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Aumann: In the end, Edwards' decision based on winning

August 05, 2011, Mark Aumann,

LONG POND, Pa. -- It wasn't about the money. It wasn't about the loyalty. It wasn't about leverage.

Carl Edwards signed a contract to stay with Roush Fenway Racing this week because he was looking out for No. 1. And when Edwards boiled everything down to what he wanted most, it came down to one word: winning.

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Carl Edwards and Jack Roush discuss the contract extension in Pocono.

"To me, this was really about where I could be the most successful, where could I perform the best," Edwards said Friday at Pocono Raceway. "That's what this was about."

Despite his best efforts to downplay the whole thing, Edwards' future plans have been the focal point of nearly every interview session since January, when it was revealed that he was in the option year of his contract.

Should he stay or should he go? Rumors had him landing a ride with almost every top team in the garage area. Every week, the questions were launched in his direction. And every week, Edwards had to patiently explain that he hadn't come to any conclusions.

He wasn't interested in negotiating through the media.

But that didn't mean he wasn't mulling the whole thing over in his mind.

"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?," Edwards asked himself. "[What to do about] a decision that's this important to me, my family, for all the hard work I've put in, for the path 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."

Edwards began to feel the importance of the decision weighing on him as the season wore on. But even as he solicited more and more advice, he kept telling himself to not let the opinions of others sway him in the wrong direction.

"Whenever I'd start feeling that pressure creeping in from the outside, I said to myself, 'OK, 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?' ", Edwards said. "And that helped me a ton. I think my family and Jack's patience and Jack's support, all of those things helped me do that."

For his part, Roush took a huge risk by being completely transparent throughout the process, having the driver ask questions of key people in the organization about anything and everything. Roush admitted had Edwards decided to leave, he would have left with a number of company insights.

"All that was a risk on their part because they didn't have to show me those things but it took time for me to need to come to that conclusion," Edwards said. "There wasn't one thing at the end that changed my mind or made my decision different."

Instead, what Edwards left with was a feeling that Roush was more concerned with Edwards' welfare than his own, or his company's.

"I talked to Jack on the phone and he said, 'Look, Carl. You do whatever you think is best for you,' " Edwards said. "That meant the world to me. It meant that I didn't have that pressure to do something for any reason than for what I thought was best. That was huge."

And when Edwards finally announced that he was going to stay where he was, he kept the specifics to himself. And that was consistent with the way he handled the whole thing. There was no last-minute sweetening of the pot by Ford. There was no haggling about money. It came down to where Edwards felt he had the best chance to grow personally and professionally.

Edwards wants to win races and championships. And he believes he can do that best with Roush's team. That's how you look out for No. 1.

Edwards career statistics

Cup Series
YearWinTop-5Top-10PoleLapsLedAvg. StartAvg. Finish

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.