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Carl Edwards meets the girl with the broken jaw, and then meets with NASCAR executives

Carl Edwards, man of the hour (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   So the man who created such commotion and excitement at Talladega just a few days ago has finally wrapped a whirlwind cross-country tour of TV appearances and return to his day job, running for Jack Roush.
   NASCAR executives might have put the quietus on some of the men in the middle of this brouhaha, but Edwards, well, he's been out there speaking his mind, on everything from Larry King to Ellen DeGeneres.
    Monday he 'rested' from Sunday's wild crash by running the final leg of the Ford Fusion Hybrid Challenge – a 1,000-mile run on a tank of fuel – right into the Washington Post notebook pen of Liz Clarke, who fanned the flames of the controversy.
    And then, and then, and then….
    "Yeah, we got to do a lot of media this week…but not for the reasons I wanted," Edwards said wearily Friday, as he warmed up for Saturday night's 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
    "I'm just happy I didn't have to use my Aflac insurance and I'm good."
    Ah, ever the NASCAR driver, plugging away. Yes, Carl Edwards will make a good champion this season, when it's all over in December…..
    Among his travels this week Edwards met with the girl whose jaw was broken by flying debris in the crash, Blake Bobbitt.
    "My conversation with Blake was great -- I talked to her mom first, because Blake's jaw is wired shut, so she couldn't talk much," Edwards said.
   "But her mom was real cool. And she just thanked the Lord for shining down on her, and thanked everybody for their support and their prayers. Then I talked to Blake, and she was upbeat about it.  She was mumbling a little bit, but she seemed really cool. 
   "She's a 17-year-old girl, and I hope she comes out of this all right."
    Edwards' car did its job, fortunately.
    "I didn't get a chance to look at the car," Edwards said of that mangled mess. "They got it all apart before we could really take a better look at it. So when I walked away from it Sunday that's the last I saw of it."
   And in true Will Farrell style Edwards finished Sunday's Talladega 500 by running the rest of the way to the finish line.
    Fortunately NASCAR's sometimes maligned car-of-tomorrow lived up to its billing as the safest NASCAR stocker ever designed. Edwards not only crawled out of it unscathed, he had only a head to worry about Monday….well, that, and some flack assuredly from NASCAR executives, for his post-race rip that NASCAR wouldn't change the Talladega rules until somebody got killed.  
   "No worse than any other wreck I've been in, as far as physical pain or anything like that, so everything in the car did its job…and I'm real glad for that," Edwards said.
   "It was a little strange when I realized I was off the ground. 
    "It surprised me when I hit the fence.  I didn't realize I was going towards the fence at that sharp of an angle. So that surprised me when I hit it. 
    "That got my attention."
    Thursday Edwards and Roush flew to Daytona to talk with NASCAR men about Talladega and safety.
     "It was really a good talk, and I think we're all on the same page -- that we want to do whatever we can to make these races as safe as they can be for everybody, the fans and the drivers," Edwards says.
    "We've come a long way in the last however many years…but there's still stuff that can be done. 
    "All we did was talk about things that really needed to be done. And they're working on ideas."
    NASCAR officials have said they will likely crack down on aggressive driving, though it's unclear how any penalties could be assessed for the Edwards-Keselowski crash on the last lap.
   And even if NASCAR does try to curb bump-drafting, Edwards says "you're still going to have wrecks like that at Talladega, because everybody is together. 
   "It puts everybody in a tough position. 
   "We've given the fans something that's so exciting and so entertaining…but there's more risk there. 
   "We talked in depth about it with NASCAR.  We looked at it from all different angles. 
    "The coolest part is NASCAR has an open mind.  It's not like they got me down there and yelled at me for saying bad things about the racing. 
    "We sat down and we talked about it. And I think that's all we can do -- do the best we can to deliver the best sport and the safest sport to the fans."
    "So I'm real excited about seeing what they come up with…and hopefully it's stuff that keeps wrecks like that from happening.
    "I'm not an engineer, so I didn't tell them 'This is how it has to be.'
    "But the bottom line is unless you take the banking out of that race track 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. 
    "There's history there, and the fans enjoy that. But there's also the real problem of having a group of cars run like that.
   "So it's something they've worked on for a long time with restrictor plates. And they've worked on the safety stuff.
    "But there are still things to be done. 
    "I don't know exactly what it's going to be, but I'm hoping there's something we can do."
    Edwards isn't backing off his strong post-race complaints about Talladega racing….even though he himself caused two of the latest crashes.
    "That's how I felt, and that's what I believe," Edwards said.
   "I also believe there are things that can be done. 
    "We're all in this together: NASCAR, me, the owners, all the other drivers. 
   "No one wants to see anybody get hurt.
    "But I think what I said needed to be said…and I hope people respect that.
    "They (NASCAR) said they would talk to some other drivers, which I think that would be really good.
    "But I definitely learned about where they're coming from, in trying to make the sport the best it can be. 
    "We all shook hands and understood. So hopefully something comes out of it.   
     "Time will tell."



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