Roush Fenway Racing has announced that Carl Edwards will stay with the organization for 2012 and beyond.
"I sincerely appreciate the amazing opportunity that Jack Roush has given me in this sport and am honored to race for him," Edwards said in a release. "As an organization, Roush Fenway provides the resources I need to win, and as a driver, that's the most important thing. We're having a fun season on the race track as we're leading the points and in great position for the Chase. That's the result of a lot of hard work from the men and women at Roush Fenway, Ford Motor Company and Roush Yates Engines. I really enjoy competing with this group and looking forward to continuing that relationship into the future."
Joe Gibbs Racing had been named as Edwards' top suitor if he was to leave Roush Fenway, with rumors swirling that Edwards had been offered a monster sum of money to take over the No. 20 with sponsorship from The Home Depot. (Edwards helped fuel some of that speculation by asking for privacy every time he was asked about contract negotiations.)
Edwards acted as his own agent, and throughout the season maintained the stance that he would not discuss his contract status publically. The only thing he would say is that whichever organization he chose would give him the best opportunity to win a championship. His silence helped fueled a rumor mill from February until today.
Why did he ultimately decide to stay with Roush?
Leading the points likely played a big part in him re-signing with the only Cup organization he's ever known. Loyalty, too, as team owner Jack Roush is the one who took a chance on a then 25-year-old Edwards, previously a substitute teacher, by giving him the keys to the No. 99 back in 2004.
And unknowningly, Jeff Gordon might have played a role, too. Last weekend at Indianapolis, Gordon said that if Edwards was to leave Roush, his 2011 championship chances would be done. Certainly Edwards has been thinking long-term, but he also had to consider if this season is his best shot at a championship, a very real possibility, and if so how re-signing with another team would impact his current title run.
Details of Edwards' contract, as well as sponsorship information, weren't released.
"We saw great potential in Carl a decade ago, and it's been a thrill to watch him grow into one of the sports' premier drivers behind the wheel of the No. 99," said team owner Jack Roush, for whom Edwards started driving for in the Truck Series in 2003. "We didn't take our past success for granted when we sat down with Carl to talk about his future. As an organization, we approach each week with an intense focus on being successful in the race to come. Carl's position atop the points is a testament to that diligence."
Now that Edwards is signed, Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer can get on with their own contract negotiations. Both are likely to re-sign with their current teams, Montoya with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, Bowyer with Richard Childress Racing.