Carl Michael Edwards II (born August 15, 1979) is a NASCAR driver. He currently drives the #99 Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series for Roush Fenway Racing. He won the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series championship and nearly won the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, but lost by a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart.
In 2005, Edwards became a full-time driver in both the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series. He had already won races in each, and he made history in the process of winning. On March 19, 2005, Edwards won the Aaron’s 312 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, recording his first Busch Series win. The next day, he beat Jimmie Johnson by 2-hundredths of a second to win the Golden Corral 500 at the same track for his first NEXTEL Cup Series win. Until this took place, no driver had ever won both the Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series races in the same weekend at Atlanta, although the feat had been pulled off numerous times before at other tracks by other drivers. Also, Edwards became the first driver in NASCAR history to pick up his first career Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series wins in the same weekend, and became the eleventh driver in NASCAR history to win races in all three of the organization’s major racing series.
On June 12, 2005, Edwards picked up his second NEXTEL Cup win by taking the checkered flag at the Pocono 500 at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. The weekend was somewhat bittersweet for Edwards, as the Busch Series race at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee had been rained out the night before, and rescheduled for the same day. Even worse, qualifying for that race had been rained out, too, and in NASCAR, when qualifying is rained out, the starting grid is set by owner points. Through this process, Edwards was awarded pole, but Hank Parker, Jr. ended up driving the car to a 20th place finish. Since Edwards did not start the race he was not awarded any points, and as such lost a 74-point lead in Busch Series points and dropped to fourth in the standings; Edwards never recovered from the missed race and finished the season third in points, well behind eventual series champion Martin Truex, Jr.. Edwards got his third win of 2005 on October 30 in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Edwards got his fourth win at Texas and became the tenth different driver to win at that track, and the fifth to win there for Roush Racing. By finishing the remainder of the 2004 season in the NEXTEL #99 car, he was not eligible to compete for the 2005 Rookie of the Year in NEXTEL Cup, but did win the 2005 Busch Series Rookie of the Year.
In 2006, Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing struggled to keep up with the competition. Edwards did not win a race in 2006. His best finish was at Michigan Speedway where he finished 2nd. And at the Rock and Roll Chevy 400 in Richmond, he missed the chase by getting wreck and finished 35th three laps down.
On May 18, 2007, Edwards won the pole for the 2007 Nextel Open, and while he led almost the entire 40 lap race, he faded to third in the last few laps, just missing the feature event. On June 17, 2007 Carl Edwards broke his 52-race winless streak in the Nextel Cup by winning the Citizens Bank 400. Shortly thereafter, on July 23, he dislocated his thumb in an eleven car pileup at a late model race at Nebraska Raceway Park (formerly I-80 Speedway) near Lincoln, Nebraska. Edwards won his second race of the 2007 season, and sixth career Cup race, at the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 25. During the post-race interview on Victory Lane, Edwards commented on the race, saying, “This is the biggest win of my career”. At the conclusion of the first 26 races, the 2007 “regular season”, Edwards ranked 6th in overall standings, with 3372 points, 477 points behind overall points leader Jeff Gordon. Edwards entered the 2007 Chase for the Nextel Cup in 4th place, with 5020 points, based on his two wins in the 2007 season, clinching a spot in the Chase after his win at the Sharpie 500 at Bristol. Edwards struggled through the Chase despite winning at Dover during the Chase. The Hendrick duo of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon dominated the Chase for the Championship winning six of the 10 races and finishing #1 and #2 in the final 2007 standings. Edwards finished ninth in the final 2007 standings.
On November 3, 2007, Edwards clinched his first NASCAR Busch Series Championship by finishing 11th at the O’Reilly Challenge. This came despite struggling in the second half of the Busch Series season. Edwards became the 19th different Busch Series Champion in the 26 years of the modern-era series.
2008 was Edwards’ strongest year finishing second to Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Edwards won the 2008 Auto Club 500, his 1st Sprint Cup win of the year. The following week, Edwards won the UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his first back to back victories since 2005 when he won back to back in Atlanta and Texas. These victories would put Edwards at the top of the point standings for the first time in his career.
Following the Las Vegas win, on March 5, 2008, NASCAR penalized Edwards, owner Jack Roush, and crew chief Bob Osborne for violations found in post-race inspection. The #99 car driven by Edwards was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A, 12-4-Q, and 20–2.1J of the 2008 NASCAR rulebook, specifically the cover was off the oil tank. The violations were found during post-race inspection at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2. The following penalties were levied by NASCAR: Edwards was fined 100 driver points and stripped his 10 bonus points for the Las Vegas win which would be used to seed him in the Chase for Championship (should he make The Chase). Roush was fined 100 owner points and Osborne was suspended for six races and fined $100,000. Edwards was leading the Kobalt Tools 500 looking for his 3rd consecutive victory, but on lap 274 his car began to smoke and his crew diagnosed the problem as a broken transmission. Edwards went on to finish 42nd. On April 7, he won the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway for his third win of the season.
On May 2, Edwards announced that he had signed a multi-year contract to remain with Roush Fenway Racing. It was announced that Aflac will be the full-time sponsor of the 99 car in 2009. This was the largest sponsorship contract that Roush Fenway Racing has ever signed. On August 3, Carl got his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the season, surviving a rain delay and fuel shortage to win at Pocono. On August 17, Carl Edwards dominated the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway capturing his fifth win of the season and surpassing his career high season win total of four in 2005. On August 24, Carl Edwards earned another victory by winning the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The win was his second consecutive and sixth of the season. He did a bump and run Kyle Busch in the closing laps to take the win from the dominant driver of the night. Busch showed his displeasure with Edwards after the race by driving into the side of Edwards’ car, to which he returned the favor by spinning Kyle out. On October 26, Edwards earned his 7th victory of the season with a win in the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta. On November 2, Edwards tied Kyle Busch for the series wins lead by winning his second Dickies 500 at Texas, his eighth win of the season. He reduced his deficit in the points to 106 behind Jimmie Johnson. On November 9 at Phoenix, Edwards finished fourth behind race winner Johnson, who by virtue of the win and the 10 bonus points he earned for leading one lap and the most laps took a 141-point lead over Edwards. Edwards won the season finale at Homestead to take over the series wins lead for the season, extending his career high win total to nine. However, he did not finish far ahead enough of Johnson to take the Sprint Cup championship, as Johnson finished fifteenth and led at least one lap to win the championship by 69 points over Edwards.
Heading into the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season, Carl Edwards would be sponsored by Aflac, Subway for three races, and Claritin for one race. The Office Depot sponsorship headed over to Tony Stewart and his Stewart-Haas team. Many media analysts expected Edwards to challenge Johnson for the championship.
In the #99 Claritin car, on the final lap of the 2009 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega in April, Edwards survived one of the most violent crashes in NASCAR history. Heading into the tri-oval with the lead, Edwards turned down into Brad Keselowski‘s path. Keselowski touched, and Edwards spun backwards, then went airborne. He was propelled higher when he was hit by Ryan Newman, whose hood was destroyed, and flipped airborne into the catch fence. Edwards emerged from the car unharmed and sprinted on foot over the start/finish line to the cheers of the crowd. Eight fans were injured, the worst being a woman with a broken jaw; she was airlifted to a nearby hospital.
He experienced another winless season in 2009 as his best finish was 2nd at Pocono Raceway. Although Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, Edwards finished 2nd place in the series and scored 5 wins, finishing 210 pts. behind the leader.
Edwards won the first-ever Nationwide Series race at Road America in late June. He followed that up with a controversial win at the first Nationwide race of the season at Gateway, turning Brad Keselowski coming off the final turn to win the race. He won his third Nationwide race of the year at Texas Motor Speedway after dominating the race and a late race restart where he was accused of jumping the start by Kyle Busch. He would finish the season 2nd in points for the third year a in a row.
Edwards’ season was a slow start in 2010. Going into Daytona in July, he was in danger of missing the chase while barely running in the top 12 in points. The whole Roush Fenway team marks Chicagoland as the turning around point for the organization, where Edwards would finish 2nd to David Reutimann. Edwards performance increased from this point, with him winning the pole at Watkins Glen and Richmond, and leading laps at Atlanta and Richmond.
On November 12, Edwards broke the track-record for the fastest qualifying lap at Phoenix International Raceway scoring his 6th career pole. Carl went on to win the Kobalt Tools 500 on November 14, 2010, with his Aflac Ford Fusion and breaking a 70-race winless streak going on from the 2008 Ford 400 at Homestead. The next weekend, Carl Edwards would qualify second at Homestead, and go on to dominate and win the race with season champion Jimmie Johnson finishing 2nd. The late season rally would take Edwards to 4th in points.
On March 6, 2011, Edwards won the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas, his only points win of 2011. On May 21, 2011, he won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. On August 4, Edwards re-signed with Roush Fenway Racing to continue driving his #99 Aflac Ford Fusion. The deal was reportedly worth over $40 million, with Ford talking Edwards into sticking with Roush Fenway Racing for the rest of his career. It was rumored for many months that Edwards would go over to Joe Gibbs Racing to take over the #20 Home Depot Toyota Camry currently driven by Joey Logano. Joe Gibbs was rumored to have offered Carl an $8 million dollar deal a year with a $10 million signing bonus.
For the rest of the season, Edwards raced with consistency and made the 2011 Chase field. After the Good Sam Club 500, he was in a tight points battle with Tony Stewart, but Stewart won the championship by holding off Edwards to win the 2011 Ford 400. They were tied in points, but Stewart won the tiebreaker, having five wins to Edwards’ one. In the Nationwide Series, Edwards contested the full season once again, but was unable to compete for the Drivers’ Championship. Due to a scheduling conflict, Edwards was forced to miss the Bucyrus 200 while the Cup Series raced at Infineon. Edwards would win a career high 8 races and give Jack Roush the Nationwide Series Owners’ Championship.
In January 2012, Edwards announced that he would not be competing in the Nationwide Series during the 2012 season, concentrating on his Sprint Cup championship effort.
On August 11, 2012, Edwards entered and won his first race of the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide season at Watkins Glen. On September 8, 2012 during the race at Federation Auto Parts 400, he finished 17th and missed the chase for the first time since the 2006 Season.
On June 6, 2007, Carl won the 2007 NEXTEL Prelude to the Dream at the Eldora Speedway. The Prelude is a dirt late model race organized in part by Tony Stewart, owner of Eldora, to benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp and other worthy causes. Over 20 NEXTEL Cup drivers participated in the heat races and 30-lap feature, along with other drivers from different forms of motorsports. Edwards started second in the feature and held off Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon to win.
Edwards participated in the 2008 Race of Champions, partnered by Tanner Foust. While in the individual event Edwards faced 7-time Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher and defeated him. In the next round, however, Edwards was defeated by eventual runner-up David Coulthard.
Edwards is a first cousin once removed to fellow NASCAR driver Ken Schrader, who told Edwards early in his racing career to get dirt track experience before going to Cup; he would later take the advice. In light of this relationship, Edwards is often referred to as “Cousin Carl.” Edwards would give a business card to other teams for his services before getting a ride with Roush Racing. Off the track, Edwards has been busy promoting his new record label, Back40 Records, a company he started with a high school friend back in Columbia, Missouri. During the week of the Auto Club 500, Edwards participated in taping of the Fox television series 24, where he played Homeland Security Agent Jim Hill.
A rumor emerged that Edwards is also a cousin of Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Trent Edwards. During an interview with Dave Hollander of AOL Sports, Hollander asked if Carl’s cousin Trent Edwards had the same allergies as he did. After Carl replied that, “My old cousin Trent … he probably has the same kind of stuff I do”, Roush Fenway Racing Senior Account Manager Randy Fuller said he did not know that Trent Edwards was Carl’s cousin. In response to Fuller, Edwards[which?] said, “He’s not. I’m just rollin’ with it.”
Edwards also appeared on The Price Is Right, where he presented both showcases on the episode which aired on November 10, 2009. The Showcases were NASCAR-themed, with a trip to the Coca-Cola 600 and a Camping World trailer featured in one Showcase, while the other featured the debut of a new garage door prop for the “ultimate garage” Showcase that featured tools and a hybrid version of his Ford Fusion racer.
Edwards is a known fan of professional wrestling, specifically WWE, and wrestler John Cena is one of his closest friends. The two first met at the taping of Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race in 2007. On April 5, 2009 Edwards appeared at WWE WrestleMania XXV as it was in Houston, Texas and so was the NASCAR race at Texas earlier in the day. Edwards guest hosted on WWE Raw on February 8, 2010.
Edwards and Dr. Katherine “Kate” Downey were married January 3, 2009. The couple has two children.
Edwards has appeared on the covers of ESPN The Magazine and Men’s Health shirtless, displaying his muscular body. He appeared in an Under Armour commercial during Super Bowl XLII. For a NASCAR driver, Edwards spends a lot of time developing his body, as photos of his abdominal and pectoral muscles have shown. Edwards made an appearance on the February 22, 2006, episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Ferguson produced the cover of the February issue of ESPN The Magazine which featured a bare-chested photo of Edwards. Joking that Edwards’ nipples seemed far apart, Ferguson suggested this was due to the high rates of speed at which Edwards often traveled.
Edwards is popular among fans for celebrating his wins by doing a backflip off his car (or truck), a style of celebration he took from sprint car driver Tyler Walker. Seizing on the popularity of Edwards’ trademark celebrations, Ford has recently run several “Overactive Adrenaline Disorder” commercials featuring a “young Carl” performing backflips in his baby crib, off of a couch, and off a doctors exam table. Edwards also performed his signature backflip not once, but twice in a recent This is SportsCenter commercial when he tried to cheer up anchor Neil Everett following a bad show. He has recently appeared in Aflac Commercials with the Aflac duck driving the #99 car and doing Carl’s trademark backflip which causes Carl Edwards to utter “I taught him that!”.
He also played in the annual Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game in 2009 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. During the game he sported a Boston Red Sox cap because of the affiliation his race team Roush Fenway Racing has to the owners of the Boston Red Sox.