NASCAR: Where is Carl Edwards’ head?

He is affable and handsome, although some might argue his teeth are too big and his smile Osmondesque.

He has a physique made for a fitness magazine, although that ESPN cover photo was kind of creepy.

He also has a lead foot that could give him a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

But this dark side of Carl Edwards seems to be emerging.

Enormously talented and a man who appeared to be a PR flak’s dream, Edwards has found himself in the midst of controversy recently, and it’s largely his own doing. Like Danica Patrick in the Indy Racing League, Edwards seems to feel — or is at least acting — like the world owes him something.

Some might ask who made him king. Worse, they might ask who made him a prima donna.

When Edwards had his dustup with Kyle Busch, the big “rivalry,” no one thought anything of it, nor should they. It was Kyle Busch, who has his own maturity issues.

But when Edwards went into Kevin Harvick’s garage and incited a fight, it’s something altogether different.

This was not Alex Tagliani going after Paul Tracy in the heat of the moment. This was several days after Edwards caused the crash at Talladega that took out, among several others, two Roush Fenway Racing teammates and Harvick — all of whom are in the 12-man Chase for the Championship.

Edwards caught a break when his teammates refused to throw him under the bus. Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle were far more sporting than many would have been. Yet, Edwards was offended that Harvick did not cut him the same slack, and promptly passed along a message expressing his disappointment for Harvick to read on the flight home.

Then Edwards showed up in Harvick’s pit.

Then they scuffled.

A year ago Edwards also had a run-in with Kenseth, his teammate, who was being interviewed for television at the time. It was a remarkably brazen act that was wholly unprofessional.

It’s natural for tempers to flare in racing. Rightfully so, drivers feel their lives are at stake and they aren’t tolerant of perceived incompetence or recklessness, especially when it negatively impacts them in the points chase.

But when a pattern begins to develop, it raises eyebrows.

And when a guy is offended that a driver he crashed out of the race is upset, it raises a red flag.

Edwards is worth watching for his talent. He should not have to be worth watching for his behavior.

I am reminded of Darryl Strawberry and his increasingly unpredictable behavior. It turned out that the Straw had a cocaine problem.

As a matter of discussion, symptoms of steroid use include irritability, mood swings and aggressive behavior.

Is Edwards just now showing himself to be a hothead, or a bully, or has he always been that way? Or could there be some other reason that warrants those close to him to pay special attention to protect him from himself?

Edwards would no doubt claim such a steroid notion is preposterous, and it probably is. I’d certainly like to think it is. However, it might at least provide a legitimate explanation for some profoundly irregular behavior.

In fact, Edwards’ issues are likely something far more normal, far more pedestrian.

It’s probably mental.

Which might be worse.

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