Who saw that coming? Carl Edwards is hanging up his helmet. Until today, that was the LAST story line I was contemplating. The story could well have been how Edwards- after just missing out on a championship- would be a top contender for 2017.
At 37-years old, Carl Edwards is right in racing’s prime years. He’s right at that crossroads where there’s an ample supply of experience and energy. Articulate and physically fit, Edwards is a sponsor’s dream, perhaps the most in demand driver this side of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.
It’s not like he’s been on the decline. Carl Edwards went down to the wire in his bid for that elusive NASCAR Monster Energy Cup championship in 2016. In 2008, Edwards led the series in wins, and was tied, but aced out for the title by Tony Stewart in 2011. What’s more, Edwards has 28 career victories in the Cup series, and won a Busch (now Xfinity) Series championship in 2007.
Joe Gibbs Racing has scheduled two news conferences for Wednesday. If the reports prove to be true, NASCAR Xfinity champion Daniel Suarez will take over in the 19 car piloted by Carl Edwards for the past two seasons. Prior to that, he was a mainstay for Jack Roush, a member of a veritable racing super team that included Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.
Speculation runs amok concerning this development. We will refrain from fueling the fire. The fact is we just don’t know. Carl Edwards wouldn’t be the first to hang up his helmet in the prime of his career. Ned Jarrett- a top driver in the 50s and 60s, stepped away at 35. Had he not died a month after a fiery crash at Charlotte, Glenn “Fireball” Roberts was racing in his final season in his mid-thirties when tragedy struck.
It’s not like he doesn’t have any money. On top of his racing money, his wife was a doctor. Not every driver is a Mark Martin or a Morgan Shepherd. Not only should Carl Edwards be stepping away in good shape, JGR- with Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and (likely) Suarez- will be just fine.
This will take some time to process. It’s not a bad thing (we don’t think). Carl Edwards can always come back, barring some health event. We’ll see.
Wow. Who knew?