweaked so that drivers don't continue taking that phrase to its full meaning.
And if that means someone is going to have to be made an example of to keep that from happening, so be it. The time has come.
That's why NASCAR really has no other choice but to suspend Edwards for one or more races to show not only himself but also every other Cup driver that aggressive driving bordering on near-homicidal is not going to be tolerated.
Edwards needs to be sat for a week at least to make him contemplate his retaliation actions. There's no other route for NASCAR to take or any other way for it to rule. If it lets him off the hook, there are going to be other future confrontations with Keselowski until someone gets hurt – or worse. Ditto for ongoing conflicts between other drivers. Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Keselowski and others, take note, because it could just as easily be you in this instance.
I like Edwards. He's always treated me with respect and friendliness, so this isn't any type of personal vendetta against him. I feel bad that I have to call for his suspension, but at the same time, we can't have him or anyone else going around and purposely putting other people into the fence, especially at a place like Atlanta, which is the fastest track on the circuit.
Think about it: Edwards punted Keselowski at around 190 mph. How many times do we read of regular everyday folks getting killed in their own personal cars in wrecks of 50 mph or less? That Keselowski emerged shaken but not broken or worse is yet another testament to NASCAR's safety program.
And that Keselowski didn't sail into the stands is nothing short of a miracle – especially given how Edwards said after the race that he didn't expect Keselowski's car to take off like it did. Gee, Carl, what DID you expect? Did you think a simple bump-and-run at 190 mph could result in a predictable outcome.
Sorry, but at such high speeds, there is nothing predictable.
I'm not saying Keselowski is without blame. He's an equally significant part of the feud with Edwards. Sure, he made contact with Carl early in Sunday's race, but from how I saw it, the wreck was more of a true accident than the intentional hatchet job Edwards did on his rival later in the same race.
Carl has been racing for a long time and if he doesn't know better by now, there's no question he should. If it takes sitting out a race or two – heck, I wouldn't be surprised if NASCAR parks him for several races to really make a significant example of him – Edwards will hopefully learn the lesson that he obviously must have missed one day in racing school.
What's sad is that if Edwards is parked for more than one race, his season is in effect over. His sponsors, who paid millions of dollars to plaster their names and logos on his race car in hopes of him finally winning the Cup championship in 2010, will in effect be supporting an also-ran for the remainder of the season. They didn't sign on for that, to have their driver turn kamikaze pilot, and bring shame to himself, as well as their corporate image. Look at what Tiger Woods' actions caused him: the loss of several endorsements and sponsors.
While their situations are significantly different, maybe Carl can talk to Tiger about what it's like to mess up big time and be forced to sit out from the sport you love. After all, Carl, wasn't it just seven years ago that you were sitting in a classroom in Columbia, Mo., serving as a substitute teacher, and dreaming about being a Cup driver?
If he keeps up what he did Sunday, I'm sure returning to the world of being a substitute teacher can be easily arranged by NASCAR.