INDIANAPOLIS — Carl Edwards again refused to discuss his current contract negotiations on Friday and disputed four-time champion Jeff Gordon's belief that the indecision will become a distraction to Edwards' title chances.
"Whether or not he's staying or going, it's a big distraction, a lot on his mind," Gordon said. " 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, if those things are all playing out — let's say he's going somewhere else, they're done. I just don't see them winning the championship knowing that they're leaving."
Edwards is the current Sprint Cup Series points leader heading into Sunday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He's in the final year of his contract with Roush Fenway Racing and has declined to discuss his negotiations publicly. It's believed that he's being courted by Joe Gibbs Racing and that organization hoped for a decision from Edwards this weekend.
Edwards, as he's done all season, offered no details or insight into what he might decide.
"I'm going to make the decision that's the best one I can make, and I'm going to do it outside of the media," Edwards said.
But the speculation continues to mount as the situation drags on, and Edwards could be holding up other driver decisions. Clint Bowyer is still unsigned at Richard Childress Racing and potentially could be a candidate to replace Edwards should he leave Roush.
Juan Pablo Montoya also is unsigned but indicated Friday he is close to an extension with Chip Ganassi Racing. Then there's the issue of Joey Logano, who presumably sits in limbo as JGR waits for an answer from Edwards.
Edwards could replace Logano outright, who would then have to be placed somewhere by JGR. Among the scenarios most often discussed is Logano either going to a fourth car at JGR or being loaned out to another Toyota team, perhaps JTG-Daugherty Racing.
With so much uncertainty, it's easy to understand why Gordon would question how this could effect Edwards' championship hopes.
Edwards dismissed it as a non-issue.
"There are a lot of distractions in life, but we're doing really well," Edwards said. "We're leading the points, and we're doing well. We're doing what we need to do, so I'm a competitor. My job is to do the job that I'm hired to do, and whatever distractions there are out there I have to be able to shut those off and go race, and that's what I do."
Greg Biffle, who earlier this season agreed to an extension to stay with Roush, thinks Edwards needs to make a decision soon.
"It's obvious that it's coming to a head, kind of like whether we're going to approve the debt ceiling or not," Biffle said. "At some point he's going to have to say that I'm not coming back. He's not going to be able to wait until (season finale) Homestead. We all know that.
"I understand contract negotiations take a long time and there is a lot to them, but truly if you know or you've made a decision, then it's time to give everybody enough opportunity to make their decision on the back side of that."