NASCAR Hall of Fame nod puts career in perspective for Edwards

Over a week after being selected for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2025, Carl Edwards is still processing the honor.

Edwards unexpectedly retired from NASCAR Cup Series competition in January 2017. In the years since Edwards has lived a quiet life back home in the Midwest, and he’s made less than a handful of public appearances at the racetrack. But now that he’s a Hall of Fame inductee, Edwards is reliving the glory days of being a stock car driver.

“No, it doesn’t close the book,” Edwards said of whether a Hall of Fame nod brings closure to his career. “What it does for me — and I didn’t expect this at all — it opens the book. It makes me remember and realize and put into perspective how much went into this. How much energy was put in by all the guys that worked on the cars, built the cars, sold the sponsorship, the media, the fans, everyone. And I got to be in the driver’s seat.


“I got to live my greatest wildest dreams as a kid. I think it really opens it for me — to be able to look at this and understand it’s not just something that I did and it’s done. This sport lives on. The spirit of everyone striving and trying to be the best they can and competing; I’m so grateful to have been a part of it while I was.”

In 13 seasons as a Cup Series driver, Edwards won 28 races driving for Jack Roush and then Joe Gibbs. Across all three NASCAR national series, Edwards visited victory lane 72 times and claimed the 2007 Xfinity Series championship. In the Xfinity Series, Edwards finished no worse than third in the championship standings in the six seasons he could earn points.

A fan favorite and always respectful and engaging with the media, Edwards was one of the sport’s most likable personalities. However, the clean break he made from the sport after the 2016 season shocked everyone, and Edwards now admits that perhaps he could have done a better job of making it clear why.

It had nothing to do with how the ’16 season ended, which Edwards repeatedly made clear Thursday. The season finale that season saw Edwards as one of four drivers in championship contention, and he had a great shot to earn the title before a caution set up a late-race restart. But those chances disappeared on the restart when there was contact between Edwards and Joey Logano.

Edwards walked down pit road to Logano’s pit box to wish the team well as they remained in the race. He then walked away from a NASCAR racetrack for the final time in a firesuit.

While a low point, Edwards walked away in 2016 at the top of his game, Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

It was the risk of injury and realizing other things in life needed tending to that made Edwards retire. Something he had begun thinking about in 2015 but, as he further described, really looked around and understood in ’16.

“I feel completely blessed and things are great,” Edwards said. “No regrets. Of course, I’d like some more trophies, but I wouldn’t change anything.”

Edwards has no desire to get back behind the wheel of a Cup Series car for fun because he couldn’t see himself doing it as fun. The competitive side of Edwards is too strong, and he respects how the premier series for him to try to come back. And those same risks of injury remain. However, he does enjoy getting into a simulator from time to time.

Instead, Edwards is now into Jiu-Jitsu and other activities. The day the voting panel met to decide the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2025, Edwards kept his busy schedule instead of staying by the phone. And because he didn’t think there was a chance of being selected, Edwards was off the grid flying and went uninformed of the news for a few hours.

“This honor is over the top,” Edwards said. “I did not expect this in any way. I was shocked. I actually wasn’t available at 4pm (local time) when they announced it because I thought there was no reason to be, and it’s been a huge deal to me. Much bigger than I ever would have expected.”

Edwards will be enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame alongside Ricky Rudd and Ralph Moody Friday, Feb. 7, 2025. Dean Sicking will also be honored that night as the Landmark Award winner for contributions to racing.

Story originally appeared on Racer