Carl Edwards, The Earnhardts, and Grandpaw
Carl Edwards is leaving the sport. Maybe that’s temporary, or permanently. We don’t know for sure, and I’m not sure that Carl does either.
My neighbor and fishing buddy gives me lots of advice. Most of it I tend to ignore. “The best way to clean a toilet is with a cherry bomb” comes to mind. Around here we call him Grandpaw. His real name, he once told me, in confidence, was Theodore Roosevelt France.
Grandpaw and I were fishing the pond back in the woods late yesterday afternoon. We were skipping worms wish lead sinkers off the dam of the pond. This pond is a real pond. If you spit really hard, you could hit the other side. In other words, it’s not a lake.
Anyway, we kept throwing out our bait, and it just kept skittering along, because the pond was covered with a quarter inch of ice. It didn’t really matter, because summer or winter, Grandpaw and I had caught a total of one fish. We’re still having a dispute over who actually caught the fish. It was me, but Grandpaw says it was him. Grandpaw can lie with the best of them, I have found out.
I asked Grandpaw about Carl Edwards’ seemingly sudden departure from NASCAR. Grandpaw took a good draw off his pipe, blew out some smoke that smelled like burning horse manure, took another tobacco chaw into his mouth, and then commenced to thinking about Carl Edwards.
“The problem is, Carl couldn’t do a backflip worth a durn” Grandpaw said.
“Really? I thought he did them very well’ I said.
“Nope, you want to see a backflip?” Grandpaw said.
“Sure, but who’s going to do one?” I said.
Grandpaw stood up, and flipped himself backwards off the dam about 50 feet into the creek. I ran and slid down the slope and helped him get out of the freezing water. “Grandpaw, are you alright?” I asked.
“Goldurn dam ain’t like flipping off a car. Roll me around a car, Sonny!”
But getting back to more serious talk, I suppose that Carl’s decision is his own. I don’t pretend to understand his reasoning for walking away, just after a very near miss on a Cup championship. I just pray that Carl is OK. He almost won his first Cup championship last year, and has 28 Cup wins. At age 37, he’s not exactly an old man for a race car driver.
If say, if Dale Earnhardt Jr. had decided to retire, I could understand that. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Dale Jr. fan, but if all the concussions were starting to make him see, well, as badly as I do, I would understand if he decided to retire.
Retirements are nothing new to NASCAR. Richard Petty did it. Rusty Wallace did it. Mark Martin did it. Jeff Gordon did it. Tony Stewart did it. I really wish that Dale Earnhardt had had a chance to do it. He did, but he didn’t, if you get what I mean.
Grandpaw France has some wise sayings. “Never build a whiskey still on a creek flowing uphill” is one of my favorites. Why a creek would flow uphill is still a mystery to me. Grandpaw is older and wiser than me, so I accept his wisdom as it flows out of him, like a volcano of fascinating lore.
Another of my favorite Grandpaw sayings is “That Jeff Gordon boy will probably be a good insurance salesman when he grows up.”
I hope that’s true. I would hate to think that Jeff Gordon’s only legacy on this world would be driving a goldurn race car.
I asked Grandpaw what he thought about Stewart Haas Racing driving Fords this year. He told me “Them dadburn Model T’s are hard to start, but once they get going, they’ll get you where you want to go, that’s for goldurn sure!” I hope SHR’s tech department is reading this. Valuable information, indeed.
I asked Grandpaw what he drove these days. “A goldurn almost brand new 1959 Chevrolet truck with all the trimmings! This dadburn thing even has a heater it in!” I told him that my 1998 Toyota Tacoma doesn’t have a clock in it. Grandpaw said, “Well, you don’t need no clock until you get to where you’re going anyway!” I am still having a hard time refuting this wisdom. If I can’t make it there on time, what use is a clock anyway?
I asked Grandpaw how his wife was. “I just hope she ain’t with child again. I can’t afford the ones I got!”
I asked him how many kids he had. “Way too goldurn many, that’s how many! Some of them have grandkids of their own.”
I asked him about Dale Jr.’s return to the Cup series after his problems with concussions. “That boy has a hard head, and that’s one thing I learned about them Earnhardts, is that they have hard heads. It ain’t the skull that’s gonna break. It’s the bones behind your neck. God rest Dale Earnhardt.”
God rest Dale Earnhardt, Kenny Irwin, Adam Petty, and all the others who died from basal skull fracture. God bless SAFER Barriers, HANS devices, and all the things that keep drivers in a safer environment.
We can all replace equipment. We can replace race cars. We can’t replace lives though.
Carl Edwards can leave NASCAR. I hope he comes back, but if he doesn’t, I don’t really blame him. His career for the last several years has been one full of danger, rewards, and disappointment. He has a lot of wins, but no championships in Cup to show for it. We may never know the reasons for his sudden departure from the sport, but we will all wish him well in whatever endeavors he may wish to delve into.
Best of luck to the almost 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.