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“Roush did the equivalent of opening the books, letting Edwards in on the secrets of every nook of the organization. "If Carl had made the decision not to come back, I was going to feel really stupid for having shown him all these things," Roush said. Edwards refused to say how close he was to signing with another team or how many teams showed interest. Once Edwards was back in the fold, Roush started sponsorship discussions for the No. 99, and he said there's no shortage of interested suitors. Roush said the company will be "just fine" running four cars. RFR also has Matt Kenseth and David Ragan under contract. Edwards' contract means other free agents can start seriously considering their options for 2012 and beyond. Clint Bowyer (Richard Childress Racing), Juan Pablo Montoya (Earnhardt Ganassi Racing) and Brian Vickers (Red Bull Racing) are the three top free agents available, and interest is about to pick up. Vickers needed a seat once Red Bull announced it will leave NASCAR at the end of the season. Bowyer said Friday he's close to re-signing with RCR. "I feel like we're getting close and we're working on it, and hopefully we'll have that done," Bowyer said. Also affected was JGR driver Joey Logano, who likely would have lost his ride in the No. 20 had Edwards come aboard. JGR star Denny Hamlin made it seem like a deal with Edwards was not as close as it appeared. He asked owner Joe Gibbs to tell him when a deal was close. Gibbs told him, "If it ever got to that point, I would let you know first." Hamlin never heard a peep. "So I knew that it never really had gotten very far along, I don't believe," Hamlin said. "Whether his intentions really were to leave or not, it's tough to say." Edwards has been with Roush since 2002, when the team gave him his break in NASCAR. It came in the Trucks Series, but Edwards was in Cup by 2004 as a late-season replacement for Jeff Burton. He was a four-time Cup winner the next season and a bona fide NASCAR star, backflipping off the winning car in celebration of each victory. Edwards' best season was 2008, when he won a series-high nine races and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the championship race. It's the team he wanted to call home should he ever hoist that championship trophy. With the sparkling results he's had this season, there was little reason for Edwards to bolt. "We don't have a weakness, and that's the thing that makes me feel really good about our prospects going forward," Roush said. "We don't have anything glaring that is deficient." Bold words from the long-time owner. Edwards is confident he can back up the boasts with the best finish of his career. "I'm really proud of the fact that we went through all of this, and we're leading the points," Edwards said. "We haven't missed a beat, and we're able to keep digging."
If Carl had made the decision not to come back, I was going to feel really stupid for having shown him all these things.” -- Team owner Jack Roush