Carl Edwards stunned the NASCAR community when he announced an unscheduled sabbatical last January.
But no one, including the top brass at Ford Performance--that's right, Ford--would be surprised if Edwards' return to racing was just as swift and abrupt as his departure.
Edwards' decision caught many off-guard, particularly since he had enjoyed his best season since losing the Cup title to Tony Stewart in 2011. Edwards had his best career qualifying effort with six poles and an average starting position of 7.2. His three wins were the most victories he had posted since 2008 when he won nine races with Roush Fenway Racing. And his fourth-place finish in the standings was his best result in five seasons and the only time Edwards had advanced to the Championship 4.
Ford Performance boss Dave Pericak anticipates a return by Edwards.
"I don't know what Carl's future looks like," Pericak said. "We've had no conversations about that at all. I can tell you that, honestly. I personally believe that Carl's coming back. That's just a Dave Pericak thought, but I have no idea what's going on with him. No conversations, but you'll see Carl Edwards in the sport again. That's my two-cents worth."
Since Edwards' departure, the rumor mill has run wild with speculation. Will he replace Danica Patrick in the #10 car next year? How about bumping Kasey Kahne from the #5 team? Will Team Penske start a third team for Edwards? Could he replace Matt Kenseth following his former teammate's retirement tour?
Or perhaps Edwards will stay true to his word and concentrate on his family life back in Columbia, Mo. But if he opts for racing, would Ford Performance be open to welcoming Edwards, back into the Blue Oval fold? After all, he scored 23 wins and an Xfinity title behind the wheel of a Ford.
"In that press conference, I thought he said that if he comes back, he was going right back to see Mr. Gibbs," Pericak said. "Listen, who wouldn't want a championship-caliber driver such as Carl Edwards in their camp? But I don't think that's his intention. I think his intention is to go back to Joe Gibbs Racing."
--- Motorsport ---