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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]
Denny Hamlin and Darian Grubb, the crew chief of the #11 Joe Gibb Racing Toyota, consult in the garage area during testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents, the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, does a burnout after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, celebrates after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart presents Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, with the trophy after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, wins the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, and Erik Jones, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, lead the field during a restart of the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on July 11, 2014 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, lead a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
David Ragan, driver of the #98 Carroll Shelby Engine Ford, and Elliott Sadler, driver of the #11 SportClips Toyota, spin out during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
David Gilliland, driver of the #38 Love`s Travel Stops Ford, poses with Ms. Coors Light, Rachel Rupert, after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland smiles in his garage on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. after turning the fastest lap in final practice for Sunday`s Daytona 500. Gilliland turned a lap of 200.138 mph. [Picture Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR]
David Gilliland at Daytona on February 17, 2014 (Photo Credit:  NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, puts a winner sticker on his car as he celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 22, 2014 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, celebrates with a backflip after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 22, 2014 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 22, 2014 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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