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August 19. 2014 8:48PM

Edwards to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Tuesday morning’s blockbuster announcements at Joe Gibbs Racing, the centerpiece of which was the confirmation of Carl Edwards’ move to JGR starting next season.

But Edwards’ switch from a Roush Fenway Racing Ford to a JGR Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series did little to upstage the announcement of the full-time status of Mexican driver Daniel Suarez in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Nationwide Series Camry in 2015.

That fact alone highlights the deepening relationship between NASCAR and Escuderia TELMEX, which has supported Suarez’s racing efforts in the NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series.

And with Edwards’ signing comes the announcement of new primary sponsorship from communications giant ARRIS, which has chosen NASCAR racing as the platform for its breakout campaign to raise awareness of the importance of its brand.

ARRIS will serve as primary sponsor of Edwards’ No. 19 Toyota for 17 races next year. Team owner Joe Gibbs indicated that the vast majority of sponsorship inventory on Edwards’ car is already sold, with news of the specifics to be made public later.

In collaboration with Escuderia TELMEX, ARRIS also will support Suarez’s racing program, which is expected to include approximately eight races in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota fielded by Kyle Busch Motorsports.

The collaboration between the two companies is an extension of their massive business-to-business relationship.

Edwards was close to a deal with JGR three years ago but opted to remain with Roush Fenway. At this point in his career, however, he said the time was right to make a move. Edwards described the success former RFR teammate Matt Kenseth had in his first season with JGR last year as a “real eye-opener.”

To sign on as a teammate to Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin also was appealing to Edwards.

“Being able to be teammates with those guys is exciting,” Edwards said. “I’ve been teammates with a lot of great drivers, and I know how important that is. ... It just felt like it was time to change, and it’s something I’m extremely excited about.

“For me personally, one of the biggest reasons I started racing is because of how much fun it was, and all the pressure, learning new things, the adventure of it, and for me ... I woke up this morning, and I’m excited to be a part of it. I figured if an opportunity like that comes along in your life, I didn’t want to ever look back and say, ‘Boy, I wish I’d done that.’ It just felt right to me.”

The addition of Edwards means adding a fourth car at JGR, and in Busch’s estimation, that will be an important element in the organization’s ability to compete for race wins and championships.

“I don’t discount the fact that Hendrick (Motorsports) has got it figured out,” Busch told the NASCAR Wire Service. “Obviously, they’re really strong down the straightaways, but they’re also really good in the corners as well, too. Whether it’s downforce, whether it’s engineering or the chassis — parts, pieces, what all it might be — I feel like that’s an area we can all get better at.

“I feel like our group here is the best in the business. We’ve got all the resources, all the tools and everything. But sometimes you get stagnant in your ways, and you need some fresh ideas.”

The advancement of Suarez, a graduate of both the NASCAR Next and NASCAR Drive for Diversity programs, to the Nationwide Series is one of the focal points of a partnership between JGR and Escuderia TELMEX to enhance the race team’s diversity efforts, particularly with respect to developing Mexican and Latin American drivers.

“I am very excited to have Escuderia TELMEX as a partner with Joe Gibbs Racing and ARRIS,” said Carlos Slim Domit, chairman of the board for Grupo Carso and co-founder of Escuderia TELMEX. “They are great teams with whom we share strong values with a passion to win.

“Over the past 12 years, we have worked very hard together with NASCAR in the development of a racing series and building a strong ladder system for our drivers. Having the opportunity for Daniel Suarez to demonstrate his talent to compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series is very rewarding and encouraging to us all.”

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