Joining The Team
Huntersville, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Tuesday that Carl Edwards will drive a fourth car for the team in the Sprint Cup Series in 2015.
Edwards, 35, will be behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota. Arris Group Inc., a telecommunications equipment manufacturing company, will serve as primary sponsor for his team in 17 Sprint Cup races next season. JGR has yet to name a crew chief for the team. Neither the length nor the financial terms of Edwards' contract with JGR were disclosed.
"This is one of the biggest days in Joe Gibbs Racing's history," team owner Joe Gibbs said. "To be able to bring a driver the caliber of Carl Edwards on board to launch our fourth team is just a thrill."
Last month, Roush Fenway Racing revealed its Sprint Cup driver lineup for next season and noted that Edwards would not be back with team. Edwards has driven for Jack Roush's team since 2003. All 360 of his career starts in NASCAR's premier series have been as driver of the No. 99 Ford for the team. He made his Cup debut in August 2004 at Michigan.
There had been speculation for several months that Edwards would leave Roush Fenway and join JGR for the '15 Sprint Cup season. He will team with Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth at JGR. Kenseth, the 2003 series champion, drove for Roush Fenway from 2000-12.
"This is a huge day for me," Edwards said. "It means the world to me to have this opportunity. I'm really looking forward to being a part of this organization. It will be nice to be able to talk about this now, with all of the work that has gone into it. I appreciate Joe, J.D. [Gibbs, team president] and everyone here at JGR for making this possible."
Edwards, who hails from Columbia, Missouri, is currently eighth in the Sprint Cup point standings. With two wins during the regular season (Bristol and Sonoma), he has clinched a spot in this year's Chase for Sprint Cup championship. Edwards has scored 23 victories during his career in the series. He has finished second in points twice -- 2008 and 2011. Edwards lost the '11 championship on a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart.
"Right now, my focus is still to win a championship in the No. 99 for Roush Fenway Racing," Edwards said. "For 10 years, I've worked as hard as I can to try to win championships, and that is my goal. I felt like at this time in my life and in my career a change might be something that would let me reach that goal."
Busch and Hamlin have also secured a spot in the Chase with one victory each this season. Kenseth has yet to win a race in 2014, but he is presently fifth in points and ranked 13th on the 16-driver Chase grid.
"All four of these guys [Edwards, Busch, Hamlin and Kenseth] will be trying to win a championship this year, but I have reached an agreement with Carl that whenever he sees our guys coming, he's going to pull over," Joe Gibbs jokingly said. "So we got that all squared away. That's a joke, but believe me, he's going for a championship, and I wish him the absolute best. Our guys are going to do everything they can. We want to win one over here."
During his first season as driver of the No. 20 Toyota for JGR in 2013, Kenseth won a season-high seven races in the series and finished second in the Chase (19 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson).
Busch has driven the No. 18 car for JGR since the start of the 2008 season, and all of Hamlin's 313 career starts in Cup have been behind the wheel of the No. 11.
"It's just a great addition having Carl join our race team," J.D. Gibbs said. "I think Kyle, Matt and Denny will really gain from Carl, and Carl will gain from them as well. This is just a big deal, and we're so excited."
JGR also revealed on Tuesday that Mexican driver Daniel Suarez will join the organization next year to compete full-time in the Nationwide Series as well as run a partial schedule in the Camping World Truck Series.
Suarez is now racing full-time for Escuderia Telmex in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, where he leads in points in that series. In April, he made his Nationwide debut with JGR at Richmond International Raceway, finishing 19th.
"This is a dream come true," Suarez said. "I can't thank Joe Gibbs Racing enough for their confidence and support. I am a 22-year-old driver from Mexico."
JGR announced that it has launched a diversity initiative with Escuderia Telmex, provided with support from ARRIS, to provide developmental opportunities to deserving Mexican and Latin American candidates in the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico and other racing series under the JGR umbrella.