Nascar gave themselves the Carl & Brad headache

By Roger Faulkner

Brad Keselowski has crossed paths with a number of drivers over the past year, and he began displaying an aggressive style that was missing in his first season with JR Motorsports. He showed a determination to be a front runner and he began serving notice on the Cup guys that were putting him in the shadows in the NASCAR Nationwide series.
Most folks paid little attention to Brad with the exception of the Junior Nation, but that was merely because he was looked upon as part of Junior’s stable. When he began running some races for James Finch in the Sprint Cup Series in Hendrick provided cars, it looked to many that he was about to follow in Dale Jr.‘s footsteps, sort of Dale’s protégé. So when Brad got the unexpected run on the final laps at Talladega, it was an eye opener for everyone, including Brad. Surely that idea of not wanting to let the Big guys intimidate him came to life in that final lap, as he held his line and refused to give to Carl Edwards. The result was a first Cup win for Brad and one of the most horrific looking crashes in NASCAR since the Geoff Bodine fireball wreck at Daytona in the truck Series race in 2000. Nothing will ever compare to that one, but Talladega for Edwards was the modern day version.
Back to the Nationwide Series, Brad had his share of run ins with many driver’s and as the season wore down, so did his chances for a future Hendrick ride in the Sprint Cup Series. After that he became even more aggressive, which paid off by getting the attention of the folks at Penske Racing. Penske of course was not real happy with the success, or lack of it in their #12 car, since Ryan Newman had left for Stewart Haas Racing. David Stremme was not performing at an acceptable level and being 31st in points after Talladega, they opted for Keselowski, not waiting for Stremme to finish the season.
The win at the spring Talladega Cup race was of course the big event of the year for Brad, but he got more notice from the fans and NASCAR in the Nationwide race at Phoenix where he and Denny Hamlin tangled fiercely enough for NASCAR to summon both of them to the hauler. After that meeting, Hamlin promised to retaliate in the nationwide race at Homestead and that is just what he did. The season came to an end with NASCAR taking no action toward either driver.
So, the handwriting was on the wall, it was up to the drivers to settle these things. Then as the 2010 season was about to begin, NASCAR announced that they were going to let the drivers, ’have at it’ and to handle things among themselves. Edwards felt that Keselowski was directly and intentionally responsible for his wreck early in the race. That wreck sent the 99 car to the garage for about 100 laps, and Edwards didn’t see NASCAR addressing the situation. When he finally returned to the track, Carl obviously decided to ’have at it’ and he chased down Kieslowski. Was this a racing incident, an accident? Even ray Charles could see that it was a deliberate and intention move on the part of Edwards. Did he intend the contact to result in a wreck resembling his ride last year at Talladega? I don’t believe he did, I believe that he wanted to inflict damage to the 12 car, to maybe even end his day, but not what happened.
As for Brad’s comments after the race about how some race fans could have been hurt because of this, well, none were this time, but Fans were hurt when he wrecked Edwards last year. It seems to me that NASCAR allowed this tension to brew and chose to look the other way. So for them to honestly take any further actions against Edwards they will need to issue some kind of sanctions against Keselowski also. Should they go that route, it will open a whole ‘nother can of worms for all of NASCAR. All I can say is, I’m sure glad I don’t have to make that call.