NASCAR Crash: Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski Show Bad Blood at High Speed

Two NASCAR drivers collide at the Atlanta Speedway after months of feuding.

March 08, 2010, 4:13 PM

March 8, 2010— -- NASCAR's governing body announced new rules for the 2010 season that encouraged drivers to show more emotion to re-energize a sport seen by some as growing stale.

Drivers Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski took those rules to heart, as anyone watching them race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday can attest.

Watch 'World News with Diane Sawyer' for the full story. Check local listings for times.

The two cars had jockeyed for position for several minutes when Edwards, in car No. 99, gently nudged Keselowski 's rear-left tire in car No. 12. That "gentle nudge" -- at over 190 mph -- sent Keselowski into a rapid tailspin, spinning into the air. The car landed upright after shocking the crowd and television audience.

"It's not cool to wreck someone at 195 miles per hour," said Keselowski after the incident.

Keselowski walked away unhurt from the crash. Edwards was disqualified.

"The scary part is he went airborne, which is not at all what I expected," said Edwards. He continued on his Facebook page, writing "My options: Considering that Brad wrecks me with no regard for anyones [sic.] safety or hard work, should I: A-Keep letting him wreck me? B-Confront him after the race? C-Wait til [sic.] bristol and collect other cars? or D-Take care of it now? I want to be clear that I was surprised at his flight and very relieved when he walked away. Every person has to decide what code they want to live by and hopefully this explains mine."

The two drivers have gone after each other numerous times in the past.

At Talladega, Ala., in April 2009, they were both part of a tightly-bunched pack of cars when the two collided. The brush sent Edwards careening into several other cars and into the stands. Seven people in the crowd were injured, and the number might have been higher if not for safety netting around the track.

At a race in Atlanta, the two collided again. This time Keselowski came up underneath Edwards, sending him crashing into Joey Logano along the outside wall.

NASCAR Crash: A History of Violence

Officials acknowledge that the feud between the two drivers may have been a factor in what appeared to be an intentional bump.

"I would say there seems to be a history between those two drivers," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition.

NASCAR officials must now make a decision on whether Edwards will face any more serious penalties Monday or Tuesday. He could face a fine, loss of points or even a suspension for the next race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee in two weeks.

Observers think there is a limit to how much punishment the organization will inflict on Edwards, after having encouraged this sort of behavior this season. "If you ain't rubbing, you ain't racing," said one official.

"NASCAR is hurting in attendance," said Ed Hinton, the senior NASCAR writer for ESPN The Magazine. "Hurting in TV ratings, fans are complaining in legions that the racing is too dull, too vanilla." But the problem with the sort of spice they are encouraging is that it happens in cars going close to 200 miles per hour.

Former NASCAR driver Ricky Craven said, "As an athlete, when you are in the heat of the moment, you need to be governed." Suggesting that encouraging drivers to be too aggressive could lead to disastrous consequences.

There have been deaths in the stands at drag races and other motor sports. Now NASCAR will decide whether to punish Edwards further to send a message to other drivers, and whether this new kind of high-speed bad blood is bad for business.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events