Edwards says Roush offers best chance at Cup title
The one phone call from his boss that meant the most to Carl
Edwards wasn’t a pitch to stay at Roush Fenway Racing.
Jack Roush simply told his star driver – and the hottest free
agent in NASCAR – to make the decision based on what was best for
”He said those words to me, and that meant the world,” Edwards
said Friday at Pocono Raceway. ”It meant that I didn’t have the
pressure to do something for any reason other than what I thought
In the end, Edwards decided what was best was sticking with the
only organization he’s called home in his Cup career. Edwards
signed a multi-year contract extension with RFR this week because
he believed the resources, sponsors, crew and car give him the best
chance to win championships.
”Whenever I’d start feeling that pressure start creeping in
from the outside I’d think, `OK, let’s get back to the basics
here,”’ he said. ”Where can I win the most championships? And
what would I do if other people’s opinions weren’t a factor?”
There were plenty of opinions around the garage from fellow
drivers to the media speculating on his future. Greg Biffle, his
teammate, intimated Edwards was leaving the organization. Four-time
Cup champion Jeff Gordon said lingering contract negotiations were
a distraction to Edwards as he chased his first career
championship. Edwards enters Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in first
place, a spot he’s held in the No. 99 Ford for the majority of the
”I still think it got them a little bit behind, but this will
allow them to get back on track,” Gordon said. ”I never
considered them a non-threat. Carl’s a great driver and that team’s
a very good team. There’s no doubt those talks and that constant
barrage of questions is hard to get past until you get
Edwards, who acted as his own agent, said the end of
negotiations were a big relief. He kept details private, though he
was courted by Joe Gibbs Racing, and insisted money was not an
issue. Hard to believe, but Roush said money was never discussed.
Edwards had more pressing questions about how the organization is
run and what’s ahead for his team.
Roush did the equivalent of opening the books, letting Edwards
in on the secrets of every nook of the organization.
”If Carl had made the decision not to come back, I was going to
feel really stupid for having shown him all these things,” Roush
Edwards refused to say how close he was to signing with another
team or how many teams showed interest. Once Edwards was back in
the fold, Roush started sponsorship discussions for the No. 99, and
he said there’s no shortage of interested suitors. Roush said the
company will be ”just fine” running four cars.
RFR also has Matt Kenseth and David Ragan under contract.
Edwards’ contract means other free agents can start seriously
considering their options for 2012 and beyond. Clint Bowyer
(Richard Childress Racing), Juan Pablo Montoya (Earnhardt Ganassi
Racing) and Brian Vickers (Red Bull Racing) are the three top free
agents available, and interest is about to pick up.
Vickers needed a seat once Red Bull announced it will leave
NASCAR at the end of the season. Bowyer said Friday he’s close to
re-signing with RCR.
”I feel like we’re getting close and we’re working on it, and
hopefully we’ll have that done,” Bowyer said.
Also affected was JGR driver Joey Logano, who likely would have
lost his ride in the No. 20 had Edwards come aboard. JGR star Denny
Hamlin made it seem like a deal with Edwards was not as close as it
He asked owner Joe Gibbs to tell him when a deal was close.
Gibbs told him, ”If it ever got to that point, I would let you
Hamlin never heard a peep.
”So I knew that it never really had gotten very far along, I
don’t believe,” Hamlin said. ”Whether his intentions really were
to leave or not, it’s tough to say.”
Edwards has been with Roush since 2002, when the team gave him
his break in NASCAR. It came in the Trucks Series, but Edwards was
in Cup by 2004 as a late-season replacement for Jeff Burton.
He was a four-time Cup winner the next season and a bona fide
NASCAR star, backflipping off the winning car in celebration of
Edwards’ best season was 2008, when he won a series-high nine
races and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the championship
It’s the team he wanted to call home should he ever hoist that
championship trophy. With the sparkling results he’s had this
season, there was little reason for Edwards to bolt.
”We don’t have a weakness, and that’s the thing that makes me
feel really good about our prospects going forward,” Roush said.
”We don’t have anything glaring that is deficient.”
Bold words from the long-time owner. Edwards is confident he can
back up the boasts with the best finish of his career.
”I’m really proud of the fact that we went through all of this,
and we’re leading the points,” Edwards said. ”We haven’t missed a
beat, and we’re able to keep digging.”