While Roush Fenway Racing celebrated the return of prodigal son Carl Edwards last week, Joe Gibbs Racing was left defending rumors as, well, just that.
What appeared to be a done deal for many dried up when Edwards announced he would not take control of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, instead remaining the flagship driver for Jack Roush's organization.
Missing out on yet another opportunity to bring on a top-notch driver, team president J.D. Gibbs said the talk was never about adding Edwards to their stable of drivers, instead it centered on finding that perfect combination for a fourth team - something he refused to shut the door on.
Arguing the team was never focused on bringing Edwards into the mix, Gibbs maintained their focus has been on the addition of a fourth team to compliment Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
"There have been a number of chances for us over the past three or four years to add a fourth car," Gibbs said. "It wasn't about the 20 car. It was kind of, ‘How can you do it?' ‘Can you make it work?' and we just weren't able to do it in a quick enough time to make that a possibility."
With Edwards out of the mix, Gibbs reiterated Logano's situation was unchanged moving forward, saying he was "the guy" moving forward.
"People fail to realize how young he is," Gibbs pointed out. "I think he realizes, ‘Hey, we got to go.' I think that's what we look forward to."
Not shutting the door on that fourth team, Gibbs said expanding to another car is something the organization continues to look at each year, adding this year's discussions "happened to be more public" than in years past.
"It's a package deal," he said. "You've got to have all the parts and pieces lining up. You know, from sponsors, to crew members, to driver. When it does, you have to do it well and we can go on a moment's notice."
Despite losing out on the biggest free agent since Dale Earnhardt Jr., Gibbs said the team is continuing to hold conversations with drivers and potential sponsors about the possibility of expanding.
Yet options are running out for JGR as they look towards establishing that fourth team. With Edwards out of the picture and Juan Pablo Montoya nearing a deal to remain with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, the free agent market has narrowed as of late. Clint Bowyer said last weekend said he is still "working on" his contract with Richard Childress Racing, while Brian Vickers' future is also up in the air given the fallout at Red Bull Racing.
With a host of reliability issues and only one of three teams locked into the Chase at this point, perhaps this is yet another year in which the Gibbs organization looks at expanding, but fails to do so.