Carl Edwards surely did not want his tenure at Roush Fenway Racing to end like this.
A right-rear tire failure for Edwards at Lap 115 in Sunday’s Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway caused him to go into the wall, inflicting considerable rear-end damage to the No. 99 Ford Fusion.
The night was effectively ruined, as Edwards went on to finish four laps down in 34th place.
“I had a flat right-rear,” he said. “I was having some fun racing with some of those guys. I went under Austin Dillon and I heard a noise and I thought, ‘Oh, somebody’s engine is blowing up,’ and it was my tire flapping and I just drove in there and backed into the fence.
“If I would have been just a little bit quicker realizing what was going wrong, I think we would have still had a good finish, but I had a good time.”
Up to now, RFR has been the only Sprint Cup team that Edwards has raced for. But next season, he’ll join Joe Gibbs Racing as the team expands to four cars.
Edwards managed to survive long enough in this year’s Chase to make it to the Eliminator Round, but could not advance into the Championship 4. With his Homestead result, he winds up ninth in this year’s Cup standings.
He’ll exit the RFR camp with 23 victories (including two this year at Bristol and the road course at Sonoma), 108 Top-5 finishes, and 187 Top-10 finishes in 373 events across 11 seasons. Additionally, Edwards won a Nationwide Series title in 2007 for RFR and narrowly lost out on the 2011 Sprint Cup title to Tony Stewart.
While the Stewart defeat may still sting a little, Edwards can certainly be proud of what he accomplished.
Ditto for his crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, who is retiring from calling the shots on pit road. Fennig spent the last two years with Edwards and leaves with 40 career wins plus a Sprint Cup title as Kurt Busch’s CC in 2004.
However, he’s expected to stay around RFR in a consulting role. Edwards, on the other hand, will be out to beat RFR from here on in.
But he’ll always have the memories.
“Overall, it’s just been an honor to work with everybody here,” Edwards said. “If it weren’t for Jack Roush and Ford and everybody that has worked so hard, I definitely would never have had all the success we’ve had, so the 99 will always be a part of my life.”