HAMPTON, Ga. - Jack Roush called called Toyota "ankle-biting Chihuahuas" and Dale Earnhardt Jr. called Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith's explanation of Carl Edwards' post-race inspection issues at Las Vegas "comedy."
It's been a fun weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
But something else people are talking about here this weekend ought to have the most long-range impact on NASCAR, the people who are in it and the people who run it.
Jeff Gordon hit a wall late in last Sunday's race at Las Vegas at an angle that shouldn’t be possible for a race car to hit at any track where NASCAR does business.
His car was ripped apart. Thankfully, Gordon was not, thanks to safety advances in the cars and the seats and restraint systems used in them.
The fact that Gordon will start first in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway instead of being in some hospital, however, doesn't mean his wreck shouldn't be a call to action.
"Even though he wasn't hurt, and thank God everything is OK, we should take that as serious as the accident we had in 2001 and say, 'What can we do to ratchet our safety stuff up even more?' " Greg Biffle said.
The wreck in 2001, of course, was the one in which seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt was killed. That ignited a new attitude about and new commitment to safety in stock-car racing.
Gordon's wreck should do nothing less than spark a new round of real, concentrated effort on making sure the gains made in the past seven years don’t make NASCAR, tracks, competitors, media and fans complacent.
The specific problem at Las Vegas is an inside wall off Turn 2 with an opening for emergency vehicles to turn in.
For starters, it's concrete with no energy-absorbing material on it. It's also angled in such a way that Gordon's car spun off Turn 2 and hit it nearly head-on, which is something you do not want to have happen.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc. officials say they will address that issue before NASCAR returns with its Truck Series in September. That absolutely should happen, but that's also simply treating a symptom and not the sickness.
There are places very much like that wall at other tracks, including one very similar configuration at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Some tracks still have guardrail up in places it shouldn't be. Many tracks still don't have the SAFER barriers up on all outside and inside wall surfaces.
It's time to take care of it. All of it.
It's time NASCAR and the tracks get together and take another critical, proactive look at safety and get on the stick toward making the right changes.
"Last week's incident and how Jeff hit the wall, in a word, is inexcusable," Jeff Burton said. "There has been a tremendous effort to make things better. (But) we can never be as safe as we can be. If we ever get to the point where we quit looking to be better we’re going to quit being better."
It's not about doing just what's required, meeting minimum standards or completing some designated expert's list of recommendations.
"When you own a facility, I don't care if it's a baseball field or a race track, you have to be willing to get information from the highest trained, smartest people in whatever you are doing," Burton said. "But that doesn't give you a break from taking accountability. You have to be willing to look at your own race track and the property you own in order to make it as safe as possible."
If you're thinking that it's wrong for what happened at Vegas to be a bigger deal because Gordon was part of it, you're right. When Burton talked about people dropping the ball, the media's in that group, too. It's dangerous when reporters pretend to have expertise they don't, and I could have lived in front of that wall at Las Vegas and not understood why it was a problem until Biffle literally drew a diagram and explained it.
But that's no excuse for a lack of vigilance, and it's no reason not to learn from past shortcomings.
"You hope a bad accident gets looked at seriously no matter who is driving the car," Gordon said. "But if it takes me going through that and stepping up and saying something to get it fixed, then I'm just going to play my part. I can't control how anybody else handles it. But if a bigger-name driver gets more attention through something like this, then let's take advantage of it.
"I certainly hope that this is a light bulb going of that we need to look at this. I hope that Monday morning, every race track was thinking about what do we have that could be like that, that we need to work on and fix.
"We're going to find out. We're going to see what tracks react and which ones don't. And I'm going to come down hard on the ones that don't, I'll tell you that."