Carl Edwards and Bob Osbourne - Chad Pennington, Getty ImagesEnlarge Photo
It's hard to believe that the Carl Edwards we've seen throughout the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign is the same Carl Edwards who nearly won the title last year, losing in a tie-breaker to [now] three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.
Edwards has been mired in a terrible slump through the first half of the season and sits 11th in Sprint Cup points which, and if it were to stand would keep the Missouri driver out of the title's Chase for the Sprint Cup 10-round playoff series.
He hasn't won since Las Vegas in 2011--a 52-race span--and just doesn't seem to have that killer instinct we've expected from "Cousin Carl" over the years. Something had to give and it turned out to be Edwards' crew chief Bob Osborne, who resigned his position on Tuesday, July 17th citing undisclosed health issues.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Carl Edwards for the past nine years and, during that time, my focus has been building a championship-caliber program,” Osborne's official statement read. "At this time in my life, however, concerns with my health have necessitated that I change my role within the organization."
Roush Fenway Racing, which signed Edwards to a lucrative contract extension last year appointed Chad Norris as the new crew chief. Norris, who has been with RFR since 2005. Osborne, who helped Edwards to 18 wins and a pair of runner-up results in the championship chase will continue in a senior management position that keeps him off the grueling weekly road trips.
After running the No. 99 team since 2004, Osborne noted the transition "is not an easy one, but I'm thankful for the support of Jack [Roush], Carl and the entire organization. I have every confidence in Chad Norris and I look forward to working with him as we continue to pursue a championship in 2012."
He asked for privacy concerning his personal issues from the NASCAR community.
Bob Osborne is the only crew chief Carl Edwards has known since joining Sprint Cup Series competition. "I cannot say enough good things about Bob Osborne," Edwards said. "I'm so thankful for what he's done for me as a driver, and he is--without a doubt--one of the smartest guys in the sport. I'm also appreciative of the fact that he'll continue to be a resource for me and our team as we focus on these final races," prior to the Richmond cut-off for the Chase.
Norris has implemented Roush Fenway Racing's test program and been the Sprint Cup Series crew chief for Ricky Stenhouse Jr in his limited schedule; he's also served as crew chief for Trevor Bayne's partial Nationwide schedule, leading the 2011 Daytona 500 winner to his first Nationwide Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway in November of last year. Until Tuesday's announcement, Norris had no idea he'd be stepping into the crew chief position for Edwards' campaign in his No. 99 Ford Fusion.