NASCAR puts Carl Edwards on probation

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | 6:59 p.m. CDT
Carl Edwards, left, passes Brad Keselowski in the final lap to win Saturday's Nationwide race at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. Edwards nudged Keselowski out of control on the final straightaway spinning him into the wall before he was struck head-on by Shelby Howard as he slid back to toward the infield. Edwards won for the third time at Gateway, which he considers his home track.

NASCAR docked star Carl Edwards 60 driver points in the Nationwide Series, fined him $25,000 and placed both Edwards and Brad Keselowski on probation through Dec. 31 following their last-lap antics at Gateway International Raceway.

Jack Roush, owner of Edwards' No. 60 Ford, was also docked 60 owner points after the latest run-in between the feuding drivers ended with a chain reaction accident that left Keselowski's No. 22 Dodge in tatters and another nine cars sustaining damage last weekend.

Edwards, a Columbia native, and Keselowski were battling for the lead on the final lap when Keselowski nudged Edwards out of the way coming out of Turn 2. Edwards returned the favor a few seconds later, sending Keselowski into the outside wall coming out of Turn 4. Keselowski slid toward the inside wall before being struck by several opponents, his car a shattered mess as it crossed the finish line in 14th while Edwards celebrated his second win of the season.

Though NASCAR has publicly encouraged drivers to police themselves by encouraging a "boys, have at it" philosophy, director of competition Robin Pemberton said Keselowski and Edwards took things a little too far even though Edwards maintained afterward he was not at fault. NASCAR disagreed.

"We felt like at that time they had stepped over the line of what we would consider to be good, aggressive, healthy hard racing," Pemberton said.

That's nothing new for the two Cup and Nationwide regulars. Keselowski and Edwards have a long-simmering rivalry dating back to the spring Cup race at Talladega in 2009 when Keselowski nudged Edwards out of the way — and into the catch fence — to collect his first Cup victory.

Edwards got even in Atlanta earlier this year, punting Keselowski into the fence upside late in the race. NASCAR placed Edwards on probation and encouraged both drivers to settle down. Things stayed quiet for the most part until Saturday.

"Carl and Brad have done a good job of it, (but we) needed to put them on notice," Pemberton said.

NASCAR spent three days settling on the proper penalties, though stripping Edwards of the victory was never seriously considered.

The 60-point penalty basically wipes out the gain Edwards earned from the victory as he tries to close in on Keselowski's commanding lead in the Nationwide championship race. Keselowski will take a 228-point lead into Saturday night's race in Indianapolis.

Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith said the team will evaluate the penalties before deciding whether to file an appeal.

"We look forward to watching Carl and Brad as they continue to compete on a weekly basis for the championship in the Nationwide Series," Smith said.

The 26-year-old Keselowski, who has irritated some of his more experienced competitors with his all-out driving style, called the incident "unfortunate."

"There was unnecessary damage done to a lot of race cars as a result of the incident, including one of our best cars," he said. "We support NASCAR's decision and we look forward to putting this behind us."

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