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The mystery of Carl Edwards' wreck

"It's going on behind closed doors," Roush said of the contract discussions. "It's not something that we're going to debate or discuss in the public. It's not a media issue, it's a private business issue that's ongoing."

The longer the season goes on, the stronger Carl Edwards' hand seems to get in the negotiations: he's got a big lead in the Sprint Cup championship as it nears the halfway point of the regular season; he's just delivered the All-Star title to the team; and he's also won three Nationwide races for the team. Add to that his popularity with fans - which translates into sponsor appeal as well - and Edwards is surely the biggest driver 'catch' on the market. His name seems to come up in media speculation every time a seat opens up with any of the big NASCAR teams.

That suggests that the stumbling point might be Edwards' salary demands, and Roush hinted that this might indeed be the case: "With some accuracy, I say I really don't do the money, I try to stay out of the money part of it. But I will have to pay attention to this deal as it gets closer."

It's the tension that you'll see across every type of motor sport around the world: drivers who think that the success of the team is down to them, and teams who feel that the driver would be nothing without the right hardware that they deliver to him.

Roush Fenway have some cause to believe that Edwards should be just a little more grateful and appreciative of what he gets from them. As well as Edwards, the team's Sprint Cup line-up also boasts Matt Kenseth (one of only three drivers to win two races so far in 2011) and David Ragan (who won the Sprint Showdown at the weekend to make it a Roush Fenway clean-sweep of all the weekend's prize-winning races and segments.) In the Nationwide series, the team just put young Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into victory road for the first time in his career, and the line-up also usually includes the currently-sidelined Trevor Bayne.

So would Edwards be as successful in another team? Probably not. But would Roush Fenway be the same force in NASCAR without their "rock star" leader? Again, probably not. No one wants to see the partnership founder over money, but no one can assume a deal will be done, either.

"Those talks are going on behind closed doors and we'll hopefully get something done. But right now we're running well and that is fun," said Edwards. "All I'll say about that is we're running really well right now and it's because of Jack Roush, Ford, all these people's hard work."

"I think Carl said it best," agreed Roush. "We're trying to maintain the focus on keeping our season together. We want to put ourselves in the best situation we can to make a championship run, to be in the top 10 [so that they make it into the Chase]."

When Roush signed Edwards in 2008, he memorably said that he "wouldn't break the bank" the next time around. The state of the economy is also biting NASCAR teams and sponsors, further restricting his freedom of movement to offer Edwards incentives to stay. But there are plenty of teams out there with deep pockets waiting and willing to pounce, such as Joe Gibbs Racing, Red Bull Racing and Penske Racing.

While Edwards has considerable personal popularity with fans and extending outside the sport as well, it's nothing compared to the fevered devotion that follows Dale Earnhardt Jr. When Dale needed to win the fan vote to make it into Saturday's All-Star event, the surprise wasn't that he won, but that the entire telephone network of the mainland United States didn't go into meltdown in the process.




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]
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in ninth place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in third place Sunday, August 16, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at New Hampshire on July 7, 2014. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at Chicago on July 18, 2014. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway on 30 May 2015. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 ARRIS Toyota, drive during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards drives the #19 ARRIS Toyota during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in eleventh place Sunday, August 9, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for second position Saturday, August 8, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. Joining him on the front row will be pole winner AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Bush’s Beans Chevrolet SS. Truex Jr. is fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Bush’s Beans Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position Saturday, August 8, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. Joining him on the front row will be Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Chevrolet SS. Allmendinger is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing) (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kroger/Bush’s Beans Chevrolet SS, celebrates after capturing the pole position Saturday, August 8, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. Joining him on the front row will be Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Chevrolet SS. Allmendinger is 23rd 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, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2015 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M Crispy Toyota, and Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 7, 2015 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 2, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Microsoft Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place Sunday, August 2, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
David Ragan, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 31, 2015 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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)

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