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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]
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane with team owner Dale Earnhardt jr. after winning the series championship during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, climbs out of his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with car owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship following his fifth place finish in the DAV 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Alex Bowman in action at Charlotte Motor Speedway. October 9, 2014. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Red Vest Chevrolet, celebrates with Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage and AAA VIP Employee Recognition Winner David Tiger with pistols in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, prepares his helmet in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 1, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Tyler Reddick, driver of the #19 DrawTite Ford, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Smoke pours from the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, driven by Darrell Wallace Jr., during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, driver of the #19 DrawTite Ford, poses with the 21 Means 21 poll award after qualifying for pole position during Pinnacle Propane Qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Goof Off/Menards Toyota, leads a pack of trucks during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 30, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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