Ford Racing marketing manager Tim Duerr calls Carl Edwards “our best salesperson.”
And while he said Thursday that backup business plans have been discussed should Edwards decide to leave Roush-Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, Duerr remains “relatively confident” that Edwards will stay at the only NASCAR home he’s ever known.
“Part of it is that he’s always been a Ford guy,” Duerr told astheworldturnsleft.com. “He drove a Ford even before he got involved in racing.
“Carl was very positive about the actions that Ford took in 2008 when there were problems within the automobile industry,” Duerr added. “[Other] manufacturers were declaring bankruptcy and having to go out and collect TARP funds to stay alive. And he was so proud of what Ford did [mortgaging its assets in 2006] to pull us up by our own bootstraps and survive. And I hope a lot of that stays in Carl’s mind as he moves forward and has to make a very tough decision.”
Edwards’ potential departure is far from owner Jack Roush’s only problem. He has to find a new sponsor for Matt Kenseth now that Crown Royal is leaving. And despite having top-flight up-and-coming drivers in Daytona 500 champ Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., he’s still had to fund most of their Nationwide schedules out of his own pocket.
Ironically, as Ford’s flagship NASCAR team deal with assorted issues, more and more Fords seem to be heading to the track. Front Row Motorsports is adding a fourth Fusion with J.J. Yeley starting at Indianapolis Sunday. And rumors persist that JTG-Daughtery Racing will end its affiliation with Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota to return to Ford and the Wood Brothers.
Duerr wants to see other Ford teams develop into contenders so the onus isn’t just on Roush-Fenway to carry the brand, and credits the success of the FR9 engines with more teams wanting to come into the fold. But despite the potential additions to the car count, he says that Roush-Fenway and Richard Petty Motorsports are still the only teams getting factory financial support from Ford. (The company supports Wood Brothers Racing through the Motorcraft sponsorship.)
“We try to do what we can with the limited budget that we have,” Duerr said. “…We have a lot of new product initiatives underway right now. And product launches. So, we’re not in a position to — we’re still being very efficient about the way we spend money within motorsports. So there is only so much we can do.”
Could those limited funds become an issue if the Edwards bidding war becomes one of manufactures more than team and sponsors?
“Those are private discussions that are taking place, and I know Ford has been talking to Jack about that,” Duerr said. “I don’t get too caught up in the specific numbers and the details, because Carl has made this such a private matter. It’s very uncomfortable for me to comment any further on it becoming a Ford vs. Toyota deal.”