Published March 11, 2010
I've been reading a lot of comments and columnists taking Carl Edwards and NASCAR to task. And I've gotta tell you, it's made me a little upset ... OK, it's aggravated the hell out of me.
I'm thinking, "Who are you to sit there and put me down for feeling like NASCAR did the right thing by putting Edwards on probation for wrecking Brad Keselowski rather than suspending him? And who are you to put NASCAR down when half the critics haven't been around long enough to really understand what we're all about?"
Sure, a race car went flying. That's a bad thing. But to listen to some of these people make condescending remarks, it's obvious they've never been in situations like this.
They've never been in a fight with a bunch of crew members - I have.
They've never had to back a driver who's been wrecked or has wrecked somebody, and that other crew is coming after them - I have.
They don't understand that sometimes there's an unwritten way we do things. We may be the biggest bunch of rednecks in the world, and we may be compared to the gangs of New York - but frankly, if you don't like the way we take care of business around here, go play checkers.
It really frustrates me to hear and read all these columnists who think they know what the hell is going on when they ain't got a freaking clue.
It doesn't matter. You ain't gotta call their names, they know who the hell they are - provided they've got enough common sense to understand that I'm targeting them. They've got all these experts who know how to put two words together and call themselves columnists, but that doesn't make you an expert.
You want old school NASCAR racing. You want these guys to entertain you. You want them to excite you. You want to feel like there's a good guy and a bad guy, because that's what we're all about in this world. More people want to watch UFC because somebody's whipping somebody else's ass on TV and they think that's cool.
But when two guys lock horns here in these steel chariots and they go to battle, all of a sudden it's like, "Oh my God, you're going to kill somebody." I don't understand the mentality - you called for this, you want it and then when you're given it, you want it to be tainted and you want to tweak on it some more because, "Oh, this is not what we meant."
You can't have it both ways is what I'm trying to say.
I don't ever want to see a person in the grandstand, a driver or a crew member get hurt. That's not what this is all about. But when you strap on a helmet or climb up on top of that pit box, you accept a certain amount of risk. This is a dangerous sport. What happened Sunday could've been an accident and the same result could have happened, but because Edwards did it intentionally we're going to make a federal case out of it?
Edwards' intent was to spin out Keselowski, and that's why I applaud NASCAR, its president Mike Helton and his group for looking at the total picture. If Bill France Jr. had suspended Cale Yarborough, Donnie Allison and Bobby Allison in 1979 after their fight at Daytona, NASCAR could've killed the single most important thing to ever happen to the sport in the modern era - but they chose not to. Thank goodness Helton and the guys today, along with NASCAR Chairman Brian France, looked backwards to look forward.
My problem is that these people who are being critical today were all for it when NASCAR announced, "Boys, have at it," back in January. Go back and look at what they wrote! These are the same folks jumping off the bandwagon now, screaming, "Oh my gosh, they didn't do enough! We can't have this."
What do they want? One day they want blood, and the next day it's like, "Oh, I didn't want to see that much."
Pick up the history books and read something about the way it was in NASCAR. Do you think for one minute that Fireball Roberts, Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett wanted to give an inch when they tangled over there in Turn 2 at Charlotte Motor Speedway that day in 1964? That was hard-nosed racing and there was no love lost between Ned and Junior, in particular, but the end result was a fiery crash that killed Roberts.
I've watched Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison wreck each other. And you clearly saw Cale wreck Donnie Allison before saying, "Listen, he wasn't going to let me win the 500, I wasn't going to let him win the 500."
And that wasn't the only time a driver called his shot.
Kevin Harvick called his shot against Greg Biffle at Bristol - "I'll be waiting on him when he comes in" - and Harvick was waiting on him.
Denny Hamlin said, "I will wreck Brad Keselowski," and he did at Homestead.
Those two incidents are no different than anything I've had to deal with in my entire career. You knew when you had a problem it had to be resolved.
Yes, a car did get airborne and that's a problem. NASCAR's working toward fixing that issue. Edwards showed poor judgment in selecting this track to get revenge on Brad, which has made this into more than what it needs to be. If he'd done it next week at Bristol, I don't think people would feel the same way. But when you read why he did it at Atlanta, it makes sense - he didn't want to take a chance at losing two races because of what happened in one. It had to be settled that day.
No one could know that Keselowski's race car would fly up the way it did. I've seen several cars spin out and never get like that at racetracks like Atlanta's. Some cars don't even need help to spin out on tracks like that and they've never gone flying.
All the stars lined up for that car to go airborne. If that No. 12 car doesn't do that, we're not having this discussion.
That all these so-called "know-it-alls" are experts all of a sudden really chaps my ass. They sound like they know everything about aerodynamics, they know everything about personalities and they know how to judge every situation.
They need to stick to their computers and stick with what they know. Let people tell them the facts, then craft the words that need to go with it, because they aren't the experts to be sitting here judging what NASCAR's done when NASCAR's simply trying to do something to better the sport. Here these people come and they're basically pissing on everything NASCAR said it was going to do. First, they applauded it, and now they turn around because it's the fashionable thing to do.
Get to know these people in the garages. Understand what it takes to do what they do every day. This isn't your typical Sunday afternoon drive. And I dare any of the readers or the writers to talk about what happens to them during a moment of road rage, much less if it happened four times courtesy of the same person and two of those times cost you a win. How would you respond to that? When do you say enough is enough?
Moving past that point, get off NASCAR's butt. We've all criticized them about this new car and a lot of the rules and regulations, and they said, "Listen, we're going to loosen the reins and act more like it used to be."
And as soon as they do something that even resembles the way it used to be, they get criticized. Go back and look at what they did to Donnie, Cale and Bobby. Look at what they did to Dale Earnhardt when he wrecked Terry Labonte and he said, "I only meant to rattle him, I didn't mean to wreck him." Go back and look. NASCAR didn't do anything to those people. I don't get it.
If NASCAR thought for one minute they were opening Pandora's Box when we get to Bristol in two weeks and that it would be a wholesale demolition derby, they wouldn't have reacted like this. They still hold the hammer in their hands and they can pull it out at any time and hit somebody upside their head with it if they feel they need to.
We shouldn't overreact to what's going on here. Aside from the car going airborne, which NASCAR must work on, everything worked to perfection to keep drivers and fans safe.