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Carl Edwards will go racing with JGR

By Jim Utter
jutter@charlotteobserver.com
NASCAR JGR Lineup Auto Racing
Chuck Burton - AP
Joe Gibbs, right, speaks at a news conference Tuesday as drivers Daniel Suarez, left, and Carl Edwards, and JGR President J.D. Gibbs join him at Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters in Huntersville.

HUNTERSVILLE No excuses.

That’s what Joe Gibbs Racing officials believe is left after the organization’s announcement Tuesday that it would add a fourth Sprint Cup Series car in 2015 with driver Carl Edwards and a significant investment from communications technology company Arris, a new sponsor to NASCAR.

“We don’t have any excuses why we can’t compete with the likes of Hendrick” Motorsports, said JGR team President J.D. Gibbs.

“Financially, we should be in good shape there. I feel like with everything we have now, we’re right there.”

Edwards, who will finish the season at Roush Fenway Racing, will drive the No. 19 Toyota for JGR beginning next season, joining teammates Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.

Kenseth also moved to JGR after a long tenure at Roush. In his first season at JGR in 2013, he finished second in the championship standings and won a season-high seven races.

“Matt’s success over here was a real eye-opener for me,” said Edwards, who owns 23 Cup series wins but has never won a series championship. “There’s no bad blood or anything like that at Roush.

“I just feel that there are so many parts that came together here really well. There is a lot of energy here. You got JGR ready to start a fourth team. You got drivers like Matt, Kyle and Denny that are veterans and really good.

“The whole situation just feels really good to me. It looks like it will be a lot of fun to go racing.”

JGR has not finalized what Edwards’ team will look like, but a significant number of the members likely are to come from its Nationwide program.

JGR has fielded three full-time Cup teams since 2005 and has held off expanding to the maximum of four entries, preferring to make the move when it could put together the best deal possible.

“This is as close as you can get to having all the right pieces,” Gibbs said.

Edwards’ move was not a surprise as it had been rumored for months. Roush officials announced last month Edwards would not return to its organization in 2015, but at the time Edwards declined to talk about his plans.

The size and scope of the investment of JGR’s new partner, Arris, make it one of the biggest sponsor additions in recent years in NASCAR.

Not only will Arris sponsor approximately half the Cup season with Edwards, it also will sponsor driver Daniel Suarez next season as he moves full time to JGR’s No. 18 Nationwide Series team.

“Having this opportunity to run full time in the Nationwide Series with Joe Gibbs Racing is a dream come true,” said Suarez, who has four wins in the Mexico series this season.

In addition, Arris will sponsor a handful of Truck series races for Suarez, a rising star in the Toyota Mexico Series, and partner in a diversity initiative with Escuderia Telmex to develop Mexican and Latin American drivers in NASCAR.

“We felt like we needed to get our name out there,” said Bob Stanzione, chairman and CEO of Arris. “We’re one of the largest companies in the world that provides high-speed data voice and video communications to service providers around the world.

“Speed, speed, speed is very important to us. NASCAR is about speed and Joe Gibbs and his team is about speed and high quality, high reliability, high integrity – the values we prize the most.”

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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