After 13 years in NASCAR's Cup Series, Carl Edwards announced he is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing and will not take part in the 2017 NASCAR season.
"I’m stepping away from full-time driving in the Cup Series," Edwards said Wednesday, per Tom Jensen of FoxSports.com. "I don’t have any intention of going back to full-time racing."
However, he did not say he was retiring and left the door open to return to Joe Gibbs Racing in the future.
"I want to spend time outside the sport on things that are important for me," Edwards said, per Jensen "… I really believe it’s the right thing. It’s a personal thing."
"Life’s short," Edwards added. "You’ve got to do what your gut tells you."
Jensen reported Tuesday that Edwards intends to pursue other interests outside of racing. Reigning Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez will replace him in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing car in 2017.
ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass confirmed the news.
The Missouri native has 28 career Cup victories to his credit and 220 top-10 finishes in 445 starts.
Edwards was one of four drivers with a chance to win the championship in 2016 (the others being Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson), but he crashed in the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and finished the year in fourth place.
He is perhaps best known for his backflip victory celebrations, which Fox's At The Buzzer highlighted:
We'll miss the flipping #NASCAR driver in 2017. Here's every single one of #CarlEdwards' unique victory celebrations. https://t.co/uCUNHpNkPN2017-1-10 15:08:00
While Suarez was expected to become a Cup Series factor in the near future, he will be thrown into the proverbial fire for JGR.
The Mexico native became the first foreign-born driver to win a NASCAR national championship last season, and while he has big expectations to fulfill, he will have the benefit of the great equipment and team that Edwards boasted during his time with Gibbs.
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