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The mystery of Carl Edwards' wreck

"Jr. Nation" is a phenomenon, but Earnhardt's situation shows that fan popularity and sponsor appeal isn't the be-all and end-all of things when it comes to a NASCAR career. His racing form has never really fulfilled his promise, and the slightly underwhelming form has led to an absence of wins since his much-heralded switch to Hendrick Motorsports. There were even some who thought that Rick Hendrick might think there were better deals to be done elsewhere, and simply walk away from Earnhardt when the current deal between team and driver ends in 2012 - despite the fact that Earnhardt has risen to fourth place in the Spring Cup championship through consistency.

But Hendrick squashed any such speculation at the weekend, stating unequivocally that "We know we want to be together and we just want to get this over with." He said that most of the major negotiating points were settled and that the deal would be for a three- to five-year extension. "It shows I'm committed to him and he's committed to us."

"I'm excited to be where I am," Earnhardt confirmed. "It's an amazing organization. There are some great, great people there. I've learned a lot being around there. It's made me a better person ... If I get an opportunity to stick around, I'm excited about that."

Compared to the cagey dance being played out between Edwards and Roush over a contract much closer to expiry, the Hendrick-Eardhardt Jr. arrangement is a model of calm.



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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