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Carl Edwards' season not wrecked

Intentionally bumping Keselowski draws only a 3-race probation, and NASCAR inquiry

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Tuesday, Mar. 09, 2010

For now, it's still OK to "have at it."

Carl Edwards was placed on probation for three races, the only additional penalty he will receive for intentionally wrecking Brad Keselowski late in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR President Mike Helton announced the decision Tuesday. "There is a line you cross. We'll maintain law and order when we think that line is crossed," he said.

Edwards' actions, if they didn't cross the line, came close but not enough to warrant much if any follow-up action. Helton said the sanctioning body addressed Edwards' move when he was parked for the final portion of the event. Since Edwards was 156 laps down, the move cost him approximately three series points.

There was little guidance on what kind of action on the track would warrant further NASCAR involvement. Asked to clarify what would "cross the line," Helton said, "We'll see it when we see it."

Edwards was knocked out of contention early Sunday from contact with Keselowski. Edwards returned to the track 153 laps later and spent a lap trying to wreck Keselowski - then running among the top 10 - and finally turned his car on the frontstretch.

Keselowski's No.12 Dodge flipped and hit the wall in front of the grandstands. No one was injured. The incident was the first to test NASCAR's policy of allowing drivers more leeway in "self-policing" incidents.

NASCAR does plan to meet with both drivers to "clean the slate so they can get back to hard racing," Helton said.

In fact, Helton believes the most important issue to arise from the race was why Keselowski's car was so quick to get airborne.

"We're going to study very closely and figure out things we can do to prevent it in the future," he said. "That was a very serious issue."

Initial driver reaction seemed to favor NASCAR's decision for the most part.

Michael Waltrip, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin were among those expressing support for NASCAR's decision on their Twitter accounts.

Driver Kevin Harvick, who was parked for a Cup race in April 2002, wrote that he was "surprised by the penalty, or the lack thereof" and "I'm thinking about asking for a refund for all of my penalties."

Keselowski, who was very vocal after the race by insisting Edwards should be penalized, issued a statement late Tuesday saying he agreed with NASCAR's decision.

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