First there was the flip, and now there's the ... what do we call this? Fan-flop? Whatever, Carl Edwards is on his way to becoming the fan-friendliest driver in NASCAR with his suddenly trademark charge into the stands post-win. After his victory in Phoenix, his first in 70 races, he led with a flip, and then climbed up into the mass of humanity. Where on earth did such an idea come from? Let's let Edwards tell you:
"I had never really considered doing that until that gate was open at Texas, till the hole in the fence at Texas was right in front of me [after his Nationwide victory last week]. Thought, well, see how this goes. The wrestler, John Cena, he was at a Gillette commercial shoot with us. He did that. There were some fans there. They just couldn't believe he did it. That's kind of what sparked the idea. Those are moments, the two times I've done that, I'll never forget those. It's really neat to go up there. I would highly recommend it to anybody. It feels real neat. Give it a shot. You write a big story, you know, just run up there. It's cool."
I tried it once. Got told to go sit back down. Anyway, Edwards added a little more backstory ("I think I actually hit somebody with the checkered flag. I threw it, didn't fly like I wanted it to") and team owner Jack Roush politely declined Carl's invitation to go into the stands with him next time ("I'm not sure people like me as well as they do you. I've got a spotted past, so I'm not sure how it would work out for me").
So now we've got NASCAR's version of the punk-rock stage dive or the Lambeau Leap. That's all well and good for the fans, but if Edwards is spending more time in the crowd, that also means he's spending more time in victory lane. And come 2011, that'll be a concern for the drivers who'd gotten a little too comfortable with his winless streak.