RFR President Newmark Says Re-signing Edwards Was Not Product Of Bidding War
Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark said that the team's re-signing of Carl Edwards was not the product of a "bidding war" and "didn't come down to any late offer from Roush Fenway Racing nor Ford Motor Company," according to Bob Pockrass of SCENEDAILY.com. RFR's deal with Edwards "was completed in the last two days," but Newmark said, "We only put on the table one economic package and did that a while ago. That never changed and he never came back and asked for anything different. This was not a situation where he was playing offers between competing teams." Sponsorship for Edwards was not announced Thursday, but Newmark said that he "hopes current Edwards sponsors such as Aflac, Subway and Scotts return." Newmark: "We feel that the partner group that is on the 99 (car) program right now is unrivaled in the sport, and we're absolutely committed to that group going forward, and that's what we'll be focused on, keeping the team together." Pockrass noted it is "widely assumed that Ford played a role in keeping Edwards in one of its cars for the next several years" (SCENEDAILY.com, 8/4). RFR Owner Jack Roush said there were several of Edwards’ sponsors "that were standing on the sidelines waiting to see what (he) would do." Roush: "Happily we’ve had some conversations with the sponsors that were interested in Carl.” ESPN's Marty Smith noted Edwards is an “unparalleled marketer." Smith: "He is the key pitchman in the sport, and that is not lost on sponsors." Re-signing Edwards tells potential sponsors that RFR is a "good organization and a good enough team to retain his services. That, too, residually will entice sponsors” ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 8/4).
TOO IMPORTANT TO LOSE: ESPN.com's Terry Blount reported Roush "couldn't come close to what Joe Gibbs Racing was offering Edwards, reportedly in the neighborhood of $8 million a year and a $10 million signing bonus." Ford then "came to the rescue in an unprecedented move to salvage the negotiations." Blount: "It was the right thing to do. Without Edwards, Ford's marketing potential in NASCAR would have decreased substantially." Edwards is a "marketing machine, a prototypical modern-day driver who is as comfortable in front of a camera as he is behind the wheel," and he is Ford's "signature star." Blount: "Every available dollar had to be spent to keep him" (ESPN.com, 8/4). In Richmond, Paul Woody notes Ford is "enjoying a resurgence in consumer sales," and it "needs Edwards, photogenic and telegenic, at the wheel of the No. 99 Ford Fusion." Woody: "Did you catch him on Regis and Kelly in June? Smooth. Suave. Witty. Managed to mention he drives a Ford, putting that brand in the minds of a demographic group not necessarily associated with stock car racing" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 8/5). SI.com's Tim Tuttle wrote Ford "invested in Edwards because he's the flagship driver on their flagship team." Ford "hasn't won a Cup championship since 2004 with Roush Fenway's Kurt Busch" (SI.com, 8/4). In Dallas, Gerry Fraley writes Ford is one of the winners in the deal as Edwards "helps prop up Ford's presence." Fraley: "Look for Ford to make the most of the relationship" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/5). USA TODAY's Nate Ryan writes "beyond cash," Ford's "enticements could include more branding and endorsement opportunities for image-savvy Edwards, putting his face in new social-media platforms, commercials and TV programming" (USA TODAY, 8/5).
CHILLING EFFECT ON MARKET: In Milwaukee, Dave Kallmann writes if Edwards had gone to JGR, it "would have opened a desirable seat and started the dominoes tumbling." But with "that option (and leverage) gone, look for the remaining free agents, most notably Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer, to re-sign quickly with their current teams" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/5).