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Ryan Newman scores an emotional win....while speculation rages about Carl Edwards joining Joe Gibbs

 Teammate and owner-driver Tony Stewart congratulates New Hampshire winner Ryan Newman (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   Speculation about Carl Edwards raged through the NASCAR garage throughout the weekend, with unconfirmed reports that the stock car racing star – now back atop the Sprint Cup standings after Sunday's New Hampshire 301 – could definitely be heading to the Joe Gibbs Toyota operation next season and leaving Jack Roush's Ford operation after seven seasons.
   No one would say much at all on the record about the Edwards situation.

  Edwards and Roush have kept their re-negotiations very quiet and behind closed doors. And the Gibbs have said little more than Edwards is a very good driver.
   That's the way it's been for months – silence.
   Now, however, it appears something is changing, or has changed. Just what, if anything, isn't clear.
   And yet still there was little more than more silence Sunday. No one involved was leaping in to deny or confirm anything, though according to one source a deal was concluded Tuesday.
   Roush himself said only that he had not heard the reports and thus didn't know much about that part of the situation.
   On the other side, however, there was for a while a clear sense of jubilation in the Gibbs camp, though again nothing on the record.
   Part of the speculation involves sponsorship possibilities. Edwards is considered one of the sport's most attractive drivers from a sponsor's viewpoint. And it is believed that part of the driving factor in the Edwards-Gibbs possibility could be Home Depot, the home improvement giant which has 'lost' five straight NASCAR championships to arch-rival Lowe's and Jimmie Johnson.
   Home Depot 'won' the 2005 championship when Tony Stewart was driving for the Gibbs. Currently Joey Logano drives with Home Depot sponsorship for the Gibbs and is 18th in the standings at the midpoint of the season, while Johnson is second.
   Neither owner Joe Gibbs nor son and team manager J. D. Gibbs could be found here over the weekend for any comment.
   If Edwards does indeed join Gibbs, he would become the fourth Cup drivers there, with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano as teammates, giving Gibbs an even more powerhouse lineup. Hamlin nearly won the Sprint Cup championship last season, and Busch went into Sunday's race here as the sport's Cup tour leader.
   Roush just lost powerhouse sponsor Diageo (Crown Royal) two weeks ago; that company is expected to announce a track title sponsorship with Indianapolis Motor Speedway when the tour arrives next week for the Brickyard 400.
   And it appears that sponsor Aflac is still up in the air as to what it might do in NASCAR next season; Aflac has been the major sponsor for Roush and Edwards.
   UPS, another major Roush sponsor, is also pondering what it might do next season. UPS currently sponsors David Ragan, whose Daytona win two weeks ago was a welcomed relief for officials in those negotiations.
   Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark is the man in charge of sponsorship talks and driver negotiations. However Newmark could not be reached here Sunday for any comment.
   According to one unconfirmed report, an announcement by Edwards about his 2012 plans could come next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
   The proposed deal would, according to sources, be the largest driver salary sponsorship ever in NASCAR, and the sponsor involved is indeed Home Depot.
   How the Gibbs might reshape Logano's team and what sponsor Logano might have is apparently still up in the air.
   Also to be determined would be the shape of the proposed new Edwards-Home Depot crew.
   How Roush himself might respond to such a deal is unclear. When Jeff Burton told Roush in the summer of 2004 that he planned to leave at the end of the season, Roush made the change immediate, releasing Burton and promoting Edwards to the ride within days. When Kurt Busch told Roush during the summer of 2005, after winning the 2004 championship, that he would like to leave to join Roger Penske at the end of the season, Roush triggered a complicated driver swap that put Jamie McMurray in that ride.
   If Roush were to have to fill Edwards' ride, the two most logical picks would be Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.


Track boss Jerry Gappens, and winner Ryan Newman, with his new pet lobster (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    That was Sunday's behind-the-scenes drama.
    Out on the track, well, it was yet another gas mileage finish, with drivers running out in the closing miles and others backing way off to conserve fuel. It's been that way at a number of races the past two months. Winner Ryan Newman and crew chief Tony Gibson said Goodyear's new batch of tires this season are making a big difference in strategy, setting up these gas mileage finishes.
    In victory Newman – normally a quipster, with a wry sense of humor, sometimes quite pointed – was clearly emotional.
   "A good friend of mine lost a battle with cancer. His name was Beau Slocumb. He died in April," Newman said.
    "I've worn a bracelet ever since….to remind me how tough life can be, what it can throw to you, sometimes to the best people you could ever imagine.
    "That was something that's emotional to me. It's hard to talk about it because I know his family, I know his wife. It's tough.
     "He was living with us. To see some of the things that he went through, to help him fight that battle, that was really tough for me."

    The race itself up till that gas mileage end-game was relatively mild-mannered, by NASCAR short track standards, with a few spins, no major incidents.
    Still Denny Hamlin, who rallied to finish third, called it "a pretty physical race -- guys were really banging into each other.
    "I was banging into guys.
    "It was just one of those days where you had to do the best you can to keep four fenders on it."


At the finish line, Ryan Newman, just ahead of Tony Stewart (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    Most disappointed was clearly Kyle Busch, who blew a right-front tire early and hit the wall.
   "Blew a bead," Busch said, referring to the tire sealing bead which holds the tire to the wheel. "Transferring too much brake heat through the wheel."
   Using a lot of brake, not unusual on a short track, particularly a fast one like this, tends to heat up the wheels, physically melting the bead and blowing the tire.
    Jeff Gordon appeared to have the fastest car in the field, but he had major electrical issues early and fell a lap down for repairs. He regained that lap eventually and charged back into contention, and appeared ready to win….only to be foiled, like so many others, by this gas mileage thing.
   Gordon, despite conserving fuel late, ran out the very last lap and fell from fourth to 11th.
   Kurt Busch likewise was racing for the win until gas mileage took him out. He tried to conserve too but ran out and finished 10th.
   Hamlin, after a slow start here, was running Newman down in the stretch. "But the crew chief was screaming we've got to back off," a disappointed Hamlin said.
   "At that point you have to think about the risk versus reward.
   "If we win the race, we get about 10 more points than if we coast and get third place….but if we go for it and miss, run out of fuel, we end up with minus 20 or 30 points.
     "As bad as I wanted to go up there and race those guys, I had to make the smart move and finish the race."
    That's much the same scenario as played out here last fall, when leader Tony Stewart ran out in the final miles and Hamlin had to nurse his car home second behind Clint Bowyer.
    The controversy following Bowyer's win appeared to set up a comeback scenario here for this race. However Bowyer was never in the hunt and finished a distant 17th.
   Stewart, whose last tour win came last fall, has struggled this season, and he hasn't been in a very good mood most days. And even after going one-two Sunday Stewart was again in a snappish mood.
    "It definitely was a big risk, for sure," Stewart said of the gas mileage game he and Newman played out. "Honestly, I didn't know.
    "I knew how short we were. I didn't know what kind of mileage they were getting.
   "But this is a pretty easy track to save fuel on, because you really have to use a lot of brake (to run fast), but it's got long, sweeping corners, so you coast a lot.
    "I don't mind running second and having him win the race…versus us winning the race and him running out of fuel. This is a much more gratifying weekend for me."
    Newman should have been way short of finishing. But when it's your day…
   "I knew I was doing a really good job of saving fuel…which is not the easiest thing to do," Newman said.  "The saving grace we had was we had a good racecar, and we were able to pull out on a lead and maintain that lead."
   Down the stretch it was Stewart chasing Newman.
   "I'd rather have Stewart behind me than anybody else," Newman said. "I have a lot of respect for him. I know the way he races.
   "If we were side-by-side coming to the checkered, we'd have smoke coming off the fenders, because that's the kind of guys we are. But we're not going to crash each other….
     "Looking in the mirror seeing that Chevy was music in my ears. I know he's going to respect me, respect our situation."



The guys running their mouth on TV, said Gordon got a flat tire and he had at least ten laps of more fuel over the 39, 11,and 99. So he should have had no problem on fuel.


Home Depot has more to worry about than racing sponsorship. It is obvious that Lowes is doing to Home Depot what Home Depot did to Hechingers.

I don't doubt your sources,

I don't doubt your sources, but this just doesn't make any sense to me. Why go to Gibbs? It's not like GIbbs has some great history of success; they've won a couple of championships, but so has Roush. And Roush has just now gotten their act together and are running strong. If Home Depot wants Carl so bad, why don't they just go talk to Jack Roush, and sponsor the 99?

If Carl wanted to go somewhere other than Roush, Hendrick would have been the logical place to go.

If he does go, does Bob Osbourne go with him?

And are the rumors of Gibbs closing their engine shop simply a bit off? Maybe they're switching manufacturers again? Maybe to Ford?

I'll say this: if Edwards goes to Gibbs, he's making a big mistake, IMO. It will be at best a lateral move.

Look like Home Depot would

Look like Home Depot would want to go to Roush! As long as Kyle Busch is over at Gibbs dont think that would mesh!!!

Carl Edwards to JGR..say it's not so!!

Please,please, please Carl just say no to Gibb's Toyota! If you think about how chamionships are won and in the case of Mr. Edwards, lost, he has the greatest chance to win that coveted Cup at Roush and Ford.
JGR have stumbled more than Roush and if he takes the money route it will be his actual "loss" rather than a Champinship "win"
Contrary to popular thinking, manufacturer loyalty is still very much in evidence and all The Ford fans will be in mourning if he bolts to JGR
Don't do it Carl...be loyal to Ford and win this year and next and.....

carl edwards

If Carl goes to JGR I will no longer be a fan of his!! I am sick and tired of pro athletes showing no loyalty and just going fo the almighty dollar. If he was going to start his own team ala Smoke I could understand him leaving Roush but just chasing the almighty buck I have a problem with that. I mean really Roush plucked him out of no where and look where he is today.

Don't Do It Carl!!!!

The first thing they'll hand Carl as a member of the Joe Gibbs team is a list of pre-rehearsed excuses. "We'll use this as a learning experience" is first. You'd think they'd all have pHD's by now, they trot that chesnut out so danged often. The bottom line is they're a dirty organization that hides behind The Bible. Lay down with dogs Carl and you'll wake up with fleas.

Get over it people

I tell you what, i dont understand what's the big deal with Carl goin to Gibbs Toyota. Do i like Gibbs? No i personally think they are hypocrites with their views on Alcohol sponsors, but ill save that for another time. To me, it's not a big deal Toyota being in the sport, and in fact, the Toyota Camry, made in Kentucky, is actually more of an American car than the Fusion made in Mexico. People need to get over themselves and business is business, simple as that. I am a Dale Jr fan and honestly i cant stand Rick Hendrick and wish Jr was at RCR but that didnt happen but do i still pull for Jr? Absolutely. Do i wanna see Hendrick win an eleventh championship? Absolutely not, but he will if Jr does so u gotta suck it up as a fan of that driver. Anyone that leaves Carl because of this move is nothing more than a bandwagon fan and i have no use for them. I hope this is true, personally i believe it is because if he were staying, this would've been a done deal long ago like Greg Biffle's contract was. Come on Stenhouse and Bayne, which i think both will move up and David Ragan will be let go when UPS announces they have went to Bowyer as sponsor of the 33 car at RCR!

Home Depot should move

The 17 car needs sponsorship right? And maybe the 6? Seems simple - Home Depot should pack up and move to Roush and the 99 car. If Jack can hang on to his sponsors he can move them to the other cars. I suppose Home Despot thinks they're tied to the #20 as part of the brand. Give it up and move to a better driver and team: wins, championships and TV time matter.

The manufacturer question is intersting, I can't imagine Ford will let go of Carl without a fight (Do you see Matt, Greg or David doing Ford commercials?). If Gibbs to Ford with Carl, who does Toyota try to add because of course they are probably losing Redbull? Petty and Childress are too rooted in the American history of the sport (though it's not like Petty hasn't moved around recently), Penski seem's awfully wedded to Dodge. EGR? Front Row? Who's left?

kyle and carl great teammates

if carl was going to stay he would have signed already.kyle and him would make each other better.racing for wins and championships as teammates.

kyle and carl

carl is not going back.if he was he would have already signed.kyle and carl would be great teammates.they would make each other better.racing for wins and championships.if you notice something.carl never talks bad about kyle anymore or getting him back.he was at bristol.so you know something was in the works after that.

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