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NASCAR needs to control on-going Edwards-Keselowski feud

Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

The Inside Line Fontana, CA (Sports Network) - Prior to the start of the 2010 season, NASCAR essentially told Sprint Cup Series drivers, "Boys, have at it and have a good time." Perhaps NASCAR should redefine its new rules on allowing more on-track freedom for drivers, following Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski's frightful incident in the closing laps of Sunday's race at Atlanta.

Keselowski got his bell rung when Edwards intentionally bumped him from behind and sent his No.12 Penske Dodge flying upside down into the wall along the frontstretch at the fast 1.54-mile track.

Edwards was more than 150 laps behind at the time of the crash, due to a previous encounter with Keselowski earlier in the race. Keselowski clipped Edwards and shot him up to the track before he made contact with Joey Logano and then slammed into the wall.

Obviously, it was payback time for Edwards, after he spent most of the race in the garage for repairs on his Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

The feud between the two began last April when Brad Keselowski hit Carl Edwards (pictured) from behind on the final lap at Talladega.
Keselowski was not injured during his spectacular crash, but appeared to be a bit dazed and confused when he exited his battered car under his own power.

"It's one thing to race somebody hard and to get into an accident," Keselowski said. "When you're going for position, it's another to intentionally wreck somebody doing 195 m.p.h. at a track like this." NASCAR immediately took action when they parked Edwards for the remainder of the event and ordered him to the hauler for a not-so-pleasant discussion with race officials.

"I think we probably won't have as many run-ins now as we had in the past, and that's a good thing," Edwards said. "Both of us probably will be better off."

Right now, NASCAR faces a dilemma on how to handle the latest in the on-going feud between Edwards and Keselowski. The sanctioning body currently is reviewing the episode between the two drivers, and could hand down hefty penalties if warranted.

"I would say that there seems to be a history between the two drivers, and I'm not going any further on it right now," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said after the race.

The feud between the two began last April when Keselowski hit Edwards from behind on the final lap at Talladega. While Keselowski drove on to his first Sprint Cup victory, Edwards' car spun and then sailed into the safety fence along the frontstretch. Eight race fans sustained minor injuries after being struck by debris from his car.

Later in the season, both drivers tangled in a Nationwide Series race at Memphis, with Keselowski turning Edwards around in the closing laps.

Keselowski has a reputation among fellow competitors as being an overly aggressive driver. Denny Hamlin certainly would agree with that assertion, after the two engaged in a heated rivalry during the final Nationwide races last season. Keselowski spun Hamlin at Phoenix, and Hamlin retaliated with a bump from behind the following week in the season-finale at Homestead.

While the Hamlin-Keselowski rivalry has simmered for the time being, the feud between Edwards and Keselowski has reached a boiling point. Edwards counter- attack at Atlanta could have produced devastating consequences.

So, should NASCAR suspend Edwards at least one race for his premeditated action against Keselowski? Probably so. Will they? Probably not. If Edwards is suspended, it would be a huge blow towards his chances of making the championship Chase in the fall.

Suspensions are not common in NASCAR's top circuit. Only two Cup drivers have been suspended for a race in the past decade. Kevin Harvick sat out the spring race at Martinsville one day after he was parked for rough driving in the truck race there. NASCAR grounded Robby Gordon for the August 2007 race at Pocono following his on-track altercation with Marcos Ambrose in the inaugural Nationwide event at Montreal.

Even though NASCAR adopted a more hands-off policy this year, Edwards crossed the line at Atlanta, and he should be punished.

It's time for NASCAR to take the appropriate action.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Symeon at csymeon@sportsnetwork.com.

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