By admin | July 31, 2011
By Richard Allen
This past weekend, the speculation over the future of NASCAR driver Carl Edwards seemed to come to a head as teammates and competitors alike took turns voicing their opinions. The star driverâ€™s contract runs out at the end of the current season and his status for next year has been very much in question since it became known a few weeks ago that Joe Gibbs Racing was interested in luring him away from Roush Fenway Racing.
During a media availability session on Friday in Indianapolis, four time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon seized the opportunity to play a few mind games with a driver and team who appear to be serious competitors for the NASCAR title.
“I just don’t see them winning the championship knowing that they’re leaving,” Gordon said of the distractions created by Edwardsâ€˜s possible change. “I might be wrong. If he stays, it might have just been a blip and then get back on track. So I think that’s definitely playing a factor.”
Gordon is correct that there has never been a driver to win a championship, at least in the last 30 years, who had announced that he intended to leave his current team at the end of the season. While no doubt Edwards and his Roush Fenway Racing team would make every effort to end the season on a high note, even if their driver were to announce he intended to leave. But the distractions would be difficult to overcome.
At the same time Edwardsâ€™ competitors are taking shots at his situation, his teammates seem to be growing weary of the speculation. RFR driver Greg Biffle weighed in on the matter when pressed by the media in Indianapolis.
“At some point, he’s gonna have to say, ‘I’m not coming back,’” Biffle said. “He’s not gonna be able to wait until Homestead, we all know that. Carl is a big boy, he’s a man and he has to make his own decisions.
“There are a lot of people’s jobs on the line if we’re gonna be three teams or four teams,” Biffle went on. “I understand contract negotiations take a long time and there is a lot to them, but truly, if you know or you’ve made a decision, then it’s time to give everybody enough opportunity to make their move on the back side of that.”
JGR boss J.D. Gibbs and RFR execs remained decidedly mum on the situation during the weekend. So, either no one but Edwards knows what is going to happen or those who do know arenâ€™t talking.
But as Biffle said, the time in which a decision must be announced one way or the other is fast approaching. Both organizations in question have lots of decisions to make and work to do in preparation for either having or not having Carl Edwards as their driver in 2012. Multi-million dollar companies donâ€™t make major decisions such a designing a marketing campaign around a NASCAR team in just a few weeks. So, one of these teams is going to have to know something soon in order to align sponsorship.
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