Should Drug Testing Be A Part Of All Dirt Tracks In The US?

Dale Blaney

World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz is widely recognized as the best Sprint Car driver in the world.

But that doesn’t give him a free ride or special treatment when he races in Australia. He is subject to the same drug-testing procedures as the locals.

And he doesn’t mind. Not one bit.

“I don’t think there is any question with the advancements we have seen that drug testing in the United States is needed,” Schatz said in a Q&A with PennLive from this year’s World Finals.

“The problem you have is that the series is so scared right now of not having competitors. They are afraid they have to tell people they can’t race, and they are not looking for reasons to keep people away.

“It’s something I feel is necessary. For a guy’s well being and for our safety, there needs to be testing. Drugs hinder you and affect you. We’ve seen recently the crazy things, good and bad, they do to you, so I’m for it.”

Schatz isn’t alone.

The World of Outlaws are scheduled to run 90 shows in 24 states and Canada next season. The odds are in favor of someone in a pit area somewhere being under the influence in a 24-hour period before a race.

For drivers such as Schatz, Daryn Pittman and Kerry Madsen, that’s a scary thought. They race for a living and safety is a top priority.

“No question it should be done,” Pittman said. “We can’t mandate as a traveling series that everyone who races with us passes one, but it needs to start somewhere.

“It’s long overdue that something be done. I don’t feel it is out of the realm of possibility that our series mandates its traveling guys get tested every so often or at random. Some steps should be taken to verify as many people are clean as possible.”

Testing is already part of the sport. The crew members that drive the rigs up and down the highway have to take a test to acquire a CDL in accordance with the standards set by the Department of Transportation.

Madsen, a native of Australia where testing is legal, doesn’t understand why such standards aren’t carried over to drivers and other crew members.

“It’s mind-boggling that there is no testing,” Madsen said. “I get a little pissed off by some of the comments that we don’t want testing because half the field wouldn’t be racing.

“That’s bull. None of these guys are doing it, but there needs to be testing. It’s an issue. It’s arisen. There is too much insurance risk and liability for it not to be done.”

It’s not like drug testing is a foreign concept in racing. NASCAR has one of the strictest policies of all sports.

A driver with a hard card – NASCAR membership – can be tested at any time. They don’t even have to be on site.

Danny Lasoski, a former World of Outlaws champion and driver in the new National Sprint League, has been a part of the NASCAR process. He raced IROC (International Race of Champions) for a spell and was tested before the season.

And like his fellow Sprint Car drivers, he feels that such policies at racing’s highest level should carry over to dirt tracks.

“I think every driver, every owner, everyone associated with these cars needs to be tested prior to the season,” Lasoski said.

“If there is any suspicion through the year, he may [also] be tapped on the shoulder to be checked right now. With as fast as these cars go, it would take very little for someone to do something to hurt themselves or somebody else.”

There is no reason why drug testing should not be implemented at all race tracks throughout the US these days!


Christopher Bell Conquers The Chili Bowl Nationals

Christopher Bell

Christopher Bell took the lead just past the midway point and never relinquished the top spot on the way to winning the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Raceway.

The victory is Bell’s first at the Chili Bowl and the third in a row for a Toyota-powered car at the biggest event in midget car racing.  The previous two years were won by Bell’s Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate, Rico Abreu.

The victory comes in the fourth straight A Main appearance for the Norman, Okla., native after previously running a career-best third in 2014.  He also won Thursday night’s preliminary feature. This victory now gives Bell 36 career national midget victories.

Bell’s “day job” is a full-time gig in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“The difference between this year and years past was it’s always been attack, attack and attack – and it didn’t need to be that way,” said Bell, who was a finalist in the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in a KBM Toyota Tundra. “This year we ran hard enough to stay in position, but stay out of trouble. I ran behind Justin (Grant) early and I just waited for the right time and once I was able to squeak by him on the straight-away, I just tried to run clean.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling.  I really love this race. It’s my favorite week of the year. It’s cool to finally bring a driller back to Oklahoma (first Oklahoma winner in 23 years).  Now I need to get a (NASCAR) win at Daytona!  This is all a dream come true (Chili Bowl and NASCAR) and I’m really thankful that Toyota took the chance.”

Bell was joined in the top five by teammate Tanner Thorson, who placed fourth after starting from the 20th position.  Thorson drove his way into the A Main after starting in the C after he was hit from behind in Friday’s feature race.

“In the beginning of the night I was just wanting to take the provisional and go directly to the A Main and not have to worry about getting in a wreck,” relayed Thorson, the reigning USAC national champion. “But (team owner) Keith (Kunz) said ‘if we wreck it, we’ll fix”. So we gave it our all out there. Once we cleared our ground in the C, the car got better and better and better. I think we had one of the fastest cars there in the A Main. It was great.”

A Feature
55 laps
Pos Start Driver Hometown
1 2 Christopher Bell Norman, OK
2 8 Daryn Pittman Owosso, OK
3 1 Justin Grant Ione, CA
4 20 Tanner Thorson Minden, NV
5 5 Jake Swanson Anaheim, CA
6 3 Tyler Courtney Indianapolis, IN
7 11 Zach Daum Pocahontas, IL
8 15 Jerry Coons Jr Tucson, AZ
9 9 Ronnie Gardner Corona, CA
10 16 Damion Gardner Concord, CA
11 25 Rico Abreu Rutherford, CA
12 4 Travis Berryhill American Canyon, CA
13 7 Larry Wight Phoenix, NY
14 10 C.J. Leary Greenfield, IN
15 13 Shane Golobic Fremont, CA
16 14 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Olive Branch, MS
17 18 Tyler Thomas Collinsville, OK
18 23 Michael Faccinto Hanford, CA
19 12 Colby Copeland Roseville, CA
20 (DNF) 19 Jonathan Beason Broken Arrow, OK
21 (DNF) 6 Danny Stratton Riverside, CA
22 (DNF) 22 Chase Briscoe Mitchell, IN
23 (DNF) 21 Thomas Meseraull San Jose, CA
24 (DNF) 24 Justin Peck Monrovia, IN
25 (DNF) 17 Gary Taylor Snohomish, WA


Tony Stewart May Race As Many As 71 Dirt Track Races in 2017

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart was well satisfied with his efforts at track preparation, and the result was excellent racing in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Center.

Given the huge car count at the quarter-mile dirt Chili Bowl track, one of the most difficult challenges is keeping the track consistent throughout a succession of heat races, qualifying races and features that start in the morning and end late at night.

“There’s no physical cushion, but the top’s still the fast way around,” Stewart said. “We’re starting to get a middle back here, too. When you’ve got 96 cars that started the night, it’s hard to keep it the same for the whole night. Last night I was not happy with what we had until we got to the last two qualifiers, the “B” Mains and the “A” Main, and we finally got caught up with it.

“It was really narrow and really heavy early in the night. Tonight we tightened it up a little more. From the first heat race on, guys could go everywhere they wanted to go and pass. It’s a little slower pace, but the racing’s better, and guys can actually pass. They aren’t jumping their race cars trying to run on a six-inch ledge.”

Stewart may be a three-time champion at NASCAR’s highest level, but track preparation nevertheless is a passion for him. You’ll often find him on a track at Eldora Speedway, the dirt half-mile he owns.

Just because Stewart has stepped away from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series doesn’t mean he has abandoned the competitive side of racing—far from it.

“I wish I’d have finished a little better at the end of the year,” Stewart said of his final NASCAR campaign, in which he won at Sonoma and qualified for the Chase. “But I’m looking forward to all the stuff we’re going to be doing this year—late model racing, sprint car racing. I’m building a three-quarter midget to run a couple of (county) fair races this year.

“Going to run a lot of different things at a lot of different places. There are some tracks that I’ve never been to that I’m going to get a chance to go to on our schedule. We’re up to 71 races, and I’m guessing we’re going to get another 10 to 15 more races on the schedule before it’s all said and done.”

It will be very interesting to see his race schedule for 2017, as well as where the wrongful death lawsuit leads Stewart!


Brendan Gaughan Will Attempt To Make The 2017 Daytona 500

Brendan Gaughan

If upstarts Derrike Cope, Jamie McMurray and Trevor Bayne are capable of winning the Daytona 500, then why not Brendan Gaughan?

Why not, indeed, said the Las Vegas Xfinity Series veteran, who will attempt to qualify for the Great American Race in February.

Gaughan said he will drive the Chevrolet Michael McDowell wheeled to a 15th-place finish for Leavine Family Racing in last year’s race. The car owner is Mark Beard of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, a former driver and team owner in the Midwest-based ARCA series who had a couple of Xfinity starts during the 1980s.

The unexpected opportunity came out of a midnight clear, said Gaughan, who will be competing for a spot in the Feb. 26 race.

Jay Robinson, the man I drove for a couple of years ago at Premium Motorsports, called me in the middle of the Christmas break and said a friend of his was trying to do a deal and run the 500,” said the 41-year-old Gaughan, who qualified for the inaugural Xfinity Series Chase in 2016 driving for Richard Childress Racing.

“They bought the old Leavine car, they’ve hired ECR to do motors — real racing motors — and they asked if I would be interested. So it’s got Richard Childress motors, and I’m going to have a Richard Childress pit crew — my guys — and so we’re going to the Daytona 500 and see if we can qualify.”

Beard doesn’t possess a Cup Series charter, which would have guaranteed Gaughan a starting spot. So he will have to race his way in via qualifying speed and twin 150-mile races that set the 40-car field.

Gaughan said he may have to beat only one other noncharter team for a starting spot.

“We’re an open team, but I feel very confident that with ECR motors we’re going to be able to make the show,” the former Truck Series Rookie of the Year said.

If he does, it will be the second time Gaughan has raced in NASCAR’s marquee event. The son of South Point owner Michael Gaughan made his Daytona 500 debut in 2004 driving a Dodge for Roger Penske. He finished 19th after starting 17th.

He is thrilled about giving the Daytona 500 another whirl at this stage of his career. Brendan Gaughan said he contemplated retiring before putting together a solid 2016 season with four top 5s and 16 top 10s in the Xfinity Series.

“It’s very cool; I’m real excited about it,” the always effusive Gaughan said. “The best part about it is I’m with a stand-alone team, but technically I have teammates — I told (former Xfinity teammates) Ty and Austin (Dillon) they better help me make the damn show.”


Ford Announces A Driver Developmental Deal With Brad Keselowski Racing

Image result for chase briscoe

In an effort to develop talent for its NASCAR program long-term, Ford Performance announced today it is formally initiating a multi-tiered NASCAR driver development program.

The first stage of that program will be a formal relationship with Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) and its NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) effort, where Ford has signed Chase Briscoe as one of the drivers for BKR for the 2017 season as part of his development.

“We’re making a commitment to win long-term in NASCAR,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance.  “We have been increasing our engineering support and our technological development at the team level, and now we’re looking to work with our teams to find the best available drivers coming up in the sport.”

The BKR effort, as well as other to-be-announced driver development efforts at different levels, will develop talent for all Ford teams in NASCAR.  Current teams will be consulted as part of the selection process, but drivers in the program will have contractual obligations to Ford.

In addition to their role within the NCWTS race program and related marketing efforts, drivers in the new Ford program will also assist the company as test drivers within the Ford product development program.

“Starting this program with BKR makes sense since it has made a significant investment in its NASCAR Camping World Truck Series operation and it is reflected in its success on the track,” said Pericak.  “As we at Ford look to develop new winning drivers for, ultimately, our Cup Series teams, the BKR model is a proven step in that ladder. We are enthusiastic about the role BKR will play in our efforts and we look forward to working very closely with the team in driver selection, engineering, and other mission critical areas.”

Led by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and XFINITY Series champion and Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski, BKR currently fields two (2) full-time entries in the NCWTS with the No. 19 and No. 29 Ford F-150s.  BKR also fields the No. 2 Ford F-150 in select NCWTS races.  The team maintains commercial relationships with long-standing primary partners Cooper Standard, Draw-Tite, and Reese Brands, as well as other industry-leading brands such as Snap-on.

“This is a big day in the history of BKR,” said Keselowski.  “To be recognized as a true partner to Ford and Ford Performance and what they are trying to do speaks directly to the hard work our team has put in over the last several years.  It is an honor, frankly, and it is really what BKR is all about – providing young, talented drivers with championship-caliber equipment to continue to hone their craft and showcase their talents.  We have been fortunate to have had a lot of success together with Ford across the three major NASCAR touring series and to now elevate that relationship in an official capacity is a testament to what we set out to do.”

Briscoe, 22, is an Indiana native who is coming off of a 2016 championship in the ARCA stock car racing series, where he captured six wins.  He has been racing since 2001 in a variety of series, including quarter midgets, sprint cars, Peak Stock Car Dream Challenge and K&N Pro Series West.


Elliott Sadler Will Attempt The 59th Daytona 500 With Tommy Baldwin Racing

Elliott Sadler

Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) announced today that the team will compete in the 59th running of the Daytona 500 with Elliott Sadler behind the wheel of the No.7 Golden Corral Chevrolet.

Sadler, a 16-year veteran of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, will be running double-duty during NASCAR’s opening weekend competing in both the Cup and Xfinity Series. The Emporia, VA native and Baldwin have a relationship dating back to their days at  when Baldwin served as crew chief for Sadler.

“This is a great opportunity for me and everyone affiliated with Tommy Baldwin Racing,” said Sadler. “I love the Daytona 500 and to have Tommy and Golden Corral offer me this opportunity is awesome. Tommy and I have known each other a long time. We actually won a qualifying race for the Daytona 500 together back in 2006. We’re gonna rekindle some of that magic and work our tails off to get our car in the race. I know Tommy is putting a lot of effort into this and we’re gonna go out and get the best result we possibly can for him and TBR’s partners.”

Golden Corral returns for their seventh season together and will bring back their popular ‘Top 10 Kids Eat Free’ promotion. If Elliott Sadler finishes in the top-10 at Daytona, kids 10 and under will eat free at Golden Corral restaurants nationwide on Monday, February 27th.

“We are excited to be working with Tommy Baldwin Racing for the seventh season,” said Shelley Wolford, Vice President of National Marketing and Media at Golden Corral. “We will be cheering Elliott on to qualify at Daytona and then race for a Top 10 Kids Eat Free finish.”

“We look forward to having Elliott join TBR and Golden Corral for the upcoming Daytona 500,” said team owner Tommy Baldwin. “Elliott has always been a strong restrictor plate racer which makes this a great opportunity for everyone involved. We know our fans look forward to the ‘Top 10 Kids Eat Free’ promotion every year so we want to capitalize on that and finish the Daytona 500 strong.”

Tommy Baldwin Racing will be competing as an “open” team since they sold their charter, and therefore must qualify and race their way into the Daytona 500.

Rico Will Not Return To The Truck Series And Thorsport Racing For 2017

Rico Abreau

Rico Abreu will not return to full-time competition in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with ThorSport Racing this season.

Although Abreu tried to get a deal worked out for 2017, securing sponsorship was a challenge.

“I wish things could have worked out,” Abreu said on Wednesday at the Chili Bowl in Tulsa. “The way sponsorship goes, sometimes things change. That’s just the way things go. 

“I’m not going to give up on it. I’m just going to take a step back.” 

Abreu, who will turn 25 on Jan. 30, finished 13th in the standings in his rookie season. He posted top-five finishes at Eldora (third) and Talladega (fourth) and five top-10s in 23 starts. 

A ThorSport representative confirmed Abreu’s status but did not close the door on possible opportunities in the future. 

This weekend, Abreu looks to defend his Chili Bowl Nationals championship. Abreu has won the last two Golden Drillers at the Tulsa Expo Raceway. In the short term, his focus will be on midgets and sprint cars.

“I’ve got sprint cars with my family and midget car races with Keith Kunz,” Abreu added. “That’s all I got.”

It will be very interesting to see if Rico can land another ride in one of the three touring series of NASCAR for 2017!


Carl Edwards Addresses The Press Regarding His Stepping Away From Joe Gibbs Racing

Carl Edwards

Joe Gibbs Racing announced that driver Carl Edwards has stepped away from racing in NASCAR. 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion Daniel Suárez will drive the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series #19 Toyota Camry in 2017.

Edwards, 37, joined Joe Gibbs Racing prior to the 2015 season and amassed five wins, 16 top-five and 33 top-10 finishes to go with nine pole awards in his two seasons with the organization. Over his 13-year career in NASCAR’s premiere series he totaled 28 wins, 124 top-five, and 220 top-10 finishes, along with 22 pole awards. His 28 career wins ties him for 23rd all-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.(JGR)(1-11-2017)

January 11, 2017

An Interview With: CARL EDWARDS

CARL EDWARDS: I didn’t want a podium up here, but all right, thanks for coming. It’s occurred to me there must be some sort of thing that people do on the internet where they communicate really quickly because everybody found out about this in a hurry, Twitter or something.
Anyway, so I am, I’m stepping away from full time driving in the Cup Series. And I’m not taking any questions, so thanks for coming. No, I’m just joking.
I think I owe it to you guys, and I’d like to share my reasoning and then allow you guys to ask some questions and talk about this. But before I get to my reasons, I’d like to just talk a little bit about my career and things that are important to me. I want to say, first of all, this is about the most scared I’ve ever been about something, just talking about this and going through this whole process, so bear with me on that.

I’ve been racing for over 20 years. It’s been something that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I have no regrets. It’s been a blast, and I owe thanks to a lot of people. My family, my mom, my dad, and all the people who have become like family through racing, from Capital Speedway in Holts Summit, Missouri, all the way to Daytona, and Mike Helton and Lesa and Brian France and everybody at the top of the sport, and I’ve had so much fun meeting everyone, had so much fun driving.

I mean, guys, there is nothing I love more than driving down a corner at 190 miles an hour sideways next to the best drivers in the world, and so yeah, my competitors. You guys are amazing. You can be jerks sometimes, but let’s be honest, I can be a jerk, too.
But what you’ve done for me, my competitors, all of you, is you’ve pushed me, and you’ve made the when you win one of these races or you do well, you know that you have beaten the best, and it feels almost impossible in the process, but then when you’re done, it’s the most amazing feeling ever, and that’s because of how good all of you guys are, so thanks for letting me be a part of that group.

To all my crew members and team members and the people who have built these cars and worked on these things, and Jason Hedlesky, my spotter and Randy Fuller and Dave Rogers, who’s become one of my best friends, the team owners I’ve driven for, Mike Mittler, Jack Roush, Coach Gibbs, there are no better men on earth, and I’m glad to have been around them and to see how they do things and to have been a part of that. And without racing, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that.

So the fans: The fans have been spectacular. Jack Roush said, We could all go do all this and race around a field with nobody watching but that wouldn’t be any fun. The fans are what make this great. My buddy, the late great Bob Healy, used to say, The world is all screwed up because all the people that are qualified to fix it are busy messing with cars, and I think that sums it up. There’s some really great people in the sport.
And the media, thank you guys. I know when I first came in the sport, all you did was write nice things about me and I thought that’s how it was always going to be, and I really appreciated it and I thanked you, but then we went through some down times, and now we’re good again.
If any of you are planning on writing bad stuff, you don’t get the free Subway on the way out. So just let that be known.


So we get to the reasons. Why would I step away from all of that? And the reasons are pretty straightforward. There are three of them. Number one, I am truly, I am personally satisfied with my career, and I know right now you’re thinking, well, you don’t have a championship. Well, Jimmie [Johnson] has got some extras if he wants to send one my way, but truly, you guys know that I don’t race just for the trophies. This has always been a really this has been a neat journey for me and it’s always been something that I’ve been rewarded by the challenges, and there’s some race car drivers sitting here, Ricky, and you know how it is. It’s scary in so many ways to go racing. I mean, initially, first time I stepped on the throttle of my dad’s race car, I mean, I thought I was the greatest driver ever, and about a half second later I pulled my foot right off, and I couldn’t get it to go back down, and I thought, man, this is going to be tough. So you go from that to working up the courage to ask people to drive a car to being put in situations where you know if you drive well and you win, you get sponsorship and everything works.

Going through that whole process and becoming a better person, a stronger person, a better competitor, a better teammate, a better friend to people, that’s a big deal to me, and I feel accomplished.

And I know when I sit in that race car that I am the best race car driver I can be. So whether or not I have a championship, I’m really satisfied with that.
So that’s a long winded version one. And remember, I am long winded. I’m saving you like a whole year of this stuff by doing it this way.

Second reason is that and I’m not going to get any sympathy from anyone in the room, but this is an all encompassing thing. You guys, we do this, and it’s full time. And not just the physical time, but I wake up in the morning thinking about racing. I think about it all day. I go to bed thinking about it. And I have dreams about racing. And that’s just how it is. I’ve been doing that for 20 years, and I need to take that time right now and devote it to people and things that are important to me, things I’m really passionate about.

And the third reason is my health. I can stand here healthy, and that’s a testament after all the racing I’ve done and all the stupid stuff I’ve done in a race car, that is a true testament to NASCAR, to the tracks, to the people who have built my race cars, to my competitors, and to the drivers who have come before me who haven’t been so fortunate.

Having said that, though, it’s a risky sport. I’m aware of the risks. I don’t like how it feels to take the hits that we take, and I’m a sharp guy, and I want to be a sharp guy in 30 years. So those risks are something that I want to minimize.

Now, if I put those three things together, that brings us to the timing of this. Slight shock, I know. I keep thinking about that scene from “Forrest Gump” where he stops running. Everybody is like, what? If I put those three things together, the timing for me to do this is now, and that’s where Coach Gibbs comes in. I don’t know if Coach is in here. Thank you for allowing me to do this. This is a personal decision.


If I wanted to race next year, I know I’ve heard, I shut my phone off, but I’ve heard people think I’m going somewhere else or doing something else. If I’m going to get back in a race car, which I’m not saying the R word here, I’ve see how that’s worked out for guys, but if I’m going to get back in a race car, I’m calling Coach Gibbs first. There is no better race team. There is no faster car than a Toyota Camry. There’s no better engine. There’s no better crew chief than Dave Rogers. There’s no better crew. And I’m going to race here.

So thank you. When I walked into his office and said, Hey, Coach, this is something that’s important to me; is this possible? I’ve told him this, I looked at made sure to check which hand the ring was on because I thought it was coming, and instead, he stuck out his hand in a much different way, and he said, I admire you for being able to make a decision like this, and I’m going to go to work for you, and that’s the type of person Joe Gibbs is. That’s the type of organization this is. I cannot thank him enough.

So those are my reasons. I’m satisfied with my career. I’d like to spend time on other things outside of it, and my health is important to me. I am healthy. Everybody texted me yesterday yeah, I’m great, and all the people close to me are healthy. I appreciate are those concerns, but that’s not an issue.

Do you guys have any questions at all?

Q. What does the next chapter look like for Carl Edwards, and in this past year you took some pretty major hits on the racetrack. Did you have any concussions or anything that might have put you more closer to the decision that you’ve made today? 

CARL EDWARDS: Okay, so the first question, I have a lot of interests outside of racing. I’ve really enjoyed there’s a lot of aviation stuff, a lot of the agriculture thing has been great, but I love the sport, and I think as much as I can, we’ve got some really exciting things we’re going to talk about coming up later, I’d really like to be a part of this and be close to it, and there’s no telling what we can do together, Coach Gibbs and I going forward. I don’t have anything solid yet. I’ve really enjoyed the broadcasting stuff. I’d be really open to any of that stuff. I used to think that that would be no fun, but the more I’ve watched, and I’ve watched how much fun people are having with it, and yeah, that could be something that’s neat.

And then what was the other part of your question?

Q. Did you suffer any concussions last year throughout the course of the season?
CARL EDWARDS: So like I said, I’m 100 percent healthy. But I am aware that there’s this is a risky sport, put on a helmet and firesuit to go race. And I am aware of the current consensus that, like any let me say it this way: Like anybody in a contact sport, I realize that there might be long term consequences to that stuff, and that’s a piece of the puzzle. That’s a part of the factor. But there are multiple parts to it.

Q. Carl, when did this hit you? There’s been a lot of talk, obviously, that it was December 21st or something. You don’t talk a lot about your family, but people are talking about your family being part of this, and certainly you have kids at home and a wife, and also, any thought about running for public office, which is something people are talking about you being the governor of your state down the road?
CARL EDWARDS: Okay, so I do have what was the first part again?

Q. Family.
CARL EDWARDS: Okay, so yeah, like I said, you guys know I’m a private person. I am, and I value that. I think it’s important. But like I said, the time that this takes I’ll say this: That I want to be able to spend time on things outside of the sport that are important to me. And I really think it’s the right thing to do. As confusing as this whole thing might be to people this might not make sense to people. That’s the risk you take with something like this. I have to be honest, it makes you nervous to think for me to do something like this and wonder if everybody understands or not, but really, that’s part of the what I talked about earlier, about growing as a person and the things the sport has taught me.
Anyway, I’m getting long winded. But yeah, I’m excited to be able to spend time on things outside of the sport, yeah.

Q. When did you come to this decision?
CARL EDWARDS: So I had been thinking what I thought was a reasonable amount about how this would end. I always think about things going forward. And in my mind, I’d considered next year being my final year, but I hadn’t put really a lot of thought into it. And after Homestead, I had some time to sit, think and reflect about all of this, and for those three reasons that I gave you, I thought, man, it just I can’t come up with a good reason why now isn’t a good time.
And so I presented that to Coach. I didn’t know what he would say, and like I said, he and the sponsors I mean, everyone, accommodated me in a way I just didn’t expect, and that means a lot.
Okay, so I do have really strong feelings about our country and what it means, what America is about, and the principles that keep us free and safe from the biggest risks in history. And so I don’t know if I’m I’m not prepared right now to participate in any public office or anything, but I am very open to helping that cause and helping the cause of liberty and freedom and what it is that America is about.

Q. Carl, was there a defining moment that served as a catalyst for all this?
CARL EDWARDS: That’s a very interesting question. Sorry, it’ll be an interesting answer. I hope you’ll bear with me on it. There are times the people close to me know that I follow my gut, and as an analytical as I am and as much as I wear people out about the details, Coach can attest to that, I do, I follow my gut, and sometimes I just I just gather what’s around me, and I say, look, if all signs point to this, then that’s what I need to do. That’s what got me here in the first place.
The way everybody looked at me when I announced I’m doing this is the same way people looked at me 20 years ago when I said, Hey, I’m going to drive a race car for a living, like you’re crazy. Literally people laughed at me.
But that same way of thinking applies now. I really believe it’s the right thing. It’s a personal thing. I feel strongly about it. I’m very confident in it. And so no, there was not one thing. Just a series of those things over time. I’m sure it’s the right direction for my life.

Q. Carl, you’ve repeatedly said you’re walking away from full time racing. Could there be other races?
CARL EDWARDS: Absolutely. I don’t know what what I’m doing right now, and I hope you guys will accept this because I know it’s hard for Coach and I have had these talks. I don’t have any intention of going back to full time racing. I don’t have a plan to drive a race car right now.
But I know enough about I just know how things work, and if it comes up and the right opportunity is there and at that moment, it’s the right thing, then for sure I’d entertain it. But like I said, the first person I’d talk to is Coach.

Q. And losing the championship the way you did, the inevitable sting that had to come from that, might things have been different if you’d won the championship?
CARL EDWARDS: It’s a good question. In a lot of ways, I think it I don’t want to start, but I don’t know, I’ll say that. I mean, who knows. It might have made it easier.
Let me tell you about Homestead, though. I’m glad you brought that up. With 30 laps to go, 40 laps to go, 30 laps to go, 20 laps to go, that’s what I live for. I mean, that is it. That is racing to me. I mean, Dave and I had worked all year to be in that moment, to pass that battle with Jimmie, and then to be able to pass Joey and Kyle for the ultimate prize, driving just as hard as I could, and to be in that position and to know that day we were getting it done, I mean, literally that’s what I live for, and that part of Homestead, for me personally, I won. I mean, that’s what it’s about. And the outcome obviously I wasn’t happy with, and that’s frustrating and everything, but I feel really good about that.

Q. Over the years compared to when you came in, has the enjoyment factor of racing, has the fun factor diminished for you and did that play any part of wanting to do something else?
CARL EDWARDS: That’s a good question. I’ve always liked the adventure of things. I do. When you asked about what I’ve got in store in the future, there are a lot of things I’d like to do. But yeah, to get back to your question, I like a new challenge. I like something that fully takes all of my attention. And I think anybody can tell you that a career that’s lasted this long in any sport, you know, it becomes less of a challenge, and you get a little bit less of that.
But look, I’ve raced at least, I think, almost 1,000 NASCAR races. I ran the XFINITY and the Cup Series full time for seven years, and what I said at the beginning is absolutely true; I don’t regret one bit of it. If I go forward, would it be as exciting and all that as it has been? I’m not sure. So yeah, there’s a part of that.

Q. During banquet week, you said, I will appreciate the championship we win more because of it. So how do you get from that to where you are today?
CARL EDWARDS: I don’t know who was interviewing me there, but I got to Champions Week and I had a lot on my mind, and I just kind of felt it kind of took me off guard to start talking about it again. I hadn’t talked about it with anyone. But yeah, I’m not going to say this whole thing was easy or clean or perfect. I mean, this isn’t the there was no epiphany moment. That has been something I really thought a lot about, and it wasn’t easy. Pardon me if I went back and forth a little bit about it.

Q. Carl, you’ve talked a little bit about this. You made it a point to do everything in your power to spend time with your family, from staying in Missouri, flying back and forth. That’s been an important part to you. Then you also talk about how passionate you are when you get involved in something, you like to go all in on it. Are you trading one passion for something else, and the time spent with family and other things is not going to be much different, not going to be impacted by that, or do you feel like you’re going to be able to spend more time with them? Are you going to be doing other things that are still going to impact how much
CARL EDWARDS: Are you saying right now am I going to go jump into the 2020 Presidential race or something crazy? No, hell no. No, I’m going to take some time. That’s one of the beauties about this decision. I don’t have a there’s no life raft I’m jumping onto. I’m just jumping. And in a way, it makes it easier, because I’m not being swayed by some carrot out here, something going on. There is no new manufacturer ride coming in in three years that they’re paying me a fortune for. There is nothing like that.
This is a pure, simple, personal decision, and for that I’m grateful.

Q. And also, recent retirements, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart. Did that have any impact? Did you look at that at all, and did that kind of get the thing started for you?
CARL EDWARDS: I’ll tell you something: I learned a lot from my competitors, truly. That’s one of the only things I wish I would have done a little better and hope I still can is spent more time with those guys. It’s such a it’s an interesting relationship because we’re competing against each other so hard but there’s so many things we can learn from one another, and as I’ve become closer with a lot of these guys, I think there is more to learn from one another.
But it’s a long winded thing to say, but there was nothing really particular about any of those. This is my decision, and it’s something that I made on my own.
And I want to say one other thing about my teammates. I don’t know if Denny is up yet, so he might not see this (laughter), but they’re awesome, guys. My teammates are amazing. I’ve heard people say somebody said, well, does he get along with his teammates? Guys, I have the best teammates in the sport. They’re great. I mean, and I have not always been the best teammate. I have been a self centered jerk at times. I know that. That’s been pointed out to me by multiple teammates.
But they have made me better, and I’m better because of them. So yeah, I just want to make sure I thank them.

Q. Carl, since word broke yesterday, a lot of the folks in this room have written a lot of flattering articles about your character
CARL EDWARDS: I haven’t read them.

Q. that’s been displayed over the years, and Nate had a quote that said, you’ve always lived your life by the Midwestern mentality: Pretty simple, do your job, do your work, be kind to people and your reputation will follow. So as you look back on your career and a lot of the things, I am thinking about you specifically going to the 22 pit box after the incident in Homestead, you talk a lot about just wanting to do the right thing. Are you focused on that, or are you aware of yourself as a role model and how you’re perceived by others?
CARL EDWARDS: Man, I don’t know. It’s very flattering. Yeah, I just (tearing up) yeah, I just want to be a good person, you know. Sorry, guys. Damn camera shutters are killing me there. It’s the lighting, it’s awful.
I’m sorry, it’s just nice of you to say, and I just think about the it’s important to me to be to do the right thing. I do not always do the right thing, and just like anyone, there are things I wish I could do over, and that’s that. Okay.

Q. You referenced as your third item your health. How much of watching Dale Earnhardt Jr. go through a really, really long recovery period for a very serious concussion have an impact on your thought, or did it?
CARL EDWARDS: I think everyone paid attention to that, and I’m telling you, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a hell of a guy. He’s a guy that I look up to. We’ve had our differences, but he’s never shied away from telling me exactly how he feels. I think everyone in the sport paid attention to that, and I have a lot of respect for him and whatever decision he makes, I back him. I man, I run that Gadsden flag on my car because I believe people have a right to choose what they think is best, and yeah, I thought that took a lot for him to do that, and I have a lot of admiration for him.

Q. But how about for you personally?
CARL EDWARDS: So yeah, I looked at that. But like anyone in a contact sport today like Brian France said, this is a contact sport. That’s part of what makes it so much fun. You have to look at the risks, and fortunately, because of all the work that people have done, I can stand here 100 percent healthy, and 15 years ago, 20 years ago, I don’t know if that was possible.
But yeah, like I said, that’s one of the factors of my decision.

Q. Carl, I’m a little confused here. You talked earlier about what you live for, and you talked about 40 laps to go, 30 laps to go, 20 laps to go at Homestead, and this is something you’ve done all your life. You’ve been programmed to do this. I think the confusion is what else is there that you live for that gives you a similar type of sensation that you are no longer going to have on the track? I mean, is it Farmer Carl? What is it about you or what is it that you’re looking forward to that’s going to provide that, to fill in that gap to some degree?
CARL EDWARDS: So I hope you’ll accept that I just I don’t really have that all figured out yet, and to me that’s okay. I’m at peace with that. I know if I lay out those three reasons that I listed, if you put those together, you add them up, it adds up to this. This is the right thing.
You know, not to I mean, life is short. You’ve got to do what your gut tells you. And I have a feeling I’ll find something. If I don’t make Coach too mad, if I don’t, maybe he’ll have me back.

Q. Two part question, kind of following up on that. I just want to clarify, I know you said there is no manufacturer out there that has offered you some ungodly sum of money, so just to put on the record, you have not had contact with any other manufacturer or any other teams about the future?
CARL EDWARDS: So no, I have had no this is not a decision because I have something else lined up or the desire to go line something up. I can’t tell you that while my phone has been off I haven’t got some offers or something crazy in there. I don’t know. But I am not entertaining and have not contemplated anything else like that. Nothing.

Q. And then to follow up on what you’re saying about Coach Joe will be your first call if you decide you want to come back and race, what do you think his response would be to that, because obviously I don’t know, to use a famous NASCAR team owner expression, I don’t know if there’s going to be a lot of room here at the inn for you going forward, so what happens if in ’18 you decide you want to come back and you can’t come back here?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Toyota, it’s that Toyota makes sure that what they go do, they do well. We look at what Martin was able to do at Furniture Row, Barney Visser and those guys. I don’t want to start down this path. That is not my plan. But I’d be open to anything that involved Coach Gibbs, Toyota, and the people that make this thing work right now. I mean, this is a cool deal.

Q. Last night Kenseth said he had no idea this was coming down
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, he told me that, too.

Q. Did you talk to any of your peers or any of your teammates, and when you decided this moment, who was the first person you wanted to call and tell?
CARL EDWARDS: I think Matt was the first driver I talked to, and I woke him up. But yeah, I think it’s important for me a number of drivers have reached out, and that means a lot, and if any of them want to talk to me about it or anything like that, I’d be glad to talk to them about it. I mean, nobody in particular, but like I said, I have a ton of respect for my competitors. I used to truly go with the idea that you show up at the racetrack with your own stuff and they’re your enemies and you take your money home and don’t worry about them. I’ve learned it’s not like that. You can go out and compete and appreciate that competition and be respectful off the track, and I’ve learned that from my competitors.
I’ve got nothing but love for those guys and girls, and if there’s anything I can do for them, I will.

Q. Events like this are a big part of a driver’s career. How would you characterize Carl Edwards’ relationship with the people in this room, with the media over the term of your career?
CARL EDWARDS: Okay, so from the beginning, racing for me was a struggle because we didn’t have money to race. I understood the relationship between the media and the team and the drivers for that matter, and you guys deliver our sport to people. If I’m not at the track I will be reading your articles and watching your shows and I’m going to now be living being a part of the sport through you guys. But my point is without you guys, the sport doesn’t get to the people, and I’ve always felt that way, and yeah, I mean, we’ve had I’ve had a lot of talks with a lot of you in the room, and we’ve been through a lot together. But I have a lot of respect for you guys, and I don’t know I hope you guys feel the same.

Q. When a lot of us were trying to figure out why now, there may be some speculation or some thought, maybe you start trying to renegotiate an extension to stay here or maybe it was the caution flag that brought out that bunched everybody up at Homestead. Were there any frustrations or anything that you’re like, man, this is just going to be I just don’t want to do it anymore?
CARL EDWARDS: Right. So people say you’re mad at NASCAR. It’s like, well, not any more mad than I normally am at NASCAR. (Laughter.) No offense, Mike and everybody.
I mean, but let’s the deal is that let me say this: As recently as Vegas, I sat down across the table at breakfast, just me and Brian France, and we had an unbelievable talk. There’s never been more open communication between the drivers and NASCAR, and I can assure you of this: Lesa, Brian, Mike, Richard Buck, everybody, they want this sport to be the best it can be, just like all of us, and if there’s anything I can do to help them, I’ll be glad to do it. That answers part of it. I think there was another part you asked me.

Q. Had you started to had you talked about any sort of contract extension with Gibbs before
CARL EDWARDS: No, this has nothing to do with any contract negotiations or anything like that. This is not a money deal, guys. Yeah, I like getting paid. That’s great. But I mean, I’ve never it’s never been, in my whole career, if I was looking for the sure bet to make a living, I would not have picked racing. So this isn’t some sort of thing to negotiate more money.

Q. Carl, your fans on social media last night and yesterday were outpouring, emotional, said that they were sad and frustrated and some of them were angry, but they respected you and they understood that you made the decision to walk away. What’s your legacy with your fan base, and what do you encourage them to do moving forward?
CARL EDWARDS: Okay, so when I started racing, there weren’t a lot of fans. There weren’t this many people at the racetrack usually (laughter), and so as it got going, early in my career with Jack when we were on fire and everything was great, and I thought, this is just how it is, people love you, and then I went through some years where it wasn’t so good, and I’m not joking, the fans, I realized they were a part of my team, they were a part of what I do. I was at some racetrack and I was having a really bad day, I hadn’t won a race for a year and a half or something, and someone came up to me with all their 99 gear on, and they said, “You are one of the best drivers in the garage. Don’t you get down. I see you walking around like that. You need to go and kick everybody’s butt.” And I thought, huh, I needed that. I mean, it meant something. And so I’ve learned to really, really appreciate the fans.
And so that’s cool. It does mean a lot. I do get a lot of people ask I felt like people were in the last day since Tom broke this, a lot of people were worried about my health and stuff like that, and that meant a lot people were actually concerned. That’s really, really cool.

Q. Carl, there seems to be a lot of people who just find it hard to accept that you are in such a good position that you could still accomplish a whole lot, but when I first met you was when you came into the Truck Series and you were the guy who had been walking around with his business card just trying to get a job. From your perspective, is this more than you ever expected?
CARL EDWARDS: Yes. Yeah, I don’t know how to explain it. I mean, it’s literally like living a dream. I’ve lived a and yeah, it is. It’s more than I’ve ever expected. I’ve accomplished more than I ever dreamed of accomplishing. I have the satisfaction that I don’t know how to express, and it’s because it’s been such a challenge. You guys know how that is. You guys have all everybody in this room has worked hard at something and been nervous and insecure but kept digging and learned all those lessons, and then you get to a point where you’re like, I’ve done this. This is great. That is way more than I ever expected. So yeah, I’m very satisfied with that.

Q. Carl, we’ve talked about the fans, we’ve talked about us, we’ve talked about the teammates. What’s been the reaction at home to this?
CARL EDWARDS: I’ve had the most support ever. I am so fortunate. I think everything truly happens for a reason. I really do. And I think that early on in my career, I used to sit I remember sitting there being so upset and so frustrated because this is something I wanted so bad and it wasn’t working and I struggled, just like anybody who’s working at something hard. And now I look back on those times, and I realize that those are the times that the friendships were forged, that the people that I could depend on were apparent, and those people are still there for me. I mean, literally, I don’t think they care if I’m standing on the podium with one of Jimmie’s trophies or sitting in the tractor or anything. I think they’re truly my friends, and their support has been unbelievable.
THE MODERATOR: Any closing remarks?
CARL EDWARDS: Just thank you guys. Thank you guys immensely. All of you. You guys have done so much for me. Who knows what the future holds. If anybody has any ideas, I’m open, and I’ll see you guys around, and just have a great season.
I will be watching the Daytona 500. It’s a very exciting what you guys have going on, what NASCAR has going on. I think the sport has a really bright future. The partnership with Monster is something that’s really exciting. That’s cool that they came on board, and just I hope everybody has a great year. Thank you, guys.

And now yo know the rest of the story!


Carl Edwards Suddenly Steps Away From Joe Gibbs Racing!

Carl Edwards

In a stunning move, NASCAR star Carl Edwards is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to pursue other interests outside of driving and will not compete in 2017, has learned from multiple sources.

On Wednesday, JGR will announce at a press conference that Daniel Suarez will replace Edwards as the driver of the team’s No. 19 Monster Energy Cup Series Toyota. Suarez is the reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion.

Representatives of Edwards and Joe Gibbs Racing declined comment.

David Wilson, president of TRD, U.S.A., also declined comment on Edwards’ departure.

Edwards, 37, broke into NASCAR’s top series in 2004, when he replaced Jeff Burton in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. The Missouri native stayed with the Roush organization until 2015, when he moved to JGR.

For his career, Edwards has 28 race victories, 22 poles, 124 top fives and 220 top 10s in 445 starts.

Edwards might be the best driver of this generation to never win a NASCAR Premier Series championship. In 2011, he and Tony Stewart tied for the championship, but Stewart won on a tiebreaker for most race victories that season.

In 2008, Edwards won nine races and appeared poised to win the title, but a late-race crash at Talladega Superspeedway ended his title hopes, as he finished second to Jimmie Johnson.

At Homestead-Miami Speedway this past November, Edwards was in contention to win both the final race of the season and the championship,  but crashed after contact with Joey Logano on a restart with 10 laps to go. Edwards ended the year fourth in points, his sixth top-five points finish in just 12 full seasons of racing.

Throughout his career, Edwards has been very private about his personal life. Although he is outgoing, personable and popular with his sponsors, Edwards is one of the few drivers who isn’t active on Twitter and in general keeps a very low profile on social media.

The news of Edwards leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to pursue interests outside of the cockpit is a stunning bombshell and completely unexpected by most fans. There is no doubt that, at this point JGR is experiencing a “helmet fire”!  For those who have no idea what a “helmet fire” is, just use your imagination and you will undoubtedly come to the proper results!  There are so many things that JGR is dealing with, sponsorship’s input and concurrance for a driver for the No. 19 in the immediate future, which appears to be Daniel Suarez, and then for the long term future of the JGR No. 19 Toyota.

Does this move by Edwards now open up this seat for Duarez in 2018 and beyond, or will this seat be filled by the young gun, Erik Jones, after his “lease” to Furniture Row Racing terminates at the end of 2017?  The race is on, and the scrambling has begun, for JGR, DeWalt, and the many other sponsors that financially support that race team.

This puts another light on an article that I just penned just yesterday!


Joe Gibbs Racing Will Have A Decision To Make At The End Of 2017

Erik Jones

At the end of 2017 Joe Gibbs will have a major problem to try to solve.  The problem that will be confronted by Gibbs at that time is a problem that many race teams owners would love to be dealing with!  Just as a review let’s look at what Joe Gibbs will be confronted with when the checkered flag flies at Homestead this November.

At the end of 2015 Furniture Row Racing ended their affiliation with Chevrolet and their alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Beginning with the offloading of their car at Daytona in 2016 FRR commenced their new relationship with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Fast forward to the Fall of 2016 and Barney Visser, owner of Furniture Row Racing, announces that his organization will be expanding to two race teams beginning in 2017.  With that announcement comes many monumental challenges.  The first and foremost challenge is to find a quality race car driver for that team.  It just so happens that Joe Gibbs Racing has an extra driver in the name of one of NASCAR’s newest young guns, Erik Jones, and no available seat to put him into at JGR for 2017.  In the Fall of 2016 JGR and FRR strike an agreement for Jones to to loaned out to FRR to be the new driver of the second team for 2017.  One of Visser’s major organizational problems was now solved in the stroke of a pen!

Now the question that is begged to asked is what will happen to Erik Jones at the end of the 2017

There is a NASCAR rule that limits race organizations to a maximum of four race teams.  Joe Gibbs Racing has the maximum four race teams in their organization presently, so there appears that “there is no room at the inn” for Erik Jones at JGR. Therein lies the problem for Joe Gibbs Racing, five quality drivers four race cars.

Let’s look at the four drivers that are currently employed with JGR.  Denny Hamlin, the driver of the JGR No.11 Toyota, is 36 years old and is under contract to JGR through the end of the end of this season.  Kyle Busch, the 2015 Sprint Cup Champion and driver of the No.18 Toyota, is 31 years old and is under contract to JGR through, at least ,2019.  The newest driver in the JGR stable is 37 year old Carl Edwards and the driver of the No.19 Toyota, who is under contract through the end of the 2017. The fourth driver is the 44 year old 2003 Winston Cup Champion driver of the No.20 Toyota, Matt Kenseth, who’s contract is up at the end of this season, as well.

Three of the present four JGR drivers’ contracts expire at the end of this season, Hamlin, Edwards, and Kenseth.  What decision will JGR come up with to solve the problem?  Will JGR let one of their present four drivers find another employer and put Erik Jones in one of that vacated cockpit?  Could JGR come up with yet another deal to loan Jones out to another race team, or extend the terms of the Jones loan to FRR?

There are so many possibilities that could arise from this JGR problem.  WOMR will be paying close attention to this interesting story as the season unfolds!