Carl Edwards ‘stepping away’ from NASCAR, cites career satisfaction, desire to stay healthy and other pursuits

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Carl Edwards is “stepping away from full-time driving” in NASCAR competition effective immediately due to satisfaction with his career, a desire to stay healthy and devote his life to other pursuits.

Defending Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez will replace Edwards in the No. 19 Toyota.

“I am healthy … and all the people close to me are healthy,” Edwards said after noting “I don’t like the feeling that comes with the hits that we take. I’m a sharp guy. Want to be sharp in 30 years. Those risks are minimized.”

When asked if Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s concussion recovery played into his decision, Edwards said “I think everybody in the sport paid attention … Yeah, I looked at that.”

Edwards further detailed his three reasons for leaving racing behind.

Career satisfaction – “I am truly, I am personally satisfied with my career, and I know right now you’re thinking, well, you don’t have a championship.  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 been a neat journey for me and it’s always been something that I’ve been rewarded by the challenges.”
Desire for other life pursuits – “This is an all‑encompassing thing. You guys, we do this, and it’s full‑time. And not just the physical time, but I wake up in the morning thinking about racing. I think about it all day. I go to bed thinking about it. And I have dreams about racing. And that’s just how it is. I’ve been doing that for 20 years, and I need to take that time right now and devote it to people and things that are important to me, things I’m really passionate about.”

His health – “I can stand here healthy, and that’s a testament after all the racing I’ve done and all the stupid stuff I’ve done in a race car, that is a true testament to NASCAR, to the tracks, to the people who have built my race cars, to my 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. So those risks are something that I want to minimize.”

Edwards made his announcement Wednesday morning at Joe Gibbs Racing, 46 days before the 59th Daytona 500. The announcement was attended by high-ranking NASCAR executives Mike Helton, Steve O’Donnell, Steve Phelps and Jill Gregory.

“This is the most scared I’ve ever been about something, just talking about this process,” said Edwards. “In my mind, I considered next year being my final year, but I hadn’t put a lot of thought into it. After Homestead, I had time to sit, reflect and think about all this. I can’t come up with a good reason why now isn’t a good time.”

“I am personally, truly satisfied with my career,” Edwards also said. “You know I don’t just race for the trophies.”

He said he has no plans to return to racing, but if he does, the first person he’ll contact is Joe Gibbs.

“That is one of the beauties of this decision, there’s no life raft I’m jumping into, I’m just jumping,” Edwards said. “Who know what the future holds, I’m open to ideas.”

Edwards was asked if he has any interest in pursuing political office.

“I have really strong feelings about our country and what America is about and the principles that keep us free and safe from the biggest risks in history,” Edwards said. “I’m not prepared right now to participate in any public office or anything, but I’m open to helping that cause of liberty and freedom.”

Joe Gibbs later addressed how Edwards’ decision came about.

“This was such a surprise,” Gibbs said. “I was all set for the holidays. I was in a meeting and they said ‘hey, Carl stopped by.’ I figured it would be ‘hey, have a great Christmas.’ When he sat down in front of me … I was totally surprised. The first thing I did was I said this is a huge decision, let’s spend some time thinking about it. This took four days .. Then we got hooked up again on the phone and I could tell he was really committed to stepping away from racing.”

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France released a statement on Edwards’ decision.

“Carl Edwards has made an indelible mark on NASCAR,” France said. “His hard-charging driving style has led to memorable moments that will live forever in the history of our sport. Carl’s passion and personality will greatly be missed – as will the signature backflips that NASCAR fans have come to expect following his victories. We wish Carl nothing but the best as he enters this next phase in life.”

Edwards, 37, is leaving the cockpit two months after completing his 12th full-time Cup season last year. He placed fourth in the standings after a late-race wreck in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

He was in contention for the title after having won his 28th Cup Series event two weeks prior in a rain-shortened race at Texas Motor speedway.

The initial reports around Edwards’ eventual announcement took most of the racing community by surprise, including his fellow teammates. Erik Jones told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio the news “was not something we saw coming.”

Matt Kenseth, who was Edwards’ teammate for 12 years between their tenures at Roush Fenway Racing and JGR, later said “I really know very, very little about it. … I was probably as shocked as anybody.”

The news was in line with Edwards’ reserved personality and protectiveness of his personal life, which was documented by NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan.

The NASCAR world was introduced to Edwards, a native of Columbia, Missouri, on June 22, 2002, in a Camping World Truck Series race at Memphis Motorsports Park. Edwards finished 23rd in the No. 63 truck for Mike Mittler.

A month later he made his Xfinity Series debut at Gateway Motorsports Park driving for Fred Bickford and finished 38th.

In 2003, Edwards joined Roush Fenway Racing and won three Truck races, the first coming on July 13 at Kentucky Speedway. In the No. 99 truck Edwards totaled six wins in two seasons.

Edwards made his Cup Series debut with Roush on Aug. 22, 2004, at Michigan International Speedway. He started 23rd and finished 10th, his first of 220 top 10s.

“I just remember that race – I remember everyone because I couldn’t believe I was on the track with guys like Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace and everyone else,” Edwards said in 2015. “Just the intensity of being able to race with those guys is crazy.”

In 2005, Roush promoted Edwards to full-time competition in both the Xfinity and Cup Series.

In the fifth Xfinity race of the year, Edwards started from the pole and won his first of 38 Xfinity races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Within 24 hours, on March 20, Edwards passed Jimmie Johnson coming out the final turn and beat him by .028 seconds to claim his first Cup win.

Among his 28 Cup wins, the biggest were victories in the 2015 Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, which his team briefly renamed “Carlington Raceway” following the race.

Edwards finished second in the Cup standings twice. Aside from his trademark victory backflips, Edwards will most likely be remembered for his battle with Tony Stewart in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The two entered the finale with Stewart trailing Edwards by three points. The night ended with Stewart winning the race and the title due to a tiebreaker.

With his late crash in the 2016 finale and his announcement on Wednesday, it was the closest Edwards ever came to winning the title.

Christopher Bell wins New Hampshire Xfinity race

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Christopher Bell held off Brad Keselowski and Ryan Preece over the final 18 laps to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bell took the lead from Keselowski on the final restart with 18 laps to go. Bell was on four fresh tires while Keselowski was on two.

Keselowski hounded the rear bumper of Bell’s No. 20 Toyota for the last five laps but was unable to make a pass attempt.

“Man, the better tires, they didn’t hurt us, that’s for sure, ” Bell told NBCSN. “It worked out for us, we were able to take four tires (on the last pit stop). It was a big deal.”

It is Bell’s third win of the season and second in a row. He led 93 of 200 laps around the 1-mile track.

The top five was completed by John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Tifft.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Christopher Bell earned his third stage win of the year.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Keselowski led 72 laps and came in second after he had to start from the rear for being late to the driver-crew chief meeting … Matt Tifft earned his second top five of the season … Ryan Preece has finished in the top five in three of five starts this season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ross Chastain finished 26th after wrecking by himself on Lap 80 … Ryan Truex was spun by Ryan Reed with six laps to go in Stage 2. The incident also involved Justin Allgaier. Truex finished 13th and Allgaier placed seventh … A wreck involving Chad Finchum and Garrett Smithley caused a caution with 23 laps to go … Austin Cindric wrecked coming to the checkered flag. He finished 17th.

NOTABLE: There was a 7 minutes and 30 second red flag period to fix sand barrels knocked over by Jeremy Clements at the start of pit road with 34 laps to go … After contending up front for much of the race, Daniel Hemric placed 11th, ending a career-best streak of eight straight top 10s.

WHAT’S NEXT: U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on July 28 on NBCSN

Bid of $1.8 million submitted for BK Racing

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A bid of $1.8 million has been made for BK Racing, the trustee operating the team stated in court documents.

Trustee Matthew Smith stated in federal court documents that the $1.8 million bid is a stalking horse bid. That means that the bid sets the lowest price the team can be sold.

Should the stalking horse bid be the winning bid, $350,000 of the price will go to payment of priority wage claims.

The bid is from MRB LLC.

ESPN.com reported that Mike Beam, president of GMS Racing, has made the bid on the team. Beam told ESPN.com that if he becomes the owner of the team, it would be an affiliate of GMS Racing, which has previously considered moving to Cup.

Court documents state: “The Trustee believes that the Stalking Horse Bid will compel potential purchasers to come forward and otherwise generate additional interest in the Race Team Assets reasonably likely to facilitate an effective competitive sale of such assets.”

Smith stated in court documents that he has communicated with more than 25 separate parties interested in acquiring the team’s assets.

Court documents state that any qualified bidder must propose a bid at least $300,000 more than the original bid of $1.8 million.

A sale is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET on Aug. 20. A court hearing is set for Aug. 21 for the approval of the sale. The winner has three days after the court order approving the sale to complete the purchase.

A hearing is set for Tuesday on approving those sale procedures.

Also, in another court filing, Smith stated that he’s agreed to sell team assists to Obaika Racing for $265,000. Smith said in court documents the assets were valued at $382,000.

Among the items listed in the offer is a tractor trailer transporter, seven bare chassis and 12 other chassis in various forms of construction. Also on the list are two crash carts, pit road tool box and pit suite, pit tool cart and two golf carts.

BK Racing owner Ron Devine put the team in chapter 11 bankruptcy on Feb. 15 in an effort to retain his team. Union Bank & Trust claims that it is owed $9.475 million. Smith was approved as the trustee on March 28, relieving Devine of his owner duties. Others claiming to be owed money include the Internal Revenue Service.

Blake Jones is driving BK Racing’s No. 23 car this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This will be Jones’ first Cup start. He qualified last in the 37-car field.

Xfinity pole-sitter Brad Keselowski to start race at rear after penalty

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LOUDON, N.H. – Xfinity pole-sitter Brad Keselowski will start at the rear of the field for today’s race (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN) after he was late to the drivers meeting.

Cup practice was to have ended at 1:25 p.m. ET but was extended to 1:30 p.m. ET because of incidents during the session. The Xfinity drivers meeting was scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Section 10.3.2.f of the Xfinity Rule book states:

“Any driver(s) that is not present to answer the second roll call at the driver/crew chief meeting may be penalized by starting the Race with a “Tail of the Field” penalty.”

Keselowski arrived about 80 seconds after second call for him. BJ McLeod, who also was participating in Cup practice, was late to the meeting as well.

Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain both made it to the meeting in time despite taking part in Cup practice.

 

Martin Truex Jr. fastest in final Cup practice at New Hampshire

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Martin Truex Jr. was fastest in the final Cup practice for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Truex, who is seeking to win consecutive Cup races for the first time in his career, posted a top speed of 131.624 mph around the 1-mile track.

The top five was completed by Kevin Harvick (131.556 mph), Kyle Busch (131.488), Denny Hamlin (131.456) and Jimmie Johnson (131.438).

Harvick had the most laps in the session with 50 and the best 10-lap average at 130.904 mph.

Johnson and teammate Alex Bowman (sixth, 131.175) were the only Chevrolet drivers in the top 13.

The session saw two incidents. The first was when Michael McDowell spun entering Turn 3 and slammed the outside wall on the driver’s side of his No. 34 Ford. McDowell will go to a backup car.

“(Felt) like I was going way faster at New Hampshire than I thought I could go,” McDowell told NBCSN. “Not really sure what happened. Just got into Turn 3 there and it got really loose. … It happened really quick.”

The second incident saw Landon Cassill get into the Turn 3 wall with 8:31 left in the session.

Click here for the speed chart.