By The Associated Press
LONG POND, Pa. — Sure, NASCAR Sprint Cup points-leader Carl Edwards wanted to keep to himself the decision about where he would drive next season and beyond to himself.
But make no mistake: Edwards was under close scrutiny as he weighed his options and ultimately decided to remain with Roush Fenway Racing — especially when it became national news.
“When you’re watching TV and you see little things come up on the screen … it’s like, how do you not think about that? Because it’s right there in front of you,” said Joey Logano, who’s on the pole for Sunday’s Good Sam 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Logano had ample reason to pay attention to what Edwards might have been thinking. Joe Gibbs Racing — for whom Logano drives — was trying to lure Edwards from Roush Fenway, the operation Edwards has driven for since 2003.
That Gibbs was pursuing Edwards — who seems on the verge of NASCAR superstardom — didn’t go unnoticed by Logano and teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.
“As far as I knew, they were just rumors,” said Logano. “Until my boss Joe (Gibbs, team owner) or J.D. (Gibbs, team president) tell me I’m not driving, that’s when I know it. What was I really going to ask them?”
Hamlin took a more direct approach with Joe Gibbs.
“You hear the rumors, and you hear (Edwards) is or he isn’t, and I’m wondering how close he is,” said Hamlin. “So I asked (Gibbs) myself. He’s like, ‘Trust me, if it ever got to that point, I would let you know first.’
“So I knew that it never really had gotten that far along, I don’t believe. Whether his intentions really were to leave or not, it’s tough to say. For us, we obviously were interested in having him and things just didn’t work out.”
Said Busch: “I don’t think there’s any sense of disappointment. Certainly it would’ve been great to have him. I don’t think there’s any hard feelings here. I think that’s part of the negotiation process and how Carl felt like he wanted to handle things. Where he ended up is where he ended up.”
Then there’s Ryan Newman, whose contract at Stewart-Haas Racing expires after this season. He could be the next subject of team-switching speculation, but he’d just as soon wait.
“I would say it would be best to handle it in the off-season, when you’re building race cars rather than going to the race track,” said Newman, who helped team co-owner Tony Stewart start the team in 2009. “I don’t think it ever exactly plays out the way you intend because you’re working with more than one party.
“I don’t have a goal of when I want to handle my contract or when I want to handle my extension. When it seems like it’s right or when somebody brings it up, we’ll address it.”