Five things we learned in Atlanta
The Sprint Cup world turned upside down the second Keselowski's Dodge did the same. With three laps to go, the No. 12 Dodge was heading towards a top 5 finish when Edwards, 156 laps off the pace, clipped his rear bumper and sent him airborne. In a wreck eerily reminiscent of Edwards' flip at Talladega last April -- where the roles were reversed -- Keselowski hit the wall in the air, roof on the ground, before coming to rest towards the entrance of turn 1.
In his opinion, Edwards became a patched up mess after Keselowski left him no room during a restart on Lap 40. Tapping the No. 99's rear bumper while blocking his line, Keselowski sent Edwards crashing out at a track he's dominated in recent years. Add in several other wrecks where Keselowski has gotten others in the garage angry at his aggression (see:
Officials' initial reaction to the incident was to park Edwards for the rest of the day, the right call considering there were only three laps left in the race. But considering the circumstances, will further penalties ensue?
"It looked like it could have been a payback from the No. 99 on the No. 12," said NASCAR VP of Competition
It's a tough position for the sport to be in just two months after saying they'll allow drivers to self-police themselves on the track. The wreck happened at the circuit's fastest speedway, causing some to question whether retaliation gets too risky.
"It was a wild ride, and one that was uncalled for," said Keselowski, calling for a one-race suspension. "To intentionally wreck someone is not cool, and he could have killed someone in the grandstand."
"You can't just have people, go nuts, get people hurt, all that kind of stuff at 200 miles an hour," added Edwards' teammate
But not everyone was anti-Edwards, as several drivers claimed on or off the record a take-no-prisoners attitude has left Keselowski long overdue to get dumped.
"He['s] wrecked a lot of people," said Montoya. "I'm sure a lot of people wanted to pay him back. Looking at the TV, somebody did."
"Brad knows the deal between him and I," says Edwards, who's been on the short end of the stick with Keselowski multiple times -- most recently a wreck at Memphis last October. "The scary part was his car went airborne, which was not at all what I expected. At the end of the day, we're out here to race and people have to have respect for one another and I have a lot of respect for people's safety. I wish it wouldn't have gone like it did, but I'm glad he's okay."
Several off-the-record conversations have me confident NASCAR will not announce additional penalties Tuesday for Edwards -- perhaps a fine and probation at most. Some will be angered by that, but I'm in agreement for three reasons. One, NASCAR needs to live up to their call to "let the boys be boys." If you start picking and choosing where drivers can spin each other out, how is that policy effective? Two, the argument Edwards made things more dangerous by spinning Keselowski doesn't hold up. Anytime you spin a driver, there's a risk of serious injury: just last fall,
Which brings me to my third and final point: what Edwards did was no different than what any other driver has done through the years in retaliating for a wreck that took him out of contention. There was no intent to injure, and both drivers understand what happened and why. When the smoke clears, people need to realize this incident was "just one of those racin' deals" and move on.
In the midst of all the madness, Busch wound up in Victory Lane. Successfully defending his win last spring, the No. 2 Dodge led 129 laps and was dominant during the race's final 100 miles. But it was outstanding restarts during the two green-white-checkers following the Keselowski mess that earned him the win. During the first one, he acted like he was shot out of a cannon in blowing by
"I'm not saying he doesn't deserve the win because he did," Montoya said, before claiming Busch jumped the gun, accelerating before NASCAR's mandated restart area. "[But] we have those two lines we are supposed to start with, and he went for it like 40 yards before the first one. It really surprised me. I just want to make sure for the next time NASCAR knows about it."
In the meantime, Busch's win speaks to how quickly Addington has become a leader within this team. After an ugly start to the season where all three Penske cars were 0-for-12 on top 5 finishes, it was Addington who took the lead in meetings this week to turn the program around.
"You see it back at the race shop," Busch recently said of Addington. "A lot of the guys have warmed up to him real easily."
Considering those guys didn't have a leader during last year's Chase -- ex-crew chief
After winning the last two races with
"It felt like the damn wheels were coming off," said Earnhardt, Jr., easily the most frustrated out of the group after he was the pole-sitter. "We pitted and the wheel was fine, but the car was vibrating so bad I couldn't hardly see."
Several other teams had issues, but Hendrick caught the worst of it, with some observers speculating they were experimenting with a new handling package designed for NASCAR's upcoming spoiler change. That's doubtful, and drivers' post-race comments concerning tires seemed to put that theory to bed.
"I think it's one of those things where when they come here and test, you expect them to build a tire that we can abuse and that we can race hard with," Gordon said. "That obviously wasn't the case. There is a good chance we were too aggressive, but until we go back and analyze everything it's hard to say."
Despite the problems, there's no reason to worry just yet: the quartet is fourth, seventh, 12th, and 13th overall, with Hendrick-supported
The running joke in the Cup garage is someone's Camry is going to wreck on its own one day over a stuck throttle. But it's the manufacturer's engines stuck in neutral this season, failures haunting Michael Waltrip Racing in the form of four DNFs in four races combined for
But MWR's not the only program in trouble. Joe Gibbs Racing has seen superstars
With Hendrick sidelined and Richard Childress Racing having a bad day (none of their cars finished higher than ninth), it gave other teams a chance to flex their muscle. Perhaps no one's happier than Richard Petty Motorsports, placing three cars in the top 10 for the first time since Infineon last June. You expect a solid run out of
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