WHERE'S THE BEEF IN CARL EDWARDS' "PUNISHMENT"?
Am I missing something here?
Carl Edwards admits he intentionally rammed Brad Keselowski's car Sunday in the closing laps of the Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, causing Kes's No. 12 Dodge to spin, take flight, flip upside down and crushing half of the top of the car (fortunately it was the right side of the car, not the driver's compartment -- leading to another fortuitous result: Keselowski was shaken but not injured).
And for such an egregious act, Edwards is placed on three weeks of "probation."
That's it. No fine, no suspension, no points deduction -- no other penalty whatsoever.
That's right, absolutely nothing else in terms of being "punished."
NASCAR president Mike Helton said that there were actually two episodes at work here. The first was Edwards' actions. The second was how Keselowski's car unexpectedly went airborn -- something that even Edwards sheepishly admitted he didn't expect to happen when he essentially did a PIT maneuver on Keselowski's ride (if you don't know what a PIT maneuver is, watch some police chases online or on TV and you'll find out soon enough).
So, instead of focusing on the core of the problem -- that Edwards was the aggressor and sent Keselowski flying -- NASCAR has chosen to consider it a more serious and egregious situation that Keselowski's car caught lift at 190 mph and turned Atlanta Motor Speedway's fast racing surface into a takeoff runway.
Let's not put the cart before the horse here. The facts are pretty straightforward: if Edwards doesn't do what he did, Keselowski doesn't wind up the way he did -- regardless of the fact that his car wasn't "supposed" to lift off the ground.
We've already seen the same situation several times in the last few years, particularly at Talladega, where cars have gotten into the air after being hit from behind or from the side. Edwards knows that as well as anybody, as it was Keselowski that gave Edwards the ride of his life a year ago at 'Dega, almost taking out the frontstretch fencing and injuring seven people in the process. Had it not been for good fortune, many more could have been hurt or worse.
NASCAR knows it has a problem with cars lifting up and off into the air. That's why it plans on replacing the rear wing element and return to the old tried-and-true rear spoiler later this season. But given what we saw Sunday at Atlanta, and the fact we have an upcoming off-weekend, wouldn't the prudent thing be to replace the wings with spoilers right now -- particularly in light of what happened with the Edwards-Keselowski imbroglio?
NASCAR's "have at it, boys" philosophy has morphed into a "hands off" policy, it would seem. Even some of NASCAR's hardest and most aggressive drivers, like Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick, were nothing short of stunned by NASCAR's action on Tuesday.
Or should I say, lack of action.
I'm not trying to be a maudlin drama queen or conspiracy theorist or anything of the sort, but unless NASCAR starts being a bit more astute at the way it hands out penalties -- in the past, it's penalized guys like Dale Earnhardt Jr. for inadvertently cursing on TV, or Jeff Gordon simply pushing Matt Kenseth (with his hands, not his car) -- something bad is wound to happen.
You know what I mean by that, too. Something bad equals someone gets hurt (or worse), be it a driver, crew member or fan. I would think we have come a long way since Dale Earnhardt lost his life nearly 10 years ago. But by turning such a blind eye to Edwards' actions, we may very well have regressed in some of the progress we've made since Earnhardt's death.
As I said in the headline, where's the beef in NASCAR's "punishment" of Edwards? The answer is simple: the beef is from the fans, the beef is Edwards' blatant ramming of Keselowski, and the beef is NASCAR's almost non-existent penalty in the offing.
Actually, scratch that last one. That's not beef, that's pure bull.