They'd suspend a pitcher if he intentionally beaned a batter. They'd suspend a football or hockey player if he intentionally tried to injure an opponent. So NASCAR better suspend Carl Edwards for intentionally sending a rival flying at 190 MPH.
Watch the spectacular video of Carl Edwards tapping Brad Keselowski with three laps left in yesterday's race at Atlanta, but the backstory's just as interesting.
Last April, Keselowski were neck and neck on the final lap at Talladega, when the roles were reversed; it was Edwards that went flying, in a crash that injured seven spectators:
In 2009, Keselowski was embroiled in his own feud with Denny Hamlin, so keep in mind that he a) didn't have time to get into it with Edwards, and b) wasn't exactly the most loved guy on tour.
Fast forward to lap 50 on Sunday, when Keselowski sent Edwards into the wall (via Joey Logano). You think that tap with three to go wasn't payback?
Keselowski thinks it was:
To come back and just intentionally wreck someone, that's not cool. He could have killed someone in the grandstands. I know it's a little ironic that it's me saying that, but at least I didn't do it intentionally when it happened."
NASCAR thinks it was:
I would say there seems to be a history between those two drivers," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition. "I'm not going to go any further into it right now."
Hell, Edwards more or less admitted it:
Brad knows the deal between him and I."
So do we need any more evidence? We've got means, motive and opportunity, and, oh yeah, millions of witnesses, plus a confession. But it's entirely possible that Edwards will get off with just a fine, or maybe some points deducted.
2010 was supposed to be a new NASCAR. More aggressive, more fan-friendly. If you wreck, tough shot. As Pemberton said, "We will put it back in the hands of drivers, and we will say 'Boys, have at it and have a good time.'"
Well, they did. And without an Edwards suspension, they will have a better time at Bristol next week, where the short track and high banks make for intense paint swapping. It'd be great TV. Edwards vs. Keselowski, on the perfect track for a score to be settled.
Does NASCAR give the drivers and fans what they want, and let Edwards race? Or do they go against their self-stated credo, and punish him for putting drivers' — and fans' — safety at risk? Their answer, which should come by day's end, will go a long way in telling us what to expect the rest of this year.