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NASCAR Notes: Edwards exploring other options during contract negotiations with Roush Fenway

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Although Carl Edwards leads the Sprint Cup Series standings by 25 points heading into Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway, he’s not committed to returning to Roush Fenway Racing next year.

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While several drivers already have signed new contract extensions, Edwards, 31, is testing the market to see if there’s anything better.

Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle already has signed an extension. Juan Pablo Montoya is close to a new contract with Chip Ganassi Racing, Clint Bowyer hopes he will have a new deal to remain with Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Jr. should soon have a new contract with Hendrick Motorsports.

That doesn’t leave a lot of options unless a current team like Joe Gibbs Racing or Stewart-Haas Racing wants to expand. Team president J.D. Gibbs called Edwards “a great talent.” He also said there was no truth to reports that he considered putting Edwards in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota and possibly shifting Joey Logano over to a fourth team.

“I have heard rumors about all different teams for the last two years,” Edwards said. “The thing I am going to do is keep working on it and working on it privately. I think that is the best way for me.”

Edwards said he is listening to offers from other teams. Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark said he understands why other teams are talking to Edwards. At the same time, it’s up to his organization to put together the best offer.

While all this is going on, Edwards said he doesn’t want his new contract to be a distraction.

“If it were up to me I would do it when the season is over and not talk about it with anyone,” Edwards said. “That isn’t the case though. We have to get it done. There is that feeling of hey, we would like to get this done before we get into the Chase. It will be whatever it is. I am not going to force anything or rush anything. I am going to go about it in a methodical way.”

Make drivers pay for reckless behavior?

Even if drivers are held financially responsible for purposely crashing after the checkered flag, few believe it would keep anyone from venting their anger.

Kyle Busch bumped Kevin Harvick’s car into the pit road wall after the May 7 race at Darlington, S.C., and Busch also hit a truck driven by Joey Coulter on the cool-down lap at Kansas on June 4. Both cases of road rage led to altercations – Harvick tried to punch Busch; Coulter’s car owner, Richard Childress, put Busch in a headlock and punched Busch several times.

Childress also owned Harvick’s car. But should Busch have been responsible to pay for the damages?

“If he came to me and was so upset about it, I would have offered him money to fix it,” Busch said. “I’m an owner in this sport. I know there’s going to be torn up equipment here and there sometimes, whatever.”

Others believe it wouldn’t have made any difference.

“When is it okay to hit a guy after the race and when is it not okay,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “What Kyle did in Kansas we do all the time. I didn’t really think that was too big of a deal. Obviously it upset Richard but we run into each other all the time after a race but really a lot of it never gets caught on television or seen by anybody. Sometimes it’s because you’re happy for somebody and sometimes it’s because you’re mad at somebody. We end up sorting those things out ourselves someway and somehow.”

Clint Bowyer believes emotions are too high after a race to make rational decisions, even if it costs the driver money.

“Man I don’t know,” he said. “Ask somebody that gets road rage or runs somebody on the highway was it worth it they would probably tell you yes. After they paid for it they would probably tell you no. It’s just one of those things.”

Stock car racing picked state sport of North Carolina

A group of Mooresville, N.C., elementary students won in their effort to have stock car racing named the official sport for their state.

Gov. Bev Perdue signed the bill last week at the Charlotte Motor Speedway after a one-year push by 11 Lake Norman Elementary fourth grade students to have stock car racing symbolically listed as the state’s No. 1 sports.

Most NASCAR teams are based in North Carolina. The sport employs 20,000 people statewide and has a reported $6 billion a year economic impact on the state.

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