For a driver who has two great rides to choose from Carl Edwards surely is taking his sweet time. The garage buzz, and hot rumor on the internet, is that Edwards will join Joe Gibbs Racing and drive the #20 car with sponsorship from Home Depot and Aflac.
While the three parties involved have said nothing there is a variety of reasons. For Roush Fenway Racing they have nothing to gain by announcing that a driver is leaving their organization. Could you imagine the New England Patriots telling their fans that Tom Brady has elected to join the Cleveland Browns? The guys at Gibbs can only follow the lead of Edwards.
Let it be clear. If Joe and JD Gibbs didn’t think they had a shot at Carl Edwards any more they would spill the beans.
So what is taking Carl Edwards so long? Aflac is on board and the Home Depot has everything to gain as their current driver is trailing the other hardware machines of Lowe’s and Menards.
Edwards spoke this week at Indianapolis saying he was committed to fulfilling the contract he signed in 2008 to run in the #99 car for Roush Fenway Racing. He made no mention of ongoing contract negotiations with that organization and reiterated that he would rather not comment on them and that he would make the best decision for his future.
What Edwards wants in his future is a championship. Nothing else will do. With the available seats around the garage these are easily his best two opportunities. So why the wait in telling everyone?
My best guess is that Edwards wants people to like him. To me he comes across as the Alex Rodriguez of NASCAR. Like Rodriguez he smiles a lot, tries to tell everyone what he thinks they want to hear, and ultimately is all about self promotion.
By announcing a decision quickly Edwards could have alienated a porition of his fan base. Face it he’s not Dale Earnhardt Jr and there won’t be the huge hoard of followers who will follow him wherever he goes. Instead Edwards base is made up of younger children, and fans of Ford. By announcing he plans to drive an orange car with a Toyota logo on the front won’t earn him any style points there.
Edwards drawls out the decision to earn style points for “going though a tough decision” when the reality is he knows where he is going next year. No one can tell me Carl Edwards has spent the first 8 months of this year with no ideas of where he was planning on being in 2012.
Throw in the weekly kind words spoken by Kyle Busch and the writing is on the wall here. You don’t get waves across home room and not realize there are signals being flashed here.
Edwards other reason, and ultimately more important, is his drive for a Cup championship. By making an announcement Edwards would disrupt the chemistry that has propelled him to the top of the point standings in the first half. If you throw in the news that the driver is heading out at the end of the year it effects everyone on that team. But there is even a problem with that. If Edwards does happen to win the championship this year how does he leave Roush Fenway Racing? Hmmm…
Is it possible he’s still in the #99 next year? Sure. It’s just a lot more likely he’ll be in a Joe Gibbs Toyota though.