Carl Edwards is one of a kind. He’s the only guy who will answer an e-mailer by name when he’s the in-car analyst for a race. (“Oh, thanks so much for that question, Billy.”) And yet, he’s the only driver in recent years who has been caught on camera nearly punching out a teammate, Matt Kenseth.
This isn’t to say that Edwards’ congenial way is just a show. But it’s not a stretch for someone to see similarities between him and guys like Curt Schilling or Alex Rodriguez, athletes so willing to try and say the right thing that the word “pandering” could reasonably enter a conversation.
Edwards tries to wear the white hat largely due to car owner Jack Roush, a man so adverse to drama that he was happy to see Kurt Busch hit the bricks — even though Busch brought Roush the first Cup title of the Chase era.
Joe Gibbs, on the other hand, has a history of driver hostility that’s second to none, thanks to folks like Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch. For all of Gibbs’ religious writings and Christian businessman principles, he seems quite comfortable employing guys who rub people the wrong way, and generally does little or nothing to give them a moment of pause.
Roush and Gibbs are in a dogfight for Edwards’ services, and the more this thing drags out the more likely it is that Gibbs could get Edwards to jump ship. Tough economy notwithstanding, Edwards is the only guy with enough stroke to bring in cash relatively effortlessly. If Edwards was totally comfortable staying with Roush, this deal would already be done, or at least close.
If Gibbs can land Edwards, the most interesting question won’t be whether he’ll take over Joey Logano’s Home Depot car. (Likely putting Logano in a fourth Cup car with top Gibbs Nationwide sponsors Z-Line Designs and GameStop in some sort of package deal, BTW. J.D. Gibbs said Sunday that Logano would stay in the No. 20 ride, but we’ll see.)
The question will be: “Which side of Carl Edwards will we see more often?” The side that spends half the Pocono race yakking it up with TNT’s broadcast talent after breaking a part? Or the guy who, with no regard for anything, put Brad Keselowski’s safety in peril so many times last year that Brad’s dad, Bob, threatened to come out of retirement with the now-famous, “He ain’t gonna kill my boy”?
A Carl Edwards who didn’t feel quite as confined by his owner could be less agreeable, but more entertaining.
Who is the real Carl Edwards? Just maybe we’re about to find out.