Carl Edwards Steps Away From Full-Time NASCAR Racing

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Mike Hembree ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Carl Edwards at the USS Constitution Museum last year in Boston

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. – Calling at least a temporary halt to a career he described as “living a dream,” Carl Edwards confirmed Wednesday his decision to step away from driving race cars to pursue what he described as other adventures.

In a decision that shocked the NASCAR world, Edwards, 37, said he was leaving the Joe Gibbs Racing team and one of the best rides in stock car racing “because I’ve always followed my gut. All the signs point to this being the right thing to do.”

Daniel Suarez will be elevated from the NASCAR XFINITY Series operation at JGR to replace Edwards in the No. 19 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota.

Edwards would not rule out returning to racing in the future, but, during a 37-minute news conference in which he was near tears, he emphasized that many other things – at this point not identified – have his attention.

He said he is satisfied with his driving career, which includes 28 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup victories and an XFINITY Series championship. He barely missed a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup title twice.

“This is an all-encompassing thing,” he said. “It’s full time. It’s not just the physical time. I wake up in the morning thinking about racing, and I go to bed and I have dreams about racing.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I need to take the time right now and devote it to people and things I’m really passionate about.”

Edwards said he has had no discussions about driving for other teams.

“I’m not saying the R (retirement) word, but if I get back in a race car I’m calling Coach Gibbs first,” he said. “There is no better race team, no better cars, no better teammates, no better crew.

“This is not a decision I made because I had something else lined up or the desire to line something else up. I am not entertaining and have not contemplated anything like that. Nothing.”

Edwards leaves the sport as the winningest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup driver without a championship who will not be competing. He had a year left on his contract with the Gibbs team.

NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France said Edwards “has made an indelible mark on NASCAR. 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.”

An accomplished pilot and owner of a large farm in his home state of Missouri, Edwards listed those endeavors among his interests.

“I’m interested in a lot of aviation stuff, and the agriculture thing has been great,” he said. “But I love the sport. As much as I can, I’d like to be a part of it and be close to it. But there’s nothing solid. I have enjoyed the broadcasting stuff. That could be something that’s neat.

“But I want to be able to spend time on things outside the sport that are important to me. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Edwards has worked several race telecasts as an analyst or pit-road reporter.

Gibbs said Edwards’ decision was a shocker.

“When he sat down in front of me and shared what he was thinking, I was totally surprised,” Gibbs said. “I said, ‘This is a huge decision. Let’s spend some time thinking about this.’ We took four days and got hooked up again on the phone, and I could tell that he was really committed to stepping away from racing.”

Gibbs said he hopes Edwards will retain a relationship with his team and possibly assist in the Suarez transition.

There has been speculation that Edwards might have a future in politics.

“I do have really strong feelings about our country and what America is about and the principles that keep us free and safe from the biggest risks in history,” he said. “I don’t know. I’m not prepared right now to participate, but I’m very open to helping that cause and liberty and freedom and what America is about.”


  1. WOW. I can really respect that.

  2. I am going to throw a little conspiracy theory into this; I think NASCAR is hemmoraging fans and may have lost core fans for good judging buy half filled venues they went this year. Moving Suarez up allows them to try and build a Hispanic fan base. I hope I am wrong; either way it is sad to see Carl leave the sport, he was one of the good guys to follow.

  3. The grind can get to you, and I imagine even though he does not have a Championship title, he knows deep down he was “close enough” to taste it – twice – and that is satisfying enough. The passion is not there for racing full-time, living it 24/7/365.

    I imagine spending time with family and his other interests during the holidays/offseason brought it to the forefront.

    Love that this guy can do this on his terms, and not burn any bridges. The money these guys make the last 20 yrs allows them to enjoy the finer things at a much much younger age.

    I suspect this is the first shoe to drop. The second bigger shoe to drop will be Junior having to retire for health/ safety reasons. Not wishing bad things or that it happens, but I think that is where it’s headed.

  4. I’m going to hate to see you go carl you are one of the good guys

  5. Fast Eddie says

    AAAWWWWW RATS! Now I have to pick a new “favorite driver”! From sleeping in his car at tracks in the Midwest and passing out his business cards to try and find a ride, to driving for one of the top NASCAR teams, he truly lived the American dream! Never critical, never pointed fingers, and always “manned up” and admitted his mistakes, he is the classiest of “class acts” out there.
    Best wishes to you and yours!

  6. He did great in the 24
    Hendrix will miss carl

  7. Racing isn’t everything ,with about 40 million in the bank who would blame him.what a real class act ! Good family man who thinks family comes first.I like that decesion…… Good luck to Carl,on whatever you do …….

  8. Sharpie Fan says

    When it stops being fun it’s time to move on.

  9. Steve Devine says

    Racing isn’t everything ?
    That’s what got him the 40 million to do this

  10. Open spot in xfinity series ride,How about Preece in the Suarez old ride?

  11. Kevin what are you smoking

  12. Nasty woman says

    Did anyone remember seeing Carl wheel Rolf’s car at concord ? That was a sight to see that dude is a true wheel man

  13. D. Trickle says

    Bring back Jimmy spencer

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