Skip to content

NASCAR: Is Edwards a lame duck or could he still bag 2014 title?

Jul 28, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

EdwardsRoush AP

In two of the last three years, some member or partner of a prominent NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team was set for a departure at year’s end – and yet that prominent team still went onto win the series championship in the Chase.

So could this occur for Carl Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing in the wake of the long awaited, now official news that they’re going their separate ways for 2015?

It all depends on how they handle their impending breakup down the stretch.

First, the recent history:

In 2011, Tony Stewart informed Darian Grubb his crew chief services would no longer be needed at the end of the season. Then Stewart, who’d gone winless in the opening 26 “regular season” races and barely made the Chase, then went on a hot streak of posting five wins in the 10-race playoff – thanks in part to some key calls by Grubb – as the pair bagged the title.

In 2012, Team Penske announced it would leave Dodge for Ford for 2013 – with Dodge then essentially being resigned to the scrap heap on the Cup level at year’s end. No matter – Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe were dynamite for most of the season, particularly the second half from about July, as they swept through to their first title together and Roger Penske’s first at the Cup level.

Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress Racing announced they’d be parting ways at the end of 2013, but Harvick was still won four races – two in the Chase – and finished third in points in a full-press, rather than lame-duck finish to the end of their 13-year tenure together at the Cup level.

This now brings us to Edwards and RFR, who have still run decently at times this year and already bagged two wins in the first 20 races – same as Harvick had in the same time frame a year ago.

While Edwards said in a brief interview Sunday before the Brickyard 400 that the timing of this announcement by RFR was unfortunate, it should not distract from the goal at hand for the rest of 2014: namely, winning more races and then advancing through the stages of the new-for-2014 knockout Chase format.

Frankly, he’s the only guy with a shot to do it for Roush Fenway, a team which has steadily fallen from the ranks of the elite on the Cup level over the last few years and could use one final shot in the arm before entering a “rebuilding” phase with Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne in 2015..

Biffle sits 17th in points, only nine points behind Austin Dillon in 14th, who currently holds the last spot on the Chase grid coming out of the Brickyard. But Biffle will need a win at this juncture – likely at his and Roush’s usual stronghold facility of Michigan International Speedway next month – if he is to have a shot at making the Chase himself. Meanwhile Stenhouse Jr. has regressed in 2014 and ranks 27th in points.

Edwards will rise or fall in the Chase depending on his and his No. 99 team’s mindset these final 16 races together, the six leading into the Chase and the 10 Chase races themselves.

There has to be a certain level of frustration with the way the last few weeks, heck, few months, have played out as the will he-won’t he saga of leaving has played out in the media. Certainly Edwards would want to shift the focus and attention back to his on-track efforts rather than the soap opera of sorting out his future.

And there also has to be a level of wanting to end on a high note. Roush nurtured and developed Edwards from his time in the Camping World Truck Series, his time winning a wealth of Nationwide Series races before that stopped, and has molded him into the lead driver on the Cup side as veterans Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch have all gone their separate ways. You’d think, in theory anyway, Edwards would want to repay “the cat in the hat” with a title.

Edwards lost that 2011 title to Stewart on a tiebreaker – the closest he’s ever come to a Cup title and the closest Roush has come since winning the inaugural Chase, with Busch, in 2004.

Edwards has had that near top-level career in Cup without a top-level achievement – a Sprint Cup title. He’s in his last few months of the known, the comfort level that comes with being part of an organization for more than a dozen years through three series in NASCAR and a full decade at the top level itself. Wherever his next stop is (likely Joe Gibbs Racing), Edwards will need to develop a new chemistry with his new team, and that process takes time.

He has the potential to raise the collective game of the No. 99 group knowing this will be its last ride as a unit, or fall into the abyss of apathy over the second half of the season while thinking only of what’s next.

He may be leaving, but it would be great to see him end with a flourish rather than a whimper.

NASCAR America: Carl Edwards not on Roush Fenway 2015 roster

Latest Posts
  1. Raikkonen: I wouldn’t be racing in F1 if I didn’t want to be

    Jul 3, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 02:  Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrar speaks at a press conference during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Raikkonen hits back at questions about his motivation as rumors of a possible driver change at Ferrari begin to circulate.

  2. Mercedes handed reprimand for covering Rosberg’s car

    Jul 3, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP returns to the garage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rosberg’s car was covered over following a stoppage in FP1.

  3. Rosberg fastest once again in second British GP practice

    Jul 3, 2015, 10:32 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Two red flags interrupt running in FP2, but it is Nico Rosberg who leads the way once again.

  4. WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the British Grand Prix on NBCSN and Live Extra from 9am ET

    Jul 3, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Can Nico Rosberg top the timesheets once again in second practice at Silverstone?

  5. Rosberg tops FP1 at Silverstone after gearbox change

    Jul 3, 2015, 6:35 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 02:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP speaks with members of his team outside the garage during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    First blood to Rosberg despite missing most of FP1 due to a problem on his car.

  6. WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the British Grand Prix on Live Extra from 5am ET

    Jul 3, 2015, 4:46 AM EDT

    SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 19:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP gets in his car in the hgarage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    First practice at Silverstone kicks off at 5am ET on Friday.

  7. NHRA: Tony Pedregon hopes to keep momentum going in Norwalk

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:08 PM EDT

    Tony Pedregon (Photo courtesy Tony Pedregon official Twitter account) Tony Pedregon (Photo courtesy Tony Pedregon official Twitter account)

    The way his season had been going, two-time NHRA Funny Car champ Tony Pedregon was threatening to become a “Whatever Happened To?” question.

  8. Matthew Brabham completes first IndyCar test, eyes 2016 Indy 500

    Jul 2, 2015, 6:36 PM EDT

    matthew brabham Getty Images

    Today, Iowa. Next year, Indianapolis? That’s what Matthew Brabham is hoping for, after completing his first full IndyCar test with Andretti Autosport Thursday at Iowa Speedway.

  9. Button: Confidence high at McLaren ahead of home GP

    Jul 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    A double DNF in Austria isn’t enough to get McLaren down ahead of British Grand Prix.

  10. Ryan Briscoe making most of filling in for James Hinchcliffe

    Jul 2, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT

    Ryan Briscoe 2015 getty Getty Images

    At the same time that James Hinchcliffe was seriously injured while practicing for the Indianapolis 500, Ryan Briscoe didn’t have a ride for either the 500 or for the season.

  11. Team roster confirmed for second Formula E season

    Jul 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Nextev TCRs German driver Nelson Piquet JR (C) drives during the final race of the 2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix championship at Battersea Park in London, England, on June 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The same ten teams from season one, albeit with a few name changes.

  12. F1 Strategy Group pushing through technical revolution for 2017, other changes planned as early as Belgian GP

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    Drivers wait for the start at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on June 21, 2015, during the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR        (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    F1 Strategy Group met with the FIA and Formula One Management in England on Wednesday to discuss future changes to the sport.

  13. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: British GP

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    (Back L-R) Lotus F1 Team's Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado, Manor Marussia Team's British driver Will Stevens, Sauber F1 Team's Sewdish driver Marcus Ericsson, (Front L-R) Williams Martini Racing's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas, McLaren Honda's British driver Jenson Button, Ferrari's Finnish driver  Kimi Raikkonen take part in a joint press conference at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 2, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.   AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The MST team makes its predictions ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

  14. The Rolling Stones hit IMS on Saturday, so here’s an IndyCar-inspired set list

    Jul 2, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    StonesIMS Getty Images

    What if The Rolling Stones’ concert set list at IMS was specifically inspired by recent IndyCar events? We ponder the possibilities.

  15. Vandoorne in regular talks with McLaren about future

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne holds his trophy as he celebrates after winning the GP2 series race at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Could the Belgian be racing in Formula 1 next season?

  16. Several stats, streaks or droughts of note leaving Fontana

    Jul 2, 2015, 10:44 AM EDT

    IndyPostACSstats Getty Images

    A Power outage, JPM and Marco’s quiet rolls, and other IndyCar nuggets of note leaving Fontana.

  17. GP2: Rowland, Cecotto, Lancaster, Canamasas all in for Silverstone round

    Jul 2, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Four driver changes ahead of this weekend’s round at Silverstone.

  18. 2015 British Grand Prix Preview

    Jul 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    150702_LewisHamilton Getty Images

    Can Lewis Hamilton make it a homecoming to remember by scoring his third British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone?