When Carl Edwards said Jan. 11 that he wouldn't be racing this year, he left open the possibility of running for public office. Now that reality might be a little closer.
Columbia (Mo.) College, political science professor Terry Smith speculated in a Wednesday piece for KBIA's Talking Politics that Edwards will challenge U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri next year. McCaskill, a Democrat, is in her second term.
In his Jan. 11 press conference at Joe Gibbs Racng, Edwards made it clear he has political ambitions.
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"I do have really strong feelings about our country and what it means, what America is about, and the principles that keep us free and safe from the biggest risks in history," said Edwards.
At that time, Edwards did not elaborate on when he might be ready to run for office.
"I'm not prepared right now to participate in any public office or anything, but I am very open to helping that cause and helping the cause of liberty and freedom and what it is that America is about," said Edwards.
Multiple drivers, including several of Edwards' former teammates, said at this week's NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte that they are still unclear about why Edwards is stepping away from racing.
"It was certainly, I think, a shock to the entire industry, but also to us as a team at Joe Gibbs Racing," said Kyle Busch, the 2015 NASCAR Premier Series champion. "It was a shock to me. It was something I didn't expect to see happen."
"I didn't see it coming," added fellow Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. "I always thought Carl would be like Mark Martin and race until he was 50 or so. I definitely was surprised by it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.