Now that champion’s week is over and the tux is back in the closet, for all intents and purposes, 2015 has already begun for Carl Edwards. After a decade with Roush Fenway Racing, the Flipmeister turned his first laps for Joe Gibbs Racing in a tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. While most of us are mailing out Christmas cards and finishing up our holiday shopping, the future is now for the 33-year old- a two-time runner-up in the Chase.
In certain fan circles the switch from Ford to Toyota has not gone over well. Admittedly, after watching Mr. Ed shill for the Blue Oval all these years, it will seem a little strange to see him singing the praises for the Japanese make. Its even more weird than when Smokin’ Joe Frazier went from singing in Miller Lite commercials to pitching Anheuser-Busch Natural Lite.
The pro-Ford and anti-Toyota crowd have not taken it well. calling Edwards a “sell out.” Some say it’s about the money. Wait a minute! What is racing about? It’s about winning! Does anybody here believe that given the course that RFR has been on the last couple of years truly believe Edwards doesn’t have a better chance at winning at JGR? Look at Matt Kenseth for reference. I rest my case.
After years of being the top Ford dog, Jack Roush has given way to Penske. The Captain is looking pretty content with his two car Sprint Cup operation, so there’s no opening there. Richard Petty? A move there would be a step back; it’s painful to say, but true.
Joe Gibbs and Carl Edwards are a match made in Heaven. Gibbs runs a successful operation with a strong stable of drivers that are perennial contenders. Gibbs is hands on, well supported by the manufacturer and his competitive fires still burn brightly. Articulate and engaging, Edwards is a sponsor magnet with a solid racing resume. Some may think of him as an Eddie Haskell type who smiles up front and stirs up trouble in the back. All I can say, is if Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick can all co-exist, getting along with Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Kenseth should be a snap. The honeymoon period should be good for one season; longer if it goes well.
Ten years goes quickly. In a blink of an eye, Carl Edwards has gone from a hungry, young substitute teacher handing out business cards to anyone who would take one, to one of the big stars of the sport. All his resume is missing now is a Sprint Cup title. Edwards doesn’t have forever to get it done. He’s in his prime, and it’s ‘get ‘er done” time. For Carl Edwards, the future is now. That’s why he’s in the number 19 Toyota Camry.