The Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup season began in earnest last week with the running of the Clash. The race was a non-points race, a preseason type event for last year’s pole winners and previous Clash winners and racing was no different than previous years.
The Joe Gibbs Toyotas raced 1, 2, 3, for just about the whole race while the rest of the field bided its time until challenging for the win. Last-lap maneuvering shuffled the pack with Joey Logano taking the win. It will be interesting to see if stage racing will change the drivers’ thinking on how to run the race. Although the Gibbs cars draft well together, Hendrick Motorsports teams showed they have the fastest cars while running solo on the track as Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. start on the front row for the 500.
A number of driver changes have been announced, none bigger than the retirement of Carl Edwards. This announcement caught everyone by surprise since Edwards is in the prime of his career and has come close to winning NASCAR’s Cup series championship. 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.
Social media has been all over the place in trying to figure out why Edwards has stepped down from full-time driving in NASCAR. Running for Congress was an interesting one, but Edwards put an end to that rumor quickly. Edwards has given three reasons for leaving.
1. Satisfaction with what he has accomplished in his 20-year career.
2. For 20 years, all Edwards did was think about racing 24 hours a day. He now wants to devote that time to thinking about people and other things he is passionate about.
3. His health. Edwards says he is healthy after 20 years of racing and he wants to leave that way. In his press conference, Edwards stated, “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.”
Edwards did say this is not a retirement, and, if he wanted to get back in a racecar, he would call Joe Gibbs first.
Joe Gibbs has filled Edward’s seat with 2016 EXFINITY Series Champion Daniel Suarez. This should make the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series Rookie of the Year race a lot more interesting. Ty Dillon and Eric Jones have already committed to the ROY competition.
This has been a great time for racing fans to be in Daytona as all types of racing has occurred. The Rolex 24-hour race, the Clash, ARCA, NASCAR Trucks, the XFINITY series, and the Cup Series Duels have all taken place in a short three weeks. All that is left is Sunday’s Daytona 500.