Carl Edwards has confirmed that he is joining Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of this year, and will be part of a new four-driver line-up for JGR in 2015.
"This is one of the biggest days in Joe Gibbs Racing's history," said Joe Gibbs, the founder and owner of the team that bears his name. "To be able to bring a driver the calibre of Carl Edwards on board to launch our fourth team is just a thrill."
Edwards confirmed last month that he would not be staying at Roush Fenway Racing but had not been able to confirm his new team until this week. The announcement means that he will be at the wheel of the brand new #19 JGR Toyota entry, racing alongside new team mates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin as well as Matt Kenseth, who made the same transfer from Roush to JGR two years ago.
"It means the world to me to have this opportunity," said Edwards. “It means a lot to have Kyle, Denny and Matt here – I look forward to learning more from you. I appreciate everyone here at JGR for making this possible."
"It's a great addition having Carl Edwards join our race team,” said Gibbs' son and team president JD Gibbs. "I think Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin will all gain from Carl and he'll gain from them likewise. We're just excited as we think each of them will make them better. "
Edwards has 23 wins in 360 Cup starts and has twice been runner-up in the Sprint Cup championship in 2008 and 2011. He will have primary sponsorship for almost half of his Sprint Cup season from communications technology company Arris, with further sponsors already in place to be announced in due course. Also still to be confirmed is the identity of Edwards' crew chief in 2015.
The 35-year-old admitted that he'd talked with other teams before finally deciding to follow Kenseth to JGR.
"To be honest, Matt's success over here, that was a big eye-opener for me," he said of why he'd decided to leave Roush after a decade with his old team. "It just felt like it was time to change.
"Sometimes you've got to shake things up, you've got to do things differently," he continued. "I've done this for ten years, I plan to do it for a lot longer. When an opportunity like this comes up and all the pieces come together this perfectly, for me, I didn't want to look back and wonder what that would have been like. I want to take the opportunity and go see what I can make of it.
"I was very fortunate in the number of teams that I talked to," he added. "I had some amazing conversations that I had to pinch myself in the middle of them. Looking across the landscape of the sport, everybody has spoken highly of Joe and I'm excited to be here.
"Everybody is taking a risk here," he admitted. "From the JGR standpoint, they're starting a fourth team, which is huge. Arris is jumping off into the sport in a huge way. I'm stepping away from the only place I've ever been. Who knows what will happen?"
There had been stories in the past that Edwards and Kenseth had not got along when they were previously teammates at Roush, but Edwards insisted that this would not be the case second time around at JGR.
"One of my goals in coming here [is to be] a really, really good teammate to these guys," he said. "I have learned a lot about how to be a teammate. I admittedly was not the best teammate at the beginning of my career - I had a lot of the 'every-man-for-himself attitude' and wanting to prove myself regardless of any damage to any relationships.
"I didn't think of it as a real team atmosphere," he conceded. "[But] I've learned a lot over the years. I really value my teammates now. From my perspective, I'm going to do everything I can to be the best teammate I can ... so that overall we can be better."
Running four cars sets JGR alongside the two other current powerhouse teams in Cup racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing, but it's taken the team a while to grow. JGR entered Cup competition in 1992 with driver Dale Jarrett and subsequently expanded to as second car in 1999. The move to a three-car line-up came in 2004, but since then the team had bided its time for the right moment.
"The media has been asking us if we're going to a fourth car," admitted Joe Gibbs. "We're very careful with it. we felt this is the right time and mainly, we were able to get Carl and Arris and that was the perfect fit for us.
"I think everybody said this would be the right time," he added. "Adding Carl in the team brings more resources and we're competing against teams that have four cars, or more with their alliances, so it's great to have that as we want to win races."
In the meantime, Edwards still has to close-out his final season with Roush Fenway, with whom he has already clinched a place in the Chase championship play-offs that start at Chicagoland in mid-September thanks to wins at Bristol Motor Speedway and Sonoma Raceway.
"I truly believe that we will finish this season strong at Roush Fenway Racing," said Edwards. "I feel like they will be better next year than they are this year, but everything I've seen over here says that in 2015 and beyond this place is going to be tough to beat and I'm excited to be a part of that."
"I know we have a lot of racing left this year in these four racing for the championship," said Joe Gibbs. "I think we have reached an agreement in that he'll pull over when he sees one of our three guys coming - I'm joking, obviously!
"I hope for him to have a good year, and I think we'll at Joe Gibbs Racing will also be contending for the championship for the rest of the year."
As well as Edwards' signing, the team was also able to announce this week that they would be running Daniel Suarez as a full-time competitor in the Nationwide Series at the wheel of the #18 JGR car, again with sponsorship from Arris.
"Daniel is a great guy to get to know and he's done a good job so far," said JD Gibbs. "We're confident that he'll make an impact in the Nationwide Series as well."
Suarez currently leads the NASCAR Mexico Series standings with four victories, and also has two wins, four top-fives and seven top-tens in 12 NASCAR K&N Pro East Series starts this season.
"This is great. This is a dream come true," said Saurez, who will also run a number of races in the Camping World Truck Series in 2015 with Kyle Busch Motorsports. "I can't thank Joe Gibbs Racing for all this confidence and support. This has been amazing.
"Going to a lot of tracks that are new to me, all the very good advice I can get will help," Suarez added. "To have this kind of teammates is amazing. Also driving for Kyle Busch, I'll get help there."
As well as backing from Arris, Suarez has the support of the Mexican group Escuderia Telmex that has worked with NASCAR for many years in driver development programs, and JGR said that it was partnering with both companies in a program to give chances to Mexican and Latin American candidates in the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico.
Overall, the day's slate of announcements from JGR was described as "unprecedented" by the team management.
"I think the last few months have been one of the most exciting times that I've been through," summarised Joe Gibbs. "Where do you get a chance to put together relationships and know you're going to win? That's the goal here."