Before the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season has begun, one of the sport’s brightest stars has stepped away. Per FOX Sports, Carl Edwards will not compete in 2017 and is expected to announce his full retirement from NASCAR. An upcoming press conference will determine the future of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team. 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez looks set to make the move into the vacant Cup ride this season. As Carl Edwards retires, Last Word on Motorsport reflects on his impactful career.
Carl Edwards Retires from Racing ahead of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season, Press Conference to Follow
Carl Edwards’ retirement has not been formally announced, although ESPN is reporting confirmation from sources close to Edwards. The 37-year-old driver is ending his 13 year career at NASCAR’s top level. In this time, Edwards has established himself as a fan favourite and marketing face of the sport. Finding success in each of NASCAR top three series, Edwards’ career will be remembered as a successful journey ended too soon. His retirement has shocked fans across the sport as Edwards has been increasingly competitive in recent years. A press conference on January 11th will confirm his retirement and replacement.
Edwards is not alone as a surprise racing retirement this offseason. In December, 2016 Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg announced his retirement. The two are leaving their respective motorsports at their primes to pursue other interests.
Carl Edwards emerged in NASCAR through success in what is now known as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His early successes with Roush Racing lead to a jump into the Cup series following Jeff Burton‘s leaving the team. Taking over the No. 99 car in 2004, Edwards would find his first win at NASCAR’s top level in 2005 at Atlanta. This side-by-side finish with Jimmie Johnson would be the first of four wins that season. In this sesaon, the racing world would be introduced to Edwards’ signature victory celebration: a backflip off of his winning car. Now established as a top driver in the Cup series, Edwards made his first run for the series title in 2008. Claiming his ninth victory of the season in the season finale, it was not enough to topple Johnson. This left Edwards second in points.
Edwards would get another shot at the title in 2008. Finishing second in the season finale behind Tony Stewart, leaving the two tied for first in points. With more wins on the season, Stewart was awarded the title leaving Edwards in second once again. Edwards would leave the struggling Roush team in 2015 in favour of a surging Joe Gibbs Racing. His first season with the team saw two victories, on pace with his final seasons at Roush. However in 2016, Edwards would make a run at the title with three wins and a spot in the Championship 4. Coming into the season finale as a favourite for the title, Edwards would fall victim to an accident in the final ten laps. He finished his final season fourth in points.
Always a Bridesmaid…
Along with his many successes in NASCAR, Carl Edwards retires with a reputation for just missing out on titles. In his 13 seasons in the Cup series, Edwards would finish in the top five in points six times. This includes two second place finishes and a tiebreaker against Tony Stewart. The accident at the end of the 2016 season which cost him the championship could be seen as the final straw. Despite this final sour note, Carl Edwards will above all be remembered as a successful and popular driver.
His sudden retirement while still very competitive will leave fans wondering when that title would have come for Carl Edwards.