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The mystery of Carl Edwards' wreck

Edwards, for his part, seemed charmingly unaware that there even were end-of-stage prizes involved: when told after the race that he'd won $1.2m rather than $1m he simply assumed that the headline prize had been bumped up without his noticing. This is a man who doesn't notice prizes of the odd $200,000 popping up here and there, it's simply part of his world.

Of course the conspiracy theorists would point out that in that case, the repair bills for the wrecked #99 would hardly be a big deal, either.

Roush was affronted by the suggestion that the car had been wrecked to hide illegalities: not by the idea that his Roush Fenway team might be cheating, mind you, more that anyone could ever think that he would ever contemplate wasting a race-winning car like that. "These celebrations after race wins have become more and more outrageous," he grumbled.

"That's pretty dumb," Edwards agreed, at the very suggestion. "I really would have liked to have run that car next week. Bob [Osborne, Edwards' crew chief] says we've got as good a car as that one back at the shop. But it's not the car as much as it is the things they did to set it up," he said. "... And all that secret stuff down there in the grass.

"I'm kidding!" he added quickly, flashing a smile as bright as a NASCAR stockcar highbeam. "That's a joke! Make sure you tell everybody that's a joke!"

Of course it is ... In fact, the truth is almost certainly one of those unlikely but obvious and rather underwhelming things: the ride height of the front of the car and in particular the front splitter (the aerodynamic element as important to a NASCAR vehicle as the front wing is to an F1 car) was set so low for Charlotte that it simply dug into the ground when Edwards slid over an innocuous bump in the infield. Instead of simply shattering the splitter, the force of the impact was driven up through the front of the car and into the engine mounting, with catastrophic results.

After the wreck took care of that "secret stuff," and Edwards had done his backflip, he followed it up with another characteristic part of his celebrations: climbing up into the spectator area behind the catch fences to glad hand fans and share his moment of triumph.

"Carl is a rock star," Roush said. "He's the first one to crawl up into the stands. Some of the drivers wouldn't go up in the stands like that after a race, and for good reason. But Carl, he's well thought of and he's out there doing things that other people wish they had thought of first.

"And he drives the hell out of our race cars," he added, which was surely the most important thing as far as the team owner was concerned.

It's strange, then, that Jack Roush still hasn't made sure Edwards' future with the team is nice and secure. Edwards' contract with the team is up at the end of the 2011 season, and while the teams' other drivers have had their contracts finalised, Edwards is conspicuously the exception.




Related Pictures

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Carl Edwards managed to mangle the front end of the race-winning #99 with his victory celebration slide through the infield grass at Charlotte Motor Speedway. [Picture credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
David Ragan, driver of the #34 Taco Bell Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, are seen on the track after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 21, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, prepares for practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, sits on the grid under an umbrella prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 12, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
(Back Row L-R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Back Row L - R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Kelloggs/Frosted Flakes Ford, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Catepillar Chevrolet, Miss Sprint Cup Madison Martin, Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Gwaltney Ford, (Front Row L- R) Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Call Before You Dig Ford, AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Bush`s Beans Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, pose with the Sprint Cup Trophy after qualifying for the Chase  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian France, CEO and chairman of NASCAR, speaks with the media during the NASCAR series partnership announcement at NASCAR Hall of Fame on September 3, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NASCAR and Xfinity announced a deal that will span ten years. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A general view of the Great Hall during the NASCAR series partnership announcement at NASCAR Hall of Fame on September 3, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NASCAR and Xfinity announced a deal that will span ten years. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A general view of the Great Hall during the NASCAR series partnership announcement at NASCAR Hall of Fame on September 3, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NASCAR and Xfinity announced a deal that will span ten years. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by his Hendrik Motor Sports teammates Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Panasonic Toughbook Chevrolet SS (left), Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS (center) and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS (right) after his victory Sunday, August 31, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. With this win, Kahne joins Gordon, Johnson, and Earnhardt Jr. in the Chase. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 30, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, Trevor Bayne, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, Justin Allgaier, driver of the #51 Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, and Michael Annett, driver of the #7 Allstate Peterbilt/Pilot Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field at the start of the Nationwide Childrens`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Nelson Piquet Jr., driver of the #77 WORX Ford, prepares his equipment in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 3, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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