NASCAR’s worst-kept secret is official: Carl Edwards joins Joe Gibbs Racing from 2015


For several months, the question has not been if but when it would be announced that Carl Edwards would shift from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing.

On Tuesday, we’ve finally had that question answered.

Edwards has been officially confirmed as driver of Gibbs’ new fourth entry, the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry. He’ll join Gibbs holdovers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, and reunite with former Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth.

The No. 19 falls perfectly in-between Busch’s No. 18 and Kenseth’s No. 20. In recent years, Gibbs’ part-time fourth car carried the No. 81 in the selected races it was entered.

ARRIS Group Inc., a global innovator in IP, video and broadband technology, is a sponsor new to NASCAR and will have a presence both on Edwards’ Cup car for 17 races and also for rising Mexican star Daniel Suarez, who will compete in the full 2015 Nationwide Series (under its new name) and selected Camping World Truck Series races.

During Tuesday’s press conference, Joe Gibbs said the remaining 19 races for Edwards’ Cup car will be announced shortly, but most deals are done. He said he was “thrilled” to have companies coming to JGR.

For Edwards, while he reiterated the focus will remain on closing out strongly with RFR, he expressed his excitement with the switch.

“This is a huge day for me. It means the world to me to have this opportunity, means a lot to have Denny, Kyle, Matt here and to be a part of this organization,” Edwards said. “It’ll be nice to finally be able to talk about this.

“Thanks to Joe and JD (Gibbs) making this possible. For AARIS, for Bob (Stanzione, Chairman/CEO) and his company to be this big right out of the gate, is huge. It’s a huge day for me and my career.”

Joe Gibbs said it was important for the timing to be right to expand to a fourth team. Most will be staffed internally, most likely including a crew chief, although no personnel announcements were made here.

“Over the years people kept asking us when we’d be adding us a third,” he said. “We added the third (in 2005), but we were a big team, it took us a long time to go to three. We want our vision and everything we’re doing with our three, so it had to be the right sponsor and right driver.

“We’re very careful with it. Mainly we were able to get Carl and ARRIS. Everything we do is team-wise. Everyone said this would be the right time. Carl brings more resources for us. We’re competing against four (cars) or more, and all we want to do is win every race.”

Stanzione elaborated on ARRIS’ decision to enter and go big.

“It’s somewhat of a coming out party for ARRIS. We’re in millions of homes, but we’re a brand that’s not that well known,” he said.

“When we just asked ‘who’s heard of us,’ maybe 4 hands went up. And that’s the reason we needed to get out there. We provide high speed data, voice and video communications to service providers. To bring you entertainment, to allow you to surf the web, you may have our product but not know it. So we wanted to get the brand out there.”

More will follow on MotorSportsTalk throughout the day on the rest of this announcement.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski