Going Green · Garrett Horton · Thursday August 4, 2011
Carl Edwards has finally broken his silence. After months of giving no indication whether he was staying with Roush Fenway Racing in 2012, he has re-signed with the team that brought him up onto the Sprint Cup scene in 2004. This doesn’t just affect Edwards, however; it has left an impact on many other figures across the Sprint Cup garage. With that said, here are the winners and losers of his contract extension.
Jack Roush – Undoubtedly the biggest winner in all of this. He has seen his team enjoy a renaissance year, with two of his drivers having legitimate shots at the title after enduring a couple of seasons of mediocrity. One of those drivers is Edwards, but had he decided to leave, it would have completely demoralized the superb season the Roush camp has been enjoying thus far. More importantly, he can feel better about sponsorship. He has been struggling to find full-time and even part-time sponsors for next year. While sponsor details have yet to be announced with the signing, there is no doubt it will attract sponsors that this will help him big time.
Carl Edwards – The longer Edwards waited to make his decision (wouldn’t that be a sign of Armageddon if he had a one hour special on ESPN to announce it?), the more it hurt his chances at winning this year’s Sprint Cup. His performance had already shown signs of dropping off – three of his last four races have resulted in a finish outside the top 10 after scoring 12 top 10s in the first 16 events. He may not be as rich as he would have been driving a Toyota, but his priority is winning his first Cup title. Now that he no longer has to worry about his future in 2012 or dodge questions about it, Edwards’ focus can be strictly on the bringing the Cup back to the Roush Fenway organization.
Joey Logano – You can bet that Logano shouted a big woo-hoo when he woke up this morning. The biggest rumor along with Edwards going over to Gibbs was that Sliced Bread would be the odd man out; either being demoted back to the Nationwide Series or possibly running a brand new fourth team. Now it seems all but certain that he will pilot the No. 20 car once again in 2012. He better start showing some results soon though, because this year’s silly season has indicated Home Depot wants the success they achieved with Tony Stewart for ten seasons.
Clint Bowyer – With Edwards off the market, Bowyer has now become the biggest free agent commodity. Prior to that, it was not unreasonable to think he would be without a competitive ride next year. He has yet to re-sign with Richard Childress although he is supposedly close to working out a new deal. However, if things fall through at RCR, we all know that Joe Gibbs Racing is looking for the next best option now that they didn’t land Edwards.
Joe Gibbs/Home Depot – What a rough week it has been for Home Depot. First, they saw one of their competing sponsors in Menards go to victory lane on Sunday, making them the lone home improvement chain winless on the year. Now they fail to get the biggest free agent in Edwards, who not only is one of the more marketable drivers, but whose talent could derail Lowes’ five-year reign of winning the title.
For Gibbs, an Edwards signing would have meant a dream team consisting of three drivers who have combined to win 44 races since 2008, more than any other trio. The pressure is now off Edwards, but will Gibbs now be put in a position by his sponsor to lure a top notch driver? This also marks the third time in the last five years they have suffered a big loss in silly season. Remember, they were rumored to be the leading candidate in the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. sweepstakes in 2007 before he signed with Rick Hendrick, in 2008 only to let Stewart out of his contract a year early to start his own team.
Ricky Stenhouse/Trevor Bayne – With David Ragan looking like he might have saved his ride last month by winning at Daytona, Stenhouse and Bayne’s only option in Cup next year appeared to be if Edwards left the team. Now that he has decided to remain with the organization, these two young men will likely be stuck in the Nationwide Series until a competitive Cup ride opens up. Another year of Nationwide would probably serve both of them well, but it also closes the door on one of them taking over the coveted No. 60 car that Edwards has piloted to so much success over the years.
Matt Kenseth – He is arguably the biggest loser in all of this, even more so than Gibbs. Sure, JGR didn’t sign one of the sports biggest stars, but they still have a strong duo in Busch and Hamlin. Despite owning a Cup title and being the longest tenured driver at Roush, Kenseth is often seen as the second string team behind the No. 99 car. An Edwards departure certainly would have meant making Kenseth the top priority, which is a scary thought considering his recent hot streak. No driver has scored more points in the last ten races than Kenseth, and he has picked up two victories on tracks that we will see again in the Chase. Now that Edwards is committed to RFR, he has gone from looking like a championship favorite to once again the “other guy” in the group.
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