NASCAR Cup: Carl Edwards explains decision to step away
Carl Edwards (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
During a press conference at Joe Gibbs Racing in Huntersville, N.C., on Wednesday, Carl Edwards announced his retirement from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series but refused to use the “R” word.
Speculation swirled of Edwards’ retirement a day earlier when news leaked that Edwards would not race in 2017. In his press conference, Edwards addressed the speculation and questions that surrounded Tuesday’s breaking news, giving three reasons for his retirement — satisfaction with his career, a desire to spend time with his family and doing things outside of racing, and the preservation of his health.
Edwards said he was satisfied with his career, even though he lacked a Cup-level championship. He nearly won the Sprint Cup twice, finishing in a points tie with champion Tony Stewart in 2011 and then contending for the 2016 championship until a late-race incident with Joey Logano in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Edwards won 28 Cup races in 445-career starts in the series. He also posted 124 top-fives and 220 top-10 finishes. He began his premier-series career with a partial schedule in 2004 and began full-time in the series the following year. He raced the No. 99 for Roush Fenway Racing through the 2014 season before moving to Joe Gibbs Racing ahead of 2015.
“I’ve accomplished more than I ever dreamed of accomplishing,” Edwards said.
In his speech that opened Wednesday press conference, Edwards mentioned the demands that go along with being a top-flight NASCAR Cup-level driver and said that he wants to experience life outside of racing with his family. He also stated that while he’s enjoyed his occasional stints in the race broadcast booth, he doesn’t have any plans, at this time, to delve into a broadcasting career.
Edwards also touched on the issue of injuries, specifically, head injuries in the sport.
“I’m a sharp guy, and I want to be a sharp guy in 30 years,” he said.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed the entire second half of the 2016 season after suffering a concussion. And his most recent concussion wasn’t the first concussion of the sport’s most popular drivers’ career. During his recovery, Earnhardt shared the process and difficulty of getting back to racing condition and his “normal.”
“Everyone paid attention to that,” Edwards said of Earnhardt’s injury and recovery process.
Edwards also emphasized that his decision to step away was not the result of any personal issue with JGR or owner Joe Gibbs. Instead, he likened the sudden decision to the scene in the Tom Hanks movie, Forrest Gump, when the title character, all of a sudden, stops running, turns to the crowd of runners behind him and says, “I’m tired; I think I’ll go home now.”
As a matter-of-fact, he said if he ever decided to climb back into a race car, Gibbs would be his first call. He also described his JGR teammates — Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth — as “awesome.”
Near the end of his presser, Edwards said his decision had nothing to do with money or contract negotiations.
“Carl Edwards has made an indelible mark on NASCAR,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in a written statement on Wednesday. “His hard-charging driving style has led to memorable moments that will live forever in the history of our sport. Carl’s passion and personality will greatly be missed, as will the signature backflips that NASCAR fans have come to expect following his victories. We wish Carl nothing but the best as he enters this next phase in life.”