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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]
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, take the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, and David Ragan, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stand on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Earnhardt, Jr. is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in fifth place on Sunday, July 19, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Sport Clips Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour ENERGY 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Sport Clips Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour ENERGY 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Sport Clips Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 18, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Sun Energy 1 Toyota, leads Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Star Market/Kraft Velveeta Chevrolet, out of turn four during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lakes Region 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 18, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images for NASCAR Media)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Sport Clips Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Sport Clips Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Sport Clips Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
the #24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet, and David Ragan, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on July 11, 2015 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position, Friday, July 10, 2015, for Saturday night`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. Positions are based on practice times since the qualifying session was cancelled due to inclement weather. Truex, Jr. is fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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