Edwards Stepping Away
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on January 11, 2017 | 10:30 A.M. EST
"This is the most scared I’ve ever been about something, just talking about this process."
Photos: Carl Edwards' NASCAR Career
Carl Edwards announced that he will step away from racing full-time in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Edwards confirmed reports earlier in the week that he would forego the final year of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing and step away from the sport, effective immediately.
“This is the most scared I’ve ever been about something, just talking about this process,” said Edwards during a Wednesday morning press conference held at Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters. “I couldn’t think of a good reason why now wasn’t a good time. I am personally, truly satisfied with my career. You know I don’t just race for the trophies.”
Edwards went on to list three specific reasons of why he decided to make the decision the first being satisfaction with his career.
“I’m personally satisfied with my career,” he said to the assembled media. “Well, you don’t have a championship.’ Well, Jimmie (Johnson) has extras. You guys know I don’t race just for the trophies. This is a neat journey for me. I’m aware by the challenges. You know how it is. It’s scary in so many ways to go racing. Go from that. I feel accomplished. I know sitting in that car, I’m the best I can be. Long-winded but I’m saving you a year of this stuff.”
Edwards also addressed his desire to pursue other opportunities outside racing.
“This is all-encompassing. Full time,” Edwards said about the demands of the long NASCAR schedule. “Not just physical time. I think about racing all day, wake up and have dreams about it. How I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I need to take that time right now and devote it to people and things that are important and I’m really passionate about.”
Finally, Edwards discussed his health and the importance of remaining healthy and well.
“I can stand here healthy after all the things I’ve done,” he said. “True testament to NASCAR, the tracks. It’s a risky sport. I’m aware of the risks. I don’t like how it feels to take the hits we take. I’m a sharp guy. Want to be sharp in 30 years. Those risks minimized.”
While Edwards reiterated no desire to return to the sport in a full-time capacity, he didn’t completely close the door on other possible racing endeavors but said JGR would be the first place he'd go back to.
"I'm not saying the 'R' word here, I've see how that's worked out for guys, but if I'm going to get back in a race car, I'm calling Coach Gibbs first," Edwards said. "There is no better race team. There is no faster car than a Toyota Camry. There's no better engine. There's no better crew chief than Dave Rogers. There's no better crew."
“That is one of the beauties of this decision, there’s no life raft I’m jumping into, I’m just jumping. Who know what the future holds, I’m open to ideas.”
Team owner Joe Gibbs, who introduced Daniel Suarez as the replacement driver in the No. 19 entry in a second press conference, shared how he found out about Edwards’ decision.
“This was such a surprise,” Gibbs said. “I was all set for the holidays. I was in a meeting and they said ‘hey, Carl stopped by.’ I figured it would be ‘hey, have a great Christmas.’ When he sat down in front of me. I was totally surprised. The first thing I did was I said this is a huge decision, let’s spend some time thinking about it. This took four days. “Then we got hooked up again on the phone and I could tell he was really committed to stepping away from racing.”
The 37-year old Edwards leaves the sport with 28 career NASCAR Cup wins. NASCAR CEO Brian France issued a statement Wednesday morning on the legacy of Edwards’ time in NASCAR.
“Carl Edwards has made an indelible mark on NASCAR,” France said. “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.”