Kurt Bush and the #2 Miller Lite Roger Penske team, flexed a little Dodge muscle and powered their way into Victory Lane for the Kobalt Tools 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. If you ask most people about the race, you don’t hear hardly anyone talk about how good it was to see the only team still running Dodges to take the trip to Victory Lane or even how strong they ran all day.
What you do hear and continue to hear since is everyone’s opinion of the incidents between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski early and late in the race. Add to that the decision Nascar made to “punish” the over-aggressiveness of one of the drivers and the commentary has been completely unending on all sides of the issue.
Now I’m just an old racer, but I know that Brad Keselowski has been asking for trouble for a long time. He thinks that his aggressiveness is what got him where he is and yet he doesn’t understand that it is the thing that will cause others to respond accordingly to him. Carl Edwards proved this to be true at the race in Atlanta. Do I think that Carl intended for Brad to go flying through the air when he decided to spin him on the front stretch? No, I don’t believe so. Would we be talking about it as much if he would have only spun through the infield? No, I don’t think so.
So why has so much time and energy been spent analyzing this issue? I believe there are many reasons, but the most important reasons are the ones that make racing… well… racing.
One of the things I am thankful for in NASCAR is the fact that they realize human nature is involved in the actions of the drivers. Were it not for them being human beings, and responding accordingly, it would truly be a boring sport. All of us know that when somebody yanks our chain we may put up with it for a while but, sooner or later, someone is going to give payback in like kind.
Now I know you get tired of hearing my old racing stories so I won’t go into one here, but, I have to admit that even in our local short track racing we came across drivers that were overly aggressive and thought they could get away with driving through other drivers rather than passing them cleanly. It only took a couple of times for the rest of the drivers to realize that this driver needed “special education”. As long as that driver wants to be aggressive and think that what he does is okay and understood by all involved that he is just doing what it takes, and nobody cares, he will soon have a rude awakening. The other drivers are only going to take so much and that aggressive driver is going to find that the other drivers can be aggressive too, (and that may not set too well with him or his fans either.)
In my opinion, it has been this way as long as people have been racing. Contrary to what some think, there are some unwritten rules that all drivers seem to follow. One of those rules concerns the fact that there has to be a little give and take. That doesn’t keep drivers from being aggressive but it does add a little more thought to the process of driving than just going out and playing bumper cars all the time.
If anyone thinks that drivers don’t have memories of past treatment from other drivers and they don’t make decisions based on those memories as they drive, they are far removed from the actual racing process. Drivers are constantly making decisions as to whether or not to move someone out of the way or cut them some slack. Sometimes they make the decision to move the person out of the way and, at other times, they make the decision to cut the other person some slack and see if they can pass them cleanly without having to force the issue at the next opportunity. When someone takes advantage of that situation on a regular basis with no concern for the other drivers, you can pretty much rest assured that payback is coming. The aggressive driver may not know when or where, but it will come, and usually, when it will cost him the most.
It is almost humorous to me how some drivers and their fans assume that it is okay for their driver to be aggressive and that is what makes him a little better than the rest because he is willing to stick his nose in and move someone out of the way. But when someone does the same thing to their driver it is totally wrong and they should be sent to the rear of the field or possibly even parked for certain number of races. Well, I guess you could say that’s ‘just racing” and you would probably be right. But if that is racing, then payback is a part of that thing called “just racing”, too.
Hey, did you notice that I didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking about Kurt Bush and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team, either? (Hmmm…imagine that.)
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 16, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com