NASCAR Contract Negotiations Can Be An Unwanted Distraction For Drivers, Teams

The Carl Edwards contract saga that came to an end Thursday was just the latest illustration of how distracting contract negotiations and renewals can become over the course of a season. For weeks and months, rumors swirled and questions were asked about Edwards' future, the consequences of a move to Joe Gibbs Racing and the domino effect it would have on other free agents and teams.

Despite 11 different winners in the last 11 races, it seems the majority of the conversations throughout the NASCAR garage and media center focused on Edwards' contract situation and the possible fallout. The discussion not only dominated the headlines, but also served as a distraction for fans, drivers and team members – especially those directly linked to the rumors.

Edwards even said Friday afternoon in Pocono he wished he had never mentioned his contract was up, thus drawing less attention and making the process much easier. Teammate Greg Biffle said he was glad the situation came to an end because, "people won't ask me about it anymore after today."

"It can get to a point where it's all you guys ask and it's all we sometimes think about because of what you ask," said Ryan Newman, who has a contract up at the end of the 2012 season. "Sometimes pleading the fifth is the best thing you can do to get the answer done and give you guys the answer you want."

While Newman would not elaborate about his upcoming contract situation, he did say he believed it was better to handle those things during the off-season while the team is building race cars and not preparing to go the race track every weekend.

This season, the majority of contract talk has surrounded Edwards, but in 2010 that focus was mainly on Kevin Harvick and his negotiations with Richard Childress Racing.

Similar to Edwards, Harvick was atop the standings and had a long relationship the organization, but rumors still swirled about his departure. In the end, Harvick inked an extension with Childress and has contended for the title the past two seasons.

For Harvick, it is those on the team who are the most affected by the distraction and rumors being swirled around about the varying possibilities.

"It's a tough situation to be in with your team just because all the guys look at you like, ‘Man, why are you leaving? Things are going pretty good,'" Harvick said.

"The guys on the team that don't know anything is going on those are the guys that it's hardest on," he added. "They don't want to ask any questions, but they ask them to you kind of under their breath and in odd ways just to see if they can figure out what is going on so that goes away as soon as everything is announced."

Now that the contract situation has finally been put to rest at Roush Fenway Racing, Edwards believes the team is glad to put everything behind them.

After he and team owner Jack Roush spent time with the crew this weekend he admitted, "everybody feels the same way as best as I can tell that, ‘Hey, man, that was getting kind of stressful. I'm really glad we're moving beyond that.' I think everybody kind of has that same feeling, so that's good."

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