Carl Edwards has 'no regrets' in post-NASCAR life

Carl Edwards stunned NASCAR in January 2017 when he announced his retirement from racing. Years later, he has made it clear that he has no regrets about this decision.

"I feel like some sort of plan got laid out for me," Edwards said Thursday during a media session discussing his being voted into the Hall of Fame. "It's probably, definitely by God. I wouldn't change a thing. I mean, it's awesome.

"I  wouldn't go back. I wouldn't have one more point in that tie with Tony Stewart (in 2011). I wouldn't change anything in 2016. I mean, I feel just like completely blessed. Things are great. And so no, no regrets. Of course, I'd like some more trophies, but I wouldn't change anything."

The belief at the time of Edwards' retirement and in the ensuing years is that he left due to the ill-timed caution and restart wreck in the 2016 season finale that kept him from winning his first championship.

Questions remained about whether he had frustration toward NASCAR for throwing the caution for debris when he was in the lead at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I want to be very explicit -- I want to say that I did not leave the sport because of the way 2016 ended. Period," Edwards said.

Edwards expanded upon his statement, saying that he didn't do a good job explaining himself in January 2017 when he announced his retirement.

Edwards listed three main reasons why he walked away from the sport to which he had dedicated decades of his life.

"What's my role in life? I need to be a good father and a good husband," Edwards said. "I was not able to do that. Personally, I realized I wasn't doing a good enough job of that.

"Number two, I felt like I had accomplished all I needed to accomplish in the sport for me. And third, it's really a risky sport. And so I escaped without any lasting injuries or acute things."

Edwards didn't win a Cup championship, but he piled up 28 wins at the top level. He finished second in the Cup standings twice -- once in 2008 and again in 2011 due to a tiebreaker. Edwards won another 38 races and a championship in what is now the Xfinity Series.

Once Edwards retired, he remained away from the track. He didn't stand on pit road or watch a race from the pit box. He was simply absent from the sport until last season when NASCAR named him one of its 75 Greatest Drivers.

"I had to make a very clean break and that's just me," Edwards said. "I know that was taken by some people as disrespect for the sport. I'm certain it was, to some degree. I could have done it better. I wish that part I could do better.

"But the impetus for coming back was after a number of years, so many people reached out to me, they were so kind to me and to be honored with something like the NASCAR 75 driver program, those were such giant honors. I thought, 'I've got to go let people know how much I appreciate this.'"

Edwards has been around the sport more since his return at Darlington last season. That doesn't mean he is getting back in a race car. He's made it clear that while he has done some work in the simulator, he is not going to race again.

Edwards knows that he would have to pour his heart and soul into the pursuit of competing at a high level again, and this is something he can't do at this point in his life.

That doesn't mean Edwards is just sitting idly on the porch.

The soon-to-be Hall of Famer has found other ways to fill his time. He sailed to the bootheel of Italy and had to be the captain for the journey. He and his family have traveled to multiple countries.

Edwards has even found another way to keep his competitive spirit alive.

"I've been practicing jiu-jitsu a bunch, that's been a lot of fun," Edwards said. "Done a couple competitions. They terrify me... That's kind of really helped me to stay in tune with an outward challenge, a physical thing that's difficult with other people."