The one phone call from his boss that meant the most to Carl Edwards wasn't a pitch to stay at Roush Fenway Racing.
Jack Roush simply told his star driver — and the hottest free agent in NASCAR — to make the decision based on what was best for Edwards.
"He said those words to me, and that meant the world," Edwards said Friday at Pocono Raceway. "It meant that I didn't have the pressure to do something for any reason other than what I thought was best."
In the end, Edwards decided what was best was sticking with the only organization he's called home in his Cup career. Edwards signed a multi-year contract extension with RFR this week because he believed the resources, sponsors, crew and car give him the best chance to win championships.
"Whenever I'd start feeling that pressure start creeping in from the outside I'd think, 'OK, let's get back to the basics here,' " he said. "Where can I win the most championships? And what would I do if other people's opinions weren't a factor?"
There were plenty of opinions around the garage from fellow drivers to the media speculating on his future. Greg Biffle, his teammate, intimated Edwards was leaving the organization. Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said lingering contract negotiations were a distraction to Edwards as he chased his first career championship. Edwards enters Sunday's Sprint Cup race in first place.
"I still think it got them a little bit behind, but this will allow them to get back on track," Gordon said. "I never considered them a non-threat. Carl's a great driver and that team's a very good team. There's no doubt those talks and that constant barrage of questions is hard to get past until you get settled."
Edwards, who acted as his own agent, said the end of negotiations were a big relief. He kept details private, though he was courted by Joe Gibbs Racing, and insisted money was not an issue. Hard to believe, but Roush said money was never discussed. Edwards had more pressing questions about how the organization is run and what's ahead for his team. Roush did the equivalent of opening the books, letting Edwards in on the secrets of every nook of the organization.
"If Carl had made the decision not to come back, I was going to feel really stupid for having shown him all these things," Roush said.
Edwards refused to say how close he was to signing with another team or how many teams showed interest. Once Edwards was back in the fold, Roush started sponsorship discussions for the No. 99 Ford, and he said there's no shortage of interested suitors. Roush said the company will be "just fine" running four cars.
RFR also has Matt Kenseth and David Ragan under contract.