Did you hear that? That’s a collective sigh of relief for Carl Edwards, the 19 team and Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s one victory in the scheme of things, but as Edwards himself said, this one is not like the others. The victory accomplishes a great deal.
The move to JGR from Roush Fenway Racing didn’t necessarily yield instant gratification for the 2008 and 2011 runner-up like it did for Kevin Harvick, when he moved from Richard Childress to Stewart-Haas, or like it did for Matt Kenseth, who made a similar move to Gibbs from RFR. It has only been of late that JGR has looked a little more like an organization that can challenge the likes of Hendrick Motorsports, Penske, and SHR for supremacy. Carl Edwards’ teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin have also garnered wins for the NFL Hall of Fame coach, after a couple of hiccups out of the 2015 gate.
Regardless of where, regardless of how a driver gets a win, that first win for a driver who has made a change is the most difficult. Carl Edwards- for all intents and purposes- is in the chase. The 19 now has some freedom to go for broke when the opportunity presents itself, and as the chase tracks come up on the schedule now, Edwards and Darian Grubb know they will return later in the year as contenders. The Coca-Cola 600 win really does ease the pressure on Edwards, and puts his maiden voyage with JGR in a whole new light.
For Gibbs- Carl Edwards’ win means they now have three of their four-team stable in the 2015 win column. No other Sprint Cup team can currently boast this right now. Anyone who has a high degree of confidence in the talents of Kyle Busch can’t help but think the number will grow to four before the summer is out.
Can Carl Edwards or Kenseth or Busch or Hamlin find that consistent speed to run with the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick on a consistent basis? That’s the next challenge. The recent success experienced by Edwards is another step in the right direction.