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Hot blood in Dixie? Brad Keselowski's Side:

 OUCH! Brad Keselowski got the worst of it with Carl Edwards in St. Louis (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Shades of Bobby Allison and Richard Petty....and Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip...and Dale Earnhardt and Geoff Bodine....
   Maybe this is just what NASCAR officials want to see out there on the track – high drama.
   Maybe this is just what the sport needs – something hot for fans to talk about.
   Or maybe this is just another example of 'Boys, have at it' going a bit too far.
   Flying cars....cars hard into the wall...innocent victims...maybe vigilante justice...
   Brad Keselowski says he's still trying to figure out the deal between him and Carl Edwards, following yet another run-in, in last weekend's Nationwide stop in St. Louis, where Keselowski wound up crashed hard into the wall after a battle for the win.
   And he says he and Edwards still haven't met to discuss the situation.
   And why haven't NASCAR officials brought both men into the hauler for a face-to-face to talk things out. That's the way the late Bill France Jr. liked to have his drivers settle their differences when things got too hot. In fact France more than once would 'invite' drivers down to his Daytona office to personally discuss hot issues like this.
   The two were called into the NASCAR trailer at Bristol back in March to talk about their Atlanta run-in.
   "Obviously whatever talk we had at Bristol was not necessarily productive," Keselowski says.
    So another talk, Keselowski says, would probably not make much difference either.
    Is NASCAR powerless in this situation? Or is the publicity seen as good for the sport?
    And what next here?
   Keselowski says "you'd have to assume" there is more to all this than just meets the eye – the Talladega Cup crash last year, the Atlanta Cup crash this year, and now St. Louis.....
   "If that's not personal, I don't know what is.
   "I'm still trying to learn that.
   "I don't carry anything personal.
    "But I'd be naive to think that I understand anything that he feels or thinks...because I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it," the second-year Sprint Cup tour driver says.
   The latest situation began in the final laps at Gateway when Keselowski dived inside of Edwards into the turn in a bid for the lead. Keselowski slid up into Edwards, who kept control and dogged the new leader the rest of that lap. Then as they took the white for the last lap, Edwards tagged Keselowski, who crashed into the outside wall and then into the inside wall, in a melee that involved about a dozen other drivers.
   Edwards was hit with a $25,000 fine, a loss of 60 championship points (putting him 168 points behind tour leader Keselowski in what's a two-man battle for the series title), and probation till Dec. 31.
   Keselowski was put on probation too till Dec. 31.
   Some in the NASCAR garage have questioned that penalty on Keselowski.
   But Keselowski himself says it doesn't really bother him.
   Of course NASCAR 'probation' isn't like legal probation, and what might constitute 'violation' of that probation is problematic, as well as is any further penalty.


  Brad Keselowski says he won't change the way he races Carl Edwards (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Keselowski says he's talked with NASCAR official Robin Pemberton about that penalty, "and he basically said that I 'had a little bit of skin in the game,' his words.
   "It (the probation penalty) didn't seem to bother me. Some of my fans got really upset about it. I respect that. That's been the coolest part – to listen to your fan base.
   "To get the emails and phone calls from the fans....to support you makes it a lot easier to deal with."
    And Keselowski says he wasn't really 'surprised' with that probation: "To me that says NASCAR doesn't want me to go out there and intentionally retaliate against Carl.
   "I don't want to. I'm glad they took that away; now I don't have to worry about that."
   That might be a NASCAR call in indirect response to the Pocono run-in between Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, which has put pressure on Logano to retaliate.
   Keselowski seems to be trying to defuse the situation a bit: "I can see why Carl would be upset. Being in the car, you don't have the benefit of seeing it on TV. You only see what's in front.
   "And all he knew is that I made contact with him.
    "I'm sure he thought I went down in there and intentionally hit him.
   "In fairness, if I were to reverse the situation, and I were in Carl's car, I would have done the best I could to not have let him pass in turns three and four.
   "But I'm not Carl."
   In fact Keselowski says he's surprised Edwards got so upset. After he tagged Edwards' car, Keselowski said "I tried to make sure we both saved it...and we did.
   "To me, that's just good racing: two drivers on the edge.
   "In my eyes when we came off the corner we were still in the same spot (side-by-side). I guess that's why I didn't think it was that big a deal.
    "To be honest, I anticipated him hitting me...and that's how he passed me. When we were going down the backstretch right after the restart, I left him a whole lane on the outside, because I figured he was going to go down in turn three and hit me.
   "Going back to that Atlanta incident (where Keselowski was running sixth late in the race, and Edwards had just returned to the track many laps down) – you try to think if you were him....and my mentality is I would never intentionally wreck somebody straight into the fence.....
   "So I gave the outside for that reason.
   "I kind of read that wrong."
   So just where is this 'Boys, have at it' line really being drawn by NASCAR?
   Keselowski says "it's more clearly defined...but not quite defined yet."
   And Keselowski says, just as he said after the Atlanta crash, that he didn't plan to change the way he races Edwards.
   "It would be one thing if I was sitting here and admitted I intentionally got into him," Keselowski says. "But you can't be mad at yourself for just racing hard and accidentally running into someone.
   "Intentionally wrecking – that's a big gap from 'Boys, have at it' in my mind."
   Keselowski's father, Bob, a veteran racer himself, was livid after the St. Louis incident, vowing to put on a driving suit and get back into the sport to settle things if need be.
   Brad Keselowski says his father has cooled off "a little bit.
   "My brother thought it would be funny to put in an entry blank for him. I can tell you he's got a lot of sponsorship opportunities."
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If I hear Edwards speaking

If I hear Edwards speaking again in terms of being the victim, I think I'm going to puke. From the interviews he's had regarding all this stuff after Atlanta and after last week, he's either an excellent BS'er or he's got a few screws loose. Brad still has some chips he can cash in if he wants to, but since NASCAR did indeed levy a penalty on Edwards he may not choose to do so.

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