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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]
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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