In this whole Carl Edwards saga, I have always said I wouldn’t be surprised if he left nor would I be surprised if he stayed.
Now that Carl has decided to remain at Roush Fenway Racing, a story first reported by FOXSports.com’s Lee Spencer, I would wager it wasn’t all about money for him.
If the numbers that were being reported in the bidding war between Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing are true – and I am not convinced they are – that is a heap of money. Now sure, we are all human and we want to make as much money as we can, but I swear I don’t think it was all about money for Carl. I believe Carl is much more interested in being where he feels he can win multiple races and championships.
So what does this mean for Joe Gibbs Racing? I think the answer lies in where sponsor Home Depot is with everything. Having worked in this sport with sponsors that have strong competitors in the sport, I can tell you firsthand those sponsors run out of patience.
When I was with Richard Childress Racing and the crew chief for Mike Skinner with the Lowe’s sponsorship, things were going well. They were happy with how we were performing. That is until 1999 when here came this orange Home Depot car that won three races with a rookie driver by the name of Tony Stewart. Then Lowe’s wasn’t as happy as it had been with our performance.
I say this with the utmost confidence, Joey Logano, who is sponsored by Home Depot, can get the job done. I know that. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli can get the job done. I know that.
Let’s face it, as a crew chief Greg has won 30-plus races and two NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. If you go back to the last 10 races of 2010, Joey scored the fourth most points of all the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. I don’t think that was a flash in the pan.
I think Coach Gibbs and his son, J.D. Gibbs, would be perfectly happy continuing to move forward with Joey. The bigger question is, where does Home Depot stand? Are there other options out there since they clearly pursued a replacement for Joey in the Home Depot car? How about Clint Bowyer? What about Juan Pablo Montoya? I really don’t know.
Until Joe Gibbs Racing comes out and publicly states that Joey will be the driver of the No. 20 Home Depot car in 2012, it has to affect that kid. It just has to.
Now on top of all this is the uncertainty of Greg Zipadelli’s future. Is Greg going to stay at Joe Gibbs Racing or are the rumors true he is going to Stewart-Haas Racing? It’s this kind of turmoil that affects a race team’s performance more than any other.
I will wager you this, too. Now this is behind Carl. You watch and see if that No. 99 team doesn’t come back to life.
Carl is a true professional and has the unique ability to block out distractions. Carl is human, too, and all this uncertainty had to be weighing on him as well. Now it’s behind him. Just watch that No. 99 car and see what happens from this point forward.