What Did Roush Racing Have to Gain by Announcing Carl Edwards' Departure Now?

Jerry BonkowskiFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2014

Jack Roush, left, and Carl Edwards in happier times earlier this season following Edwards' win at Sonoma.
Jack Roush, left, and Carl Edwards in happier times earlier this season following Edwards' win at Sonoma.Robert Laberge/Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS — To borrow a line from Alice In Wonderland, the case of Carl Edwards becomes curiouser and curiouser.

Why, on the morning of arguably the second-biggest race on the NASCAR schedule, would Roush Fenway Racing officials decide to announce that Edwards will not be with the organization come the 2015 Sprint Cup season?

"Carl Edwards will not be with the team for the 2015 season," an RFR press release stated.

It then went on to quote team majority owner Jack Roush:

"I will always be thankful for Carl’s contribution and the role he played in many Roush Fenway wins and championships. We wish him well for the future. In the meantime, we are excited about continuing our quest for a championship with Carl and the No. 99 team in 2014."

Why did RFR officials find it absolutely necessary to make the announcement—which seemed rather abrupt and rushed—on the morning of the Brickyard?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 26:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow - Mycogen Seeds Chevrolet, lead the field out of the pits during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John
Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

Couldn't it have waited until, say, Monday?

Or was it somewhat of a temper tantrum by the Roush camp that Edwards wanted out when his current contract expired at season's end and all last-ditch efforts to keep him had ultimately failed?

Roush expects undying loyalty from his drivers, and he typically gets it.

But go down the list of some of the other high-profile drivers who've left RFR over the last decade or so by choice, and it seems that they've been ostracized either publicly or privately.

In a very public excommunication, Kurt Busch was suspended from the final two races of his contract with RFR in 2005.

When they announced they were leaving the Roush stable, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth essentially got the silent treatment.

Martin moved on to Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007 after his "farewell tour" the season before turned out to be anything but a farewell, while Kenseth left after 2012 to go to one of Roush's biggest rivals, Joe Gibbs Racing.

And JGR appears to be the favorite to win the Cousin Carl sweepstakes, apparently prepared to expand from three to four teams to accommodate Edwards in 2015 and beyond.

But we keep going back to the timing of Sunday's announcement. What did RFR have to gain?

RIDGEWAY, VA - APRIL 05:  Team owner Jack Roush talks to Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP Gas Booster 500 on April 5, 2013 at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia.  (Photo by Mark
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Was it trying to distract Edwards heading into Sunday's race?

And if so, what would it accomplish? Edwards isn't leaving until season's end. There are still 16 races and a championship to be won in his final season working for the Cat in the Hat.

Didn't anyone at RFR's Concord, North Carolina, headquarters think about that? Didn't anyone stop and say, "Uh, guys, maybe this isn't the best timing to announce this now?"

Instead, announcing what it did Sunday almost makes it appear as if Roush was cutting off its nose to spite its face and didn't care.

Wasn't anyone at RFR thinking? Does it want Edwards—who very possibly could wind up being the organization's only representative in this year's Chase—to tank when he does reach the playoffs?

Does it want to make Edwards look bad or subtly castigate him just because he feels he has a better opportunity elsewhere?

Sure, Jack Roush gave Edwards the big break he had been chasing for years, plucking him from relative obscurity on the Midwest short-track scene.

But with all the years of faithful service since he was promoted to the Sprint Cup Series, Edwards has more than paid back the investment Roush originally made in him.

What's more, Edwards almost earned Roush another Sprint Cup title in 2011, when he tied Tony Stewart for the championship by points but lost on the first tiebreaker of wins (Stewart finished that season with five wins; Edwards had just one).

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 26:  Team owner Jack Roush looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis,
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

In addition, Edwards isn't yet ready to announce what team he'll be going to next season. Maybe things aren't finalized. Maybe there are still additional sponsorship details that need to be worked out.

Frankly, Roush not only made Edwards look bad; he made RFR as a whole look worse.

The better way to have handled Edwards' impending departure would have been to wait until he had all his ducks in a row, then have a joint press conference together so that each side could have said thanks to each other for the memories and the good times.

And wish each other well.

That would have been the classy and professional way to do it.

But no, there was none of that—just a dry media release that the 2015 RFR lineup will feature Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.

And, as if an afterthought, Edwards' departure was buried in the release, not mentioned until the last two paragraphs.

Edwards deserved better, while Roush deserved to do it better.


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