Friday, February 17, 2017

TV Schedule: Feb. 17-19



By Rebecca Kivak

With a new NASCAR season comes change, and this year has plenty of it.

The top series has a new sponsor and a new name: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The races will be divided into three segments.

And the season's first exhibition race has a new name: the Advance Auto Parts Clash. It's part of Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway that leads up to the Great American Race itself - the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26. The first part of qualifying for NASCAR's Super Bowl gets under way Sunday.

The following is a handy guide to this weekend's track activity and TV coverage at Daytona. All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

Friday, Feb. 17:
5 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, FS1
6:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice, FS1

Saturday, Feb. 18:
1 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice (re-air), FS1
2 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice (re-air), FS1
12:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, FS1
2:30 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series practice, FS1
3:30 p.m. NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, FS1
5 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series final practice (re-air), FS1
6 p.m. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
8 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Advance Auto Parts Clash, FS1 - POSTPONED

Sunday, Feb. 19:
11 a.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Advance Auto Parts Clash, FS1
3 p.m. Monster Energy Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Fast Facts: Daytona 500 qualifying

credit: NASCAR Media
It’s known as the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing,” so why should qualifying for the Daytona 500 being anything less than epic – or confusing? Here's what it takes to qualify for the season-opening race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
  • Drivers qualify for the 500 over two days: Daytona 500 Qualifying Day, held the Sunday before the race (Feb. 19 in 2017), sets the front row for the 500 and starting positions for the Can-Am Duel; and the Can-Am Duel at Daytona, held the Thursday before the race (Feb. 23 in 2017) and consisting of two 60-lap, 150-mile qualifying races.
  • In 2017, Daytona 500 qualifying returns to a single-car qualifying format with three qualifying sessions. The top 24 cars on time move on from session one, the top 12 cars on time move on to the final session after session two, then those 12 cars will race for the front row in the final session. From these qualifying sessions, only the front row (positions Nos. 1 and 2) are locked in for the Daytona 500. The remainder of the qualifying session speeds/times will be used to fill the fields for the Can-Am Duel at Daytona.
  • Drivers earning odd-number positions through qualifying will be assigned to the first Duel race, while those earning even-number qualifying positions will be assigned to the second Duel race.
  • Due to the charter system instituted in 2016, the 36 chartered Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams are guaranteed starting positions in the Daytona 500 and all other races during the season. This limits the number of “open” teams able to qualify for a race to four.
  • The top 15 drivers in each Duel, excluding the drivers already locked in on the front row, will fill spots Nos. 3-32 in the Daytona 500 grid, with drivers from race No. 1 in odd-numbered starting positions and drivers from race No. 2 in even-numbered starting positions. Position Nos. 33-36 go to the four fastest cars that did not qualify through the Duel races. Position Nos. 37-39 go to the top three drivers who did not qualify on speed, based on the previous season’s owner’s points, while position No. 40 goes to either the most recent Cup Series champion not qualified on speed, or the fourth driver in owner’s points from the previous season who did not make it in the field on time. As mentioned previously, chartered teams receive precedence in qualifying.
  • Beginning with the 2017 season, the Can-Am Duel at Daytona races are now considered “segments” in the Daytona 500, with points being awarded to the top 10 finishers in each race (10 for the first-place finisher, down to one for the 10th-place finisher).
  • Learn more about Daytona 500 qualifying and Speedweeks at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.  


Monday, February 13, 2017

Travel Tips: Speedweeks at Daytona – Feb. 17-19, 2017

credit: NASCAR Media
The “off-season” is over. It’s time to head back to the track and kick off the 2017 NASCAR season at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL. Speedweeks at Daytona begins Friday, Feb. 17 and culminates with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26. During the seven days of on-track action, fans will see the season openers for the newly-named Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series, along with the ARCA Racing Series. Fans can also see the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona and Daytona 500 qualifying during the opening weekend.

Fans heading to Daytona for Speedweeks will want to check out the UNOH Fanzone for off-track activities, including garage tours, driver and team appearances, live music and the kids’ area. Find out more about the UNOH Fanzone here.

Fans can also enjoy the grand opening of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on Friday, Feb. 17. The Hall is located in the Daytona Ticket and Tours building – find out more about it here.

credit: NASCAR Media

Key on-track times for the first weekend of Speedweeks:

Friday, Feb. 17 –
  • ARCA practice – 9:30 a.m. ET
  • ARCA qualifying – 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona practice – 5-5:55 p.m. and 6:30-7:25 p.m. ET
Saturday, Feb. 18 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice – 10:30 a.m.-12:25 p.m.  and 1:30-3:25 p.m. ET
  • ARCA Racing Series presented by Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire – 4:15 p.m. ET
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona – 8 p.m. ET
Sunday, Feb. 19 –
  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 qualifying presented by Kroger – for the front row of the Daytona 500 and for starting positions in the Can-Am Duel – 3:10 p.m. ET
While there are no on-track activities for the NASCAR teams Monday through Wednesday, Feb. 20-22, the Richard Petty Ride-Along Program will run each day from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET. Find out more here. A number of Daytona Tours are available 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET on Monday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Wednesday. Learn more here.

Purchase tickets for Speedweeks at Daytona and find information and a complete schedule at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/

Monday, February 6, 2017

Travel Tips: The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

"Texas Terry" Labonte will be inducted into the
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in June 2017
credit: Skirts & Scuffs/Debbie Ross
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America was headquartered in Novi, MI, from 1989 – the year of its first class induction – to 2015, after which it was relocated to the Daytona Beach, FL; on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, the new venue will hold its official grand opening. Learn more about past inductees and the Hall’s new digs – just in time for Daytona Speedweeks – in this week’s Travel Tips.
  • The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America celebrates all forms of speed – stock car racing, drag racing, open wheel racing, motorcycle racing, power boats, sports car racing and aviation. The Hall’s first induction class in 1989 included such racing royalty as drag racer “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, “Super Tex” A.J. Foyt and “The King” Richard Petty. Past classes have included NASCAR personalities Junior Johnson (1991), Bobby Allison (1992), David Pearson (1993), Ned Jarrett (1997), the Wood Brothers (2000), Dale Earnhardt (2002) and Benny Parsons (2005).
  • The 2017 class, announced at the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 26, includes open-wheel ace Steve Kinser, two-time Cup Series champ Terry Labonte, sports-car racer Scott Pruett and NASCAR’s first two-time champ, Herb Thomas. The induction ceremony will be held on June 28.
  • The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America’s new venue is located at Daytona International Speedway. While the official grand opening is scheduled for Feb. 17, the Hall has been open to DIS tour visitors since July 2016.
  • Learn more about the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America at its website, www.mshf.com.
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Monday, January 30, 2017

Travel Tips: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

credit: NASCAR Media
If you’re making plans to visit “Indy” in July, put a side trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum on your list of things to do. There, you can explore more than 100 years’ worth of motorsports and automobile history all in one place.
 
  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is located on the grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 4790 W. 16th St. in Speedway, IN. The Museum was established in 1956 by Tony Hulman Jr. and Karl Kizer, the Museum’s first director, as a place to display memorabilia and race cars. Its current location was built in 1975, and measures approximately 36,000 square feet. In addition to the Museum, it is home to two gift shops, the track’s retail photography store and other offices.
  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum houses race cars from many series including IndyCar, NASCAR and Formula One, plus sprint car racing, midget racing, motorcycle racing and drag racing. There are also some passenger vehicles in the Museum. It is also home to the Auto Racing Hall of Fame, which was organized in 1952 and revived by Hulman in 1962.
  • The Museum offers a number of tours to the public, including the “the Qualifying Lap” – one narrated lap around the oval in an IMS bus – and the “VIP Grounds Tour” – a 90-minute guided tour of the grounds, the racing surface and the infield area. Find out more about these tours in the “Plan Your Visit” section of the website.
  • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is open daily except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET from March through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET from November through February. Admission at this time is $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-15 and free for kids 5 and under. Learn more about the Museum at http://www.indyracingmuseum.org/.
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Monday, January 23, 2017

NASCAR Unveils New Points System Geared Toward Enhancing On-Track Product


Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski take part in a press conference outlining enhanced points system.
Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
by Katy Lindamood 

Just when you think you understand the NASCAR points system and The Chase format, NASCAR turns everything on its top. In front of a packed house, NASCAR unveiled its new enhanced points system Monday evening. To say it's confusing might be the understatement of the year, so let's break it down.

Races will now consist of three stages

Each of the first two segments will consist of a set number of laps. The final segment length will be variable based on the overall race length. No news yet on how many laps segments one and two will be. 

Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice
President and Chief Racing Development Officer
Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
According to Steve O'Donnell, "Pit road will be closed approximately five laps prior to the stage ending ... The cars will remain on the track under yellow flag conditions. We'll open pit road, and pit stops will be covered live. After the cars have cycled through their pit stops, the stage winner and crew chief will be interviewed, either in car, over the PA or TV, and then we'll start Stage 2 exactly the way the cars came off pit road."

The top-10 finishers of the first two segments will be awarded additional championship points.

This means that any driver finishing in spots 1-10 (in stages 1 and 2) will get more points towards their total accumulated points. The first-place driver will receive 10 points, second place will receive 9 points, third place will receive 8 points and so on down the line. 

The final stage of the race will determine the overall race winner.

Points will be awarded as in the past with the first-place driver receiving 40 points, second place 35, third place 34 and so on throughout the final running order. 

The winners of the first two stages will receive 1 point toward their playoff totals and the overall race winner will receive an additional five points towards his or her playoff points total.

"The playoffs, how does this affect our playoff system? We talked about the races, let's talk about the playoffs," Said O'Donnell. "Here's what won't be changing: Eligibility remains the same. It's based on race wins and points. The number of drivers and teams, the elimination structure all remain, 16 drivers, down to 12, down to 8, down to 4. You win, and you advance to the next round."

Instead of using the term Chase to describe the final races of the season, NASCAR will use "Playoffs." Playoff points awarded during the "regular" season will be added to a driver's point totals following the seeding after the cutoff race. So in the Monster Energy Cup Series, drivers who earned points for winning races or stages during the first 26 events will see these points added to their tally. It's like the "bonus" points awarded during the Chase years, but with the addition of stage winner points. These playoff points will carry through until the final four are determined for Homestead.

Bonus points for leading laps will no longer be awarded.

The new structure will not allow drivers to earn an additional point for leading one lap or an additional point for leading the most laps.

Regular season champion will receive an additional advantage in playoffs.

In the past, drivers who were in the points lead following the regular season were not awarded for their efforts. Under the new structure, a driver who leads the standings following the cutoff race will be awarded an additional 15 playoff points to be added to his or her total following the reset. Those within the top 10 for the regular season will also receive additional points with second earning 10 points, third earning 8, fourth earning 7, etc.

O'Donnell illustrated how the bonus points would work. "Using this example of a driver who had one stage win, one race win and led the regular season in points, they'd have 21 points at the start of the playoffs heading into Chicago. The bottom line for this is that it's about listening and rewarding the drivers, listening to the fans, having more moments and more importantly carrying this out through the entire season."

 "So if you incentivize these guys and they race their guts
out, but if you incentivize them to go earn something
during the race, it makes it so they want to race that
 much harder, and race fans deserve to see races that
 matter, and this is an enhancement that will help
make that happen, and when races matter, the fans win."
Jeff Burton

Photo credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Whether or not this new system will generate more excitement for fans is yet to be determined. 

How do drivers feel about the new system? Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhard Jr. and Brad Keselowski believe the new system will generate more excitement and and less laying back after a win.

"Now with each accomplishment that you have during each given race, whether you're collecting points for the overall regular season or you're trying to collect points through a stage win or a race win, each accomplishment gives your road to Homestead a little bit easier, gives you a little bit of cushion there to be able to get through the playoffs and make it to Homestead, and that's what it's all about for us is making it to Homestead and trying to race for a championship, and I think this format does it for it," said Hamlin.

Earnhardt Jr. added, "...the stages are going to bring a lot of excitement for the drivers and the fans. I was in a unique position this past season to be a driver and a fan, and definitely I think this creates a lot of interest in a part of the event, in every event, every single week where it was needed. There will be a lot on the line."

One thing's for certain, it's going to be an interesting season! The fun begins in just a few weeks when the Duels at Daytona run. Yes, you heard right. NASCAR will be awarding points for the Duels.

Joie Chitwood, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of International Speedway Corporation, said, "There's an opportunity at Daytona that is unique as well that is part of this announcement. The Duels at Daytona will now actually pay points, so the top-10 finishers for each of the Duels will receive the same points as a stage winner: the ten, the nine, the eight, all the way down to one. It does not qualify as a stage win, but it does pay out regular-season points."

What are your thoughts on the new system? Do you find it confusing? How do you think the person flipping the channels and coming across the race will react? Leave your comments below. 

Travel Tips: The International Motorsports Hall of Fame

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jerry Cook was inducted into the
International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009.
credit: Getty Images for NASCAR/Tim Roberts
If you’re planning a trip to Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama for the NASCAR races in May or October, make sure you stop by the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, which takes you through a history of many different types of motorsports, not just NASCAR.
  • The International Motorsports Hall of Fame, located on the grounds of Talladega Superspeedway, was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1982. It held its first induction ceremony in 1990, with a class that featured 20 motorsports personalities from the world’s various series of racing. The Hall of Fame complex features a museum spanning three buildings, with memorabilia dating back to 1902.
  • Inductions were held nearly every year, but none have been held since 2013. The number of inductees in each class varied, with as many as 20 in the inaugural class and just three inductees in 2012.
  • Among the honorees in the Hall who are also members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame: Bill France Sr. and Bill France Jr., Junior Johnson, Richard and Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett, Richie Evans, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt and Jerry Cook. Four of the most recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees are also members: Raymond Parks, Benny Parsons, Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick.
  • The International Motorsports Hall of Fame offers a track tour of Talladega Superspeedway, lasting approximately 20 minutes and available every 30 minutes during normal Hall hours unless there is on-track testing. Call 256-362-5002 to check out availability.
  • Hall of Fame hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. CT daily except New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. There are also extended hours during race weeks. Track tours are available through Thursday of race weeks, but there are no tours Friday through Sunday. Admission to the Hall as of this writing is $12 for adults, $5 for students ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and under with adult admission. The track tour is $8 for adults, $5 for students and free for children 5 and under with an adult. A combination admission to the Hall and the track tour is $16 for adults and $8 for students.
  • Find out more about the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at http://www.motorsportshalloffame.com/.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fast Facts: 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Benny Parsons

Benny Parsons circa 1973
credit: ISC Archives via Getty Images
It’s hard to believe that “BP,” “The Professor” Benny Parsons, left us 10 years ago this week, but this weekend there will be a celebration of his life as a NASCAR champion and broadcaster as one of five 2017 inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 20. Learn more about this popular NASCAR personality in this week’s Fast Facts.
  • Benjamin Stewart Parsons was born July 12, 1941 in Wilkes County, NC. He is the older brother of former NASCAR driver, team owner and broadcaster Phil Parsons.
  • Parsons played football in high school, moving to Detroit, MI after high school, where he drove taxi and worked at a gas station. It was at the gas station that he had his first exposure to auto racing: some customers hauling a race car out to the local track invited him along – the driver of the car never showed up, and Parsons jumped in.
  • Parsons made his premier series debut in 1964, but didn’t race in NASCAR’s top tier again until 1969. In the meantime, he won the 1968 and 1969 ARCA Racing Series championships, as well as the ARCA race at Daytona in February 1969.
  • Parsons raced full-time in NASCAR’s premier series beginning in 1970, and won his first race in 1971 at South Boston (VA) Speedway. In 1973, he won the Winston Cup (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup) Series championship with one win and 21 top 10 finishes in 28 events.
  • During his 21-year driving career, Parsons earned 21 wins, 283 top 10 finishes and 20 poles in 526 starts. Among his wins: the 1975 Daytona 500 and the 1980 World (now Coca Cola) 600 at Charlotte. Parsons was the first driver to qualify a stock car at more than 200 mph in 1982 at Talladega Superspeedway (200.176 mph).
  • Following his driving career, Parsons became a full-time broadcaster, first with ESPN, then with NBC and TNT. Over the years, he also made appearances in the movies Stroker Ace (1983), Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) and Talladega Nights (2006).
  • Parsons was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994, and was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. In 2005, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
  • Parsons, who had quit smoking in 1978, was diagnosed with lung cancer in the summer of 2006. Treatments were successful, and he was given a clean bill of health later on that year, but was admitted to the hospital with complications relating to lung cancer in December of the same year; he passed away from those complications on Jan. 16, 2007.
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Monday, January 16, 2017

Travel Tips: NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Fan Appreciation Day – Jan. 20-21, 2017


credit: NASCAR Media
This weekend, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, located at 400 East Martin Luther King Blvd. in Charlotte, NC, will bring the sport's legends, heroes and up-and-coming stars together with fans as part of its 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Fan Appreciation Day. Hall of Fame activities begin on Friday, Jan. 20 with the Induction Ceremony, followed by additional Class of 2017 activities and NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day at the Hall on Saturday, Jan. 21.

Schedule for the weekend (all times ET):

Friday, Jan.20:
  • Members-Only Hall of Famer Autograph Session – 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Great Hall.There will be two groups of Hall of Famers signing. Find the listing here.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Red Carpet Arrivals – 4 p.m. in the Great Hall.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner and Jacket Ceremony and the Presentation of the Squire-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence – 6 p.m. – Richardson Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center, which is attached to the Hall.
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – 8 p.m. – Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center. Doors open at 7 p.m., must be seated by 7:30 p.m.
Select tickets are still available for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Click here for more information.

Saturday, Jan. 21:
 
Visit the Hall of Fame for free from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and celebrate Fan Appreciation Day with your favorite NASCAR drivers.

High Octane Theater question-and-answer sessions (tickets not required)
  • 9:00 a.m. – Richard Childress, Austin and Ty Dillon
  • 10:00 a.m. – Aric Almirola, Ryan Reed, Timothy Peters
  • 11:00 a.m. – Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez, John Hunter Nemechek
  • 12:00 p.m. – Martin Truex Jr., Brandon Jones, Noah Gragson
  • 1:30 p.m. – Chase Elliott, Blake Koch, Kaz Grala
  • 2:30 p.m. – David Ragan, Brennan Poole, Christopher Bell
  • 3 p.m. – Mark Martin, Rick Hendrick
  • 3:30 p.m. – Paul Menard, Brendan Gaughan, Johnny Sauter
Great Hall NASCAR Next driver appearances (tickets not required)
  • 10:20 and 11:20 a.m. (drivers for both sessions to be announced)
Vouchers are still available for a few of the driver autograph sessions in the Crown Ballroom Lobby. Click here to see the driver autograph session schedule and which sessions are available.

Find out more about the Hall of Fame and the Induction Ceremony at http://www.nascarhall.com/

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Gone Too Soon: Why Edwards' Departure Leaves a Gaping Hole in the Sport

The loss of Carl Edwards will leave a hole in the sport that may be too large to fill.
Photo Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

By Stephanie Landrey

On Wednesday, a calm, cool, collected Carl Edwards walked up to the podium at Joe Gibbs Racing and picked up a microphone. The first thing he said was that he didn't want the podium; he wanted to have a more open dialogue. But in the end, he reverted back to the podium, most likely at the request of some PR person wildly hand gesturing for him to get back there.

But being behind a podium just isn't his thing. He wants to speak to his fans, his friends, the people who have helped him along the way, freely, not tied up behind some podium. That's just part of what makes Carl Edwards one of the nicest, most respected drivers in the garage, and why his sudden departure is going to leave a gaping hole in the sport that's going to be almost impossible to fill.

It's hard to disagree with his reasoning. How can you not be satisfied with a career that has spanned 20 years, has brought you 28 wins at the sport's most elite level, worldwide fame and fortune beyond your wildest dreams, allowed you to see the world and has also allowed you to give back to those who needed it the most? Some will argue that Edwards is young (37 is relatively young in racing years), and he's been so close to grabbing his first championship, so why stop now? Edwards disagrees with those people. He's content with his successes.

He wants to spend time with those that mean the most to him. It's no secret that racing professionally demands a brutal schedule. Fly out Thursday, get home late Sunday (if there's not a weather delay that causes the race to run the next day). Monday is a team debriefing meeting, and there can be various sponsor commitments throughout the week, leaving a driver little time to spend with their family. If a driver is like Edwards, and doesn't want his family involved in the media circus that is NASCAR, that means leaving your family at home most of the time (Edward's wife, Dr. Kate Downey, is rarely seen at the track, as are his children Michael and Annie, and he does not allow photos of them to be taken), so weekends can get pretty lonely.

He also values his health. A lot of drivers got a wake-up call when Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to climb out of the race car for the last 18 races in 2016 because of a concussion and its lingering symptoms. While NASCAR has made strides in safety innovations, medicine still hasn't found a way to prevent a brain from bouncing around inside the skull; no one has. Edwards wants to remain the sharp, witty, intelligent person he is today 30 years from now, and to that end, he believes stepping away will offer him that opportunity.

But here's why he will be sorely missed in the garage and on the track.

He's just a good person. If he gets into a wreck with someone, he either accepts the blame, or accepts the apology. He doesn't let it linger. He practices good sportsmanship, grace and humility, which, quite frankly, is something a lot of athletes on any playing field today could learn from. A prime example is the incident during the Homestead-Miami Championship Race last season when he tangled with the No. 22 team of Joey Logano. After the accident, Edwards went on a tear down pit road, straight toward the pit box of the No. 22. The crew stood up, on edge, when Edwards got there, he climbed atop the box, and spoke a few words to Logano's crew chief, Todd Gordon, apologizing for the incident and told him to go out there and "win this thing." He then shook Gordon's hand. He's a class act. Lots of other drivers, especially those in the hunt for the title, would have thrown a temper tantrum, refused to speak to the media, and locked themselves inside the team hauler.

He's not afraid to take the blame for something if he did it. Accident at Talladega that wrecked half the field? He'll apologize profusely after watching the replay and seeing it was his fault. Someone spins out in Michigan and hits the wall pretty hard ending their day? He'll apologize for that too, after he hears the spotter communication advising him of the bad contact. He's also not afraid to stick up for himself. He knows when he's right, and he'll defend himself until the end of time.

Aside from a lengthy rivalry with Brad Keselowski that had them in the NASCAR hauler many times, and a problem that admittedly cleared up on its own (see @keselowski's blog for more on that, it's a great read), Edwards raced everyone mostly clean, and expected the same in return. Don't expect a ton of retaliation from him unless you really make him mad. Expect him to be a great teammate until it's down to the final laps, then he's going to fight for the win like it's just Edwards and one other car on the race track.

He respected everybody. Maybe it was because he was brought up in the Midwest, maybe it was just a part of who he was, but he just had a different level of respect for everyone in the garage area than most people did. He treated the employees on garbage detail the same way he did Mike Helton. He was also the only driver who ever took his sunglasses off when he was being interviewed by the media; class act move, didn't matter how hot or how bright, he always took them off, so he could look the reporter and the camera directly in the eyes. He respected the fans, signed many autographs, and was genuinely happy to see fans. He gave back to his community. NASCAR may never see a driver like Carl Edwards again. That's the impact that he had on the sport. The quintessential package; good looks, talent, media darling, business savvy, true competitor, bad ass -- all rolled into one.

We're missing your backflips already.