NASCAR

Carl Edwards to retire effective immediately, Daniel Suarez to drive #19 car

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Carl Edwards is set to retire from the NASCAR’s top tier effective immediately according to multiple sources. The somewhat surprising decision by Edwards is set to give reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, Daniel Suarez, a shot at the big time in the #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Fox Sports News initially broke the new earlier today, with a press conference set to be held by Joe Gibbs Racing on Wednesday where the team will confirm Suarez’s entry into the Cup series.

Edwards made his NASCAR Cup series debut mid-season in 2004, driving the #99 Ford for Roush Racing in place of Jeff Burton. His first race at Michigan yielded a tenth place finish, with his best finish of that season being a third place at Atlanta.

His first full Nextel cup season took place the following year, with Edwards having an incredible start to his career. He was victorious by the fourth round at Atlanta and he ended the year with another three victories and a third-place finish in the championship.

In his twelve full seasons in the Cup series, Edwards took twenty-two pole positions and twenty-eight victories; two of which being the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte and the Southern 500 at Darlington. He sadly never managed to complete the triple crown by winning the Daytona 500; with his best result coming in 2011 when he finished second.

Edwards will perhaps be regarded as the best driver of this era to have not won a championship in the Cup series. Many will remember how he came oh so close to taking the crown in both 2011 and 2016, only to be denied right at the last hurdle. Incredibly, at the end of the 2011 season, Edwards and eventual champion Tony Stewart were tied at the top of the standings, with Stewart taking the title based on the number of wins that each driver had secured.

Edwards was left heartbroken again at the end of last season. He had dominated the final race at Homestead and was looking as though he would finally get his championship, but a late-race caution led to a restart in which he was involved in an incident with Joey Logano that ended his race with a hard wreck.

It was then that Edwards demonstrated the other aspect that the NASCAR world will remember him by. He was a true sportsman and a gentleman. Despite having just lost what would turn out to be his last championship hope, he walked over to Joey Logano’s crew and apologised for the incident and wished them well. This was yet another example of the kind of person and the kind of competitor he was throughout his Cup series career.

With Carl Edwards stepping away, the #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry will be filled by the reigning XFINITY champion, Daniel Suarez. Daniel made history last season by becoming the first international champion in NASCAR, with the Mexican winning the final race of the season at Homestead to secure the title.

Suarez has had a great career in the lower divisions of NASCAR. His XFINITY championship aside, Daniel has also won a race in the Camping World Truck Series, as well as having won ten races in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series prior to that. Suarez is also one of the drivers to have come from NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity programme, with other graduates of the scheme include Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace, Jr.

The step-up for Suarez is hardly surprising, with Suarez and Edwards both sharing car numbers and, more importantly, sponsors Arris; who will likely become the primary sponsor of the #19.

More details as to today’s announcement will be confirmed at tomorrow’s press conference by Joe Gibbs Racing.

Featured image courtesy of NASCAR.com – http://images.galleries.aws.nascar.com/gallery-images/2016/12/21/big_thumbnail/GettyImages-521942868.jpg

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