There was a time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series when an orange car from Joe Gibbs Racing was winning races and championships left and right.
Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot car – either as a Pontiac or Chevrolet before the team’s semi-recent switch to Toyota – was a regular in victory lane.
The best and now only hope for a primarily orange JGR car returning to victory lane in 2015 and beyond is Carl Edwards’ No. 19 ARRIS Toyota, the paint scheme of which was revealed late last week.
Edwards told FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer during a Sunday 2015 NASCAR preview show that the move of Atlanta to the second race of the season presents an opportunity for him to get on the board early and, like fellow driver-at-new-team Kevin Harvick did for Stewart-Haas Racing this year, bank a win in his second start and qualify for the Chase.
“My first win in Nationwide and Cup came the same weekend in Atlanta (spring 2005),” Edwards said. “You head into a corner at 195, slide it sideways, and there’s bumps all over the place. I have an opportunity with this schedule change to get a win early.
“I grew up racing at my local dirt track. Atlanta drives like a big nasty dirt ttrack. It’s so fast, to me that’s fun. You’re manhandling the car that whole time.”
About winning, though. Edwards won’t be satisfied with just one win, or, as LeBron James once famously put it, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7…
“I plan on winning 10 races and the championship,” Edwards declared.
If it sounds like a crazy declaration, we need only remember two years ago Matt Kenseth transferred to JGR and won seven races, and came second in the championship.
“People will be like, ‘Ah, he’s crazy.’ But if we don’t win the championship, it will not be a success,” Edwards said.
“Everyone’s putting in these resources to win a championship, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Edwards also reflected on how he hopes to improve not just as a driver, but as a person, in his move over to JGR.
“Matt Kenseth has helped me a lot. We started as teammates (at Roush),” Edwards said. “I didn’t understand Matt. I wasn’t the best teammate when I came into the sport.
“There’s a couple things. I’ve been doing this 10 years, and I don’t have a title. And two, I didn’t have the best relationships with my teammates.
“Now I know I need to work together. I think I come in here a lot more humble and wanting to learn from these guys.”
The interview showcased Edwards as humble to learn, but also eager to dominate – somewhat akin to what Harvick achieved this year in his first year at SHR.
If Edwards can match Harvick’s fast start, and then get rolling with his new team, then perhaps this declaration could actually come to fruition. Otherwise, it’s a lofty statement to make.