Doing Flips: Carl Edwards Signs Deal To Stay With Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing announced this morning that it has re-signed driver Carl Edwards to a multiyear contract, starting next season. Edwards joined RFR in '03 and drove in the Camping World Truck Series before running a Sprint Cup Series schedule the next season. He currently sits atop the Cup Series point standings (RFR). FOXSPORTS.com's Lee Spencer, who first reported the deal, notes after a "bidding war between Roush and Joe Gibbs Racing for Edwards' services in which financial incentives were fairly equal among the two operations, it is clear the ultimate decision was not about the money." Edwards' decision to stay with RFR and Ford "will pay off in more than just monetary dividends." While this "latest round of negotiations dragged on well beyond a comfortable time for shoring up 2012 sponsorships (most deals are finalized by July 1), team owner Jack Roush has never wavered from his admiration of Edwards." Edwards' brand "has been used to promote NASCAR and Ford Motor Company on a level reserved for A-list athletes similar to the path forged by Jeff Gordon into mainstream America." Spencer writes it is "not surprising Ford put on a full-court press to retain their top star." Ford and Ford Racing officials "expounded on the company's rich heritage in motorsports and the loyalty showered on its teams" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/4). The AP's Jenna Fryer notes it is "unlikely that the engines played any role in Edwards' decision," but Ford gave his a promise of "unprecedented incentives if he stayed" (AP, 8/4). ESPN's Marty Smith on Twitter reported, "Carl Edwards staying at Roush b/c he's the face of Ford Motor. The Ford offer provided the pendulum swing. He was gone to Gibbs 10 days ago" (TWITTER.com, 8/4).
BIG BOOST FOR RFR: SCENEDAILY.com's Bob Pockrass reports Edwards "likely will have funding from current primary sponsor Aflac as well as another major sponsor" by staying in RFR's No. 99 car. Retaining Edwards is "huge" for RFR, as the team has "three drivers -- Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan -- under contract for next year but only one sponsorship, with 3M aligned with Biffle." Re-signing Edwards "should help boost the team's profile with potential sponsors for Kenseth and Ragan" (SCENEDAILY.com, 8/4). Turner Sports Senior Marketing Manager Greg Mize wrote on Twitter, "Losing Carl Edwards would have been big hit for #Fenway Sports Group; they like big-name brands (Sox, Liverpool, etc.)" (TWITTER.com, 8/4).
WHO'S NEXT? Edwards had been considered the top free agent in NASCAR, and ESPN.com's David Newton reports it now appears the sport's "other top free agents were likely to stay put as well." Team Owner Richard Childress has indicated that Clint Bowyer "is in the final stages of working out a deal at RCR, pending sponsorship." Juan Pablo Montoya last weekend said that he is "working on a new deal with Chip Ganassi Racing" (ESPN.com, 8/4). Meanwhile, Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick said that Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s contract extension with the team will “be signed within the next 30 days.” Hendrick: “It will be a multiyear deal. We haven’t been in a hurry because we both have taken it for granted that we’re doing it. It’s almost a foregone conclusion. We’ve been busy and there are a lot of contracts with sponsors” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/4).