Jack Roush talks about 2015 sans Carl Edwards


Jul 3, 2014; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner Jack Roush walks though the garage area during practice for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime NASCAR team owner Jack Roush revealed his 2015 Sprint Cup Series driver lineup on Sunday that includes current Roush Fenway Sprint Cup drivers Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and current RFR Nationwide Series driver Trevor Bayne but excludes Carl Edwards. Upon the announcement, Roush discussed efforts to keep Edwards in the Roush Fenway driver stable for next year, while also talking about 2015 with the drivers that are remaining with the organization. Here’s what he had to say:

WHEN WAS THE DRIVER LINEUP FOR NEXT YEAR FINALIZED? “Recently. We’ve been discussing the Trevor Bayne program for a period of time. That’s come to fruition with AdvoCare. Ricky Stenhouse is in the middle of a commitment he’s made to us and we’ve made to him for a period of time. Sponsors are still in a state of flux on all the programs. We’re not prepared to talk about those today, but it’s Ricky Stenhouse led by Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne for Sprint Cup for 2015.”

WHAT WERE NEGOTIATIONS LIKE WITH CARL EDWARDS AND CAN YOU TALK ABOUT NOT HAVING HIM GOING FORWARD? “Carl has been a cornerstone of our success here in the last 10 years. He’s one of the drivers who have come to our program initially. We’ve had 48 drivers in 27-and-a-half-years that have driven our cars and he, along with Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, have certainly left his mark. We’ve enjoyed the time with him and enjoyed his success and wish him and his family success going forward.”

WERE THERE EFFORTS TO RETAIN HIM? “We made him an offer, but I believe his decision was not based on NASCAR racing, Cup racing is a big-time sports entertainment thing today. Like football and baseball and basketball, athletes move around. We wish it wouldn’t happen, but there’s curiosity about what another team’s situation would look like and I think that although I shouldn’t speculate, I think Carl wanted to try something different before he saw his career get in its middle term and its final years.”

SO YOUR HOPES WERE TO KEEP HIM? “Our hopes were to keep him and we were not successful with that.”
WHEN DID CARL TELL YOU HE WAS LEAVING? “I don’t remember the date. I didn’t write it down. It was some time ago he let us know he was in serious discussions with another team and he’s not indicated who that is and I’ve not been told by him or anybody else. It’s speculation where he’s going, but I don’t know for certain.”

HOW LONG AGO? “It was more than a month ago.”

WHAT IS THE OUTLOOK FOR ROUSH FENWAY RACING GOING FORWARD WITH TWO YOUNG DRIVERS? “It doesn’t look different than when Mark Martin stepped away and we were left with Greg and Carl to go forward. We’ve been in this business, as I said, for 27 years counting and we have made it our habit, our practice, our preference to bring drivers in. We’ve brought in 23 drivers that had never been part of NASCAR before and 19 of them are still in this sport and 17 of them have won races, so we’re pretty much on time. We’ve got a great field of rookies coming with Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher. They’ll be in our Nationwide program next year. There’s also some more room in there. We may have more rookies, but Ricky and Trevor and Greg are gonna be great. I’m real excited about that for next year and not less excited than I’ve been at any time in the past.”

WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS THAT CARL DIDN’T STAY? “It’s just a reality of the business we’re in. I have no emotion either way on that.”

YOU HAVE THE UTMOST FAITH IN RICKY STENHOUSE DON’T YOU? “Ricky Stenhouse is gonna be as good in this business as anybody has been. The detoxing of the success he had with the Nationwide cars are different. They’re lower power. The momentum is different. You use your brake differently. You use the accelerator differently. I sat with Mike Kelley, the crew chief, and looked at the corners around the race track. This is only Ricky’s second time at Indy here. This race track, with these four corners, is different than any other track we go to and he’s got some of it right for the time being and he’s got something to work on and improve for the race today.”

WHAT REASONS DID CARL GIVE YOU FOR NOT COMING BACK? “He didn’t give me his reasons. You have to ask him about that.”

DID YOU ASK? “I did not ask.”

WHEN WAS HIS DECISION MADE KNOWN TO YOU? “It was more than a month ago.”

DO YOU FEEL HIS DECISION IS A REFLECTION ON YOUR PROGRAM OR ARE THERE OTHER FACTORS? “I think, as I said earlier, that his moving at this time like Kevin Harvick’s move and Tony Stewart’s move from their teams previously is just a reality of the times that we’re in and with the importance that everybody sees of really optimizing their productive time as a driver.”

DO YOU HAVE SPONSORSHIP FOR BIFFLE? “We have many sponsorship opportunities and I’m not prepared to discuss those. You can ask Steve Newmark about those. He’ll have a timetable on that.”

CARL HAS BEEN THE LEADER OF THIS TEAM AS FAR AS WINNING RACES. DO YOU FEEL THERE IS A HOLE THAT CAN BE FILLED BY ONE OF THESE THREE OTHER DRIVERS? “Certainly the focus of our leadership is gonna be with Greg Biffle and the things that he does with the race car and the leadership he provides for the engineering initiatives we take. We had that split with Carl and Greg together this year, so that will be a little different next year, but Ricky is ready to step up. Trevor, of course he’s a Daytona 500 winner and he drives his car with great enthusiasm in the Nationwide Series. We’re not gonna be in a bad place next year, it’s just gonna be a little different.”

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