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

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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.

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”