Thunder in the Valley - Part 1 - Nationwide Race
It has been two weeks since the flight of Brad Keselowski, and everyone and his dog has weighed in on their feelings about the incident. Some, like Kyle Petty, have come out vehemently against NASCAR's decision to place Carl Edwards on probation for only three races. Others have just as strongly supported Carl's side of the interaction.
In any case, the two sat down with NASCAR officials earlier and emerged with smiles, only to separate and go their own ways, and on to Nationwide qualifying. Whatever was said in the hauler - Darrell Waltrip had his thoughts - it only spurred Brad on, as he captured the Coors Light Pole Award for the race and will start on the front row.
The two have handled the past two weeks in a completely different fashion.. Brad has indicated he isn't going to change his driving style. He has acknowledged that most of the drivers in the garage haven't shown any indication they want to speak with him at all, save Jeff Gordon, who shared some of his early days experiences with Brad. Jeff's teammate, Jimmie Johnson, has said that although he has had no personal interactions with Brad, he has noticed the tension around him. He commented that Brad seems to have arounsed the ire of more than one driver in the garage, and that's unusual in an up and coming driver, and that he needs to address that. Brad, however, has chosen Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" as his entrance music for the Sprint Cup race on Sunday.
Carl's way of handling the incident seems to have fueled the flames rather than dousing them. Although he has seemed very tense and only wished to put the whole Atlanta incident behind him, he commented to reporters that he has "no respect" for Kevin Harvick. For someone wanting to "put things behind him" and make is "all about the racing", voicing his opinion about yet another driver doesn't seem the way to do it.
Granted, it was Kevin Harvick who initially fueled the flames, stating on a radio show earlier that he felt Carl was a fake. Frankly, Kevin only stated what many others have thought. Like him or not, Carl tries to portray that 'aw shucks' demeanor, but he has been at the centre of more than one controversy lately. However, Carl took offence to Kevin's opinion and took it one step further, stating:
"As far as other people's commentary and all that, I have absolutely no respect for Kevin Harvick. I think he's a bad person. That's my opinion. I've told him that. We've had our deal before and his actions through that interaction were so devious and underhanded and cowardly that, it's like, I just have no respect for him."
Harvick seemed to mostly shrug off the comments, joking only about wanting all his fine money back, a dig at NASCAR for not imposing a monetary fine on Edwards. Other than that, he indicated simply that apparently everyone is the bad guy, except Carl. In other words, in Carl's eyes, he can do no wrong, while everyone else is at fault. Carl defended himself adamemtly, saying,
"It's really simple. I treat everyone the best way I can possibly treat them. That's the way I was raised. But I stand up for myself. That's simple. If somebody doesn't respect that, then that's their problem. [It] doesn't really matter."
Add in Kyle Busch for fun and the race today pits them all together again, in a very small space. That space is Bristol Motor Speedway, often called the Bullring.
This is going to be one helluva race. If you're like millions of people all across North America tuning in to see how it all plays out, join in here and chat it up. And don't forget to challenge your friends in Playbook - use your Q Bucks to bet on your favorite driver.