The Carl Edwards I Know

I awoke this morning and, as is my custom, I started listening to SiriusXM’s Morning Drive program. It wasn’t long before the news that Carl Edwards would not drive in 2017 hit home. Carl was one of my favorite drivers to talk to at the track or anywhere else. A couple of years ago, at the annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, my question about other sports turned into a discussion of West Virginia University football and good-natured kidding about his team (Missouri Tigers) was taken by the SEC over my alma mater. He is that kind of guy. You feel comfortable with him from the first time you meet. I’ll miss his professionalism, and so will the sport.

A couple of years ago, at the annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, my question about other sports turned into a discussion of West Virginia University football and good-natured kidding about his team (Missouri Tigers) was taken by the SEC over my alma mater. He is that kind of guy. You feel comfortable with him from the first time you meet. I’ll miss his professionalism, and so will the sport.

It’s not the first time Carl has surprised me. I was lurking around Martinsville Speedway after a race and saw his confrontation with Matt Kenseth. That was a different Carl. After his horrendous crash with Brad Keselowski at Talladega Superspeedway, seeing Carl wrecking Keselowski a few times was hard to watch. That was a different Carl. “Cousin Carl” otherwise was a gentleman. When he walked down the pit to tell other drivers’ crews that it was just racing and no one’s fault. That was the Carl I saw every time I came in contact with him.

Reports are out there that Daniel Suarez will replace him, but a press conference looms at 10 a.m. Tuesday, so we don’t really know. There have been no reports on why he’s leaving the sport. I suppose we will also find that out tomorrow. It’s strange that Joe Gibbs took all the trouble to create a team with another organization for Erik Jones only to find an opening right under his nose. It had to be a recent decision. We will all know soon, but like many, I certainly hope he just wanted out.

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In the last two years, we’ve lost Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and now Edwards to retirement. Many look at this as healthy and a path for younger talent to make it big. It also means three large fan bases have lost their driver. Many will not attend or follow the sport and some will skip a race or two. I hope stability comes to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for a while. It’s sorely needed right now.

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Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as www.motorsportsforum.com. He can now be found at www.ris-news.com. Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.

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