Considering how successful Carl Edwards has been so far in 2011 - he's 20pts ahead in the Cup championship after 15 races - you'd think that a contract renewal with Roush Fenway Racing would be a done deal.
But instead, there's still no word about whether Edwards is going to re-sign with Jack Roush after all, long after his team mate Greg Biffle sorted out a three-year extension back in April. And the longer the uncertainty goes on, the more gossip goes around the NASCAR paddock about the possibility of Edwards' and Roush's negotiations having stalled and deadlocked.
Last weekend's "no smoke without fire" story was that Edwards had been in discussions with Joe Gibbs about a move there in 2012.
It would prove to be a logical development: if talks with Roush really have hit a roadblock, then Edwards would need to start talking to other teams simply as a contingency, and in today's NASCAR field there are few teams comparable with Roush Fenway. Indeed, Joe Gibbs Racing may be pretty much the only game in town as far as a championship-winning partnership prospect goes for Edwards.
But just as stories about Lewis Hamilton having a talk with Christian Horner in Montreal does not mean a deal for him to switch to Red Bull F1 is about to happen anytime soon, neither does any talk about meetings between Edwards and Gibbs - even if true - mean that anything substantive is in the works.
Gibbs would clearly be interested in having the 2011 champion-presumptive on the books for next season, and the rumours go that he's less than happy about Joey Logano's development in the #20. Logano was signed as the "next big thing" but has had a less than scintillating couple of years with the team, this weekend finishing in 18th place while his team mates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch finished first and third respectively.
Unsurprisingly, the problem with Edwards' Roush Fenway contract talks seems to be over money: Edwards was an expensive signing for the team when he moved there, and after the success he's given the team in the last two years he understandably thinks that he should get his due reward - whereas Roush has publicly said that he has no intention of breaking the bank again like that anytime soon, for anyone.
When it comes to funding any deal, Roush Fenway has had a battle to retain consistent sponsorship with the #99 while the JGR #20 comes complete with one of the most secure and enduring sponsor deals in NASCAR courtesy of Home Depot - who are desperate to topple business arch rivals Lowes from the top of the Cup championship after five straight years of victory with Jimmie Johnson.
The #20 also comes with one of the top crew chiefs in the business, two-time championship winning Greg Zipadelli. This may be both a plus- and a minus-point: Zipadelli has traditionally been seen as an inseparable package with the #20, but Edwards has always been very loyal and committed to his current crew chief Bob Osborne - although a couple of early season calls about whether to pit or stay out (the eternal fresh rubber versus track position debate) seemed to cause a little friction between them when Osborne's calls proved the wrong way to go. However, current paddock gossip suggests that Zipadelli may be contemplating a move to Tony Stewart's team after friction in recent months with Logano. Zipadelli won the Cup championship with Stewart in 2002 and 2005.