Many consider NASCAR to be a sport that people can participate in for a long time, which is why some retirements come as a shock to fans and even other racers.
Carl Edwards announced he would “step away” from NASCAR in 2017. He gave three distinct reasons for quitting: he was satisfied with his accomplishments in the support; racing took up too much of his time, and he was still healthy enough to enjoy his life. In 2020, he officially announced retirement.
Edwards was in NASCAR for nearly 20 years.
Official Retirement Announcement
When Carl announced that he was leaving NASCAR for some time, many assumed he would be back. However, in April 2020, he officially announced that he had retired. He liked his quiet life in Missouri and didn’t want to go back to the fast-paced world of racing.
Carl Never Won A Championship
Many were shocked when Carl announced his retirement, even though there were signs of it for some time. At 37-years-old, he was still young and hadn’t yet won a championship. He had several close calls, including a tiebreaker and an accident with four laps to go. In both of those races, he came in second place.
Edwards earned 28 Cup victories in 445 starts between the years of 2004 and 2016. He had top 10 finishes in nearly half of those races, an excellent record. Regularly, he was cited as “one to watch” to win almost every championship.
Carl was in the top four of the NASCAR playoff chase five times, including his last season when he came within 10 laps of winning the title. His best finishes were those aforementioned runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2011.
He Worried About His Mental Health
In his interviews, Edwards often stressed that he worried about the effect racing would have on his mental acuity and sharpness.
He said, “I’m 100% healthy but it’s a risky sport and I am aware of the current consensus – like anybody in a contact sport, I realize that there might be long-term consequences to that stuff and that’s a piece of the puzzle.”
He Can’t Watch NASCAR
In most professional sports, those who retire end up becoming analysts, commentators, or speakers about the sport. However, Edwards has said that he does not pay attention to the sport because he doesn’t think he can without wanting to be a part of it again.
Instead, he has said that he is spending time with his family, traveling, and farming. There have been rumors that at some point he will run for public office, perhaps even as a Senator. That won’t happen for some time, he said, if it happens at all.
He Has Not Ruled Out Returning In Some Way
Interestingly enough, Carl Edwards hasn’t ruled out returning to the sport in some capacity, at some point. When asked about Jeff Gordon coming out of retirement, Edwards said it wasn’t something that he thought about, but it also wasn’t something that he could completely rule out.
“I know how things work and if something comes up and it’s the right moment then I’d entertain it,” he explained.
Later, he explained that he thinks something “fun” will come up and he will do it, but he didn’t foresee himself returning to racing full time or signing any contracts with companies. If he does feel an urge to return, it is to dirt tracks.
By 2019, Edwards revealed that he was no longer getting any calls from NASCAR teams. In 2020, he was contacted after the firing of Kyle Larson, and that was when he officially announced his retirement.
Carl Edwards Left Behind A Legacy
Just three years after stepping away (and mere months after announcing his retirement), Carl Edwards was nominated to the 2021 NACAR Hall of Fame. He was nominated with Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr., crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, crew chief Harry Hyde, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd, and Mike Stefanik.
Carl Edward’s retirement was drawn out and some people will still hold hope that he will return to the sport.
However, with his nomination to the Hall of Fame and his refusal to support his previous team when they needed a racer, it seems like he has closed the door on his NASCAR career. However, he won’t rule out never racing for fun or in a different capacity again, so there is still some hope for his fans.