One season removed from missing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship by one position, Carl Edwards is reportedly expected to retire from racing effective immediately.
The move comes as a shock to the NASCAR community, as Edwards only just turned 37 years old in August 2016, a young age to retire from motor-sports. Additionally, Edwards has only been driving for Joe Gibbs Racing for two seasons in the number 19 Toyota.
Speaking of JGR, Edwards’ sudden retirement puts the team on a bit of a shaky foundation, as the the move will leave JGR one driver short for the coming season. However, other reports are now saying that 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suárez will be replacing Edwards in the major leagues, beginning with the Daytona 500 on February 26, 2017.
Edwards has had a fantastic career to date, with two runner-up championship finishes (in 2008 and 2011) and 28 Cup wins since his debut in 2004.
Currently, neither Edwards nor NASCAR officials have given a reason for Edwards’ sudden retirement in the prime of his career, but the legendary driver is sure to be sorely missed by many going forward.
Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, the site of Edwards’ last Cup win, spoke on the situation, stating, “This is … shocking and with loads of ability and time left in a very successful career, everyone rightfully expected Carl to win both races and championships.” Gossage continued, “I talked to Carl about a month ago and he didn’t give any indication that he was considering this. It is a shock that just doesn’t seem real.”
Despite never winning a championship, Edwards was one of the most popular NASCAR drivers in recent history and had a great relationship with the fans. After each race win, he would backflip off his car and onto the track. Edwards had even been known to rush the stands and celebrate with fans as they clamored to hug him or shook his hand.
Carl Edwards is expected to formally announce his retirement and the reasons behind the decision in a press conference on Wednesday.