So far no ‘right moment’ for Carl Edwards to return to NASCAR – Autoweek


To the uncomfortable surprise of many – including this writer – it appears that 38-year-old Carl Edwards is serious about keeping away from NASCAR. Many within the stock car community expected him to skip this season, enjoy some time with his wife and children, then return for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

Even with some decent rides available though, his name hasn’t surfaced even once.

“I’ve gotten two texts from Carl since he left (in January) and he seems to be doing fine,” said team owner Jack Roush, who fielded entries for Edwards in the Cup, Xfinity and Camping World series for 14 years. “He didn’t express to me any indication that he wants to come back. It sounded like he was very content.”

Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing, said he’s never heard a word about an Edwards comeback. “We haven’t seen him or heard much about him since he left,” he said. “Over here (in the Cup garage) people tends to forget you once you’re gone. Out of sight, out of mind. They might remember you, but they don’t spend a lot of time thinking about you. When you go out that gate after your last race, you’re sort of gone forever.”

In Wood’s mind it would be difficult for Edwards to return to full-time racing after being away a year. “Jeff Gordon was gone less than a year and he couldn’t do it,” Wood said of Gordon’s eight-race cameo subbing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. last year. “Earnhardt was gone half a season (2016 with concussion-related issues) and he hasn’t done much since he came back. It’s tough when you get out of these cars for a while. A lot of stuff has changed since January.”

Championship-winning crew chief and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Rat Evernham thought otherwise. “If you’d asked me that question five or six years ago I would have said it would be difficult to come back after a year away,” he said Sunday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “But it wouldn’t be as hard now because of the simulators for cars and tracks that teams use; the simulation programs drivers use outside the race cars. Carl’s young and in good shape, so I don’t think it would be that hard for him to come back if he wanted to.”  

Edwards stunned NASCAR in January by walking away from the No. 19 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing. It was speculated that Mexican multi-billionaire Carlos Slim paid Edwards handsomely to yield his ride to reigning Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez, something of a sports hero in Mexico. Edwards never uttered the word “retirement” at the time, saying he was leaving because 1) he was satisfied with his career, 2) he had his health and his faculties, and 3) he wanted to be dictate the rest of his life rather than have others dictate it for him.

He recently signed an endorsement contract with agents of ICM Partners to explore career opportunities in “marketing, speaking, broadcasting, literary, acting and other endeavors. Whether he could purse an entertainment career and still race is problematic. Several years ago it was reported that Edwards was NASCAR’s highest-paid driver. Even of that wasn’t entirely true, it’s safe to say he and his wife and their children won’t have to worry about their next meals.    

During his walking-away announcement nine months ago he said, “After Homestead (the 2016 season-finale) I had time to reflect and couldn’t come up with a reason why now wasn’t a good time (to leave racing). As analytical as I am and as much as I wear people out about details, I follow my gut. Sometimes I gather what’s around me and say ‘if all signs point to this, that’s what I need to do.’ So, I did.”

Ah…. but he left the door ajar. “I know how things work,” Edwards said at the time, “and if something comes up and it’s the right moment then I’d entertain it.”

So far, apparently, nothing has seemed the right moment.
 














By Al Pearce







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