Carl Edwards said three main factors contributed to his sudden departure from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Edwards, who declined to use the word “retire” throughout his press conference Tuesday, confirmed that he wouldn’t be driving full-time in the Cup Series in 2017. He’ll be replaced by Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez in the No. 19 car.
Edwards’ decision to walk away from one of the most competitive rides in the Cup Series less than two months from the beginning of the 2017 season took many by surprise. But watching Edwards discuss his reasons for leaving, it was apparent that he’d given the decision countless hours of brainpower.
– A 28-time winner in the Cup Series. Edwards said he’s satisfied with his career, even though he doesn’t have a Cup title or a Daytona 500 win. Edwards has come oh-so-close to two championships, including crashing out while leading on a late restart in November at Homestead.
“You guys know that I don’t race just for the trophies,” Edwards said. “This has been a neat journey for me and something that I’ve been rewarded by the challenges.”
– Edwards, 37, said he wanted to spend more time doing things outside of racing. He lives with his wife, a doctor, and their two children on a farm near Columbia, Missouri.
“I need to take that time right now and devote it to people and things that are important to me. Things I am really passionate about.
– And Edwards said he’s happy to walk away from driving full-time while completely healthy.
“I can stand here healthy and that’s a testament — after all the races I’ve done and the stupid stuff I’ve done in a race car, that’s a true testament to NASCAR, to the tracks, to the people who’ve built my racecars, to the competitors and to the drivers who have come before me who haven’t been so fortunate.
“Having said that though, it’s a risky sport. I’m aware of the risks. I don’t like how it feels to take the hits that we take and I’m a sharp guy and I want to be a sharp guy in 30 years.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed 18 races in 2016 after the lingering effects of a concussion suffered over the summer. The concussion, not the first in Earnhardt Jr.’s career, caused him to deal with vision and balance issues. Edwards noted that watching what Junior went through — he’s cleared to return to the Cup Series in 2017 — played a role in his decision making.
” I think everyone in the sport paid attention to that and I have a lot of respect for him and whatever decision he makes I back him,” Edwards said.
Though it’s fair to assume, based off what Edwards said next, that he also looked at the impact head trauma has had to other sports’ participants.
“But like anyone in a contact sport today, you have to look at the risks. And fortunately today, because of the work people have done, I can stand here 100 percent healthy. And 15, 20 years ago, I don’t know if that was possible.”
– – – – – – –