Carl Edwards worthy of eventual NASCAR Hall of Fame consideration
Although Carl Edwards didn’t want to use the “R” word, as in retirement, during his press conference at the Joe Gibbs Racing shop Wednesday morning, his speech in front of a room of media members and NASCAR and JGR officials made Edwards’ stepping away from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing, at least as a driver, official.
One of the three reasons Edwards gave for his seemingly sudden decision to climb out of the race car was satisfaction with his racing career. Is that career NASCAR Hall of Fame worthy? I think so.
Sure, Edwards’ NASCAR premier series resume doesn’t include a championship, but neither does Mark Martin. In case you forgot, Martin is among the five individuals set to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 20.
I’m thinking a comparison between the careers of Martin and Edwards show that Edwards, like Martin, is, indeed, Hall of Fame worthy.
Martin came oh-so-close to winning that elusive title several times. Edwards also got oh-so-close twice, one of those times historically close. In 2011, Edwards tied champion Tony Stewart in points, but Stewart claimed his third Cup by virtue of a tie-breaker. Needless to say, that championship battle was the closest in NASCAR history.
Edwards’ retirement announcement followed another near-championship season. In the 2016 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Edwards was among the Championship Four drivers and was in contention for the race win and championship until a late-race incident with Joey Logano.
Near-championships aside, take a look at Edwards’ stats. He has 22-career wins at NASCAR’s premier level, along with 124 top-fives and 220 top-10s. In case you can’t or don’t want to do the math, he finished in the top-10 in nearly half the races he ran. He finished in the top-five in more than a quarter of them.
Getting back to wins, nine of Edwards’ 22-career wins at the top level came in 2008, making him the winner in about a quarter of the races that season.
And, let’s consider Edwards’ Xfinity Series stats. Remember, the Hall of Fame is the NASCAR Hall of Fame, not the NASCAR Premier Series Hall of Fame.
Edwards has some pretty impressive stats in that series, too. He competed at the Xfinity level for several years, running full season or just one race shy of full seasons seven times, some of those simultaneous to Cup seasons. He does has a championship at the Xfinity level, winning that series’ title in 2007. Edwards’ other Xfinity stats include 38 wins, 130 top-fives and 174 top-10s in 245-career starts. In 2011, running 33 of the 34 races that season, he got to victory lane eight times. Those are championship stats, but 2011 was the first year of NASCAR’s “declare a series” rule, and Edwards was, of course, racing for Cup points.
Is Edwards a first-ballott Hall of Famer? Probably not. But is he Hall of Fame material? Certainly.