Entering his fifth season at the helm of the No. 99 Aflac team for Roush Fenway Racing, Bob Osborne appears to have Carl Edwards and the No. 99 team on the cusp of a Series Championship. After a brief 2006 split, Edwards and Osborne reunited in 2007 and the No. 99 team enjoyed much success. Osborne guided the team in 2008 to one pole, nine wins, 19 top-five and 27 top-10 finishes, while finishing second in the final Sprint Cup point standings.
Since 1997, crew chief Osborne has worked his way up the NASCAR ladder of success. Patience, drive and determination have helped land Osborne in the coveted position of NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief for Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac team, although racing wasn't always in his plans.
Osborne is a native of Chester, Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State University in 1997 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. It wasn't until late in his junior year of college that Osborne got the itch to go racing. While working on a Formula SAE project, Osborne became friends with the gentleman who ran the shop where Osborne's project car was being built. Carson Baird is a retired IMSA driver and crew chief that spent time talking to Osborne about racing and told Osborne that if he had to do it over again, he would get involved with NASCAR as the racing was much more interesting. Osborne took that advice to heart and from there made the decision to work in NASCAR and the rest is history.
For six months after he graduated Osborne spent day and night knocking on doors trying to land a job with a NASCAR team. Finally in January of 1998, Osborne was given the opportunity to work for the No. 96 Sprint Cup team as the tire specialist. Osborne worked for the team for one year, never relying on his engineering degree but knowing that his time and patience would eventually pay off.
At the end of the 1998 season the No. 96 team closed its doors and Osborne went on to work for owner Jack Roush and Roush Fenway Racing where he's been working his way up the ladder ever since. Osborne started out as a general R&D data acquisition engineer where he worked at the shop traveling only to tests for the first two years of his Roush Fenway Racing career. After two years, Roush Racing decided to employ an engineer with each Cup team. Osborne was assigned to the No. 6 team where he spent the following two years as the team engineer traveling to each race and becoming the right-hand man to the crew chief.
In his second year with Mark Martin and the No. 6 team, Osborne also took on R&D wind tunnel projects that took him across the Atlantic Ocean to Germany on several occasions. During the 2003 season Osborne also assumed the title of Director of Engineering for Roush Racing which saw him manage the other Roush engineers. All this experience would eventually give him the knowledge and foundation to move into his next title, crew chief for the No. 99 team.
Osborne's first outing as crew chief came during the spring Darlington race in 2004 with veteran driver Jeff Burton. In the following 31 races, Osborne accrued two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. In August of 2004 Osborne received word that rookie Carl Edwards would be taking over the driving duties of the No. 99 Ford. Although both were rookies, the team never missed a beat and Osborne coached Edwards to a 10th-place finish in his first career Cup start at Michigan. The team closed out 2004 posting one top-five and five top-10 finishes in just 13 starts.
Osborne and Edwards picked up in 2005 where they left off in 2004, breaking into the win column in just the fourth race of the year in Atlanta. The team would go on to post three more wins, taking checkered flags at Pocono, repeating at Atlanta and winning the inaugural night race at Texas, while earning two poles and running to 13 top-five and 18 top 10 finishes. The duo also gave the competition a run for their money in the “Chase” finishing third in the overall point standings.
Osborne’s team entered the 2006 season as championship favorites but got off to a slow start. Ultimately the team chalked up three top-five and four top-10 finishes in nine starts together. In April, owner Jack Roush made the decision to move Osborne to the No. 26 Crown Royal team in an effort to strengthen the overall racing operations. By the second Phoenix race in November, Osborne was back with Edwards and the No. 99 team and looking ahead to 2007.
In 2007 Osborne’s No. 99 team remained inside the top 12 in point standings for 31 of 36 weeks. Led by Osborne, Edwards also broke a 52-race winless streak at Michigan International Speedway. Osborne led Edward and the No. 99 team to two more victories in 2007 - Bristol and Dover in the newly introduced Car of Tomorrow, proving that in 2008 the duo would again be a force to be reckoned with.
Osborne and Edwards kicked off the season by taking home the checkered flag in two of the first three races, and continued their winning ways throughout the season. The duo paired to record the most wins, top-five and top-10 finishes of all Cup drivers. Their quest for the championship came up just short, finishing just 69 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson.
The team of Osborne and Edwards has seen a lot of success chalking up 16 wins, 47 top-five and 69 top-10 finishes in just three full seasons together. After the successes of 2008, the No. 99 Aflac team cannot be overlooked as a team to beat in 2009.