Thursday, August 4, 2011

Edwards stays put, leaves possible seat open at Gibbs

Finally, the first move of the 2011 NASCAR Silly Season happened Thursday, although it turned out not to be a move at all.

After weeks and weeks of speculation, Carl Edwards signed a multiyear deal to remain the driver of the #99 Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing.

However, his decision to stay with his current team might be more surprising than if he left. People knew Edwards’ contract was up at the end of this season, and even as far back as last year the speculation was that Edwards would remain with Roush.

Then Joe Gibbs Racing came into play.

All of a sudden reports started to surface that Edwards was going to sign with Gibbs and possibly take over Joey Logano’s current ride, with Logano moving to a fourth car in the organization.

This would have made for a powerhouse team at Gibbs. The team currently has three of the young guns in the sport with the brightest futures, and Edwards would have immediately shot to the top of that group.

But, Edwards decided to stay with the organization that brought him into NASCAR and might carry him to a championship as early as this November.

Now that Edwards has signed, the rest of the moves can follow. Every year there is one big-time driver everyone waits for to make a move before the rest of the puzzle pieces fit into place. A few years ago it was Tony Stewart starting his own team, then it was Martin Truex Jr. moving to the #56 car and last year it was Kasey Kahne leaving the #9 car.

Since Edwards stayed put, that might open the door for somebody else to hop on as the fourth driver at Gibbs, but it looks like many of the other big-name free agents will follow Edwards’ lead and stay with their current team.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer are said to be close to finalizing their deals to remain at Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing next year. Juan Pablo Montoya will also likely re-sign with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing.

Still, however unlikely, the option of a fourth car at Gibbs is a possibility, and it would be a steal for a second-tier driver to get in that ride next year.

Right now it looks like all of the main championship contenders will remain in their same colors and with their same teams next year, but the extra car at Gibbs could keep the Silly Season at least a little bit silly.


  1. I'm not sure how long Home Depot's contract with JGR is, but if the rumors are true about Lowe's prime competitor wanting a driver that contends for the Cup (and with Jimmie Johnson's Lowes number 48 Chevy), then I have to wonder what Gibbs can do about it... Do you think Joe's long time relationship with Home Depot is in jeopardy? Name an unsigned driver that might placate Home Depot if they truly want Logano off their team (Clint Bowyer?)...

  2. Technically Newman is not signed. He would fit in with JGR if SHR cannot find sponsorship or does not want to sign him. He has proven he can make the chase. Or they could move Denny Hamlin in there and give FedEx to someone else. Be aware, there is nobody in racing better than JJ right now. He has won 5 in a row. Nobody else has ever done that. The best you can hope for is someone the sponsors like better like Junior or Carl or Stewart. JPM could work too.

  3. How about Brian Vickers?

  4. I doubt if any drivers are looking to move now. More likely they are concerned with keeping the ride they have, and not taking a pay cut.
    The top 35 rule, basically eliminated any new teams coming in. So basically the same drivers stay.

  5. Jr.'s favorite color is orange...? :)

  6. Dwindy1 - That would be an interesting move. It sure would be a big change from where people thought this situation was headed earlier in the week. I still think General Mills will stay with Bowyer though.

    Anonymous - How about this, Newman goes to Gibbs and Danica Patrick signs on to drive full-time for Stewart-Hass in 2012 lol. I think Newman would be more comfortable remaining at SHR than Gibbs. Not sure he'd be a great fit with that group.

    Anonymous - Something could certainly happen there. If Red Bull doesn't come back, Vickers would be a good fit to start a fourth team at Gibbs.

    Anonymous - Overall, I think you're going to be right. I don't think there will be many changes going into next year, especially now that Edwards chose to stay in the #99.

    Marybeth - Ha, that would certainly be interesting. Just think of the sea of orange you would see at race tracks.