Carl Edwards leaving Roush Fenway Racing could be a blessing in disguise
Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images
Carl Edwards turns laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Edwards will not return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2015.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
The worst kept secret in the garage area finally came out Sunday. Carl Edwards, one of the biggest names in the sport, will officially not be back at Roush Fenway Racing for 2015.
Rumors have surfaced since the beginning of the season Edwards would be leaving the organization that he’s been with his entire NASCAR career.
Team owner, Jack Roush, stated this morning that Edwards would be racing elsewhere, and did announce his 2015 driver lineup.
Greg Biffle, who has been with Jack Roush’s organization since 1998, will lead the field of drivers. The 45-year-old will be back in the car he’s been in since his rookie season in 2003, the No. 16 car.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, will return to the lineup for a third season.
Despite winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2013, that success has not translated in 2014. So far, it’s been a disaster for Stenhouse.
I’ve always said it’s very tough to judge Stenhouse, because that car isn’t fully backed with a sponsor. That will change in 2015. Fastenal, Edwards’ sponsor, will step up and sponsor the No. 17 in 2015 and beyond. Partner Fastenal with Zest, Fifth-Third Bank, and Blackwell Angus Beef, and there’s no doubt that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will finally have full-time backing in the Sprint Cup Series.
2015 will be the biggest season in Stenhouse’s career, and it will be a time for all of us to see the true driver that Ricky Stenhouse can be.
The third driver in the stable at RFR is another driver who needs no introduction.
Trevor Bayne, who won the 2011 Daytona 500 driving for the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team, gained national recognition for that win, and we’ve all been waiting for his arrival in Cup. Bayne is currently running part-time in Cup in 2014, like he has for the last 4 seasons for the Wood Brothers’ team, and he’s running for the championship in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. That will all change when he brings back the No. 6 Roush Ford in 2015, with sponsorship coming from Advocare, which is currently his Nationwide Series sponsor.
Carl Edwards is most likely going to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015. He has a clause in his contract that will not allow him to announce his plans until September, but there’s nowhere else for Carl to go, and he’s more than likely headed to Gibbs. No question about it.
Edwards’ current deal with RFR is a hefty one. During his last contract negotiation, there was a hard fought battle between Roush and Joe Gibbs to get Edwards. Edwards eventually stayed at Roush, but it cost Jack Roush a pretty penny to retain him.
That same negotiation has taken place this season, but this time, Gibbs won. That extra money that Roush now has, since it didn’t cost as much to have Bayne here to replace Carl, could come into play next season with Research and Development.
That money could be used for R&D, and help RFR catch up on the performance and horsepower side, a side of this sport that Roush has clearly been lacking this season.
Despite being one of the older veterans on the circuit, there’s no doubt that Greg Biffle can continue to be a championship contender. He’s got a world of talent, and is a good guy to have as the leader of an organization.
The jury is still out on Stenhouse Jr. because he just hasn’t had the funding to be ultra competitive at the Cup level. That will change in 2015.
And for Trevor Bayne, he’s taken a step back in the public eye of the last couple of seasons, but he can be competitive in the right situation in Cup next season. Now that Roush has three full-time teams, fully backed, and more money to use for Research and Development, could be exactly what this team needs to be championship contenders again.
It’s possible that Edwards’ hefty contract could have been holding this organization back as a whole. With the tide turning at this team in 2015, I cannot wait to see how Roush Fenway Racing will respond, and it with the way Gibbs has been running this year, maybe Carl Edwards will actually regret it.