2007 Ride: No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2007 Primary Sponsor: Office Depot
2007 Owner: Jack Roush
2007 Crew Chief: Bob Osborne
2007 Stats: 36 races, three wins, 11 top fives, 15 top 10s, one pole, ninth in points.
High Point: Edwards’s first win of the season at Michigan. After losing his cool and hitting the wall during Saturday night’s Busch Series race in Kentucky, Edwards arrived at MIS in the wee hours of Sunday morning with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. However, his good friend and crew chief, Bob Osborne, sat the driver down and said to put the whole thing behind him. Edwards did just that – and not only did he bring his car to Victory Lane after a 52-race winless drought, he brought his hair clippers, too. Sporting the big smile and giant backflip “Cousin Carl” is so well known for, he assisted his motor coach driver, Tom Giacchi, in removing a 19-month-old beard began shortly after Edwards’s last Cup win. In a season in which his good guy image was repeatedly challenged, on this day Edwards helped fans remember why they fell in love with both his easy smile and upbeat personality.
Low Point: Without question, it was Edwards’s post-race encounter with teammate Matt Kenseth at the fall Martinsville race. Several times during the season, Edwards had stunned NASCAR Nation by saying some not-so-nice things about his fellow competitors after on-track incidents. Over a long season, the frustration mounted, leaving many scratching their heads in disbelief. The usually sunny and apologetic, turn-the-other-cheek Edwards began to appear more and more as an arrogant never-do-gooder instead. This downfall culminated in pit lane after the Martinsville race, where he approached Kenseth, exchanged more than heated words, and finalized the meeting by nearly throwing a punch, causing his teammate to flinch. No physical harm was done, but the wild look in Edwards’s eyes – along with the poor sportsmanship displayed – may have permanently tarnished his golden-boy image.
Summary: The timeline depicted by his High Point and Low Point indicates how Edwards’s season progressed. While the return of Bob Osborne as crew chief provided the optimism needed to return the No. 99 team to Victory Lane, it did not solve all the problems inherent in the team, problems which came to a head once the Chase began. Edwards did follow up his success at Michigan with two more victories – one at Bristol, the next at Dover. The latter was actually Roush Fenway Racing’s 100th Cup win; however, the champagne soured when the car failed post-race inspection. The team lost momentum after that, stumbling badly and suffering through a series of mechanical failures. After back-to-back problems at Texas and Phoenix, Edwards dropped to a disappointing ninth in the standings.
2008 Outlook: Edwards has his crew chief, Osborne, along with solid sponsorship in Aflac and Office Depot lined up for the new year – that much is certain. With Roush Fenway Racing providing both support and technical superiority, we will likely see Carl back in the Chase in 2008. However, in order for the No. 99 to climb up the next rung on the NASCAR Nextel Cup ladder, he will need to reacquire his confidence and even-temperament – both of which appear lost over the last 12 months.
2006 Frontstretch Grade: B
2007 Grade: B-