The worst-kept secret in NASCAR became official Tuesday morning, when Carl Edwards was announced as the driver of a fourth Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota for 2015 and beyond.
Edwards will drive the No. 19 JGR Toyota, with primary sponsorship in 17 races from ARRIS Group Inc., a telecommunications company. ARRIS will also sponsor Daniel Suarez in a multi-year JGR diversity program, starting with the 2015 NASCAR Nationwide Series season, as well as a partial schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
All told, JGR announced plans for four racing series Tuesday, but Edwards is clearly the biggest news for the team.
"It’s just a great addition having Carl Edwards join our race team," said JGR president J.D. Gibbs.
"This is a huge day for me," said Edwards. "It means the world for me to have this opportunity. … It’ll be nice to be able to talk about this now with all the work that went into it."
Edwards clearly was relieved to finally make the move official.
"I couldn’t sleep last night," said Edwards. "I was so excited about this announcement. … This is going to be a blast. I’m ready to go race, win and contend for championships."
In 360 career Sprint Cup starts, all with Roush Fenway Racing, Edwards has 13 poles, 23 race victories, 106 top fives and 182 top 10s. Most famously, he tied with Tony Stewart for the 2011 Cup championship, but lost it on a tiebreaker for most race victories. Edwards also finished second in points in 2008 and in the top five in both 2005 and 2010.
The addition of Edwards gives JGR a powerhouse lineup with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. Collectively, the four have won 107 Sprint Cup races, the equivalent of nearly three full seasons worth of races.
Conversely, the departure of Edwards, which was announced on the morning of the Brickyard 400 last month, is another blow to Roush Fenway Racing, which lost Kenseth to JGR at the end of 2012.
Next year, Roush Fenway is expected to field cars for Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne. Biffle has 19 career race victories to one for Bayne and none for Stenhouse.
Last week, Biffle’s longtime sponsor, 3M, announced it will move to Hendrick Motorsports next year, when it will join Axalta and AARP Drive to End Hunger as rotating primary sponsors on Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets.
JGR has also begun a diversity initiative with Escuderia TELMEX with support from ARRIS to provide developmental opportunities to deserving Mexican and Latin American candidates in the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico and other racing series under the JGR umbrella.
"This is one of the biggest days in Joe Gibbs Racing’s history," said Joe Gibbs, founder and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. "To be able to bring a driver the caliber of Carl Edwards on board to launch our fourth team is just a thrill. But we also have the opportunity to announce a new partner in ARRIS that will not only sponsor Carl, but also share a vision with Carlos Slim Domit and Escuderia TELMEX to develop Mexican and Latin American drivers in NASCAR. We are excited to have Daniel Suarez as part of that program, and look forward to watching his development in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season."