In his first comments since he was elected to the Hall of Fame last week, [Carl] Edwards said at the time of the 2016 finale he was struggling balancing his job with his life as a married father of two. Those who know him well said he was left bitter by a caution that cost him the title and it was the reason he walked away.

Eight years later, Edwards has accepted the outcome and how NASCAR officiated the race.

He insisted the outcome of that race did not lead to his retirement.

“As far as being an impetus for my stepping away, I‘ll go right back to what I said when I did, and I said it clearly, but maybe not clearly enough: I just needed time,” Edwards said. “I woke up and I realized, at the end of my career, I‘m not spending time doing anything other than racing.”

Asked by The Associated Press on Thursday if he felt wronged or cheated in 2016, Edwards carefully chose his words.

“I would just like to say that I officially respect the way NASCAR runs the sport in the way they need to run it. I don‘t want to say anything negative,” he said. But he then added, “I may have been unclear, and I want to be explicit, that I did not leave the sport because of the way 2016 ended. Period.”

Now 44 and living in his home state of Missouri, Edwards focuses on being a father and a husband to his physician wife. He said he has no plans to ever race a Cup car again.

“I respect too much what it takes to be great,” Edwards said. “I lived that life every day for 20 years and my idea of fun isn‘t doing something just to do it. I want to be great at something and it would be disrespectful to everyone that is striving to be great to go do it just for fun.”

Associated Press

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