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Have at it boys, It's Bristol

Have at it boys, It's Bristol
Welcome to the wild and wooly world of NASCAR 2010. The powers that be in the sport have made it perfectly clear they were men of their word when Brian France announced at the pre-season media tour back in January that racing is a contact sport.
The March 7 Kobalt Tools 500 pretty well answered all the questions about how hands-off NASCAR will be this season. You can't get much heavier than purposely — and without any pretense of “it’s just one of them racing things” — taking a driver out at 190 mph. Yet in the closing laps of the Atlanta race, that’s exactly what Carl Edwards did to Brad Keselowski.

Race winner, and Keselowski's teammate at Penske Racing, Kurt Busch summed up the wild west action about as well as anyone.
“To see a guy who's a hundred laps down take out a guy that's run really well, that was a tough, tough pill to swallow,” Busch said. Not to mention that at those speeds someone can get killed from such nonsense. Hype and trash talk to build up the gate and TV ratings is one thing. Purposely putting a driver out of control and on his roof at 190 mph is quite another .
NASCAR’s response? Last Tuesday they issued the following statement: “NASCAR has placed Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 car in the NASCAR Spring Cup Series, on probation for the next three series events for the rule violation he committed during the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 7. Edwards’ probation will run until April 14 of this year. Edwards was found to have violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing-aggressive driving) of the 2010 NASCAR rule book.”
Geez, ya think?
In the sports weekly media teleconference, NASCAR President Mike Helton was asked: “What message do you think this action sends to other drivers who are considering retaliation in the future?” Helton responded, “Well, I think first of all, I'll go back to the fact that we parked Carl as soon as the incident occurred for the balance of the event. You can look back at the incidents at Homestead where it was a one-lap penalty. So the immediate reaction from NASCAR was parking the car for the balance of the event. That on its own can be a serious reaction from us, I think. The balance of it, I think, will still have to be sorted out among the drivers.”
After four races on high-speed super speedway tracks, the circuit now turns to short track racing with Bristol this weekend and Martinsburg the next. RCR driver Jeff Burton had the following comments on the tour’s upcoming short track racing: “It’s early in the year and I don't care what anybody says — we are not as sharp as drivers, as crew members, as pit crew guys as we will be in October, September or July. All the tracks we have been racing on are these big high-speed tracks, and now we drop into two half mile tracks. It’s a time when everybody is tense, everybody is trying to be top 12 in points, it’s a whole different atmosphere the next two weeks. You start running these kind of race tracks, it’s closer, it’s harder to control your emotions, everything happens quicker, it’s a hand full, it really is a challenge."
With all this you would think that this weekends race at Bristol, traditionally the “toughest ticket in NASCAR” would be sold out. Not hardly. Less than a week before Sunday’s Food City 500, you can go online and get tickets. Plenty of good seats are still available, as the saying goes. In years past, a dust up like the Edwards-Keselowski confrontation would have sent ticket sales for the next race into overdrive. Particularly at Bristol. Not this year.
 

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