Carl Edwards is parting ways with Rousch Fenway racing after the 2014 season, ending a relationship that began in 2003. Contractual obligations prevent Edwards from saying where he will end up, but the two-time Cup series runner-up could end up with Joe Gibbs Racing.
If that team-up does happen, ESPN reports that Edwards would be making the exact same move his former Rousch Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth made in 2013. Kenseth’s first year after Rousch produced seven race wins and gave him a strong run for the 2013 Sprint Cup championship.
Kenseth hasn’t been able to repeat those numbers this season, but he still ranks fourth in points standings so far this season.
Carl Edwards’ decision to leave the team he has driven for during his 12-year NASCAR career was likely difficult, and Ford Racing director Jamie Allison commented on the situation Sunday. Allison released a statement saying, “Carl Edwards has been a part of the Ford family for a decade, and it will certainly be tough to see him leave Ford and Rousch Fenway Racing.”
Allison added that “Ford Racing did everything to facilitate keeping Carl” a part of the team, but it “did not come to fruition.”
ABC News notes that Edwards told reporters before the start of Sunday’s Brickyard 400, “This is my decision, it’s a decision I made and I didn’t take it lightly. Sometimes you just want to make a change, and opportunities present themselves and you say, ‘Hey, what was that like to not take that opportunity?’ ”
The media speculates that Edwards will move to Joe Gibbs Racing, which has hinted it could expand to four cars next year. There are no open spots at Hendrick Motorsports or Stewart-Haas Racing. Roger Penske and Penske Racing president Tim Cindric already made it clear they will not expand their team to include Carl Edwards.
Edwards also reportedly negotiated extensively with JGR in 2011 when he was deciding whether or not to leave Rousch Fenway.
Meanwhile, Edwards’ departure will leave Rousch with three drivers, Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. With the loss of Edwards and his No. 99, it seems the Rousch roster is a far cry from a decade ago when it heralded names like Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Burton.
While Edwards made a splash with his runner-up season in 2011, he went winless in 2012 and won two races in 2013. Still, the driver finished last in the 13-driver Chase field. Carl Edwards’ performance is improved this season and he went into Sunday’s race with two wins this season.
[Image via ESPN]