A Long List Spurred Edwards To Fix His Priorities

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, January 14 2017

For Carl Edwards, family outranks his racing career.(RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

A NASCAR driver at the height of his career, driving for one of the premier series’ top teams, walked out his house’s back door and headed for a meeting. Sitting on the steps was one of his daughters.

When he asked why she wasn’t riding her bicycle she replied that it was broken. He said if she had told him he would have fixed it. She told him she did ask him to fix it several weeks ago. With that, he turned around, walked back into the house, canceled his meeting and fixed his daughter’s bicycle. It was that moment that led to his decision to step away from full-time racing.

Sound like it might have been Carl Edwards? Well, it wasn’t. It was NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough, but I’m sure Edwards can relate. For Yarborough, the year was 1980 and he possessed the most coveted ride in the sport, driving for Junior Johnson, another NASCAR Hall of Fame member. Just two years earlier he had become the first NASCAR competitor to win three consecutive championships in the premier series. There were only 31 races that season and corporate America had just begun its invasion of the sport. Yet, Yarborough’s decision was just as shocking as Edwards’ announcement on Wednesday.

It was evident when Edwards listed his three reasons for stepping away that his family was at the forefront; a family that involves two children who are at ages when they would like to have their father attend their functions.

“I need to take … time right now and devote it to people and things that are important to me; things I’m really passionate about,” said Edwards, who has raced for 20 years. “I can stand here healthy. … 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.”

That leads one to believe that the concussion ordeal Dale Earnhardt Jr. experienced last year also played a role in Edwards’ decision. He also has witnessed first-hand the medical issues Joe Gibbs Racing co-chairman J.D. Gibbs faces on a daily basis, apparently the result of concussions he suffered when he played college football. For Edwards, the risks now out-weigh the rewards. And when a race car driver gets to that point, it is time to step out of the car.

A private person, Edwards not only stunned the motorsports world with his decision a month before the season opening Daytona 500, but the emotion he showed during his press conference also was a surprise. When Edwards teared up and had to turn away from the microphone to regain his composure it was evident his decision wasn’t an easy one. It was, however, one he felt he had to make. And altering one’s priorities takes more courage than continuing down the professional path that has become ingrained in one’s life.

Hopefully, however, Edwards will return to NASCAR soon because the sport needs him. He’s classy, well-spoken, honest, a hard worker and possesses an inspirational success story for America’s youth. During his press conference, Edwards said he always listened to his gut. Hopefully, that gut will one day lead Edwards back to racing, but for right now, it’s not where he needs to be. And that’s a decision that must be respected.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, January 14 2017
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Tom Wilkinson says:

    Maybe teaching, if I remember correctly he done some substitute teaching before he came to NASCAR. I don’t know, just a thought.