Carl Edwards ended months of speculation last week by announcing he was extending his contract with Roush Fenway Racing. It was a surprising decision since several sources said he was close to moving over to Joe Gibbs Racing.
Ford Motor Co. added to the race team’s offer and that apparently convinced Edwards to stay. He talked last week about working through his choices and why he decided to continue his career with car owner Jack Roush. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: Why did you decide to stay with Roush Fenway Racing?
Edwards: First of all, I wish I would have never confirmed that our term was up because it would have been a lot quieter. I looked at a lot of things, but, at the end of the day, our negotiations and our deals and the things that I look at competitively are private matters and I appreciate you guys respecting that.
Question: How close did you come to doing something different?
Edwards: At the end of the day we went through the process, worked really hard and this is the outcome that happened and I’m proud to be here. I’d really rather not discuss the actual process. I can say, just like I said earlier, that I learned a ton, I learned a lot through this process. I learned a lot about Roush Fenway Racing. It was amazing the things I learned. I learned a lot about Jack as a person. I learned a lot about myself and what’s important to me. I learned a lot about my competitors, about you guys in the media, and I’m really appreciative for all those folks who were patient with me and took the time, and a lot of folks, a lot of folks in here included, I talked to them about this decision and the support that I received was huge, so I really, really appreciate that from the competitors as well. At the end of the day, we were in a position right now where our cars are fast, we have chances to win almost every week, and the opportunity to go out and win this championship, to continue my partnership with Jack, to continue it with Ford, with the sponsors that we have, it’s an honor to be in this position, so I’m really happy with the way this turned out.
Question: Was it unusual to be such a focus of attention?
Edwards: What I did from the beginning of this is I said, ‘What would I do if money weren’t a factor and what would I do if I didn’t care what one person thought about my decision?’ A decision that’s this important to me and my family for all the hard work that I’ve put in for the path that I’ve taken, for me personally, I act as my own agent, I make my own decisions, I understand my own deals and the decision was made under those thoughts. So that’s what made this more simple for me and that’s how I came to the conclusion I came to. Whenever I’d start feeling that pressure start creeping in from the outside I’d think, ‘Okay, let’s get back to the basics here. Where can I win the most championships? And what would I do if other people’s opinions weren’t a factor?’ So that helped me a ton and I think my family and Jack’s patience and Jack’s support, all of those things helped me do that. When I talked to Jack on the phone and he said, ‘Look, Carl, you do whatever you think is best for you.’ He said those words to me and that meant the world. It meant that I didn’t have that pressure to do something for any reason other than what I thought was best. That was huge.
Question: Was there something that Jack Roush or Ford did in the 11th hour to make it happen?
Edwards: There was no last-minute money. The idea that some people have run with is, first of all the money numbers that I read are not correct. That’s all I’ll say about that. And if anybody who wants to publish anymore of those numbers would like to come ask me if they’re correct in person, I’ll tell you they’re not correct. And then second, the deal with Ford there was no difference in the deal at the last minute or anything. My deal with Ford is that I believe in the company. I believe in the products that they make and just like everyone else at Ford and Roush Fenway Racing, if Ford benefits, I have the potential to benefit from that success too. But there was no last-minute influx of money or anything like that. That’s a false assumption.
Question: Why was last week the right time to finally make a decision?
Edwards: I think for the reasons that we talked about overall. I just decided this is the right place for me and if I would have made that decision three months ago, I might have had more second thoughts, I might have felt not as sure about it, so, to me, the fact that I had the time that I had and I had the opportunities, and Jack being as open as he was and showing me things that were going on. Ford, with the way they treated me through the process and showed me things that were going to happen in the future, all of that was a risk on their part because they didn’t have to show me those things, but it took time for me to come to that conclusion. There wasn’t one thing at the end that changed my mind or made my decision different.