Chase contender chalks up post-race fracas at Charlotte to 'display of passion' RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize The post-race drama involving Denny Hamlin , Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski at Charlotte Motor Speedway has sure gotten a lot of attention and fellow Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards believes you can chalk up what happened to the intensity of the sport's new playoff format. "This is fierce competition," Edwards said on a teleconference with NASCAR media members. "There's a lot on the line. There's a lot of risk, not just financially, there's real risk. When you see people get that wound up, I think it shows how much passion there is inside the sport. "But overall it's obvious that this format has raised the level of intensity which all of us have to compete. People definitely care. That's what I take away from it. I'm glad nobody was hurt. At the end of the day it was just a display of passion, I think." The new format was presented by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France in January. "If you would have said Charlotte ended the way Charlotte ended, I never could have guessed that," Edwards said. "As I left the race track the other night, I thought 'I guarantee you Brian France is kicked back with his feet up with a smile on his face' because right now this is working." After the checkered flag dropped on Saturday at Charlotte is when the fireworks really began. Keselowski clipped Hamlin's rear bumper on the cool-down lap after the race, later hitting Kenseth's car after Kenseth had removed his seat belt and HANS safety device. Tony Stewart was also caught up in the round of bumper cars, causing the No. 14 driver to retaliate by backing his car into the No. 2, crumpling its front. Keselowski then drove through a garage stall in the Sprint Cup Series garage before parking his car near his hauler. After getting out of his car, members of Hamlin and Kenseth's teams were yelling at Keselowski and his team. As Keselowski walked between his and teammate Joey Logano 's haulers, Kenseth ran after Keselowski and things got physical between the two. Eventually the two were separated by Keselowski's crew chief, Paul Wolfe. "Everybody's responsible for their own actions," Edwards said. "At the end of the day you just have to decide what you're willing to put up with or what you're going to do something if somebody does something to you." On Tuesday, NASCAR fined Keselowski $50,000 and Stewart $25,000 for their involvement in Saturday night's incidents. Both drivers were placed on NASCAR probation for the next four Sprint Cup Series events. Kenseth and Hamlin are set to be teammates with Edwards next season as he makes the move to Joe Gibbs Racing following the end of Edwards' 11-year Sprint Cup tenure at Roush Fenway Racing . Kenseth and Edwards have previously been teammates at Roush. That said, Edwards didn't want to get into specific thoughts about the drivers involved in the post-race drama at the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "I'm really careful not to get involved in other people's fights because a good sound bite can sound good, but you never know the whole story," Edwards said. "I know I've been involved in stuff with people and I have seen things personally that have been framed in ways that I did not think were accurate. So I try to stay out of all that." Edwards does not expect to see any retaliation at Talladega this weekend, but he does think you could see it later in the year. "I think, and I'm not certain, but I think that everyone will go to Talladega and they'll be very professional," Edwards said. "I don't believe that you would see any on‑track retaliation at Talladega. It's such a fast place. There's so much potential for collateral damage with other cars, other teams. I have a feeling, my gut feeling, is that Talladega will go pretty smoothly. I think once we get to Martinsville, some other places, if there are any hard feelings over stuff that happened over the year or even last week, I think that's where you'll see most of that dealt with." Edwards comes into Talladega in good shape to advance to the Eliminator Round. He is in fifth place in the points standings and just 12 points back of Joey Logano for the lead. Edwards also said that this format has essentially taken a full season "down to a 10‑race season, and now it's a series of three races. There's no place to hide if you have a bad race with this format." So far Edwards hasn't had to hide with an average finish of 12.2 in the first five races of the Chase, including back-to-back top-10s in the first two races of the Contender Round. Edwards is 20 points ahead of Kenseth, who sits in ninth place. Edwards can clinch a spot in the Eliminator Round several ways: He could win at Talladega or he can finish 18th or better at Talladega; finish 19th and at least one lap led or he can finish 20th with the most laps led. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
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