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Sunday, April 17, 2011
Roush hopes to keep Carl Edwards

By David Newton
ESPN.com

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- With Greg Biffle now signed to a new three-year contract, Roush Fenway Racing will turn its focus to retaining Sprint Cup points leader Carl Edwards.

Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark said on Sunday he is cautiously optimistic a deal can be reached with Edwards, the biggest free agent on the NASCAR market. He hopes the deal can be reached before mid-summer.

Edwards
Edwards

"My hope would be before that," Newmark said from the infield at Talladega Superspeedway, where the team held a news conference announcing Biffle's deal with the team and sponsor 3M. "I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to get something done. I think it's the right fit for Carl, Roush Fenway and for Carl's sponsors."

Edwards recently said negotiations were on the back burner, as he doesn't want to disrupt the best start of his career and what he believes will be a championship run. But Newmark said negotiations are ongoing.

"Carl and I, we have constant dialogue about it," Newmark said. "Clearly our main focus is to have Carl continue to run for the championship, and hopefully we can get [sponsor] Aflac and Carl a championship this year.

"At the same time it's the nature of the business and you have to do a lot of this stuff in parallel."

Edwards is free to talk to other teams. Sources said he has visited with Joe Gibbs Racing, which would have to expand to a fourth team to accomodate such an addition.

But most in the garage believe Edwards will re-sign with Roush Fenway, the team he has driven for since his Sprint Cup career began in 2004. Biffle is among those who are confident that Edwards will remain his teammate.

"As you know, our cars are super fast this season and they will be for the next couple of years," Biffle said. "We're kind of on the upswing with all the things we've got going on with our company."

Newmark said the goal is to maintain continuity, and re-signing Edwards is a big part of that.

"Continuity in this sport, in my mind, is very underrated and it's something we've tried to focus on recently," Newmark said. "So obviously, re-signing Greg and 3M for an extension is the first step in that process."

Biffle, 41, acknowledged he took a cut in salary, considering the current economic climate. But he's "happy where we ended up" and can see ending his racing career with the team.

"There's been a little talk about that," Biffle said. "Let me be clear that this isn't my last contract. We'll see, but that's definitely the plan, I believe, to finish my driving career for Roush Fenway."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.