CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Carl Edwards can’t remember the last time he didn’t drive a Ford in a race.
After 10 years, 23 wins, a very near miss at winning a Sprint Cup championship and being THE guy for Ford and Roush-Fenway racing, Edwards is now the self-admitted “low man on the totem pole” as the new face at Joe Gibbs Racing.
“The hardest part about transitioning so far is getting my (driver’s) seat the way I like it” Edwards explained at the NASCAR Media Tour. “I know it sounds silly but that’s a big deal for a race car driver”.
“If that’s the biggest problem I have, then we’re in good shape.”
Edwards will pilot the #19 car for a new 4th team at Gibbs racing this year. It’s a leap of faith for both driver and owner, each entering uncharted waters but hoping to achieve the same goal.
“That’s our dream” said Joe Gibbs about winning another Cup championship. “It’s been a long time since we won one. That’s the goal for everyone here.”
Edwards seems uniquely qualified to bolster problem areas for JGR, specifically his performance on tracks where Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch have traditionally struggled.
“Each driver that’s come in here has brought a level of talent that’s made everyone else raise their game” said Denny Hamlin. “There are tracks where Carl is good where the rest of us aren’t and we’ll be picking his brain about that.”
For Edwards, the switch to a different team and manufacturer was something he sought. He could have stayed at Roush-Fenway, where he finished one straightaway behind Tony Stewart for the 2011 championship, and a reported $40 million contract. But his heart told him something different.
“I was very comfortable (at Roush) and I don’t know if that’s good for me” Edwards said. “I need a little bit of a challenge and it all seemed to come together at the right time.”