Carl Edwards is leaving his mark at Texas Motor Speedway.
Edwards, who announced his retirement Wednesday, won four races at Texas, including November’s AAA Texas 500 to clinch a spot in the Monster Energy Cup Series championship round, and had 13 top-10s in 24 career starts.
Texas will go down as the site of his 28th and final victory.
“He didn’t do a back flip at the very last win of his career … my mistake,” said TMS President Eddie Gossage. “It is shocking to see a guy like Carl Edwards walking away this early. He was just a tough, tough heavyweight competitor. He’d trade punches with you all day long. He was something else.
“He’s a real horse. He’s the real deal and he took the circuit by storm.”
Edwards said at a Wednesday news conference that he was calling it quits because “I couldn’t come up with a reason why now isn’t a good time.”
Edwards said he was satisfied with his career even though he never won a championship or Daytona 500. He also cited concerns over concussions as a reason to hang it up at 37, pleased with his career and health in a sport that presents dangers to drivers every week.
Edwards is leaving with no regrets and certainly leaves a lasting impression on the sport. His retirement isn’t on the level of Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart, but Edwards is another recognizable name in a sport that seems to be losing more and more.
“These things happen,” Gossage said. “You can find any cycle in any sport where this is the kind of thing that occurs and find that some of your stars are no longer competing. But shortly afterward you find names you just can’t imagine doing without coming along.
“Just when Joe Montana is retiring a Peyton Manning comes along. This sport carries on and it continues and it’s OK.”
That’s the hope with Edwards’ replacement, reigning Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez, 25, who has the ability to broaden the NASCAR fan base with his Mexican heritage.
Suarez should have every opportunity to succeed early on, too, by replacing Edwards at powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Everything I see is that Daniel Suarez is going to be a superstar,” Gossage said. “I don’t think it’ll take long for him to be up there.”
For Edwards, he may be best remembered for his near-misses in pursuing a coveted championship.
In his first full Cup season in 2005, he finished third behind Stewart and Greg Biffle. In 2008, he won nine races but couldn’t overcome an in-his-prime Jimmie Johnson.
And, in 2011, he lost one of the most competitive championships in recent memory to Stewart. That 2011 season featured a memorable race at Texas in which Stewart and Edwards finished 1-2.
“That championship year between him and Tony was amazing,” Gossage said. “It came down to a dogfight between those two and you couldn’t ask for more between two guys battling for a championship.”