Friday, July 29, 2011
Carl Edwards focused on points title
By David Newton
INDIANAPOLIS -- Sprint Cup points leader Carl Edwards is staying focused on winning a championship despite widespread speculation that he is leaving Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing after this season.
Edwards would not comment Friday on whether he has made a decision, but he was adamant that it will not hurt his chances of winning the title regardless.
"I feel like no matter what happens we have a great thing going," said Edwards, who has a seven-point lead over five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson heading into Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Jack Roush and Ford and Aflac, that is our mission right now -- to win the championship.
"That is all of our goals. Whatever happens, happens. But I believe that is reasonable to believe that could happen no matter what."
Speculation that Edwards was headed for JGR to drive the No. 20 Home Depot car currently driven by Joey Logano, with Aflac following him to JGR, intensified two weeks ago at New Hampshire. Logano and crew chief Greg Zipadelli told ESPN.com that they have been given no indication that their status for next season will change.
Logano said the rumors haven't been a distraction for him and his team.
"If anything it is making my team work harder," Logano said. "It's making us come together more as a team. It's good. The last few weeks it's paid off. The last four weeks we have scored more points than anybody.
"All I've heard is rumors. No one has told me anything."
Edwards said the speculation hasn't been distracting to him even though four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said it has to be. Gordon also said that the No. 99 team would be "done" if Edwards announced he was leaving RFR.
"We're really doing well," Edwards said. "We're leading in points. I'm a competitor. My job is to do the job that I'm hired to do. Whatever distractions are out there, I have to be able to shut those off and go race."
Edwards would not give a timetable for making an announcement, although sources say it has to be soon so plans for next season can get under way. When asked if he had made a decision, Edwards said, "I'd just rather not say."
"We're working hard on the contract stuff," he added. "I've heard a lot of different ideas out there. The story remains the same -- I'm going to make a decision that is the best one I can make. I'm going to do that outside the media.
"Right now I have a signed contract, and that is the contract I signed in 2008 to race for Jack in '09, '10 and '11. So that is my mission. That's what I'm going to honor."
Edwards' teammate Greg Biffle said Edwards must make a decision soon.
"At some point he's gonna have to say that I'm not coming back," Biffle said. "He's not gonna be able to wait until Homestead [the last race in the Chase for the Cup on Nov. 20], we all know that. So Carl is a big boy, he's a man and he has to make his own decision. There are a lot of people's jobs on the line -- if we're gonna be three teams or four teams -- so the sooner the better."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.