Does NASCAR finally have a real rivalry?
It thought it did a couple years ago, when Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards were battling for the points lead. But both fizzled and bowed to Jimmie Johnson in the Chase, and neither has been a serious championship contender in NASCAR's top series since.
While it's "just the Nationwide Series," Edwards may have another foil. This time, it's one of the sport's top young drivers, and it's not Busch.
It's Brad Keselowski.
The two have seen their share of battles on the track, with Edwards ending up in the fence last spring during the Talladega race, wrecked by Keselowski as the two raced for a restrictor-plate win. This spring, the two traded paint in Atlanta, before Edwards -- angry over an earlier incident -- bumped Keselowski and sent him airborne. Edwards was (rightfully) put on probation by NASCAR for the move.
While NASCAR has professed a "Have at it, boys" attitude to its racing this year, they simply can't be a party to one driver putting another in a dangerous position. As safe as these cars are, "on the roof" is a dangerous position on the racetrack.
Saturday night, the two came together at the end of the Nationwide race at Gateway. Instead of trying to describe everything that happened, let's just go to the video.
Edwards won the race, and Keselowski was left to whine about it afterward. Apparently, we're supposed to believe he was just racing Edwards, but Edwards was trying to take him out for no reason.
While Edwards could have been a bit more apologetic for the aftermath of his bump (surely, he didn't intend for Keselowski to be such a sitting duck for unsuspecting competitors racing for the start/finish line), and he never should have done that backflip, he wasn't totally in the wrong on the racetrack.
Neither was Keselowski.
This was "Have at it, boys" personified. This was what NASCAR wanted when those famous words were uttered during Speedweeks. This is what makes for compelling television, even if the two mend fences and make nice.
Neither driver can claim to be perfectly in the right, nor can they say the other driver was totally wrong.
But in the end, the biggest sin was indeed committed by Edwards, who shouldn't have celebrated so boisterously -- even if it was his home track, so to speak -- after performing a borderline dirty move to win.
Hopefully, we see more fireworks from these two the rest of the way, because NASCAR needs more racing like this.