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Cousin Carl needs to cool down

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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After traveling back from Michigan during the Busch race, I talked to some people about the incident between Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Plus, I watched several stories — like the one on The SPEED Report — to get a full view of what happened. While there seemed to be a little bit of booing at Earnhardt for bumping Edwards, I get a sense that there may have been more boos for what Edwards did. I'm not going to completely stick up for Earnhardt, but after seven seasons of Cup racing, he has proven that he races as clean as anybody on the circuit. When you look back at his career, he hasn't been involved in a lot of controversy. He's been at the tail end of some, but he hasn't been an instigator very often in his career.

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That doesn't mean that Earnhardt is completely squeaky clean, but it appeared that Edwards' car was not handling well. He was either very late getting back to the throttle, or he had to get completely out of it on late exit of the corner. It was the last lap of the race, and it was for the win. Are people up on the steering wheel a little more? Absolutely. Does it condone spinning out a guy to win a race? Absolutely not. I don't think Earnhardt was gritting his teeth through Turns 1 and 2 and saying, "I'm going to spin out this son of a gun!" Edwards' car simply got awfully loose or tight. Earnhardt stayed in the throttle, got into the back of Edwards and spun him out. I'm not saying it's wrong or right, but that's what I observed. Whether it's during the race or after the race, I don't condone using race cars for retaliation. I have no problem with drivers going to victory lane like Edwards did. For the last few years, I've been one of the guys telling NASCAR that they shouldn't let the competitors lose their emotions and their passion. But I don't agree with driving a car down pit road and driving into the side of a guy waving his hand out the window. That's not really smart. It's tearing up stuff that you're not going to have to fix, and it could have been a pretty dangerous situation.

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I want to stress that I'm a big Carl Edwards fan. Our sport needed a Carl Edwards. It needed someone with his ability, character, and upbeat personality. But Edwards' emotions are getting a little carried away when you look back at Pocono, where he spun out Tony Stewart on pit road. I'm fine with the verbal battle that Edwards and Stewart had for a couple of weeks, but leave the race cars out of it. (Editor's note: Edwards was not put on probation by NASCAR following this incident. Click here for Larry McReynolds' explanation.) No two incidents are the same, but if I had woken up on Sunday morning and read or heard that NASCAR parked Edwards for the Michigan Nextel Cup race, I probably wouldn't have been totally surprised. Four years ago, NASCAR parked Kevin Harvick for a Cup race at Martinsville after his actions in Craftsman Truck race the day before at the track and his actions after a Busch race a few weeks earlier at Bristol.


FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart

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