Carl Edwards is one of the great, “What if?” stories in NASCAR history. The reason why he is such a great one is because he had a Hall of Fame caliber career prior to retiring abruptly. With him returning to the track at Nashville next weekend, here are the best moments of Edwards’ career.
5. 2016 Toyota Owners 400 (Edwards Bump and Runs Kyle Busch)
Carl Edwards had the dominant car for the first half of the spring Richmond race in 2016. However, it was teammate Kyle Busch who held the lead heading into the final lap. Edwards was close behind, and he had one last shot to get the win.
Heading into turn three, Edwards pulled off an expert bump-and-run, shoving Busch up the race track. Edwards went to the inside, and took home his 27th career victory. This may be the most perfect bump and run in NASCAR history.
4. 2008 Dickies 500 (Fuel Mileage Gamble Pays Off)
Even though Edwards’ came 69 points short of the championship in 2008, it was not for a lack of effort. Edwards’ won a career-high nine races in 2008, and the fall race at Texas may have been the most dramatic. Edwards led 212 laps on the night, but the race came down to fuel mileage.
Edwards pitted for the final time with 69 laps to go, and crew chief Bob Osborne elected to try to run all of those laps without pitting, 65 of them under green. Edwards took the lead from teammates Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray with 13 laps to go, and Edwards held a massive lead over second place Jeff Gordon, who was on the same strategy. Edwards puttered around the track at quarter to half throttle for the final few laps, and took home his eighth win of the season.
3. 2015 Coca-Cola 600 (1st Career Win with Joe Gibbs Racing)
In 2015, Edwards moved from his iconic 99 car to Joe Gibbs Racing in the brand new 19 car. The season started off tough with only one top-10 in the first 11 races. The Cup Series rolled into Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend for the Coca-Cola 600.
Edwards was not the dominant car of the day, but a savvy pit call under the race’s final caution gave Edwards the lead with 21 laps to go. He then had to save fuel to get himself to the finish, something he had done before. Of course, he was able to save the drops of fuel he needed, and took home his first career win with his new team.
2. 2008 Sharpie 500 (Carl Edwards vs Kyle Busch)
Before they were teammates, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards were rivals. In the 2008 Night Race at Bristol, Edwards started on the pole, but Busch took the lead, for a LONG while. From lap 55 onwards, no one could challenge Busch’s stronghold on the top spot.
After leading 415 consecutive laps, Busch fell into the clutches of Edwards on a late restart. Edwards pulled off a textbook bump and run to take the lead and the win, but Busch did not take too kindly to the move. Busch slammed into Edwards on the cool-down lap, but Edwards got the last laugh spinning Busch out immediately afterwards.
1. 2005 Golden Corral 500 (1st Career Cup Win)
After a solid 13 race stint in the Cup Series the previous fall, Edwards made the jump up from full-time Truck Series competition to full-time in the Cup and Xfinity Series. When NASCAR rolled into Atlanta in the Spring of 2005, Edwards started off the weekend with his first career Xfinity Series win, but the next day was the highlight of his career to that point.
Edwards was solid all day, but he lost the lead to Jimmie Johnson on the last restart of the day on lap 300. Edwards refused to give up, and ate up Johnson’s lead in the closing laps. On the final lap, Edwards closed up enough to get one last shot at victory.
Johnson left exactly one car-width on the outside through turns three and four, and Edwards took it. He slung himself around the outside to take the win by half a car length. For the first time in the Cup Series, Edwards did his signature backflip.
There really was no one quite like Carl Edwards. He is one of if not the best driver ever to not win a championship, and his backflips are the stuff of legends. Could he add to this list if he chooses to return to the driver’s seat?