Monday, March 15, 2010

Taking The Good With The Bad

There has been a tremendous amount of controversy concerning the incident at Atlanta between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski.  The details have been reported many times in many other places, so I won’t bother going over the details.  Suffice it to say, Carl Edwards punted Brad Keselowski, and Brad wrecked in spectacular fashion, with the car flipping upside down, and Brad was obviously peeved at his colleague for his efforts.

The wreck was eerily similar to Carl Edwards’ wreck at Talladega last year, which, of course, occurred at the hands of Brad Keselowski.  I’m not talking about who was at fault there, because we all have opinions, but it appeared that Brad had the line at Talladega, and Carl was trying to block on the last lap of the race.  Remember, however, that last year we saw this spectacular crash on the last lap of the race, with both Edwards and Keselowski going for the win.

At Atlanta last Sunday, the crash occurred near the end of the race, but not on the last lap.  Carl Edwards was 150-something laps down, with no hopes for a win, but he definitely was trying to take Brad out.  In that, Carl Edwards was hugely successful.

Carl Edwards was parked for his part in the wreck, but he basically had nothing to lose.  Brad was driving a lead lap car, so Carl’s actions cost Brad quite a bit.  Had this incident happened last year, Carl would likely have been parked a race, fined, what to most of us would have been a huge amount of money, and placed on probation until the Chase portion of the season, if not for the entire year.

This year, of course, is different.  NASCAR has said they were going to relax the rules, and we, as fans, for the most part cheered.  We were all happy to see NASCAR letting the drivers race, and that’s pretty much what we’ve seen so far this year.  Carl Edwards’ actions at Atlanta were a little over the top, and he got penalized, a little bit.  Three weeks of probation?  In a way, I don’t see much wrong with that.

In other ways, however, I see a lot wrong with this situation.  Carl Edwards, many, many laps down, used his car as a weapon to take out a lead lap car.  I doubt that even Carl envisioned Brad’s car flying through the air, possibly ending up in the catch fence as did Carl’s car did last year at Talladega.

Remember the fall race at Talladega last year?  We were introduced to a young woman who happened to be sitting in the front row at ‘Dega in the spring race, and caught a piece of metal in the face when Carl Edwards’ car shredded itself in the catch fence.  Drivers getting hurt is one thing, but fans getting hurt is NASCAR’s worst nightmare.

We wanted to see a kinder, gentler NASCAR as the rule makers in the sport.  We apparently have been given exactly what we wished for.  Now, we all have to live with the bad as well as the good.  We’re seeing better racing, but at what cost?

Hopefully, NASCAR’s new attitude won’t cost a fan’s life.  I applaud what NASCAR is doing, but risking hurting fans by relaxing the rules is in no way going to help this sport.  I know, any one of those 43 cars could have flipped upside down during the Atlanta race, because NASCAR still has those stupid, dangerous wings on the cars, but hopefully that will all change at Martinsville.

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