Edwards: No easy Talladega solution
RICHMOND, Va. -- Carl Edwards and team owner Jack Roush have met with NASCAR officials in Daytona Beach, Fla., to discuss how to prevent another incident such as the one that sent Edwards' car flying into the catch fence at Talladega Superspeedway.
"I'm not an engineer so I didn't tell them, 'This is how it has to be,' " Edwards said on Friday at Richmond International Raceway. "But the bottom line is unless you take the banking out of that racetrack or we don't go race there you've got this big problem trying to keep the cars apart, keep them slow, and that's the battle."
If you take bump drafting out of the deal you're still gonna have wrecks and stuff like that at Talladega because everybody is together.” -- Carl Edwards
Edwards was trying to hold off Brad Keselowski for the win coming off the final turn of the final lap when he got into the nose of Keselowski's car trying to block a pass.
His car turned sideways and went airborne, landing on the hood of Ryan Newman's car and then propelling into the catch fence.
Seven fans were injured, but none seriously.
Edwards hopes the Thursday meeting leads to a solution, although NASCAR and track officials have said they have no plans to reconfigure the track. "They said they would talk to some other drivers, which, that would be really good," Edwards said.
NASCAR on Monday suggested one way to prevent such incidents was to better police bump drafting and blocking. Edwards and Keselowski, locked in a bump draft around the track, averaged 199 mph in passing the combination of Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
This occurred after a warning in the drivers' meeting not to bump draft in the corners.
Edwards and many of his competitors say fining drivers for such maneuvers is not the answer.
"You can't [police it]," Edwards said. "If you take bump drafting out of the deal you're still gonna have wrecks and stuff like that at Talladega because everybody is together.
"We talked in depth about it [Thursday]. We looked at it from all different angles. The coolest part is NASCAR has an open mind." Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said NASCAR had a chance to discourage bump drafting in Saturday's Nationwide race and didn't.
"They could have set the precedent, saying, 'We're not going to stand for this kind of
stuff,' " Gordon said. "That might have been something that would have opened eyes a little more, 'OK, we're not joking.'
"When nobody gets penalized for it you push the limits further and further."
Most drivers agree there's no real way to police bump drafting or blocking, particularly at Talladega. Newman said NASCAR's focus should be on finding ways to keep cars on the ground.
"They developed the roof flaps in 1992," Newman said. "It's 17 years later and they have not changed that much at all. We're dealing with a different race car. We're dealing with a wing versus a spoiler. Just put some work into it.
"Looking at the big picture, we go faster at other racetracks than we do at Talladega. We just don't sustain it for the entire lap, so there is potential for crashes to be bigger at some other tracks."
Clint Bowyer, the defending champion at Richmond, agreed.
"A rule shouldn't be needed to fix that," he said. "I don't think there is a rule change or anything you could do to fix that scenario. If Regan Smith had won that race [in October] instead of Tony Stewart that wreck would not have happened."
Smith went below the yellow line in the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega when Stewart came down on him as he attempted to pass. Although Smith crossed the finish line first NASCAR awarded the victory to Stewart, saying Smith illegally improved his position below the line. Keselowski maintained his position when Edwards came down on him, admitting the previous race influenced his decision.
"As far as being down to the last lap down to the wire at a superspeedway, that's just plate racing," Bowyer said. "NASCAR shouldn't have to police that. It's up to us. It's our job as race car drivers not to drive up into another car and crash him." NASCAR officials said they'll continue to evaluate the incident.
"Time will tell," Edwards said. "I've just got to have faith that something will be done."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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