July 29, 2011
SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Jeff Gordon never has changed teams in his 20-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has been his lone stop in NASCAR's top division.
But if Gordon were to ever consider a change, he's positive that it would have a negative effect on his on-track performance. Because of that, Gordon thinks the ongoing discussions Carl Edwards has had about 2012 aren't doing the Roush-Fenway driver any competitive favors.
"I think that's a big factor. I think, you know, whether or not he's staying or going, it's a big distraction, a lot on his mind," Gordon said Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I think it's unfortunate in some ways because I think this is the best year I've seen Carl have with a team and a car capable of winning the championship."
Gordon, a four-time champion himself, said the discussions may be the difference between Edwards hoisting the championship trophy at Homestead in November or going home empty.
"Let's say he's going somewhere else, they're done," Gordon said. "I just don't see them winning the championship knowing that they're leaving. I might be wrong. But if he stays, it might have just been a blip and then get back on track."
Edwards, of course, is leading the point standings heading to Sunday's Brickyard 400, seven points ahead of five-time defending champ Jimmie Johnson. Edwards' contract with Roush-Fenway Racing, the only team Edwards has ever competed with in NASCAR, expires at the end of 2011.
Edwards has been all but silent about the issue, saying he would let everyone know the details when they were ready. His teammate Greg Biffle said Friday that Carl's decision will need to come soon.
"He's not going to be able to wait until Homestead, we all know," Biffle said. "Carl is a big boy, he's a man and he has to make his own decisions. Eventually, he's going to have make a decision and it'll be the best for everybody, so one, we can plan for sponsorships and drivers and teams and people.
"There's a lot of people's jobs on the line — if we're going to be three or four teams — so the sooner the better."
Gordon was later asked if he was surprised that Edwards, one of NASCAR's most marketable and well-known drivers, still had an unclear future in the sport.
"I'm not surprised," Gordon said, smiling. "I spoke to Carl years ago when he stayed at Roush. We talked to him, as he talked to every team. I saw his negotiating tactics at the time. It's not surprising."
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