Carl Edwards stays at Roush Fenway
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carl Edwards has decided the best chance for him to win a Sprint Cup championship is to stay put.
The current series points leader has agreed to a new multiyear deal with Roush Fenway Racing, declining an offer to move to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012, the team announced Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Edwards Not Moving Anywhere
Carl Edwards has decided the best chance for him to win a Sprint Cup championship is to stay put, writes David Newton. Story
It was all talk and no action, writes ESPN.com's Terry Blount. Edwards' decision to stay at Roush probably means the other free agents will stay put as well. Blog
In a statement, team co-owner Jack Roush said he was "thrilled" that Edwards would remain part of the team for years to come.
"Carl Edwards has achieved a level of success on and off track that would put him at the top of the list for any race team," Roush said. "We saw great potential in Carl a decade ago, and it's been a thrill to watch him grow into one of the sport's premier drivers behind the wheel of the No. 99."
Edwards had been mulling offers from both organizations, with several reports saying he would leave the team that gave him his NASCAR break in the Truck Series in 2002.
However, with what Ford spokesman Kevin Kennedy called an unprecedented offer by the manufacturer for Edwards to stay at RFR and other incentives, Edwards opted to stay put.
Edwards said Roush Fenway has given him "the resources I need to win."
"I sincerely appreciate the amazing opportunity that Jack Roush has given me in this sport and am honored to race for him," Edwards said. "I really enjoy competing with this group and looking forward to continuing that relationship into the future."
Teammate Matt Kenseth tweeted: "Have the boss with, figured i would buy him lunch, he looks a little light in the wallet today for some reason!"
Edwards began his Cup career at RFR in 2004, replacing Jeff Burton in the No. 99 late in the season when Burton left to go to Richard Childress Racing. He won four races in 2005 and finished tied with teammate Greg Biffle for second in the final standings.
His best season came in 2008, when he won a career-high nine races and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the Cup.
Edwards has an 11-point lead over Johnson as the series heads to Pocono Raceway.
The tide apparently turned for Edwards because of Ford's big push.
"We are pleased with Carl's vote of confidence in Roush Fenway and Ford," said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing. "This signals he believes he is with the right team and the right automaker to win races and championships. Now we can continue to focus on winning the 2011 championship."
Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark said there was a time during the negotiations that he knew there was a chance Edwards could go to JGR, where there was speculation he would move into the No. 20 Home Depot car currently occupied by Joey Logano.
But at no point, Newmark said, did Edwards say he'd made a decision to leave.
"I read the reports out there that Carl had finalized a deal with Gibbs," Newmark said. "He was always adamant with me that he had not made a decision yet.''
Newmark added that neither RFR nor Ford came up with an 11th-hour offer that swayed Edwards.
"We put one economic package in front of him a while ago,'' Newmark said. "It never changed. At no point in the last five days was there any change in the economic offer, so this did not come down to money.
"I can tell you unequivocally that Carl has always told us this was not about the money. I really believe that is the case. He is passionate about winning championships and that is the sole focus."
Although Newmark would not get into details of the contract, he said it was the goal of RFR to keep Edwards "for his entire career.''
Officials at JGR could not be reached, but Logano and crew chief Greg Zipadelli told ESPN.com last weekend at Indianapolis that they plan to be in the No. 20 in 2012.
It appeared NASCAR's other top free agents likely were to stay put as well. Clint Bowyer, according to team owner Richard Childress, is in the final stages of working out a deal at RCR, pending sponsorship. Juan Pablo Montoya said last weekend at Indianapolis that he was working on a new deal with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Brian Vickers will have to wait to see if Red Bull Racing can restructure its organization. Mark Martin may have several options, from the new Red Bull team to a third car at Richard Petty Motorsports, if sponsorship can be worked out.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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