Is Carl Edwards worthy of the NASCAR Hall of Fame?

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Since Carl Edwards announced during a Wednesday morning press conference at Joe Gibbs Racing that he doesn’t plan to return to NASCAR, is his career strong enough to make the NASCAR Hall of Fame?

Consider what Edwards has accomplished since he made his Cup debut in August 2004 at Michigan International Speedway for car owner Jack Roush:

  • 28 Cup wins (ranks 26th on the all-time list)
  • Two-time Cup Series runner-up (2008 & 2011)
  • Won Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500 once each (both in 2015, becoming one of only eight drivers to win both races in the same year).
  • 2011 All-Star winner
  • 2007 Xfinity champion

MORE: Edwards’ Bombshell move fits career pattern of guarded star

One thing missing on his resume is that Cup championship. Consider where he ranks among drivers with the most wins who have never won a Cup title:

50 – Junior Johnson

40 – Mark Martin

33 – Fireball Roberts

29 – Denny Hamlin

28 – Carl Edwards

26 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Johnson and Roberts are in the Hall of Fame. Martin will be among those inducted Jan. 20. That leaves Hamlin as the winningest driver without a Cup championship, but he’s still racing. If Edwards doesn’t race again, then he’ll be the winningest driver without a Cup champion not competing.

“I am personally satisfied with my career, and I know right now you’re thinking, well, ‘you don’t have a championship,'” Edwards said.  “Well, Jimmie [Johnson] has got some extras if he wants to send one my way, but truly, you guys know that I don’t race just for the trophies.  This has always been a really ‑‑ this has been a neat journey for me and it’s always been something that I’ve been rewarded by the challenges.”

If he doesn’t return, he would be eligible for the Hall of Fame in three years (along with Tony Stewart, who retired after this past season). Stewart, as a three-time champion, seems assured to be a first-ballot selection. But what about Edwards?