Carl Edwards has only become happier and more content in the months since his decision to step away from NASCAR, he told a small group of reporters Saturday — and has no intention of returning to a race car anytime soon.
Edwards, at Sonoma Raceway to give away a pickup truck on behalf of sponsor Stanley Tools, said he’s enjoying life away from racing. Despite his name being floated for open rides such as Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 88, Edwards said he isn’t interested.
“I’ve been talking to a bunch of people and weighing my options — no, just kidding,” he said with a laugh. “No, not at all. I haven’t talked to anyone and I haven’t even considered coming back. Not right now.
“I think it’s pretty clear if I really want to do something, then I would do it. But like I said in January, I would talk to Coach (Joe Gibbs) first — and I haven’t had any conversations about that.”
The only communication he’s had with Gibbs was to write a recent thank-you note reiterating his appreciation to both drive for the team and being allowed to step away when the time was right. Edwards watched Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement news conference and related to the aspect of walking away “on his terms,” Edwards said, calling his own situation a “blessing.”
But Edwards said he hasn’t paid attention to NASCAR news with his name in the rumor mill, nor has he watched the races.
“I don’t watch much TV,” he said.
So what has Edwards been up to? Well, a lot.
He was in Maui this week doing some surfing and exploring the island with artist Dale Zarrella, among others. Edwards has also learned to sail — both in the Virgin Islands and Florida — as well as continuing to fly medical patients through a Cessna program. Edwards and Toyota also set a land speed record for an SUV, going 230 mph in May.
He spent the last month planting crops at his Missouri farm and now plans to travel during the summer — since he didn’t have much of a chance to do that during his racing career.
If he ever returns to a car, it might not be in NASCAR. He mentioned speaking to Global Rallycross driver Steve Arpin about trying one of those cars at some point.
“When I’m ready to drive again, that would be fun to just go do a (GRC) test or something like that,” Edwards said. “I like sliding cars around sideways and (having) tons of horsepower.”
That actually describes what NASCAR drivers do at Sonoma, which made the trip bittersweet for Edwards. This was his third trip to a racetrack this season — he also attended the Phoenix test in January to help successor Daniel Suarez and showed up on Friday of the Atlanta weekend in March for the same reason — but Sonoma was “the toughest one for me.”
“I definitely miss parts of it,” he said. “I would love to be getting in a car to go qualify today. But it’s just like anything — there’s things that are good and things that are bad, but the good for me far outweighs the bad. Just super appreciative to go do the things I’m doing now and enjoying life.”
Edwards said there wasn’t much else to say about himself. So he looked at the reporters, each of whom he’d greeted by name with a handshake and a warm smile, and turned the tables.
“How’s everything going for you guys?” he asked.