Sunday, March 7, 2010

NASCAR Law and Order: Edwards Vs Keselowski in Atlanta

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images for NASCAR

To the delight of fans, NASCAR stock car racing is a motorized contact sport. With some NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers able to conquer their 800-plus horsepower stock cars, the are so many chances to see one or more competitors sent out of control for various reasons. Due to the resilience of stock cars, these drivers wounded in competition are often presented with an opportunity to reunite on the racetrack. With single car incidents leaving the driver with no other competitor to blame, multi-car wrecks breeds the twisting of personalities where the rule of allowing bygones being bygones is thrown out the between the window netting.

In the twilight of NASCAR Sprint Cup's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the payback which drivers threaten and some NASCAR fans crave materialized as Carl Edwards refused to dismiss an early race altercation. Reacting to a lap 41 incident where Brad Keselowski's #12 Dodge made contact with the #99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards, Edwards waited until only 3 laps to go at Atlanta to deliver what is probably one of the most dramatic moves in auto racing vigilantism. Turning into the #12 Dodge of Keselowski through the frontstretch, Edwards delivered a message of dissatisfaction. From the local short-tracks to the big league of stock car racing, payback incidents are a cornerstone for racing justice.

Between Edwards and Keselowki, this collision at Atlanta was the third such accident in less than a year involving the two drivers. Up until Keselowski always delivering the shots. Starting with the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Aarons 499 at Talladega when Edwards' #99 Ford was sent flying along the frontstretch, a Nationwide series race at Memphis Motorsports Park also involved a run-in between Edwards and Keselowski. Brad Keselowski went on to win both races. As Carl Edwards came out on the losing end of this contact, Keselowski went on to victory on both of these occasions.

In the immediate aftermath of the frightening Keselowski crash, NASCAR Sprint Cup officials parked the #99 Ford through the two green-white-checkered periods that ended the race. Running in 39th place at the time he was reprimanded, Edwards' black flag cost him 3 additional points from the idled car Joe Nemechek.

As the race ended, NASCAR fans wasted no time in conversing about the event. Following the incident, social networks lit up with pretty of Carl Edwards fans rallying behind in embattled driver through his Facebook page. Fans of Edwards', particularly those who followed the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series, need little persuading to believe the driver of the #12 Dodge got his just desserts. On the other side of the electronic social board, Brad Keselowski fans provided their support as the Edwards' move was viewed as a cheap shot after a racing incident.

While NASCAR fans deliberated on the Edwards/Keselowski wreck, NASCAR president Mike Helton passed out an ultimate judgment on Tuesday (March 9th) placing Edwards on a 3-race probation period. Perhaps a tame penalty for those wanting NASCAR to send a more poignant message, Edwards' probation will be served on the three high-intensity short tracks of Bristol, Martinsville, and Phoenix. Having to maintain a better than good behaviour on race day, the effects this will have on the #99 Roush-Fenway Racing team is an additional variable.

After receiving his additional reprimand from NASCAR, Carl Edwards commented on his Facebook account saying "I respect NASCAR's penalty and look forwards to our meeting in Bristol. I'm ready to put this behind us and get on with some racing". The driver on the receiving end of this late race contact also offered a reaction to the penalty drawn on Edwards. Brad Keselowski commented on his Facebook account "I support NASCAR in the decision they communicated today." Performing as a team player along the Penske Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup squad, Keselowski message expressed some disappointment on how the incident "overshadowed" the victory of his teammate Kurt Busch.

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