Carl Edwards will leave the door open just an inch. A guy like Edwards never wants to be accused of lying about his future.
He won’t say he never will race in the NASCAR Cup series again. His answers are always conditional with words like “probably” or something similar.
But beyond a groundbreaking change or an incredible shift in attitude, Edwards doesn’t sound like a driver who has a huge urge to return to racing in NASCAR after his abrupt retirement in January 2017.
Here are some samples from his conversation with the media Saturday, when he was inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame:
“I’ve had a couple of conversations with people, but none in the last year or so. 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.”
“I do miss driving the cars, and I have a feeling that something will come up that will be really fun and natural to go do and I’ll get to drive a little more. But I’m definitely not going to sign a three-year contract to go run for a Cup championship or something like that. Not right now.”
“[The race] would have to be something that really excited me. The thing that I like the most is driving the road courses. I’ve talked to some people about maybe doing some testing at road courses. … I miss those tracks where you slide around a lot. That naturally might be a dirt track somewhere or a road-course test or something. I don’t make any rules. Who knows? I don’t know how I’ll feel in a year or two. I don’t have a plan.”
Edwards, 39, had not been at a NASCAR track on a race weekend since June 2017 when he fulfilled a sponsor obligation at Sonoma Raceway. He came to Texas for the induction ceremony, which benefited Speedway Children’s Charities.
The winner of 28 Cup races during a 13-year career at Roush Fenway Racing and Joey Gibbs Racing, Edwards knows he is missing some things but feels content with how his career ended.
“It was a really simple decision — if I didn’t care about money and I didn’t care what anyone else thought, what would I do?” Edwards said. “The answer was really simple: I’d like to step away from a little while and focus on other things.”
But he has found out that he misses meetings, even when things could get heated. The times when his team’s passion came through is what he can’t get away from at the racetrack.
“Even the parts where you’re frustrated with people, you’re still invested, you’re into it, it matters and it’s fun,” Edwards said. “I didn’t realize it was fun at the time. But looking back, it’s all fun. It’s a sport.”
He also appears to have come to grips that some of his greatest races didn’t end in triumph as he came up short in the 2011 and 2016 championship events at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“You can’t go back and change anything; that’s the way it is,” Edwards said. “I would love to be a two- or three-time champion. That’s what we work toward.
“The more life I live, the more I see, the more I realize the real gift of racing to me was the day-in, day-out effort and the teamwork and the learning. … I’d be foolish to try to change something.”
Edwards has spent part of his time traveling, including two cross-Atlantic boating excursions. Other than that, he tries to live a life in which he spends time with family and friends. He joked that a TV show about him would feature cycling in the morning and shopping in the afternoon.
He isn’t paying much attention to NASCAR right now.
“I’m so invested in it and it’s been so close to me, I don’t think I can follow without wanting to participate,” Edwards said. “It would be impossible for me. I try not to pay too much attention. … If I’m going to follow every week, then I might as well come and I might as well drive.”