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Carl Edwards Heads Into Texas HOF

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, October 4 2018

Carl Edwards was a big hit and big favorite at Texas Motor Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

FORT WORTH, Texas – Carl Edwards shocked NASCAR Nation when he unexpectedly announced his retirement from big-time stock car racing in January 2017. But the man who punctuated each victory with his signature back flip off the door of his race car will return next month to Texas Motor Speedway, site of the final victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

A perennial fan favorite, “Cousin Carl” will visit the world-renowned facility on Saturday, Nov. 3, during the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader playoff weekend for induction into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.

A six-time NASCAR winner on TMS’ 1.5-mile oval, Edwards will become the 20th member of the TMHOF during ceremonies conducted in The Grand Ballroom of The Speedway Club beginning at 11 a.m. (CST). Other honorees include NASCAR team-owner Joe Gibbs, Cup Series star Kevin Harvick and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Christopher Bell.

Edwards wasted little time finding his way to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway, winning the Dickies 500 in just his second career Cup start on Nov. 6, 2005. Three years later, he became the first driver to sweep both Cup races in the same weekend at TMS, taking April’s Samsung 500 and November’s Dickies 500. And on Nov. 6, 2016 _ exactly 11 years after his first victory at TMS _ Edwards scored what turned out to be the final win of his Cup career in the rain-shortened AAA Texas 500.

Edwards also was a two-time winner at TMS in the Xfinity Series, claiming the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge in November 2010 and the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 in April 2011.

Edwards, who rose to prominence driving Fords for Jack Roush at Roush Fenway Racing, exited the sport and the No. 19 Toyota Camry fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards announced his retirement from NASCAR on Jan. 9, 2017 in order to pursue “other opportunities.” During his retirement news conference two days later, Edwards said, “I don’t have a life raft I’m jumping onto; I’m just jumping. And in a way, that makes it easier. This is a pure, simple, personal decision.” Prior to becoming a fulltime driver, Edwards worked as a substitute teacher.

A 39-year-old native of Columbia, Mo., Edwards made 24 Cup starts at TMS from 2005 to 2016 and led 691 total laps. Edwards made 14 Xfinity starts from 2005 to 2011 and led 396 laps. In the Truck Series, he started five races between 2002 and 2004 without a win but with 56 laps-led.

Ironically, Edwards will share the dais with Coach Gibbs, who will receive the Bruton Smith Legend Award for his leadership as a championship-winning team-owner. With more than 300 combined wins in the Cup and Xfinity series, Gibbs has solidified himself as one of the most successful owners in NASCAR history.

Gibbs also is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having won three Super Bowls as head coach of the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Joe Gibbs Racing has won four Cup Series championships, five championships in the Xfinity Series and has been extremely successful at Texas Motor Speedway, earning seven total wins with four different drivers, including victories in three of the last five races.

Gibbs also is author of the New York Times best-selling book “Game Plan For Life,” which is the name of his corresponding ministry (www.gameplanforlife.com).

Harvick will be honored with the 2017 Racer of the Year Award after a pair of strong finishes in April and a drought-ending victory in the fall Cup race. One day after placing third in the My Bariatrics 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race, Harvick led 77 laps and finished fourth in the spring O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Cup race in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion.

Last November, Harvick returned to Fort Worth on a postseason mission. With only a road-course win on his 2017 resume through 33 races, Harvick punched his ticket into the Championship 4 when he overtook Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing with 10 laps to go and pulled away for the first Cup Series victory of his career in 30 starts at “The Great American Speedway.”

Bell could be on his way to a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2018. But it was the compassion he showed en route to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in 2017 that earned the native of Oklahoma City, Okla., the TMS Sportsmanship Award.

Bell termed it “a dream come true” when he finally won at TMS, his adopted home track, in June 2017. But when Bell rolled into Victory Lane his initial thoughts were not about raising the trophy but the status of Timothy Peters, Austin Wayne Self and Johnny Sauter after that trio was involved in a violent white-flag wreck that forced the race to finish under caution.

First off, I want to make sure everyone is OK,” Bell said. “It’s kind of a sorrow(ful) victory. That was a pretty bad flip and I’ve taken my fair share of flips and it hurts a lot worse whenever it’s in the grass like that one was, so I hope he’s (Peters) OK. That’s the most important part.

The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame ceremony, traditionally held during Texas Motor Speedway’s spring NASCAR weekend, will revert to that time frame in 2019.

The November NASCAR Playoffs weekend features the Camping World Truck Series JAG Metals 350 on Friday, Nov. 2; Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Saturday, Nov. 3 and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 4.

The Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame ceremony serves as a major fundraiser for Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter. Tickets are priced at $75 and include a gourmet Texas barbecue.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Luncheon, please call Speedway Children’s Charities at (817) 215-8421 or visit www.scctexas.org. For more race information or to purchase tickets to the AAA Texas 500 weekend, visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com or call the TMS ticket office at (817) 215-8500.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, October 4 2018
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