Carl Edwards’ expected retirement raises all kinds of questions, speculation
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the publication on this blog post, FOX Sports has released a statement saying that Carl Edwards does not have a broadcasting deal with FOX.
Just think; all of us, or at least most of us, were caught off guard by the announcement last year that Stewart-Haas Racing would be switching from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017. While most of us, possibly none of us, saw that coming, it still wasn’t as big of a shocker as the news of Carl Edwards’, reported, retirement that leaked on Tuesday, courtesy of FOXSports.com reporter Tom Jensen. Admittedly, though, this time around, the news leaked out a day prior to the official announcement, so maybe Edwards and Joe Gibbs Racing didn’t quite snooker us as well as SHR did last year. Still, the Edwards/JGR news, if true, is an even bigger shocker.
Thinking about drivers that may be nearing retirement, Edwards hadn’t entered my mental picture. Heck, even if I limited the retirement speculation to Joe Gibbs Racing, Edwards wouldn’t have been the first driver who came to mind. Matt Kenseth, anyone?
While nothing has been confirmed by Edwards or Joe Gibbs Racing, or by Toyota for that matter, I’m operating on the assumption that the news is true. The news wasn’t first reported by some fan site, no offense, or some less-than-reliable source. No, it came from Tom Jensen from FOX Sports. I have all the respect in the world for Jensen; if he reports it, you can pretty much count on it.
To be clear, Jensen didn’t use the word “retirement” in his story; he just mentioned that Edwards would not compete in 2017. Many other reports from respected news outlets have since said “retirement,” though.
JGR has two press conferences scheduled for Wednesday morning. Assumption is that one is to announce Edwards’ retirement and the other to announce reigning Xfinity Series champion and JGR driver Daniel Suarez as his replacement.
Ahead of tomorrow’s presser, the news raises all kinds of questions and speculation.
Why is Edwards retiring now? After all, the guys still had a year left on his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing. Don’t retirements generally come at the end of contracts, not during one? On top of that, Edwards seemed to be in the prime of his career. He was one of the four drivers in the hunt for the 2016 Sprint Cup at Homestead-Miami Speedway under two months ago, for crying out loud!
And the seeming urgency of this departure is a head-scratcher. Edwards recently took part in 2017 pre-season photo shoots and the like for JGR, if I’m not mistaken. Surely, he didn’t participate knowing he wouldn’t really be in the race car.
Edwards hasn’t been dealing with lingering effects of an injury, at least not publicly. Did some kind of illness play into the decision? I’m going to be optimistic and assume, no.
An idea that popped into my head is Edwards on TV, as in race broadcasts, specifically, for FOX. Think about it; while the rest of the racing community, other than Edwards and JGR, were shocked, who was reporting this a day ahead of an official announcement? A reporter from FOX Sports. If Edwards is going to do TV for FOX next year, one would think FOX Sports would have the scoop.
The think that continues to have me stumped, though, is the fact that this news comes with Edwards still having a year on his contract. I have a hard time understanding a driver blowing off the final year on a driving contract with Joe Gibbs Racing to do TV. That has me thinking something else played into this decision, but what?
I’m still not going down the health route, even though I do realize that illness could strike the guy who might live the healthiest lifestyle in all of NASCAR.
Did sponsorship play into the decision? Arris has been Edwards’ primary sponsor. Arris also has been the primary sponsor on the JGR Xfinity Series entry of Suarez. Suarez is credited with bringing Arris to Joe Gibbs Racing and the national levels of NASCAR. Could the Edwards out and Suarez in news be the result of Arris wanting Suarez in a Cup car, now? That could’ve played a role, I guess, but I don’t see Joe Gibbs giving up on having Edwards in a car that easily. But then again, where would Gibbs put him? He’s already at his Cup cap of four cars.
One popular speculation among fans just puts Edwards out for a year, instead of retiring, before joining Dodge in 2018. I’m thing that scenario is more of a stretch than was in Stretch Armstrong’s arms back in the day. Firstly, we don’t even know, without a doubt, that Dodge is coming back or when, for sure, if the manufacturer does return. Secondly, why collect a year of dust before this speculated new endeavor?
Dodge theorists answer that question with ideas including Gibbs releasing Edwards a year early to keep him from learning anything he could take to Dodge. I don’t buy this one. Top-flight drivers have bounced from one team to another many times over the years, and some have made such plans a year in advance. I don’t recall such a move that required taking a year off between rides, even when the team change included a manufacturer change. though. For that reason, I can’t go along with the Dodge theory.
Then, there’s the whole Erik Jones in 2018 perceived dilemma. As I blogged last week, Jones’ deal that puts him in a second Furntiture Row Racing Toyota for 2017 is a one-year deal, and he’s expected to be in a JGR Cup ride in 2018, but which one? An Edwards retirement would, for a minute, open up the No. 19 seat, but it doesn’t clear up the Jones speculation. It just changes the question. If Jones becomes the heir-apparent to the No. 19, what happens to Suarez after his one year in the car? This one’s still way too early to call.
I’m hoping all these head-scratching questions will be answered Wednesday. Well, I wouldn’t expect any announcement relating to Jones and/or 2018, but at least maybe the Edwards questions will be answered. Guess will just have to wait and see.