Carl Edwards remains tight-lipped about his future and insists his contract negotiations are not being a distraction, amid speculation linking him with a move to Joe Gibbs Racing.
The Roush Fenway racer arrives at Indianapolis for Sunday's Brickyard 400 as the NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader but with rumours mounting over where he will be driving next year. The 31-year-old former Nationwide Series champion, told reporters on Friday at Indy that he is still working on his 2012 contract, but that his focus for now remains on his current deal with Roush, which expires at the end of the year.
"We're working hard on the contract stuff," said Edwards. "I've heard a lot of different ideas out there but it still remains the same. I'm going to make the decision that's the best one I can make and I'm going to do that outside of the media. That's the way I want to keep it going.
"Right now I have signed a contract and that's the contract I signed in 2008 to race for Jack [Roush] in 2009, '10 and '11 and try to win the championship. So that's my mission. That's the only contract I have signed right now and that's the one I'm going to honour. That's what I'm doing."
Edwards said there is still no timetable for when he expects to announce where he will be driving next year and declined to comment when asked specifically if he had already made a decision. Asked if leaving Roush Fenway at the end of the year would harm his chances of fighting for the Cup title in this year's Chase, Edwards said he does not expect that to be the case.
"I feel like no matter what happens that we have a great thing going here and Jack Roush and Ford and [sponsor] Aflac; this is our mission," said Edwards. "We want to win this championship. That's our goal. Whatever happens will happen..."
He added: "There are a lot of distractions in life but we're doing really well. We're leading the points, we're doing what we need to do. I'm a competitor. My job is to do the job that I'm hired to do and whatever distractions are out there I've got to be able to shut those off and go race and that's what I do."
Roush Fenway's teammate Greg Biffle says his squad would be best suited by Edwards making a decision soon so that they can start building towards 2012. He hinted at the team probably downsizing from four to three cars if Edwards was not to come back next year.
"At some point he's going to have to say that I'm not coming back," said Biffle. "He's not going to be able to wait until Homestead, we all know that, so Carl is a big boy, he's a man and he has to make his own decisions.
"Eventually, he's going to have to make a decision and it'll be best for everybody so, one, we can plan for sponsorships and drivers and teams and people. There are a lot of people's jobs on the line – if we're going to be three teams or four teams – so the sooner the better.
"I understand contract negotiations take a long time and there is a lot to them, but truly if you know or you've made a decision, then it's time to give everybody enough opportunity to make their decision on the back side of that."
Edwards has been a Roush Fenway driver since 2003, when he joined the team to compete full-time for the first time in the Truck Series. He currently holds a seven-point gap to Jimmie Johnson in the championship standings, although his sole win of the year provisionally places him behind multiple race winners Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon in Chase contention.