After Atlanta NASCAR Needs To Park A ‘Sacred Cow’

3 Mins read

If you were watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Atlanta at the weekend, you will no doubt have some opinion of what should, or shouldn't, happen to Carl Edwards over his contact with Brad Keselowski.

I won't go into the details here, you can find them elsewhere, but it is suffice to know that Edwards deliberately took out Keselowski. He wasn't battling for position with him, Edwards' simply felt he was responsible for his earlier crash and had a long running feud with him.

In a post-crash interview Edwards did everything but throw his hands up screaming Mea Culpa, Edwards' only regret was that he had “a lot of respect for people's safety, and I wish that hadn't of gone like it did”, through there was no hint of respect for Keselowski as any concerns for his victim’s safety were firmly his final concern during the interview.

Edwards, using the ubiquitous social networking of the 21st century, would later state “Considering that Brad wrecks me with no regard for anyone’s safety or hard work, should I: A) Keep letting him wreck me? B) Confront him after the race? C) Wait till Bristol and collect other cars? or D) Take care of it now?”

Again, there's everything there save for a signed confession.

But what do NASCAR do?

As with so much in life, what ever line of action they choose there will one party or another screaming injustices, be it fans screaming that he deliberately wrecked someone on the fastest track of the year or someone pointing to the dozens of other incidents of drivers taking out vengeance on one another on-track.

But one thing is clear, what ever they do will set the precedent. Ahead of the Daytona 500 last month NASCAR basically let the drivers off the leash.

They wanted more action on the track.

They wanted rivalries and characters.

It doesn't take an over active imagination to suggest they wanted revenge crashes, lets face it the race has got far more coverage from that accident than anything else.

This is first sign of any tension on that leash.

Quite simply NASCAR has to make an example of Carl Edwards and ban him for two races. Let the no.99 race if Roush can find a driver for it, but keep Edwards in the hauler, doing significant damage to his Chase hopes.

Parking Edwards two laps early had no effect. He was 150 laps down, and wouldn't have picked up any more points by completing those few extra laps (I have no doubt that Edwards knew this as he pulled inside Keselowski).

Punishing him by not letting him practice at Bristol is pointless – the team already have notes for the track and, if the worst case scenario presents itself, can lean over the shoulder of one of the other Ford team and copy them.

The problem is NASCAR probably won't do this, because Edwards and Roush belong a group I'll call the 'sacred cows'.

Split NASCAR teams and drivers into three teirs. First you have the bottom tier – these are teams and drivers who are often there to make up the numbers. There will no editorial pieces in the media for NASCAR to get exposure from. These guys could not turn up at a race and no-one (aside from their fans) would notice.

Next up you have the middling drivers and teams. Nine races out of ten you'd notice these drivers were gone, but you'd still have a competitive race at the front.

Towering over all of them you have the 'sacred cows'. The Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs and Childress teams, Kasey Kahne, Juan Montoya or Tony Stewart. These drivers are the ones who stare out from the covers of Sports Illustrated or Mens' Health, who will tell you buy things during commercial breaks and have long character studies in the media. They are the public faces of NASCAR.

Depending on what level of NASCAR you belong to, you can expect different treatment as, either consciously or not, your standing is considered when officials discuss penalties. If you are Scott Speed and there's even a hint you took out Jeff Gordon you can probably expect your head to be placed on a stake at Daytona Beach.

Yet at Atlanta we had a 'sacred cow', though one wounded to the tune of 150 laps taking out a bottom tier driver, though one who was having a race to move himself up the pecking order.

Basically a nightmare for NASCAR.

A proper, meaningful penalty for Edwards would show that no-one was above the law.

If you missed the incident, here it is…

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