Roush-Fenway Racing is heading in a new direction it appears for the 2015 season. After releasing lead engineer, Chip Bolin, rumors have swirled around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage area about two of Roush’s drivers, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.
According to reports, Biffle has signed a multi-year deal with the only team he has ever driven for at NASCAR’s highest level. However, it appears Edwards, 34, is on his way out. Even though he has been the strongest driver at the organization this season, Edwards has somewhat struggled at the intermediate tracks – just like his teammates, Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“We have done a really good job. The fact that we have a win is huge. That allows us to work really hard going into the Chase. A big reason to that is our crew chief, Jimmy Fennig,” Edwards said at Dover. “It appears to have (put us behind a bit). Historically, we have responded very well to change, but this change has been tough for us to stay ahead of. The time that we have before the Chase is really valuable to us.”
But even though he has stated on numerous occasions that he believes in Roush’s ability to get back to contending for wins on a weekly basis, Edwards is likely going to leave the team at the conclusion of this season. Although he was offered a deal from Richard Childress Racing, the 22-time Sprint Cup Series winner opted to decline the job with the Chevrolet team.
Motorsport.com reported on Thursday that Edwards will be going to Joe Gibbs Racing as a fourth car at the Toyota operation. Gibbs’ team has run three cars since expanding from two teams in 2005. However, at times – JGR has run four cars during race weekends as a R&D team.
Of course, there has to be drama in Edwards’ move.
He has driven for Roush since they took a chance on him in the Camping World Truck Series in 2003. When Jeff Burton headed out Roush’s doors, Edwards replaced him in the No. 99 car, and he has called the team home since. But now he is following his former teammate, Matt Kenseth, to create a new home.
This leaves Biffle as the lead driver at one of the two major Ford teams in NASCAR’s top-tier division. Biffle, 44, has also raced his entire career with RFR, but he has had just one year scoring more than two wins (2005). However, he has dealt with adversity rather well over the past few years, and will be a key mentor for Stenhouse Jr. as well as Trevor Bayne – who will drive the No. 6 Ford next year.
With Bayne moving to full-time competition with Roush, he might just be Edwards’ replacement. Even if another driver can find funding to move to Roush, they are clearly not in a position to expand to four cars.
The biggest struggle for them has been the ride height rules which NASCAR set in place this year. They have not been able to figure out the perfect setup, and now Edwards is off to another team which has also struggled in the same area.
Now, Roush will need to learn how to survive without a superstar. They are hoping that some of his sponsors will stay with the team – moving over to Stenhouse’s car. But if not – Roush will have to look for additional funding for the No. 17 car as the other two teams have sponsorship for the full season.