Thursday, Nov 27, 2014
Local Sports

Edwards leaving Rousch at end of season


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— Carl Edwards’ 11-year run with Roush-Fenway Racing will end after this NASCAR season.

The confirmation by Roush officials Sunday that Edwards will not be back in the No. 99 Ford had been long rumored but not substantiated because Edwards refuses to publicly discuss contract negotiations. He’s believed to be headed to Joe Gibbs Racing in a new fourth car, but contract with Roush does not permit him to announce his plans until September.

Matt Kenseth was bound by the same clause when he decided to leave Roush at the end of 2012 but had to wait months to announce he was moving to Gibbs.

Now Edwards and Kenseth will be reunited with a Toyota team, which will end Edwards’ long association with Ford. The manufacturer stepped up heavily in contract negotiations four years ago to offer incentives to keep Edwards from leaving Roush for Gibbs.

It worked, but Edwards’ results have not been anywhere close to what he had hoped after losing the 2011 championship on a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart.

Edwards went winless in 2012, his first year of a new three-year contract extension with Roush, and missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Although he won two races last season, he finished last in the 13-driver Chase field.

His performance is much better this year and Edwards goes into Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ranked sixth in the standings with two victories.

“I will always be thankful for Carl’s contribution and the role he played in many Roush Fenway wins and championships,” Roush said. “We wish him well for the future. In the meantime, we are excited about continuing our quest for a championship with Carl and the No. 99 team in 2014.”

Edwards has been with Roush since 2003 and in the No. 99 Ford in the Cup Series since 2004. He has 67 career victories in NASCAR’s three national series.

In addressing Edwards’ departure, Roush revealed its three-driver 2015 lineup. Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will both return, and Trevor Bayne will move up from the Nationwide Series to a full-time Sprint Cup Series ride.

“I have had the privilege of fielding entries for the world’s best race car drivers in NASCAR for nearly 30 years, and feel quite fortunate to have an opportunity to do that again next year,” Roush said. “We have always prided ourselves in developing talent at Roush Fenway, and our 2015 lineup is a testament to the success of our organization in that respect.”

Biffle has been with Roush since 1998 and earned the organization its first NASCAR championship with the 2000 Truck Series crown. He added a Nationwide Series title in 2002.

He has qualified for the Chase in five of the last six seasons and was a career-best second in 2005.

“I don’t have the words for what Jack Roush has meant to my career,” Biffle said. “During our 16 years together, we have won multiple championships and numerous races on every level. I am as excited about what the future holds for me here as I am about what we have been able to accomplish in the past.

“Our goal remains to run up front, win races and become the sports’ first triple crown winner by having a championship in all three series.”

Stenhouse, a two-time Nationwide Series champion, joined Roush Fenway in 2008. He replaced Kenseth in the No. 17 Ford when Kenseth left for Gibbs.

Fastenal, one of the primary sponsors on Edwards’ car, will move its funding to Stenhouse next season to remain in the organization.

Roush officials had previously announced that Bayne will be promoted from the Nationwide Series to a full-time Cup ride next year, with AdvoCare as his primary sponsor of the No. 6 Ford.

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