NASCAR drivers go to work with Mickey
Disney’s new series “ Mickey and the Roadster Racers,” which features Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon as the voices of reoccurring characters, will premiere Sunday, January 15th.
Gibbs : 'I was totally surprised' by Edwards' decision
Joe Gibbs explains his reaction to the decision that Carl Edwards made to step away from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Tune in: Joe Gibbs Racing press conference on Wednesday
RELATED: Click here to bookmark the live-stream link Joe Gibbs Racing will hold two separate news conferences starting at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, from its headquarters in Huntersville, North Carolina. Both press conferences will be live-streamed on NASCAR.com. Check back tomorrow to watch the events and for full coverage.
JR Motorsports ramps up with 2017 expansion
RELATED: Driver Tracker " On the move: Changes in store for 2017 The encore for an organization that placed both of its full-time drivers into the Championship 4 field in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase last year has the chance to be even greater. JR Motorsports has that unique possibility, an opportunity granted by not sitting still. Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier return to the fold after prosperous debut years with the team, but that's where the offseason status quo ends. JRM plans a full-court press for the upcoming XFINITY season, expanding from two to four full-time drivers in an all-out push to bring home the championship it barely missed out on in 2017. "To have that opportunity to go up against three teammates, to see the growth in our shop, to see the growth in our teams, it's really, really fun to watch," Allgaier said. "I feel like if you came back here next year and said we'd have four cars from JR Motorsports in the final four, it wouldn't surprise me at all." A four-car sweep for the Homestead-Miami finale in November would mean stellar introductions by the two newest faces in the JRM stable: up-and-coming teenager William Byron, a NASCAR Next alum, and 30-year-old vet Michael Annett , back in XFINITY after a three-year stint in NASCAR's top division. The addition of Byron, a 19-year-old prospect in the Hendrick Motorsports system, actually counts as a reunion. The Liberty University student was a former driver for JRM's Late Model program on the weekly and touring level. His teammates have already seen what he can do in top-level equipment. Byron won seven times in his rookie NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, with only a crucial engine failure in 2016's penultimate race keeping him from the championship fight. It's the reason Sadler has touted him as "a star of the future" and why Allgaier echoed the thought, calling Byron "an absolute class act and an amazing talent." Kelley Earnhardt Miller -- who co-owns JRM with her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- spoke with tones of regret in describing how Byron got away in late 2015, snapped up by Kyle Busch Motorsports and seemingly earmarked for an upward career arc in the Toyota pipeline. That changed last August when team owner Rick Hendrick brought him back into the Chevrolet camp, cognizant of the creeping advancement in age of his Monster Energy Cup Series roster. "For that to all come back full circle, we're real excited about it," Earnhardt Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last month. "He's just a great kid and a good family, and his story is just so cool -- doing the computer racing [on iRacing] and then telling his dad he wants to race and then not racing until he was 15. It's just a good story. But Mr. Hendrick deserves the credit there, trying to look at his next moves because he's going to have some drivers that are on the retirement horizon in the next several years, so smart move for him to make all that happen." Said Byron: "I just remember their ultimate goal for me when I started racing Late Models was so I could race an XFINITY car there. In a weird way, I got back to that and it's going to be really cool to return next year." To accommodate the escalated XFINITY Series growth, which Earnhardt Miller said has maxed out the team's resources, JR Motorsports has closed its truck series operation. Cole Custer , who drove the JRM No. 00 truck the last two seasons, has since moved on to Stewart-Haas Racing 's XFINITY program. As in past years, JR Motorsports plans to run an extra XFINITY entry in select races with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers Earnhardt and Kasey Kahne behind the wheel for two races each. But at the heart of its growth are the core four XFINITY regulars, a direction chosen in light of new driver participation guidelines that go into effect in 2017. The continuity will keep JRM from scrambling to shuffle its roster once the Chase playoff begins and the limits on Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers moonlighting in the XFINITY ranks become more stringent. But the organization will still need to make inroads against stout competition, especially Joe Gibbs Racing , which won 19 of the 33 XFINITY races last season and took the other two spots in the four-driver championship round. Reminded of the heady assignment a day after last season's finale, Allgaier was unwavering. "Even with the Gibbs guys," Allgaier said. "I don't know, I just feel like with the packages that we've seen of what's a possibility for the XFINITY Series next year, the work that we're doing at the shop and the cars and just all the things that we've been working on, I really think next year's an opportunity for us at JR Motorsports."
Edwards' decision caught Kenseth by surprise
RELATED: Full timeline of Edwards announcement Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth said he was "as surprised as anyone" when he learned that teammate Carl Edwards was stepping away from auto racing. Kenseth addressed the changing guard at Joe Gibbs Racing on Wednesday following a Goodyear tire test at Las Vegas. "I didn't find out until late Sunday night, and I was probably as shocked as anybody else was," Kenseth said. "I guess the more I think about, probably the less surprised I am knowing some of the conversations we've had in the past. He's a great teammate, and a great competitor. "You hate to see him go, but on the other hand, it's what he wants to do so I applaud him for doing it." RELATED: Three reasons for Edwards' decision Edwards revealed in Wednesday's press conference that Kenseth was his first competitor that he talked to about his decision. The pair have a deep history. The two were teammates at Roush Fenway Racing from 2004-2012, then again at Joe Gibbs Racing from 2015-2016. Kenseth also added that he thought Daniel Suarez would do a fine job filling the seat, but that the two hadn't spoken yet. The veteran will turn 45 in March, and he's coming off a two-win season and a near-trip to the Championship 4. As for his future? He's not planning on leaving any time soon. "I feel great," Kenseth said. "I enjoy what I'm doing, I love the race team I drive for and all the people there. I'm looking forward to the start of the season." Denny Hamlin , a fellow JGR teammate, has tweeted out the following as well: Thank you #carledwards for what you did for our team over the last 2 years, and welcome @Daniel_SuarezG to @JoeGibbsRacing cup team. — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) January 12, 2017 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Edwards' class post-Miami wreck lets him leave sport a winner
RELATED: Edwards steps away from racing " NASCAR Nation reacts WATCH: Entire stream from Edwards, Suarez news "If you're looking for a driver you're looking for me." That's what was written on young Carl Edwards ' business cards nearly 20 years ago, cards he used to hand out at the race track while trying to transition from his day job as a substitute teacher in Columbia, Missouri, to a racer. But even as he stood on the stage in front of the press corps at Joe Gibbs Racing Wednesday to announcing his departure from full-time racing after 12 seasons in NASCAR's premier series, his humble, Midwestern roots were apparent. They'd never left. They were there even at Homestead-Miami Speedway , when a crash with Joey Logano in the final 10 laps took Edwards from Victory Lane to the garage, his dreams of winning the 2016 title were crushed as his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Instead of reacting with anger, Edwards went to the No. 22 pit box, shook crew chief Todd Gordon's hand and wished the team the best of luck the rest of the race. RELATED: Relive the wreck " Edwards shows class post-accident at Miam i That act spoke volumes about Edwards' character, both as a person and a race car driver. "In pro sports, you're going to get the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat," JGR owner Joe Gibbs said. "And I think for all of us, everybody's going to handle a victory pretty good … but that adversity, when you hit that … I think you guys have all seen (Edwards) go through some tough stuff and really handle himself extremely well." No one knew it, but that race, that night, would serve as the closing act in Edwards' full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career finale. With the exception of winning the title, Edwards' night in South Florida couldn't have served as a better curtain call for the 37-year-old driver. MORE: Timeline of JGR change s "Let me tell you about Homestead, though. With 30 laps to go, 40 laps to go, 30 laps to go, 20 laps to go, that's what I live for," Edwards said. "…That is racing to me. I mean, (crew chief) Dave (Rogers) and I had worked all year to be in that moment, to pass ‑‑ that battle with Jimmie (Johnson), and then to be able to pass Joey and Kyle (Busch) for the ultimate prize, driving just as hard as I could, and to be in that position and to know that day we were getting it done. "...That part of Homestead, for me personally, I won." And really, he's won again in a way as he steps away from premier series racing. Edwards is walking away from a career that he can be proud of, a stint across parts of 13 years in NASCAR's premier series that boasts 28 victories, 22 poles and two runner-up finishes in the championship standings to Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart in 2008 and 2011, respectively. MORE: Look back at his win s " Edwards gives three reasons for leaving And he did it right: He did it with class, humility and the Midwestern demeanor that has followed him from Colombia, Missouri, to North Carolina and to race tracks across the country. "It's very flattering," Edwards said of the public's positive, always-do-the-right-thing perception of him. "Yeah, I just …" He stopped, turned away from the audience, visibly wiping away tears. When he spoke again, his voice quivered a bit. "I just want to be a good person, you know. Sorry, guys. Damn camera shutters are killing me there. It's the lighting, it's awful," he joked, trying to make light of his emotion. It’s great to go out with a championship. But sometimes, it's not always about the trips to Victory Lane. It usually wasn't for Cousin Carl, even when he was handing out business cards in the beginning. "You guys know that I don't race just for the trophies," Edwards said. "This has always been a really ‑‑ this has been a neat journey for me and it's always been something that I've been rewarded by the challenges … So you go from that to working up the courage to ask people to drive a car to being put in situations where you know if you drive well and you win, you get sponsorship and everything works. "Going through that whole process and becoming a better person, a stronger person, a better competitor, a better teammate, a better friend to people, that's a big deal to me, and I feel accomplished. "And I know when I sit in that race car that I am the best race car driver I can be. So whether or not I have a championship, I'm really satisfied with that." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Carl Edwards steps away from racing; Daniel Suarez to wheel No. 19
RELATED: NASCAR Nation reacts to Edwards' news " Quotes from day HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Carl Edwards gave three very detailed reasons why he is stepping away from NASCAR competition, only to circle back to the subject later and put it a bit more succinctly. "Life is short," Edwards told a room full of media, sponsor representatives and other assorted team and NASCAR officials Wednesday. "You've got to do what your gut tells you." And Edwards said his gut told him it was time to move on to something else. Edwards, 37, officially announced that he will not compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017, calling a halt to a career that included 28 victories at NASCAR's top level, 10 Chase appearances and two second-place finishes in the series' championship points battle. The 2017 season was to be his third in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, his team since joining JGR in 2015 after an 11-year career at Roush Fenway Racing . Instead, it will be 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Suarez who will be at the helm of the team's No. 19 entry. Suarez, the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national championship and a product of the sanctioning body's Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the season-opening Daytona 500 , scheduled for Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Recap Suarez's title year " Suarez returns home to Mexico a champion Edwards, wearing a dark suit and gray dress shirt as he walked on stage at the organization's headquarters here in Huntersville, didn't entirely rule out a return to racing in some form or fashion, explaining that "If I'm going to get back in a race car, which I'm not saying the R (retirement) word here … I'm calling Coach (Joe) Gibbs first. "There is no better race team. There is no faster car than a Toyota Camry. There's no better engine. There's no better crew chief than Dave Rogers. There's no better crew." Why step away when he is seemingly still at the top of his game? He finished fourth in the 2016 points standings and was in the title picture right up until a crash with 12 laps remaining took him out of contention in the series’ final race. WATCH: Edwards takes blame for Miami wreck " Edwards' 2016 in review
Suarez's ascent latest success for NASCAR's development programs
RELATED: Full coverage of JGR changes " What Suarez, Edwards said HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Less than two months after becoming the first foreign-born driver to win a NASCAR national title, Daniel Suarez can add another accomplishment to his fast-growing resume. The 25-year-old will become the first Mexican-born competitor to race full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , the sanctioning body's top level, when he gets on track next month at Daytona International Speedway for Joe Gibbs Racing . Suarez was officially introduced Jan. 11 as the driver of the organization's No. 19 Toyota for the 2017 season. He replaces veteran Carl Edwards , who is stepping down from full-time competition to pursue other interests. The Monterrey, Mexico native is a product of two of NASCAR's base programs aimed at finding and cultivating talent while providing opportunities for advancement. While competing in the NASCAR Mexico Series (2011-2014), Suarez was tabbed for NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program in 2013-14, which spotlights minority as well as female competitors. He was also a member of the NASCAR Next Class -- aimed at preparing youngsters for potential careers in NASCAR -- from '11-13. RELATED: More about NASCAR Next " Drive for Diversity "We started this dream 10 years ago with NASCAR, and right now to be in this position, to be in this opportunity is just something amazing for me and for everyone that has been helping me, of course," Suarez said. Suarez was a 10-time winner in the NASCAR Mexico Series, and won three times in the K&N Pro Series East as he began to make the transition from Mexico to the U.S., making his national series debut in 2014. By 2015, JGR signed him to full-time status in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and he was running a partial slate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series . He responded by winning three times in 2016 and capturing the XFINITY title. "We're very proud that it validates our diversity plan in a significant way," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said the morning after Suarez captured the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "All kinds of conversations on what we’ve said through the years is these things take time to find the kind of talent that can actually compete at a high level on the biggest stages, and he's done that." Suarez joins a growing list of drivers that have come up through the NASCAR Next and/or Drive for Diversity programs to reach its top level. Among them: Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) became the first D4D and NASCAR Next graduate to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this past season. NASCAR Next grad Chase Elliott ( Hendrick Motorsports ) qualified for the series’ Chase in 2016 and captured Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. This season, former JGR teammate and NASCAR Next grad Erik Jones will race fulltime in the Monster Energy Cup Series for Furniture Row Racing . RELATED: Driver moves, other changes for 2017 On the Drive For Diversity front, crew chief Dave Rogers understands what a victory by Suarez at the top level would mean. "We're going to go to every race, we're not going to have expectations to win, but we're going to go to the track knowing that we can if we do everything right and the right situations come up, we can put ourselves in Victory Lane," Suarez’s crew chief said. "The neat thing about this is history. Very seldom in life do you get to sit down and say 'Hey, I'm part of history right now' … This is a living, historic event. This is a really big deal. So every opportunity is an opportunity for history." Suarez became the eighth foreign-born race winner in NASCAR’s national series with his victory this past June at Michigan international Speedway. RELATED: Relive Suarez's first win " Recap the history-making title season He will have a veteran crew and a talented group of teammates, Kyle Busch , Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin , at his disposal. All that remains for him is to slide behind the wheel and fire the engine. "When you are with the right team, you know that the opportunity will come, and it will come at the right time," Suarez said. That time, it seems, is now. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Carl Edwards leaves JGR: What they're writing
WATCH: 'Not saying the R-word' " Reasons behind decision The media center can be a tough place for drivers -- or a place to celebrate. Reliving the key moments of a thrilling victory. Hard questions on hard days. Carl Edwards ' decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing and step aside from competing full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series brought a little of both at Wednesday's press conference at the team's shop. And it was his own quote, published by NBC Sports' Nate Ryan on Tuesday, that made Edwards choke up and tearfully whisper, "I just want to be a good person." The quote from Ryan's story was: "For me, the Midwestern mentality is pretty simple. It's just do your job, do your work, be kind to people. Your reputation will follow. I'm really proud to be from Missouri." It's an accurate self-description, per the lauds from NASCAR writers and broadcasters heaped upon Edwards upon his exit. Here are some of the sentiments shared in print and online. Tom Jensen of FOX Sports initially broke the story of Edwards' imminent departure and wrote, "Whatever his next move, Edwards certainly has established an impressive body of work in NASCAR. He owes no one in the racing community anything, and his choice to step away -- whether temporarily or permanently -- that's his right. And he's exercised it. Good luck in the future, Carl. We'll miss you." " Read more Ryan added: "You always know what you will get in an interview with Carl Edwards -- a professional take on whatever the question is, and answered with the measured intelligence and perspective of a man who once taught high school on the side." " Read more Bob Pockrass, ESPN: "(Edwards) likes his business to be handled neatly, and he believes any friction should be handled privately, leading to criticism that he wasn't as genuine as other drivers. But that also has given him the persona as the ultimate professional publicly, and that is what has attracted fans and has allowed him to be a favorite of talk show hosts looking for a driver who can relate to fans and nonfans alike." " Read more Jordan Bianchi, SB Nation: "As private as Edwards is, he is also among the more personable drivers in the garage. Any interview with him began with him removing his sunglasses so he could look the interviewee and camera straight in the eye. The gesture became such a trademark, sometimes other drivers would good-naturedly mock it." " Read more The finish at Homestead repeatedly came up in conversations this week. One of the most illustrative moments in Carl Edwards ' racing history was the way he left what may be his last race. After a heartbreaking wreck involving the No. 22 Team Penske car with 10 laps to go that cost him the 2016 NASCAR Chase championship, Edwards shook hands with Joey Logano 's crew chief Todd Gordon and team members, rallied his own family and reached out to fans. Jeff Gluck of USA Today told the tale on Nov. 20: "On his way out of the garage, Edwards spotted one of his longtime fans. Rhianne Mitchell was standing silently nearby, with tears in her eyes. Edwards stopped in his tracks, turned around and returned to give her a hug. He pumped his fist at his loyal supporter, as if to try and pick up her spirits. "This kind of exceptional conduct in the face of deep disappointment was something everyone in all walks of life should cherish. And NASCAR fans should certainly be proud Edwards is one of their own." " Read more Lee Spencer of Motorsport.com reached farther back in her own memories to share a story that paints a picture of who Edwards was when he entered the sport, and who he remained. It occurred after Edwards' victory in the 2004 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway . "But it was after that Daytona win that Edwards would forever endear himself to this writer. After a typical, hectic Speedweeks, I was battling the flu and was forced to leave the track and follow the race on TV. Edwards was kind enough to call me from Victory Lane to offer fresh quotes for my story. Edwards' graciousness was not lost on me." " Read more &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR Nation reacts to Carl Edwards' surprise move
Carl Edwards shocked the NASCAR world on Wednesday, announcing he'd be stepping away from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition, effective immediately. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver came up just short of a title at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, so it was a surprise to see the 37-year-old walk away in his prime. NASCAR Nation was equally shocked, but wished Edwards well in his future endeavors. Their reaction: Really happy for Carl Edwards . One of the fastest guys you'll ever race. Great to see him doing what he wants after an incredible career. — Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) January 11, 2017 Carl has always been one of the most fair and hard racing drivers. I've learned as much from his character on the track as off. #NASCAR — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) January 11, 2017 Shocked to hear the news on Carl Edwards retirement. Class act and he was always entertaining with his back flips after wins — William Byron (@WilliamByron) January 10, 2017 Wow, blown away by the news of #carledwards retiring from racing and @Daniel_SuarezG to replace him. Congrats to Carl for an amazing career — Blake Koch (@BlakeKochRacing) January 10, 2017 His career and success speaks for itself. I always just admired how bad he wanted it. Congrats on a great career, Carl. — Josh Wise (@Josh_Wise) January 10, 2017 Interesting about Edwards. I can see him being lured back into the right situation. Although drivers retiring "early" doesn't surprise me. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) January 10, 2017 pic.twitter.com/3WIsYweHwr — DeLana Harvick (@DeLanaHarvick) January 10, 2017 Blown away that this is happening... For sure. Jump on in if you'd like, the beer is cold. ☺️ #miller2crew https://t.co/ATNKORcNOn — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) January 10, 2017 Really bummed to see Carl go..always had the best attitude in the garage of anyone I've ever seen. Gonna miss those backflips! — Sergio Peña (@SergPena) January 10, 2017 Sorry to see you leave, Carl! You will be missed. #NASCAR #ToyotaNation https://t.co/BNHjmnLZw0 — Furniture Row Racing (@FR78Racing) January 10, 2017 . @eddiegossage comments on FOXSports report that #CarlEdwards is leaving @JoeGibbsRacing to pursue other interests & won't compete in 2017. pic.twitter.com/sMT9M9BCUz — Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) January 10, 2017 Crazy news with Carl Edwards . Nobody saw this coming. Knowing Edwards, willing to bet he just wants to spend more time at home. Good for him — Marty Snider (@heymartysnider) January 10, 2017 We'll miss you, Carl! And the flips. https://t.co/8uRRWxeeng — MISpeedway (@MISpeedway) January 10, 2017 Are you flipping out about the news that #CarlEdwards is retiring? #NASCAR https://t.co/GUBxFdxsWu pic.twitter.com/jwDc4FJc8M — Auto Club Speedway (@ACSupdates) January 10, 2017 If sources are correct, it’s a sad day in #NASCAR . https://t.co/Nd9pdsPaWC — NH Motor Speedway (@NHMS) January 10, 2017 Carl is a true class act and a great competitor. As a fan he will be missed but as a friend I'm excited to see what's next. #CarlEdwards — Ben Kennedy (@BenKennedy33) January 11, 2017 Just watched Carl Edwards press conference. He is such a great guy and I can truly relate with how he got started in #nascar by persistence — Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) January 11, 2017