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Carl Edwards to stay at Roush Fenway
4 August 2011
After months of speculation, Carl Edwards has finally revealed his decision about his 2012 future and confirmed that he will be staying with Roush Fenway Racing after all.
It means that Edwards has turned down the strong advances and big money offers that are believed to have come from Joe Gibbs Racing and its engine supplier Toyota to persuade him to move teams at the end of the year. Losing Edwards would have been a huge blow to both Roush and Ford, and as the possibility came ever closer it seems that the two organisations pulled out all the stops to head off the potential disaster.
Many fans and observers had wondered whether the delay in announcing his plans meant that Edwards had actually already decided to jump ship, and wanted to leave the announcement as late as possible to minimise the inevitable disruption to his Sprint Cup campaign that he currently leads on points. Rumours gained force at the weekend when it seemed as though Edwards' current team mates (Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan) appeared to be getting a little short of patience with the lack of an announcement, while it seemed to be all positive encouragement coming from Joe Gibbs' stable of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
But when it came down to it, Edwards has finally confirmed that he's staying with Jack Roush's team, where he made his Cup début back in 2004 having joined the team at Truck Series level the previous year. Despite his current Cup-level success, Edwards continues to be a mainstay of Roush Fenway's Nationwide Series effort as well and has only missed one race so far this season.
"I sincerely appreciate the amazing opportunity that Jack Roush has given me in this sport and am honoured to race for him," said Edwards in a team press release. "As an organization, Roush Fenway provides the resources I need to win, and as a driver, that's the most important thing."
"Carl Edwards has achieved a level of success on and off track that would put him at the top of the list for any race team," said Roush Fenway co-owner Jack Roush. "Carl and the #99 team are having a terrific season again this year, and we're thrilled that our relationship will continue for many more."
"Carl brings a tremendous amount to the table from both a marketing and competitive standpoint," added Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing. "He has one of the largest fan bases in the sport, is able accomplish so much for his sponsors and is second to none on the race track. We're proud to have Carl as part of our roster going forward."
Details of the deal were not revealed, with no mention of the monetary arrangement and only confirmation that this was a "multi-year agreement starting in 2012."
Edwards - who will be making his 250th Cup start at Pocono this weekend - currently leads the Cup championship by 11pts over Jimmie Johnson, in what is proving to be his most successful year in the competition since 2008 when he finished as runner-up to Johnson. While he's all-but assured of going through to the Chase again for the sixth time in the seven full seasons he's been with Roush Fenway, the points-reset for the final ten races will require a fully unified team to stand a chance of winning the title. Fans had been concerned that the ongoing uncertainty about his contract status for 2012 would adversely affect that effort, but that danger is now over.
"We're having a fun season on the race track as we're leading the points and in great position for the Chase," said Edwards. "That's the result of a lot of hard work from the men and women at Roush Fenway, Ford Motor Company and Roush Yates Engines. I really enjoy competing with this group and looking forward to continuing that relationship into the future."
"We are pleased with Carl's vote of confidence in Roush Fenway and Ford," said the director of Ford Racing, Jamie Allison. "This signals he believes he is with the right team and the right automaker to win races and championships." Allison added: "Now we can continue to focus on winning the 2011 championship."
"He really likes Ford Motor Company. He's their franchise driver and he knows it. They know it and didn't want to let him go," said former Cup driver and current SPEED TV analyst Jimmy Spencer, who said that he thought Edwards had looked to past cases when making his final decision. "Let's use Kurt Busch as an example: Busch hasn't really contended for a championship since he left Roush Racing and he won't. You'd think that Penske would run as strong as Roush or even better, but yet there are no results. I think that lack of championship performance weighed on Carl's mind.
"His chances of winning the championship have escalated by at least 25 or 30 per cent simply by him signing on the dotted line, so given the way he has been performing, I think he's the odds-on favourite to win the championship."
The furore that had built up over Edwards' decision was the biggest in NASCAR since Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch both changed teams at the end of 2007. Edwards' decision finally breaks the logjam among drivers who will be free agents at the end of the year and means that a series of deals might now follow in quick succession.
Clint Bowyer is all-but certain to remain with Richard Childress Racing, while Juan Montoya is set to re-sign with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. However, Brian Vickers is definitely in need of a new team with the likely closure of Red Bull Racing at the end of the season and no news of a buyer on the horizon; while Mark Martin's position is also unclear with his departure from the Hendrick Motorsports line-up to make way for Vickers' current Red Bull team mate Kasey Kahne in 2012.
David Ragan might also be directly affected by the announcement, if the re-signing of Edwards means that there is a squeeze on sponsorship money at Roush Fenway - especially after the loss of Crown Royal backing for Matt Kenseth. Ragan might now find himself ousted from the team to allow the UPS backing to be taken up by Kenseth in a slimmed-down three-car Roush Fenway operation in 2012.
At least now, with Edwards' announcement, some of those contracts might finally be decided and the uncertainty taken care of all around.