Carl Edwards has some thinking to do about bumping teammate Kyle Busch for win – Sporting News

6 months ago Comments Off on Carl Edwards has some thinking to do about bumping teammate Kyle Busch for win – Sporting News

Carl Edwards admits he didn’t have much time to think about his last-lap bump of Kyle Busch, the one that gave Edwards the victory Sunday at Richmond. 

Edwards was closing fast on his teammate and the race leader. There was less than half a lap remaining in the Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup race. 

MORE: Richmond race photos | Carl Edwards wins with last-lap pass

So Edwards just made his move. He pulled alongside his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. He tagged his car. Busch’s car slid up the track, Edwards took the lead, and the rest is now history. 

For Edwards, it was a decision made in the heat of the moment. 

“There’s no time to consider much,” he said. “Really, to be honest, the last, what, 30 laps or something, I was just head down driving as hard as I possibly could. The first opportunity I even got, you know, to get that close to him was the last lap and really the last corner.

“You’re left, as a racecar driver, ‘What do we do here?’ We’re here to win the race. You can either finish first or second. It’s a tough decision. At this point in the season, we both got wins. Really it’s about just going out for trophies and having fun. We still finished first and second. Nobody got wrecked. But you can’t just sit there. I wouldn’t expect Kyle, if the roles were reversed, I’d expect him to bump me the same way. That’s hard racing.”

For team owner Joe Gibbs, the race presented both the joy of a one-two finish and the potential headache of teammates at odds. 

While Busch didn’t weigh into any potential controversy after the race, confining his comments primarily to his own effort and not the contact from Edwards, Gibbs knows the balancing act of keeping competitive, aggressive drivers working in the same direction. 

After all, his four-car team is filled with drivers who could contend for the 2016 championship. That’s going to involve some clashes. 

“Kind of my fear is always at the end when you got cars as good as we have, and drivers as good as we have, that you wind up with two of your teammates battling there,” Gibbs said. “You wish it wouldn’t happen. I think Carl would say that, too.
“Certainly we had a lot of people here from [Busch sponsors] Mars, Banfield Pet Hospital. You hate to have them miss out on something. At the same time, I think you know it can happen. It’s one of those things that we’re going to work our way through. We got great teams, great crew chiefs, great drivers. I’m thrilled just to be a part of it.”

While Edwards joked that if his cat ever gets sick, “I don’t care how much it costs, I will take it to the Banfield Pet Hospital if that helps,” he recognized the sometimes fragile nature of competing against one’s teammates in hotly contested showdowns. 

“Coach said it. It is a tough thing,” he said. “The double edged sword of having great teammates is sometimes you have to race like that. … With one to go, I don’t remember what Dave said to me, but it was extremely motivating under the white flag. I thought, ‘Man, I’m going to dive down here into Turn 1 really hard, hope I can get down there, maybe something will happen.’

“Kyle, at the same time, it looked like maybe his tires went away. Going down the back straight, I thought he’d spun his tires, they were hot. I knew I was going to run the bottom. Somehow he knew I was going to run the bottom, too. So he went there. He squared up the car, slowed down. He was pretty certain I was going to bump him. At that point it’s like, ‘Man, we’re so much faster into the corner, I had to try something.’”

MORE: Kyle Busch avoids controversy in remarks | Stewart earns top-20 in return

Others certainly understand that. Tony Stewart, both a driver and team co-owner, said that having drivers battling for the win is a dream come true. As long as no one wrecks. 

“You pray that is the scenario that you get in,” he said. “You want to be in that scenario where you’ve got two cars going for the win on the last lap. The golden rule is don’t crash each other. You can lean on each other, you can move each other, you do what you’ve got to do, but just don’t take each other out. It’s no different than what you would do if it was anybody else.  

“You are not going to go and wreck somebody intentionally, you might move them out of the way, but be tactful about it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. As long as the coach and the team owners can sit there and keep their drivers under control when it happens, the driver that gets the receiving end of it normally doesn’t like it as much as the guy on the delivery end. Most of the time that scenario plays out another way the opposite direction somewhere else down the road. You watch Rusty Wallace, you watch Dale Earnhardt Sr., if you get in that scenario you know it’s coming (and) that is part of the sport and that is part of what made it great.”  

Dale Earnhardt Jr. agreed. 

As he assessed the final lap, he offered a positive review.

“It was awesome,” Earnhardt said. “I know Kyle was probably disappointed, but it’s short-track racing, man. The fans come to see something like that. If you can reach them, if you can get to them on the last lap you better be leaning on them a little bit. He didn’t wreck him; as long as you don’t put a guy in the fence. I think the fans really enjoy it and that has always been good for the sport for 50 years. Hopefully, we have more exciting races come up in the next several weeks.”

Everyone seems to understand that. Gibbs said that it was a tough thing that the team will “go to work and work our way through it.” 

Edwards agreed. While Busch kept his thoughts to himself, Edwards is certainly looking to make sure things are well between them. After all, this isn’t their first dust-up. In 2008, after Edwards bumped Busch out of the lead for the win at Bristol, Busch said that Edwards would apologize later, “Mr. Ed-like.”

Will things be better this time? 

“We haven’t talked yet,” Edwards said. “We’ll talk about it. I can say this. My teammates have been spectacular. They truly have been. Not just helping with things we need help with, but from a motivational standpoint.

“What Kyle was able to do, particularly last year, I think, raised everyone’s game. So I’m very grateful to have my teammates and to be a part of it. Yeah, we’re going to have times like this when you’re running like this. We’re racing each other for wins, which is really, really good. So hopefully it all works out fine.”

Carl Edwards has some thinking to do about bumping teammate Kyle Busch for win – Sporting News