Boy, all you need to do to get people talking about NASCAR is have a dramatic last-second controversy, huh? Everybody has an opinion on the Carl Edwards-Brad Keselowski debacle of Saturday night, and everybody's opinion is right! Well, at least they believe it is. Let's do a little roundup:
Fox Sports' Lee Spencer notes that NASCAR has put itself in a bind:
[I]n NASCAR’s “Have at it, boys” era where the competitors are allowed to settle their disputes on the racetrack, how strict can the sanctioning body’s penal system be without accusations of hypocrisy?
If NASCAR parks Edwards following his latest incident or fines him "for actions detrimental to stock car racing," it creates a mockery of the sport which has tried in earnest to revamp its image.
Scene Daily's Bob Pockrass has an idea of how NASCAR should have handled the situation:
NASCAR did the right thing Saturday night in not taking the win from Edwards.
He should keep the trophy – that’s the concession NASCAR makes in the sense that it wasn’t his intent to wreck Keselowski for the win and he was just trying to give a little NASCAR-approved payback – but these actions cannot be condoned. A points penalty and fine are appropriate not because he retaliated, but because of the force and result of the retaliation.
Bleacher Report gets a little frothy to make a point:
Obviously, NASCAR wants "hard driving" so it can stem the erosion of the TV and live race day audiences that has occurred with the current tough economic times. But allowing drivers to intentionally crash each other out is only inviting tragedy live on television.
Could it be that NASCAR sees the HANS device, the head and neck restraint system whose use was mandated following the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001, and SAFER barriers as a cloak of invincibility for its drivers?
If that is the case, then NASCAR is only inviting the next tragedy, and it will come sooner rather than later. The proper analogy is that of the sinking of the "unsinkable" Titanic.
Jonathan Ingram at Racin' Today pulls no punches on Edwards:
This is the second in what is now a series of dangerous cheap shots versus Keselowski. Edwards’ “chump and run” moves are distinguished by the fact that any driver, any where, on any track, in any series could do the same thing. That’s why it’s gut check time for Edwards. He needs to stop taking pride in turning motor racing into the lowest common denominator.
That’s a long way from being an intimidator.
I know you're going for a win and everything is fine, but hooking someone in the right-rear down the straightaway - I probably wouldn't have reacted as kindly as Brad did. I probably would have walked down there and punched him in the mouth. I just think that's way, way out of bounds as far as hooking somebody in the middle of the straightaway.
My take? A mess-with-the-bull approach. Edwards was justified in retaliating. Certainly he didn't intend to maim Keselowski, and he probably should have pulled off a little smoother tip to get Jet Ski loose, not send him into traffic, but still -- this is dangerous business, racing cars, and Keselowski still doesn't seem to have completely grasped that actions have consequences.
So what should NASCAR do? Fire away, gang.