INDIANAPOLIS, INd. —The good news for Roush Fenway Racing is that Greg Biffle will remain with the team as the organization’s veteran leader, after re-signing with RFR.
On the flip side, Carl Edwards told the team more than a month ago, according to owner Jack Roush, that he will drive elsewhere next year.
The high likelihood is that Edwards will join former RFR teammate Matt Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing, though both Edwards and JGR brass have been mum on the subject.
The reality for Roush Fenway is that the organization will have lost two championship-caliber drivers in quick succession, as both Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ, and Edwards, the 2011 title runner-up in a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart, have opted for other rides.
On the grid before Sunday’s Crown Royal 400, Edwards preferred to focus on the task at hand, rather than his departure from Roush at the end of the season.
“We’ve just got to get everything together, and then we’ll make the announcement when it’s the right time,” said Edwards, who acknowledged in a television interview that he already has his next deal “worked out.”
“Trust me, we’ll do it as soon as we can. But like I said, the focus is today and winning this race. I’ll talk about it in the next couple weeks when we kind of finalize everything. I think right now is not the right time to reflect on it, because we’ve still got a championship to win.”
There was no announcement on Sunday regarding an extension for Biffle’s primary sponsor 3M. However, Roush did announce that Fastenal, which primarily has sponsored Edwards during a long relationship with RFR, would anchor Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s No. 17 Ford next year.
Biffle, Stenhouse and Trevor Bayne will constitute RFR’s Sprint Cup lineup next year and beyond.
Gibbs hints of fourth team in 2015
Team owner Joe Gibbs has a son named Coy, and perhaps there’s a message in that, given the deft way the former NFL Super Bowl-winning coach side-stepped questions about Carl Edwards’ expected move to his race team.
“We don’t have anything right now to announce,” Gibbs said on pit road before Sunday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Anything that we’re going to do will be coming up in the future. I’m not sure exactly what the time line is.”
Gibbs did allow that his organization is making a more concerted effort this year to field a fourth team in 2015 than has been the case in the past.
“We’ve been (preparing for a fourth team) each and every year,” Gibbs said. “But it’s so hard to do that, we haven’t been able to get it done. But I think we’re taking a serious look at it this year.”
Asked if those efforts involved signing a serious driver, Gibbs replied, “You’ve got to have a serious sponsor.”
But he did acknowledge Edwards’ star power.
“When Carl’s name came up during this year … almost everybody recognizes Carl as being somebody I think is a star,” Gibbs said. “Because of that, there are a lot of teams that have tried to entice him.”
Kahne sees silver lining
Sometimes the outcome of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race comes down to something as simple as choosing the right lane for a restart.
Second-guessing himself after losing the lead on a restart with 17 laps left in the Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at The Brickyard and finishing sixth, Kasey Kahne said his choice of the inside lane was probably a mistake.
Starting to Kahne’s outside, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon took the lead through the first two corners and never looked back, leaving Kahne to ponder his lane selection.
“Looking back, I probably should have chosen the top, and that would have put us in a better place,” said Kahne, who was trying to conserve fuel during the final run, having made his final pit stop two laps before Gordon did. “But we ended up sixth. Because of that, I was able to save fuel and make it. If I had beat him (on the restart), I would have had to race the heck out of him.
“He was faster than I was. So, we probably would have finished a lot worse. So, I guess, for points, it was good. I would have loved to win at the Brickyard. We had a good car. I thought I gave it all I had. The team gave it all they had, and we just came up a little short.”
Kahne didn’t have to be reminded that a win almost certainly would have earned him a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“Yeah, no kidding,” Kahne said. “I know that. We have five more good tracks for us and six more races, so hopefully we can get one.”