Yes, Carl Edwards misses racing. No, he’s not planning a return to NASCAR

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Carl Edwards, who abruptly left NASCAR in January 2017, misses racing. He misses the tires sliding as he drives through the corners. He misses the speed, emotion and people. He misses the pressure of championship week that he experienced in 2011 and 2016 in Miami.

But he’s not coming back to NASCAR.

And so will end one of the favorite parlor games for NASCAR fans — wondering what ride he’ll take after it opens.

“I’ve had a couple of conversations with people but none in the last year or so,” Edwards said Saturday after being inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame at Texas Motor Speedway. “I think everyone pretty much understands that I’m not really interested in coming back and doing anything too serious right now. It’s been off my radar for a long time.”

Asked if he’s wavered in the decision to leave, Edwards said: “I will tell you that I do miss driving the cars. I have a feeling that something will come up that will be really, really fun and natural to go do, and I’ll drive a little bit more but definitely I’m not going to sign a three-year contract to go run for a Cup championship.”

Any racing he does — if he gets back in a car — will be on a different level.

“It would have to be something that really excited me,” said Edwards, who won 28 Cup, 38 Xfinity and six Truck races in his career. “The thing that I think I like the most is driving the road courses. I’ve talked to some people about maybe doing some testing at a road course or something. That would be a lot of fun.

“The races I miss the most are really Sonoma, Homestead. Homestead for two reasons because of all the pressure and the championship, I love that. I miss those tracks that you’re sliding around a lot, Atlanta. That kind of stuff would be fun to do. That, naturally, might be a dirt track somewhere or a road course test.”

Edwards said that Saturday was only the second time he’s been at a track on a race weekend since stunning the sport with his announcement before the 2017 season that he would not compete.

He admits he’s not followed the sport since.

“I don’t follow it really because I’m so invested in it and it’s been so close to me that I don’t think I can follow it without wanting to participate,” he said. “It would be just impossible for me. I try not to pay too much attention.

“If I’m going to follow it every week, I might as well come. Then I might as well drive and we’re back into it.”

Instead, Edwards has spent time with family and traveling the world. He’s twice sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.

“Making an Atlantic crossing is really interesting,” Edwards said. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and there are some really neat things about it. Ran into a big pod of whales at one point. I thought it would be a great idea to jump in and swim with them. I didn’t realize how small you could feel as a human being. That was really interesting.”

NASCAR America: Daytona 500 ‘Turning Point’ came on Stage 2 pit stop

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The moment that set up Denny Hamlin‘s Daytona 500 win on Sunday came on Lap 108, according to NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte.

That’s when Hamlin made a pit stop near the end of Stage 2.

“(Crew chief Chris) Gabehart calls his car to pit road,” Letarte said. “He doesn’t care about stage points. He cares about four fresh tires on a hot, slick Daytona track.”

Then on Lap 122, during the stage break pit stop, Gabehart decided to only put fuel in the No. 11 Toyota when he was 21st.

“On Lap 163 he got six seconds of gas, that’s it, no tires,” Letarte said. “That gave him track position (eighth) in front of all of those accidents. The turning points to this race was before Stage 2 even ended.”

Watch the above video for more.

Garrett Smithley in Spire Motorsports car at Atlanta as entry lists released

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Garrett Smithley is listed as the driver of Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 Chevrolet for Sunday’s Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Smithley, a native of Peachtree City, Georgia, competes in the Xfinity Series with JD Motorsports and made three Cup starts last year.

Spire purchased Furniture Row Racing’s charter after the team closed at the end of last season. It fielded Jamie McMurray in the Daytona 500 in the No. 40 in a partnership of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Quin Houff also will compete for Spire this season.

Click here for the preliminary Cup entry list.

Click here for the preliminary Xfinity entry list.

Click here for the preliminary Truck Series entry list.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Daytona 500 recap

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and recaps all the action from Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett will discuss all the major storylines from the race that saw Denny Hamlin claim his second 500 win.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online 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.

‘Bizarre’ Daytona 500 marks Jamie McMurray’s likely final Cup start

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If Sunday’s Daytona 500 turns out to be Jamie McMurray‘s 583rd and final Cup start, then the race threw all it could at him as a going away present.

McMurray finished 22nd in what the Chip Ganassi Racing driver called a “bizarre” Daytona 500.

The 43-year-old driver had to start his 17th “Great American Race” at the rear due to a rear gear change. By Lap 19 in he was in 19th.

His day was complicated on Lap 50 when he was caught up in a six-car wreck, which damaged his right front fender. With repairs made to his No. 40 Chevrolet, the 2010 Daytona 500 winner continued.

Even with the damage, McMurray managed to navigate his way up to 10th by Lap 84.

He then led the field from Laps 164-169, with just the last two laps under green.

Then chaos reigned.

The final 20 laps saw three multi-car wrecks, but McMurray managed to avoid the ones that caught 21 and seven cars.

“Certainly, a bizarre 500 to have so much green-flag racing and then so many wrecks at the end,” McMurray said. “It’s incredible to me how many times we were able to crash in the last 10 laps. It’s part of it. You were able to get big runs. It seemed like as the sun went down those runs happened more often. When the Daytona 500 is on the line, people are willing to take big risks. They just all waited to the end.”

But McMurray couldn’t avoid the last major wreck. While running eighth he was ensnared in a nine-car melee that resulted in the overtime finish. 

“I’m thrilled I made it as long as I did,” said McMurray. “I made it through two or three wrecks I should have been in and didn’t get torn up. It is just part of it. It is what it is and I’m just thankful I’m safe. This is just one of those places you come to that there are a lot of unknowns and certainly after flipping at Talladega (last April), speedway racing was a little different in my mind.”

McMurray will now transition to an analyst role for Fox Sports.

Should the native of Joplin, Missouri, never make another Cup start, he ends his career with seven wins, 63 top fives and 168 top 10s.

He exits the NASCAR stage after 581 consecutive Cup starts.

Next week’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the first without McMurray since the Oct. 20, 2002 event at Martinsville Speedway. That was the race after McMurray scored a surprise first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway driving Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge in substitution of an injured Sterling Marlin.

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