Payback Is a You-Know-What

Retaliation in racing is part of the sport, right?

The racing world seems clearly divided into two distinct camps: People who think it is acceptable, even commendable, to knock the race leader out of the way on the last lap, and people who think it’s kind of, well, chicken shit.

The think-its-commendable group apparently outweigh the others by a substantial margin. Witness the crowd reaction to last week’s bump-and-win by Carl Edwards at the NASCAR race in Richmond last weekend, where he hit the back of leader, and teammate, Kyle Busch, which sent Busch up the track, allowing Edwards to win.

“It's just racing hard and having fun!” Edwards explained. Busch may have respectfully disagreed.

Two weeks ago, at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Corvette GT Le Mans team of Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin were going for three in a row. Milner was being pursued by a pair of factory Porsches, the 912 and 911.

As you can see from the photo above, Frederic Makowiecki in the No. 912 essential speared Milner’s Corvette in the right rear, wrecking both of them, and allowing the team Porsche, No. 911, to get by for the win.

Makowiecki said afterwards that he may possibly have been a bit “optimistic” about getting through a hairpin turn inside the Corvette. Milner saw it differently. “I just got wrecked basically,” Milner said. “Two Porsches running nose to tail…it is pretty clear what happened there. It is pretty disappointing that this is the kind of racing we have here where we are better than that. I don’t mind finishing second if it is clean and it happens the right way, but that wasn’t the right way.”

So, is this payback day? Clearly the speeds at Talledaga Superspeedway preclude just slamming into someone on the last lap the way Edwards hit Busch at the much slower Richmond, but at the track where teammates can help each other to the win, it seems unlikely that Edwards can count on many breaks from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate.

But at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca today, there’s no doubt that Makowiecki should be looking over his shoulder for the big yellow Corvettes – assuming that either one can get close to the front, as the Ferraris and Ford GTs topped qualifying.

Thumbs up for the bump-and-win, or thumbs down? We could get a couple of opportunities to vote this afternoon.