When Carl Edwards decided last week to stay at Roush Fenway Racing for several more years, it left a lot of people shaking their heads in the Sprint Cup Series garage area.
Most figured Edwards was ready to move over to Joe Gibbs Racing, but he made a surprising move to continue with car owner Jack Roush – after getting a personal services contract with Ford Motor Co.
With Edwards signed, everything else should fall into place quickly. Juan Pablo Montoya said he already has a deal to remain at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, and Clint Bowyer said he’s working on an extension with Richard Childress Racing.
More than anything else, everyone agreed they were glad the suspense over Edwards was done.
“I don’t think there’s any sense of disappointment,” Kyle Busch talked about the prospects of Edwards joining him at JGR. “Certainly it would’ve been great to have him and certainly it’s great that Roush Racing gets to keep him. I don’t think there’s any hard feelings there. I think that’s a part of the negotiation process and how Carl felt like he wanted to handle things and where he ended up is where he ended up.”
Several drivers have worked through contract negotiations and job searches during the middle of the season. All agreed it becomes a distraction because other jobs are at stake if the driver decides to leave.
“Being in that situation before it’s a tough situation to be in with your team just because all the guys look at you like, ‘Man why are you leaving? Things are going pretty good.’ Really the way he’s handled it has been very quiet and kind of his own way and it looks like it all worked out.
“I think the guys that it effects the most, you know as a driver it really doesn’t affect you, it’s kind of just part of it and you kind of just do what you do but the guys on the team and the part that you affect the most if you’re in a situation where you don’t have sponsors, it’s impossible to get a sponsor, so I think that’s probably what it came down to more than anything, was when it’s time to resign your sponsors and you don’t have a driver you’re not going to sign a sponsor.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. needs a new contract at Hendrick Motorsports beyond this season. Unlike Edwards, who served as his own agent, Earnhardt leaves the negotiating to other people.
By not being involved, it helps keep him from reacting emotionally. And that seems to keep things calm with his race team.
“I really don’t get involved in my negotiations too much because I’m too nice,” he said. “I had to send my sister (Kelley) in there because she is a shark about it. I just want everybody to be happy and everybody to go on down the road and get back to work and move in the right direction and all that good stuff.”
Patrick prepares for NASCAR
While Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t ready to reveal any details, it appears Danica Patrick will be full-time in the Nationwide Series next year with plans of eventually moving up to the Sprint Cup Series.
While she’s done a lot in the past two years to convince most drivers she’s serious about NASCAR, nobody believes she’s ready to make the big plunge to Sprint Cup without a couple of full-time seasons in the minor leagues.
“Well, I think that anyone that comes into the sport, anyone, needs two to three years in the trucks and the Nationwide series to step into the Cup series comfortably,” he said. “Two or three years in the Nationwide Series is a pretty decent amount. And that would be rushing it in my mind.”
Patrick has appeared in selected Nationwide races in the past two years. Her best finish was fourth earlier this year at Las Vegas.
There also are plans for her to drive in selected Sprint Cup Series races.
Kyle Petty is convinced she’s spent a lot of the last two seasons working more on marketing and promotion that she’s not ready for that big of a jump.
“She is not ready for Cup. End of the conversation,” he said. “The first year she ran, it was all marketing all the time. This year she has made a tremendous improvement. I give her kudos for the races she has run and how she’s done. She has made a huge jump from year one to year two.
“She still hasn’t beaten Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch and Joey Logano and guys like that. When you get to the Cup level, that’s the guys that are there. You’ve got to race against those guys week-in and week-out. She doesn’t have the experience in a stock car yet after two partial seasons or two marketing campaigns, whatever you want to call it, in the Nationwide Series or the Cup Series yet, in my opinion.”