Jeff Gordon believes Carl Edwards went too far in crashing into Brad Keselowski to take victory in the Nationwide Series at Gateway last weekend, and says such an action would have been penalized by NASCAR in the past.
Last Saturday Edwards and Keselowski, who compete full time in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, were at the center of controversy when an on-track exchange while fighting for victory on the last lap ended with a massive accident for the Penske driver. Thus far, NASCAR has yet to step in and take any action against either driver, having adopted a more relaxed approach toward on-track incidents for this year.
Gordon believes the Roush Fenway driver's antics were "out of line," and that a move such as Edwards' retaliatory contact with his rival out of the final corner of the race, would not have gone unpunished in the past.
"I think it's been well documented this year that NASCAR is allowing the racing to be more in the drivers' hands, to try to stay out of some of those incidents that are judgment calls," Gordon said. "Probably it's hard to really say, just because there is a little bit of a past history with those two. You don't really know what all has gone on over the years with them that has brought it to this point.
"But just looking at the incidents, looked to me like Brad got into him a little bit getting into [Turn] 1, but was just racing hard for the position, for the win. Then what Carl did I felt like was definitely out of line. I felt like it was over and above what needed to be done.
"Again, you don't know what kind of bad blood there is between the two. Whether or not NASCAR gets involved in it, I think two, three, four, five years ago, I would have thought absolutely they would have done something, maybe taken the win away or docked points or a fine or something like that. Today, it's letting the guys race."
Earlier this season Edwards was placed on probation for three weeks after a similar incident with Keselowski when a Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta ended in the latter's car flipping over at high speed. The four-time Sprint Cup champion says NASCAR's judgment, or lack of it, on the latest incident has left him wondering how far the sanctioning body will let the feud between Edwards and Keselowski escalate, as he believes it is not over yet.
He added that the current NASCAR cars are safe, but that such incidents could still have unwanted outcomes.
"I'm anxious to see how far it's going to be taken before [NASCAR] does step in or if they step in," said Gordon. "Those are some questions that I have for Robin [Pemberton, vice president of competition] and Mike [Helton, president] and [Sprint Cup Series director, John] Darby and [Race Director David] Hoots. It's a question, I think, on a lot of people's minds: 'This is great, but what's too much?'
"The thing is, the drivers have always taken care of these things on track, whether you knew about them or not. They just weren't maybe as much out in the open because there would be a fine or there would be some kind of penalty handed down immediately. So you thought from an outsider's standpoint, that's over. But, trust me, as a driver, that was not over, that was not the end of it."
While both Keselowski and Edwards will meet again in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis this weekend, they are also set to compete in the short-track Nationwide series race on Saturday night at the nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park.