A flip, a fire, what fate awaits the next retaliation in NASCAR

Dale Wilkerson                                              April 2010

Well you can say NASCAR is letting the guys’ race, and letting them settle things between themselves, but in retaliation, we have seen one car flip and another car catch fire this season during Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events.

            First, Carl Edwards spent some 150 laps behind the wall at Atlanta before he came out and went after Brad Keselowski. On an earlier restart during that race, Edwards was working the high side when he attempted to pull down in front of Keselowski. Keselowski said he was off the gas, but the resulting contact sent Edwards into the car of Joey Logano and the outside wall ruining his day.

There was no doubt what Edwards’s intentions where, he wanted to hook Keselowski and send him into the wall or across the infield. But when you do something in anger, sometimes the end result is not what you wanted. Keselowski and his Penske Racing Dodge caught air and rolled into the outside retaining wall. Carl was parked for the remainder of the Atlanta race and put on probation for three weeks.

            Then during the Nationwide race at Nashville, James Buescher, who drives for the Spartanburg based Phoenix Racing Team of James Finch, pushed up in turn one and clipped the car of Jason Leffler, sending him into the turn one wall. Leffler, much like Edwards earlier this year at Atlanta, simmered behind the wall as his crew worked on his crippled racecar, and apparently he too was scheming his revenge. Once Leffler returned to the track, he turned hard right into Buescher, grinding his car against the outside wall along the front-stretch. The end result was a fire that left Buescher scrambling to get out of his car. What if the race traffic had be heavier? What if there had been fluid on the racing surface and just as Buescher unbuckled his belts to climb free of the fire his car had been struck by another? Would Leffler had only received the Edwards three week flip your behavior deal?

            When drivers, like Edwards and Leffler in recent weeks, re-act to things that have happened on track with bad intentions, bad things can and will happen. Some say Keselowski had it coming because he has had more than a few run-ins with several of his competitors but Buescher was just racing. No one could say that he drove off into turn one looking to run over Jason Leffler. Boucher was looking to make a pass and sometimes racecars lose traction in the corners at high speeds.

            What NASCAR may end up doing to at least give a driver a cooling off period is to institute a new rule. In the future when a driver is behind the wall due to a crash 75 laps (just using a rough number) or an hour, the score card for that driver and car may be pulled and the crew instructed to load up for the day.

            Over the years, NASCAR has tried to look at the big picture and this is one time they need to pay attention to the severity of what is happening on the racetrack before something happens that can’t be repaired in a garage.