NASCAR Hall of Fame selection caught former driver Carl Edwards in the air

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 03: Carl Edwards looks on during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 3, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Perhaps it’s simply humility that accounts for Carl Edwards’ low expectations on May 21 Voting Day for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Whatever the case, Edwards was so convinced that he wouldn’t be elected to the Hall that he ignored a suggestion to be available by phone that afternoon and was on a plane when the results were announced.

After he landed, Edwards received a text from long-time communications manager Randy Fuller that he was part of the Class of 2025, along with fellow driver Ricky Rudd and team owner Ralph Moody.

“I didn’t expect this in any way,” Edwards said in a Zoom conference with reporters on Thursday. “I was shocked. I actually wasn’t available at 4 p.m. when they announced it, because I thought there’s no reason to be.

“It’s been a huge deal to me, much bigger than I ever would have expected.”

Edwards retired from NASCAR racing suddenly and unexpectedly after the 2016 season. He ended his career with 28 NASCAR Cup Series victories and two second-place finishes in the series championship.

The 44-year-old from Columbia, Missouri, also collected 38 victories and one title in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Last year, he was named one of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers.

“The longer I’ve been away, I appreciate the sport more and more,” Edwards said. “Last year, just the honor of being part of those 75 drivers–it shocked me how much fun it was to come back to Darlington to be a part of that.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is the longer I’m away, the more I appreciate it, and this honor (the Hall of Fame) is over the top.”