While Brian France has made great strides to make auto racing akin to stick-and-ball sports, he still has a long way to go.
Brad Keselowski, however, helped narrow that gap by quite a margin with his post race meltdown last Saturday night.
As has been evidenced by the sports news, especially this past year, we all know the NFL is full of wife/girlfriend beaters, child abusers, murderers and dog fighters. What does NASCAR have? The odd druggie now and then, a cheater here or there, a few idiots in general, owners that have either done time or been pardoned – and, now, Brad Keselowski. But hey, the NFL has way more players than NASCAR so I guess in the end, percentage wise, it may even out.
To be honest, I am still in disbelief at the total randomness and utter lack of self control that the 2012 champion displayed after the race. But hey, it is all OK; this is what NASCAR wanted, right? Even some of the competitors themselves seem to have the notion that anything goes during this oh-so-stressful Chase elimination format.
“They love it. They were fighting afterwards, that’s what it’s all about,” race winner Kevin Harvick said about the battle between Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. Harvick, by the way, is betting that NASCAR doesn’t do a darn thing about the whole shameless ordeal.
Even Keselowski himself seems to feel justification in what he did.
“I rubbed into the No. 20 (Kenseth), and I think he gassed up and ran into Tony (Stewart), and I don’t think Tony knew what was going on,” Keselowski said. “He’s upset, and he has every right to be. His car was tore up. There was a whole lot of other stuff going on. I’m sure when he sees the whole situation, he’ll understand.”
Really? Is Brad Keselowski so obtuse, so self sanctified, so STUPID, that he actually believes that? We are talking about Tony Stewart here! Stewart showed his displeasure (and rightfully so, I might add) by throwing his car into reverse and crushing the front end of Keselowski’s.
Sure, there are plenty out there that are going to say Stewart should be penalized, or maybe Kenseth and Denny Hamlin as well. After all, two wrongs don’t make a right.
But let’s be real here: Keselowski instigated the whole thing and then just went wild.
As the entire scene unfolded, the sense of frustration was almost palatable and my first thought was of how a child lashes out, realizes what he has done is wrong but for some reason just can’t stop and continues to throw an all-out, full-fledged tantrum. Oh, sure, he feels bad now, he made a genuine, grade-A ass of himself in front of God and everybody. What’s he gonna say to that? Oh, that’s right: when and if we see the whole situation, the rest of us, like Tony Stewart, will understand.
What should have happened (and it would have helped the ratings just as much, not to mention letting NASCAR off the hook in deciding what to do to him as punishment) was to let Stewart, Kenseth and Hamlin kick his stupid ass right there on national TV. A good ass kicking goes a long way to installing a bit of humility (not to mention future restraint) in a person. Just ask Jimmy Spencer and Kurt Busch.
But let’s get back to this football comparison. Both the NFL and NCAA have ramped up their policing of flagrant attempts to take out an opponent with new phrases for penalties such as targeting. Targeting, by the way, gets you automatically ejected from the game. The NFL in particular, in an effort to hold its players to a higher standard off the field, has implemented a lifetime ban from football if a player is guilty of domestic violence a second time (first time is a lengthy suspension).
So, what is the right move for NASCAR? If using a car to run into other competitors isn’t targeting, I don’t know what is. Does NASCAR have the balls to step up to the plate and suspend Keselowski for the rest of the season? There is, in my opinion, no other punishment to suit the crime… well, there IS, but we’ve already established that a good old-fashioned beat down is out of the question. Monetary fines are useless against a person with millions of dollars. A points reduction is a moot point, since Keselowski has driven himself out of contention short of winning Talladega. No, the best thing now is for Brad to grounded for the rest of the season.
He is after all, a former champion, and as Kenseth put it, he ought to know better.
I guess we’ll know sometime today if NASCAR has any balls. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you!
Stay off the wall,
About the author
Jeff is one of the longest-tenured staffers at Frontstretch, starting his second decade as the resident humorist and pain-in-the-butt that keeps NASCAR (and his fellow co-workers) honest. Writing Voices From The Cheap Seats, every Tuesday, his BSNews! Segments along with alter ego “Stu Padasso” have developed a large following. Jeff makes his home in Tennessee and is a Bristol groupie, camping out for the August night race every year since he can remember.
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