Since he’s no longer racing, Carl Edwards will do what now?

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HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — So, what’s next for Carl Edwards?

“I don’t know what … I’m doing right now,’’ Edwards said shortly after announcing Wednesday that he would not drive in NASCAR this season. Joe Gibbs Racing later announced that Xfinity champion Daniel Suarez will take over Edwards’ No. 19 ride in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season.

Edwards was short on details in his press conference Wednesday at Joe Gibbs Racing, but here’s a breakdown of some key issues looking forward.

Will he race again?

Edwards: “If I’m going to get back in a race car, which I’m not saying the R word (retirement) here, I’ve seen how that’s worked out for guys, but if I’m going to get back in a race car, I’m calling Coach (Joe) Gibbs first. There is no better race team. There is no faster car than a Toyota Camry. There’s no better engine. There’s no better crew chief than Dave Rogers. There’s no better crew. And I’m going to race here.’’

For sure?

Edwards: “I don’t have any intention of going back to full‑time racing. I don’t have a plan to drive a race car right now. But I know enough about — I just know how things work, and if it comes up and the right opportunity is there and at that moment, it’s the right thing, then for sure I’d entertain it. But like I said, the first person I’d talk to is Coach.’’

Will Edwards come back with another manufacturer or another team?

Edwards: “This is not a decision because I have something else lined up or the desire to go line something up. I can’t tell you that while my phone has been off I haven’t got some offers or something crazy in there. I don’t know. But I am not entertaining and have not contemplated anything else like that. Nothing.’’

OK, so if he’s not racing, what will Edwards do?

Edwards: “I have a lot of interests outside of racing. I’ve really enjoyed — there’s a lot of aviation stuff, a lot of — the agriculture thing has been great, but I love the sport, and I think as much as I can, we’ve got some really exciting things we’re going to talk about coming up later, I’d really like to be a part of this and be close to it, and there’s no telling what we can do together, Coach Gibbs and I going forward. I don’t have anything solid yet. I’ve really enjoyed the broadcasting stuff. I’d be really open to any of that stuff. I used to think that that would be no fun, but the more I’ve watched, and I’ve watched how much fun people are having with it, and yeah, that could be something that’s neat.’’

So, Edwards still might be connected with Joe Gibbs Racing even if not driving?

Gibbs: “We consider Carl now part of our family. He and I have talked numerous times over the last couple of weeks, and I think he’s still kind of questioning what all he’s going to be doing, but what we have discussed with him is continuing to work with us and continuing to work inside of NASCAR, and we’ve got some things coming up. We’re hoping, Daniel (Suarez) is going to be at his first test the 30th, and we’re hoping that with Carl’s schedule he can make that. He’s going to help Daniel and our support group, but then there’s going to be other things that we’ve kind of been thinking about with Carl. So hopefully that’s what we’ll see in the future going forward.’’

What about this talk of Edwards going into politics?

Edwards: “I do have really strong feelings about our country and what it means, what America is about, and the principles that keep us free and safe from the biggest risks in history. And so I don’t know if I’m … I’m not prepared right now to participate in any public office or anything, but I am very open to helping that cause and helping the cause of liberty and freedom and what it is that America is about.’’

So, what is Edwards going to do?

Edwards: “I’m going to take some time. That’s one of the beauties about this decision. There’s no life raft I’m jumping onto. I’m just jumping. And in a way, it makes it easier, because I’m not being swayed by some carrot out here, something going on. There is no new manufacturer ride coming in three years that they’re paying me a fortune for. There is nothing like that.’’

No clue on what is next?

Edwards: “Life is short. You’ve got to do what your gut tells you. And I have a feeling I’ll find something.’’

NASCAR America: Chase Elliott ‘biggest surprise’ of Cup playoffs

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Only two drivers are safely in the third round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski secured spots through their wins at Charlotte and Talladega.

That leaves six spots to be decided Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty broke down the drivers competing for spots. Both of them agreed that Chase Elliott, who has finished in second in three of the five playoff races, has a great chance to make it all the way to the championship race in Miami.

“If Talladega had played out, he was either going to be in victory lane or in the top two or three,” Petty said. “When you look at that, he has had the most solid playoffs of any driver out there. We keep talking about the big three: Larson, Busch and Truex. This guy is a sleeper. But he’s my No. 4.”

Said Kligerman: “He’s been the biggest surprise. That 24 team has been incredible through the playoffs. One thing I’ve noticed about that team, just speaking to (crew chief) Alan Gustafson, speaking to Chase, it’s almost as if they want that first win more than they care about the playoffs.”

Watch the above video for more on the playoff drivers.

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

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Things get started today for the pivotal weekend at Kansas Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series will have its elimination race in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, where four of the 12 remaining playoff drivers will not advance to the Round of 8.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series begins its Round of 8 with Saturday’s Kansas 300.

But it all begins today, as Cup has its first practice (the other two are Saturday) and qualifying, while the Xfinity Series will have its two practice sessions.

Here’s how today’s schedule shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

12 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

1 – 2:25 p.m. — First Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)

2:30 – 3:25 p.m. First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

5 – 5:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

6:15 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, 3 rounds) (NBCSN, MRN)

NASCAR: Will Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch advance in playoffs?

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The last two drivers to win NASCAR Cup titles are in precarious positions ahead of the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Kyle Busch, the 2015 champion, is outside the top eight in ninth. He sits seven points behind defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman debated who they think had the best chance to advance to the Third round after Sunday.

Petty put his money behind Busch, who has finished in the top five in each of his last five starts at the 1.5-mile track.

“He’s one of the big three: Truex, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson,” Petty said. “I don’t see where these (last) two races (Charlotte, Talladega) have changed anything. The one thing Kyle Busch brings into Kansas City … he brings speed. These guys have had speed all year-long.”

Johnson on the other hand has produced only four top fives all season and just one since he won at Dover in June.

But Kligerman explained why he thinks the seven-time champion will prevail on Sunday.

“Jimmie Johnson knows how to pass and that is what has become evident throughout this season,” Kligerman said. “No, they have not had the fastest cars at Hendrick Motorsports. No, they have not qualified well. They’ve actually been sort of abysmal at qualifying of late.

“… He has three wins this year. Two of those he started at the back.”

Watch the video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez’ racing roots

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

On the show:

  • We’ll debate which past Cup Series champion will advance to the Round of 8. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2015 champ Kyle Busch by only seven points for the final transfer spot. Who has the edge going into Kansas this Sunday? This elimination race will be a heated competition just to finish above the cut line. Log on to NBCSports.com/NASCARVote and weigh in!
  • Xfinity Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric calls into the show to talk about his chances of advancing to the championship four in Miami. He’ll also describe his experience being one of the four drivers to participate in the recent tire test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval.”
  • We take a look at the Daniel Suarez’s Racing Roots and discuss his transition from Xfinity Series champion to Monster Energy Cup Series rookie.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the iRacing simulator to preview Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, as well as the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.