HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Carl Edwards describes it as the scene from Forrest Gump, where after running and running with no end in sight, Tom Hanks' character just stops running.
For Edwards, it’s a see you around, not a goodbye. And it’s not a run, it’s more of a leap.
“That’s one of the beauties about this decision. There’s no life raft I’m jumping into. I’m just jumping,” Edwards said.
The 37-year-old walked on the stage in front of a room packed with media members Wednesday and announced his was stepping away from full-time racing.
He had no written statement prepared and spoke openly about the three clear factors behind his decision.
First, he’s satisfied with his career. The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers has 25 Sprint Cup victories, 115 top fives, 202 top 10s and 16 poles. But he’s never won a championship. Edwards acknowledged the fact but said for him it’s never just been about the trophies.
“I know when I sit in that car, I’m the best driver I can be. So I’m satisfied with that,” Edwards said.
To win more than two dozen races takes time, and that’s the second reason he’s stepping away. From his family to other aspects of his life he’s passionate about, he’s looking forward to having something he doesn’t usually have a lot of: time.
Finally, the decision is for his health. He’s not sick, and he wasn’t injured this season, but that’s exactly why he thinks he’s ready. And although NASCAR has come a long way in the name of safety, Edwards said," like anyone in contact sports, I realize there can be long-term effects."
If you’re looking for a solid tangible reason a successful, storied athlete would step away now you won’t find it.
“The decision is all encompassing,” Edwards said.
He knows a lot of people won’t understand his decision and he’s doing his best to not put too much thought into it.
“The way people looked at me when I said I was stepping away was the same way they looked at my 20 years ago when I said I wanted to be a driver,” Edwards said.
Retirement isn’t a word he’s ready to use, and he won’t say he’ll never be back behind the wheel. Edwards said he’s certainly open to the possibility of driving part-time in the future, but right now he has no plans.
For him, that what makes this decision so appealing. Like any big life decision it doesn’t make it easy. It took Edwards a few seconds to gather his composure when he was asked about his career and how he wanted to be remembered.
“I just want to be a good person,” Edwards said quietly. “It’s important to me, to do the right thing.”
For Edwards, right now that looks a lot like a scene from a movie. Like Gump, he’s headed home — at least for now.