Carl Edwards said there was no single factor that enticed him to move from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing, which in 2015 will field four full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams for the first time.
Edwards, who has been with Roush Fenway since his Sprint Cup debut in 2004, did acknowledge Tuesday that the success other drivers have had changing teams played a big part in his decision to switch teams.
Next year and beyond, Edwards will drive the No. 19 JGR Toyota. ARRIS Group Inc. will be his primary sponsor for 17 races, with additional sponsors and a crew chief to be determined.
"The whole situation just felt really good to me," said Edwards of the move to JGR. "It’s not about any bad blood at Roush, it’s not about money. It just looks like to me like it’s going to be a lot of fun to go racing. So it’s something I wanted to do."
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, finishing second in points twice and in the top five four times.
The 2015 JGR lineup of Edwards, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth has a total of 107 Sprint Cup race victories.
"Guys, I mean at the end of the day, this is just really cool," said Edwards. "I’m excited."
And then he got to the crux of his decision.
"It’s something new and different," Edwards said. "And I think in life, you’ve got to have those things. … If you look across our sport and look at the people who made changes and just the results of the change. It doesn’t make any sense from trying to create a hierarchy of teams. If you look at where people move, sometimes two guys will basically switch teams and both of them do better. So for me, I think it’s an opportunity to shake things up a little bit, have some fun and hopefully win some championships."
Edwards also said he heard the clock ticking on his career and saw the results when Matt Kenseth left Roush Fenway and joined JGR last year, nearly winning a championship in the process.
"Your career is relatively short," he said. "And this is something that I’m just excited to do and hopefully it will yield really positive results. I mean, who can ignore what Matt Kenseth did last year? Who can ignore what Joey Logano has done? … Look at Kevin Harvick’s success, look at Tony Stewart’s success. It appears making a change sometimes just gets things going. I hope it works."
For JGR and Toyota, the move is big because not only has the team added a championship-caliber driver, it’s adding an entire fourth team.
"We’ve been three teams for a long time and now we’re saying it’s four," said team owner Joe Gibbs. "Now in the end, you’ve got to make it work. We’ll find out if we can win races. There is a score being kept."
Gibbs said Busch, Hamlin and Kenseth all voted in favor of adding Edwards to the team.
Busch said the addition of Edwards will be a positive.
"I think it helps the whole organization," said Busch. "It strengthens it, obviously. Being three teams, that’s only three sets of information going around. Now, it’ll be four with Carl next year.
"But also, behind the scenes, it strengthens the engineering group," said Busch. "And I feel like our group is really, really good, and they have a lot of great tools here and everything, but being able to hire more people — some outside people that aren’t in the sport, some inside people that are in the sport. Sometimes you get stagnant in your ways and whatnot, and so we’re able to expand on that group a little bit and get some things going that otherwise the opportunity wouldn’t have presented itself."
For automaker Toyota, increasing its number of frontline drivers from five to six is important, as well.
"This is huge. It really is," said David Wilson, president and general manager of TRD, U.S.A., Toyota’s racing arm. "To fill out Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth car, it’s something we’ve been talking about for years. The team has done such a good job getting three cars to run well, where any one of those three cars can contend for race wins on any given Sunday.
"For Toyota, what’s significant is that adds a car to our lineup," said Wilson. "Right now, really, we’ve got five bullets in our gun. And that’s arguably not enough. I’ve always said quality is more important than quantity. Adding Carl Edwards to the portfolio, that is a quality move for all of us."