Carl Edwards to join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015
August 19, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
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HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Carl Edwards will join Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2015 season as the organization expands to four full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams.
The move was announced today at the company's headquarters, where JGR currently fields Toyota entries in the Sprint Cup Series for drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth.
"There are a number of factors; it's not just one thing," Edwards said of his decision to leave Roush Fenway Racing after a 11-year run with the organization in Sprint Cup.
"There are a lot of really, really strong teams in the sport. For me, all of my successes, all those wins, my first NASCAR championship, have all come at Roush Fenway Racing. There's nothing saying they (RFR) won't beat me like a drum next year. You just don't know.
"But for me it's not a statistical analysis or one specific technical reason that I'm really excited about being a part of this team. It's just overall it seemed like the right thing to do. ... When you speak to the other drivers and you look at the statistics and look at the landscape, it's something I was really excited about."
Edwards' car will carry the number 19 with primary sponsorship from ARRIS, a telecommunications technology company, for 17 races. Team owner Joe Gibbs said additional sponsorship for the remaining 19 races isn't a concern.
"We have almost all of those accounted for; that announcement will be coming a little bit later," he said.
Edwards, 35, has 23 Sprint Cup wins in 360 career starts, all with Roush Fenway Racing. He is third on the all-time win list for the organization, trailing Mark Martin (35 wins) and Kenseth, who won 24 times while driving for RFR.
In 11 seasons, Edwards has finished in the top-five in points four times, including runner-up efforts in 2008 and '11. The '11 season ended with Edwards and Tony Stewart tied in points, but Stewart clinched the title based on having more race wins during the season.
A 38-race winner in Nationwide competition, Edwards won that series' title in 2007. He also has six career Camping World Truck Series victories.
The selection of various personnel, such as a crew chief and pit crew, hasn't begun, but team president J.D. Gibbs said the organization has plenty of talent to choose from already on staff.
"Everybody is taking a risk here," Edwards said. "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? But I truly believe that we will finish this season strong at Roush Fenway Racing; 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."
Edwards is eighth in the points standings, but with two wins (at Bristol Motor Speedway and Sonoma Raceway), he has already earned one of the 16 berths for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. It will mark his eighth appearance in the 10-race battle for the title.
Roush Fenway Racing officials announced their 2015 Sprint Cup driver lineup last month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That group will consist of veteran Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
Joe Gibbs Racing entered NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in 1992 with driver Dale Jarrett. Bobby Labonte replaced Jarrett in 1995, and in 1999 the organization expanded to two full-time teams, adding driver Tony Stewart.
A third team was added in 2004, running a partial schedule with Ricky Craven (1 start) and J.J. Yeley (2) filling the driver's seat. The team, carrying the No. 11, ran the majority of the races in 2005 with various drivers before Hamlin was put in the car full-time in 2006.
JGR drivers have won 114 Sprint Cup races and three championships (Labonte, 2000; Stewart, '02, '05).
The addition of a fourth team wasn't something the organization rushed into, Joe Gibbs said.
"We were one of the bigger teams, and it took us the longest to go to three (teams)," he said. "Because you worry about … we want our vision and everything we've got going with our three cars trying to win championships. …
"We were very careful with it; we felt like this was the right time. Mainly, we were able to get Carl and we were able to get ARRIS and that was the perfect fit for us. ... Obviously by adding Carl and the fourth team, it brings more resources to the table.
"We're competing against other teams out there that have four teams in their alliance, or more. It's important for us ... we need to put ourselves in the best position and we felt this was the right time with the right driver and the right sponsor."