Let's just cut to the chase on what happened between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski (it's an off weekend coming up, so there will be time to discuss other issues from this race).
What to do with Carl Edwards? That's the question everyone is asking after NASCAR officials met with Carl Edwards after the race. No decision is expected on any possible penalties until Tuesday. Keselowski wants NASCAR to suspend Edwards for a race for his actions.
Before declaring what NASCAR might do, let's take a look at something Edwards said the media (he spoke briefly after being parked by NASCAR but declined further comment after meeting with series officials).
"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,'' he said. "I wish it wouldn't have gone like it did, but I'm glad he's OK and we'll just go on and race some more and maybe hime and I won't get in anymore incidents together.''
Just because someone didn't mean for something really bad to happen doesn't absolve them from being penalized. Now, there's no doubt Carl was frustrated with his earlier contact with Keselowski. Who wouldn't? Again, he had more than 100 laps to calm down before getting back out on the track. Because safety could have been compromised, it wouldn't be surprising to see NASCAR come down hard on Edwards.
Another issue is that this happened at a 1.5-mile speedway where the speeds are so fast. In the past, guys might mess with each other -- i.e. make it hard to be passed -- but direct wrecking of people wasn't something they did too often. They knew the dangers at these speeds and how someone could get hurt. You wanted to get back at people, you saved it for another time when the speeds were slower (such as Bristol or Martinsville) and then you put them in the wall. Not at Atlanta where the qualifying speed of 192.7 was the fastest lap the COT has run in its short history.
However, drivers are getting the sense they can act wildly at the 1.5-mile speedways after NASCAR did little to penalize Denny Hamlin for wrecking Keselowksi at Homestead last year -- a week after Hamlin vowed he would do so -- and when Juan Pablo Montoya wrecked Tony Stewart in retaliation for an incident earlier in the Cup race there last year.
These are signs that point to some sort of NASCAR penalty other than parking Edwards on Sunday at Atlanta.
So will NASCAR suspend Edwards? In a way, maybe, but not how you would expect.
Don't be surprised if Edwards is indeed racing at Bristol in two weeks.
What NASCAR could do is penalize Edwards about 100-150 points. Edwards scored only 46 on Sunday. So, by doing that it would leave Edwards with either -54 points or -104 points out of Atlanta. Essentially, he would have been suspended for this race since he would be coming out with negative points. Penalize Edwards 100 points and he falls from 20th in the points to 29th. Penalize him 150 points and he falls from 20th to 33rd in the points. He could still make the Chase but certainly it would make it difficult.
Also, with a heavy point penalty, then NASCAR could fine Edwards $50,000 or more and place him probation through the end of the season.
Think about this. By doing this and allowing Edwards to race at Bristol (and then to Martinsville), then NASCAR, in a way, can give Keselowski a chance to get back understanding in the world of racers certain paybacks are owed. By doing that, ,NASCAR could retain its Have at it boys motto.
It will be intereting to see what NASCAR does. This is one possiblity.
So, what would you do if you were NASCAR?