NASCAR: Roush Fenway Racing Still Faces Concerns After New Carl Edwards Contract

Luke KrmpotichContributor IIAugust 5, 2011

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JUNE 30:  (L-R) Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 SUBWAY Ford, talks with teammate Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Ford, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series COKE ZERO 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on June 30, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Of all the top-level NASCAR Sprint Cup teams, Roush Fenway Racing is facing the most uncertainty. Not all of its four drivers are signed for 2012 and it is facing major sponsorship concerns.

The main question mark was settled a couple days ago when Carl Edwards signed a multi-year contract extension with RFR.

Edwards has driven for Roush his entire Sprint Cup career, and his re-signing should help the free agency process be a lot less murky, not just for Edwards and RFR but for the rest of the garage as well.

The primary sponsor, Aflac, has yet to announce its intentions for 2012 and beyond. However, Aflac can now decide on whether to stick with Roush based on that fact that Edwards has chosen to stay with his current team.

In the short term, resolving his contract situation removes a major distraction both from Edwards as he chases his first career title and from RFR as a whole.

Teammate Greg Biffle recently stated that Edwards needed to man up and make a decision. The fact that Edwards has made the call to stay with Roush should help solidify the chemistry among the Roushketeers and allow them to focus on working towards bringing Roush its first championship since 2004.

The other drivers at RFR have been providing some drama this season, as well.

David Ragan is in an interesting situation. The 25-year-old is in the last year of his contract, and he currently sits 16th in the standings. Ragan did, however, score his first Cup win last month, so he has a decent shot at making the Chase—along with earning a likely contract extension—if he can put together some solid finishes to close out the regular season.

Another major factor in Ragan's situation is sponsorship. UPS has sponsored Ragan for the past four years, but a lack of results on the track could put a renewal of that contract at risk. That is assuming Ragan is even driving for RFR in 2012.

If Jack Roush decides not to re-sign Ragan, there are multiple options to fill his Cup seat. Roush could try to sign a Sprint Cup free agent such as Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman or Brian Vickers. Alternatively he could opt to move one of his Nationwide Series drivers to Cup. Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne is the most obvious choice, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. being another possibility.

Meanwhile, Greg Biffle and sponsor 3M recently signed three-year contract extensions with Roush, but Biffle's performance on the track this season has been subpar. He has just one top-five result and ranks 13th in the standings, currently on track to miss the Chase for the first time since 2007.

Finally, Matt Kenseth has been enjoying a fine year so far. He has multiple wins, is a solid fifth in the standings and already has more laps led in 2011 than the previous two years combined. However, sponsorship past the 2011 season is a question mark, as Crown Royal has announced it will not be returning as a sponsor next season.

Jack Roush is an astute businessman and I assume his organization will be fine come the 2012 Daytona 500, but between now and February there are a lot of details remaining to be worked out.