Race Weekend Central

Holding a Pretty Wheel: Convenient NASCAR Crashes – Karma or Coincidence?

How many times did your mother tell you to treat people the way you want to be treated? You probably laughed and stuffed your little brother in the laundry chute anyway. Maybe you went outside to play in the yard a few days later, and stepped right where the same brother walked the family dog after a particularly large dinner.

Ever see something like this happen to your favorite NASCAR driver? He gets a little rough with some guy and runs over debris a few laps later, popping a tire and losing a lap fixing it. Maybe he gets caught with some “creative engineering” and spins out in qualifying two weeks later. You sometimes have to wonder if greater forces are at work.

Karma really bites.

Sometimes you have to wonder if karma, the idea that good deeds will be rewarded with good and bad deeds will be rewarded with stepping in the dog’s dinner after it’s been in the dog, is alive and well in NASCAR. It doesn’t just show up on the track, either, but in the stands as well. Admit it, you’ve secretly hoped the guy you don’t like will blow a tire or an engine.

I stopped doing that when it seemed like my guy always ended up taking the brunt of it.

It could just be me. I’m a lifelong Red Sox fan, and it seems like the harder I wished for them to win, the worse they did. Then, that could just be them, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Maybe I’m a jinx. My driver never had much luck at races I attend. Come to think of it, nobody lets me buy their lottery tickets for them either.

I actually got thinking about racing karma while watching the Atlanta race. A week after winning with a large aerodynamic advantage, Carl Edwards‘s engine detonated, ending his race early. I remarked to a friend that karma is a real, well, you know.

Which got me to thinking about things. There have been so many instances where a driver does something questionable and then has some kind of seemingly unrelated issue. It might not be right away, but it happens often enough. Was Dale Earnhardt or Darrell Waltrip‘s Daytona 500 dearth the flip side of their rough-driving early years? Was Jimmie Johnson‘s summer slump in 2007 the answer to the funky fender from Sonoma?

Probably not. Earnhardt and Waltrip, for all of their aggressive ways, were skilled drivers who could have won the Daytona 500 a half dozen times between them if circumstances had been a little different. Johnson won like crazy following slightly more legitimate cheating allegations in 2006 and always seems to have a summer slump.

But there are those times that give pause. Like that time, when wishing for a caution to help a certain driver, I got one… and my guy was caught up in it. Like the Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville last week when Kyle Busch punted Johnny Benson, who is the epitome of clean; in avoiding Benson, Busch had to check up and was immediately turned by Matt Crafton and relegated to the middle of the field, one spot behind Benson.

Is karma alive and well in NASCAR, or are there simply many coincidences? I’ve seen enough to wonder if there is something at work sometimes. Either way, I’m not rooting for any more convenient cautions.

Because karma really bites.

About the author

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Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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