Bob Osborne could return to 99 team

Updated: July 28, 2012, 11:31 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Carl Edwards left open the possibility of Bob Osborne returning as his crew chief when his health issues improve.

Edwards said he couldn't elaborate on what the health issues are that forced team owner Jack Roush to replace Osborne with Chad Norris during the off week prior to Sunday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But he made it clear the issue was serious enough that Osborne had to step away.

"If we don't do any better here and Bob is up to it, we'll probably put Bob back in as soon as he's able,'' Edwards said after Saturday's first practice at IMS. "If this goes well and Bob is doing well in his new role, if that's the best thing for him and Chad is doing great, then we'll move forward doing this.

"Nothing is in stone right now. It could be a whole different scenario next weekend. We're doing everything we can to be as good as we can right now.''

Edwards said Osborne won't be at the track this weekend as Norris makes his debut for the No. 99 team that is 11th in points but behind four drivers with at least one win in the race for two wild-card spots.

"I cannot reiterate enough, I can't overstate it, Bob is a very, very dedicated guy to our sport,'' Edwards said. "He's going through something that would be tough for anyone.

"For him to have done what he's done at this level and to have kept it quiet, he's just a tough, tough man.''

Edwards and Roush officials indicated Osborne's issues don't appear to be life threatening.

"First of all, he won't exactly tell me all the issues he has going on,'' Edwards said. "As far as I know he's going to be fine. I don't think it would have been possible for him to continue in the capacity he's in.''

Edwards said he's excited about the team's potential, noting that Norris will rely more on engineers than Osborne did. He added that Roush has added another engineer to the team to help make him a Chase contender with seven races before the field is set.

"It's as strong of a team as we could have,'' Edwards said. "If we knew we were going to make this change we probably would have made it earlier.

"Pressure makes diamonds sometimes. We hope it works.''

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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