The Carl & Kyle Show at Bristol exactly what NASCAR needs these days
Penalize Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch for their postrace dustup at Bristol? Hardly. Edwards and Busch gave NASCAR Nation exactly what it needs, writes Marty Smith.
Updated: September 3, 2008, 12:37 PM ETBy Marty Smith | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Wade PayneKyle Busch, front, led 415 consecutive laps at Bristol before Carl Edwards (99) made his move.Don't throw golf clubs. If the urge is irrepressible, pack the Visa.Marty, I need your help to settle a fight. My boys are all [complaining] that Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch should be penalized by NASCAR for bumping each other at Bristol. (They're all Junior fans -- wink, wink). They say NASCAR has done it before and they should do it this time. I thought it was great! We were all at the race and most of the people around us loved it. But it makes me wonder what other people are saying. What say you, Marty? Are The Six with me or my crybaby friends?-- Lee Keaton, Blowing Rock, N.C.First of all, Lee, tell your boys to buy some Kleenex and fire up "Grey's Anatomy."As for the feedback, AOL boxes hold only 1,000 e-mails, at which time they turn responses away. Mine was full by Sunday afternoon. Here's my approximation of the Bristol breakdown:• Carl Edwards is dirtier than a Manhattan sidewalk!! E-mails -- 3 percent.• Kyle Busch whines like Francis Ford Coppola!! E-mails -- 2 percent.• Hell yeah!! E-mails -- 95 percent.Penalize Carl and Kyle? NASCAR -- which put both drivers on probation for the next six weeks -- should be hugging them.This is precisely what the sport needs right now, and the fans love it. Emotion and passion and no consideration about any apologies. Busch's postrace interview was absolutely classic -- drier than the Griswold Family Christmas turkey and every bit as steamy.
with Marty Smith
Do you have a question for ESPN NASCAR analyst Marty Smith? Go to Smith's SportsNation page to submit your question or comment for Marty, and check back regularly for the column in which he will provide the answers.
- TOP GUNS: Six drivers are still in the Chase Danger Zone like Kenny Loggins, but Greg Biffle (seventh and 141 points ahead of 13th), Kevin Harvick (eighth, 129 points up on 13th) and Jeff Gordon (ninth, plus 108) look to be sitting pretty on the flight to West Side. It gets more precarious for Matt Kenseth (10th with a 78-point cushion), Denny Hamlin (up 57 points in 11th) and Clint Bowyer (only 12 points removed from 13th), who must perform at Fontana.
- CALIFORNIA HEAT WAVE: At the Fontana race in the spring and both Michigan events, Hamlin posted finishes of 41st, 14th and 39th. Meanwhile, Bowyer finished 19th, 26th and 20th. David Ragan has finishes of 14th, eighth and third, and Kasey Kahne has ninth, second and 40th. Each of those drivers will be sweating in the California sun.Gordon, Bowyer and Hamlin all answered the call at Bristol. All are perennial contenders at Thunder Valley but had fallen into mediocrity in the weeks heading in. Bowyer battled a wrecked race car all night to stick a sorely needed Band-Aid on the 07. Gordon and Hamlin should run well at Fontana, and their pit crews must be flawless. Bowyer, meanwhile, hasn't run well on intermediate tracks of late. If he comes out of Fontana unscathed, he'll be in prime Chase position.
- RAGANOMICS: David Ragan was most impressive at Bristol. He has never fared well at the bullring but rallied from a 27th-place qualifying effort to finish a Bristol career-best 10th. He is within 12 points of 12th position and has run well at intermediate tracks all year. He finished third at Michigan, a track similar to California. His nonchalant confidence continues to grow. No one dreamed he'd be in this position.
- BRISTOL BEATDOWN 2.0: In the inaugural Race to the Chase in 2004, Kasey Kahne went to Bristol in 10th position, six points ahead of then-teammate Jeremy Mayfield. Kahne finished 21st that night and fell to 11th place, 26 points outside the top 10, and ultimately fell short of the playoffs. Saturday night, Kahne was collected in the big wreck and finished 40th. He's now mired in 14th position, 56 points behind Bowyer in 12th. Lady Luck hasn't been kind to Kahne of late. He has dropped six points positions in two weeks, due to an uncharacteristic engine failure at Michigan and the Bristol beatdown.
- CLOSE BUT Carl Edwards secured his third career Chase spot in grand fashion, but three other drivers are still at the reservation desk. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s perplexing 18th-place finish, Jimmie Johnson's 33rd and Jeff Burton's 42nd mean they have to wait until Fontana to light the cigar.