Rubbin' is racin', we're taking the gloves off, have at it boys. These expressions seem to completely define the 2010 season thus far, but what happens when the shaded gray area is crossed into and just flat out wrong?
Being a Brad Keselowski fan, it's very easy for me to say Carl was wrong, Carl wrecked him and any other negative thing I could come up with. It wasn't until I heard Reed Sorenson's comments on Sirius 128 when I decided I how I really felt about this issue. Reed said he "saw the 60 drive into the 22." After hearing Reed's comments, the anger I felt after witnessing this on Saturday was back in full force. Instead of yelling at my radio like I had my TV and tweeting some probably not very nice things about Carl, I started to think about some stuff.
There are three very clear issues coming out of Saturday night's melee at Gateway. The first issue is Brad Keselowski and his sometimes popular and sometimes very unpopular racing style, next is Carl Edwards and his temper, and the last a father's involvement in his son's racing career.
We all know Brad is well known for his belief in standing his ground and not being pushed around. This belief has led him to be compared to some of NASCAR's greatest, from Kyle Busch to Dale Earnhardt. I think it's safe to say thus far Brad has definitely left his mark in NASCAR. To me it goes a little further; these two drivers Brad has been compared to are champions. We don't see Jimmie Johnson on the track backing down to just anyone, so why aren't we criticizing him as much as we are Brad? Jeff Gordon has taken a similar approach to racing these days as well and he too is a champion. Point being, you can't go out there on the track and race like everyone out there is your best friend and expect to win. Brad has said it, Kyle has said it, even Dale Earnhardt said it; the main objective when they strap into that seat is to win. Brad made a comment earlier in the 2010 season that, "your competitors are only happy with you when they're beating you," and he's right.
Since Brad has made his move to Penske, I think we have seen a new side to him. He races with more patience and seems to carry a mature approach to incidents like these. I was very proud of Brad after his interview on Saturday night. How easy it would have been to trash Carl on TV. The better man will always win out in my book, and I believe the better man Saturday night was Brad Keselowski.
"Have at it boys" and how it's supposed to be done was center stage when Kurt Busch bumped Jimmie Johnson and Jimmie, deciding he wasn't OK with it, bumped him back. Jimmie could have easily put him in the wall like Carl did to Brad, but he didn't. He reacted as he should have to a minor incident.
Everyone has been talking about Atlanta and I have even heard Talladega being brought up ... again! The fact of the matter is Carl's anger issues run deeper than just Carl and Brad. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, even Dale Earnhardt Jr. have had altercations with Edwards. I, like Brad, don't understand how this guy can go around and proclaim to be the "good guy'" when clearly the common denominator is Carl himself. If you want to settle something with another driver, going 200 mph on a racetrack on the straightaway is not the time or the place. I can respect the fact Carl can drive a racecar, but lately it seems his true colors are starting to seep through.
Finally, Bob Keselowski had some interesting words at the end of it all on Saturday night. At first I was bracing myself for another Tom Logano-ish type of interview, especially after the backlash Tom received after Pocono. I have to say by the time Bob had finished expressing his thoughts, I was ready to suit up and head out there with him! Like I said about Brad, Bob was in a position to completely trash talk Carl and he didn't do it. Saying Carl "flipped out" is not trash-talking; it's merely stating a fact. I agree with Bob. This has happened two times too many between Brad and Carl and it scares me to think what it's going to take to put an end to it. As a Brad K fan, I can honestly say I was proud of the way Bob expressed his emotions. It's obvious his respect for the sport was passed on to his son.
In the end, do I honestly believe Carl is out to "kill" Brad? No. At the same time I am well aware that accidents do happen, and when things like this take place on the track it's always a possibility. Atlanta should have been a lesson to Carl that you can't control how bad you wreck someone and wrecking someone at the front of the field is even more careless. In the end, I think it's fair to say Carl's reputation seems to have taken the biggest hit and rightfully so.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.