If all the talk is true (and there has been a lot of it) then Carl Edwards will be behind the wheel of the #20 Home Depot Toyota Camry next year. Edwards who moved back atop the point standings following New Hampshire’s race is in the final year of his contract with Roush Fenway Racing.
Edwards is the most sought after free agent driver perhaps in the history of NASCAR. The ‘Silly Season’ in NASCAR never really ends but rarely have we seen a driver of Edwards’ talent hit the market. In the prime of his career and leading the point standings the driver known as “Cousin Carl” is set to get a big payday in a down market.
Few drivers on the circuit are as marketable or likeable as Edwards and even less have his ability.
The biggest thing driving Edwards is his desire to compete for a championship. Only a handful of teams can offer him that and with no room at the inn at Hendrick Motorsports the best two options are his current team Roush Fenway or Joe Gibbs Racing.
While there has never been any visible rift between Edwards and the Roush Fenway organization you cant help but wonder why Edwards is still on the market if the two really were planning to be together in 2012. Further Edwards has never come out and said that he wants to return to drive the #99 car next year which can only mean that he’s been looking else where.
The driving force in the whole deal likely is the Home Depot. After watching Jimmie Johnson and Lowe’s win the last five Sprint Cup Championships the home improvement chain wants back on top of the ladder. They have fallen so far down that they are even being outrun by the Menards car of Paul Menard. While Menard is driving for Richard Childress Racing this year he’s still not exactly lighting things up which only tells you where Joey Logano the current driver of the #20 is.
The front office at Joe Gibbs Racing has denied that Logano would be replaced in the #20 next year but let things be clear. A huge sponsor like Home Depot calls the shots on this one. With them footing the bill there is little reason to believe those aforementioned statements.
For what it’s worth neither Edwards, Joe Gibbs or Jack Roush have shed any light on the matter. The lack of a statement from the Roush side is not unexpected as rarely do organizations come forward with the loss of a driver or star athlete before an official announcement is made by the driver and/or their new team.
If true the move of Edwards to the #20 would give Joe Gibbs Racing far and away the best 1-2-3 in all of NASCAR. It’s arguable that current drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are the best duo of drivers for any organization.
With an off week coming up prior to the race at Indianapolis it’s possible we will hear official word on this very soon.