Nearly eight months after coming within a point of winning their first Sprint Cup Series championship, driver Carl Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne are splitting up.
Roush Fenway Racing on Tuesday announced Chad Norris is Edwards’ crew chief on the No. 99 Ford, effective immediately.
Osborne will remain as a senior member of the organization’s management team and steering committee.
“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 said in a statement. “I’m proud of the 18 wins we’ve had together in Sprint Cup Series competition and our two second-place points finishes.
“At this time in my life, however, concerns with my health have necessitated that I change my role within the organization.”
Osborne did not go into further detail and said he appreciated the “privacy and respect” from the NASCAR community.
After coming within a whisker of the 2011 Cup title, Edwards’ 2012 season has been a rocky one.
He fell to 15th in points after a 39th-place finish March 18 at Bristol, Tenn., briefly made it back among the top 10 – which would guarantee a spot in the Chase – but he has been outside of the top 10 since the Dover, Del., race on June 3.
With no wins this season and seven races left until the Chase field is set, Edwards is running out of time to ensure an opportunity to compete for the title this year.
“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.
“We’re very fortunate to have Chad Norris as part of our organization to take over for the No. 99. We’ve got our work cut out for us over the next seven races, and I’ve got every confidence Chad can lead our team to where we need to be.”
Norris has been with RFR since 2005, and since 2011 has led Roush’s research and development test program that has included serving as crew chief for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in his limited Cup schedule and Trevor Bayne in his limited Nationwide schedule.
“Our commitment to winning a championship with the No. 99 in 2012 has not waivered,” said team owner Jack Roush. “I’m committed to providing the resources to Carl and to his team to do that.
“This restructuring of Bob’s role and the introduction of Chad Norris as the crew chief for the No. 99 will put us in the best possible position for these final seven races before the Chase begins.”