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, FOXSports.com 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.
The news of Edwards stepping away is a huge surprise for most fans, but in some ways it isn’t.
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.