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Carl Edwards open to being substitute NASCAR driver in retirement

Carl Edwards wins the Southern 500
Carl Edwards

The world might not have seen the last of Carl Edwards behind the wheel in NASCAR. 

After abruptly announcing his retirement from the sport this winter, Edwards told ESPN.com Tuesday he has special plans for his future, which may include some racing. 

"I've been working on some neat stuff but nothing I'm ready to talk about yet," Edwards said. "It's nothing earth-shattering. I'm just living life. ... We'll see how it all goes.

"I'm paying attention enough and staying really fit and as engaged as [Joe Gibbs Racing] will let me be. I'll always be ready if somebody needs a driver for something."

Last season, the need for a substitute driver was important with Dale Earnhardt Jr. missing the final half of the season with a concussion. Alex Bowman and Jeff Gordon, who came out of retirement to fill-in for Junior, shared duties the final 18 races of the season. 

With concern over concussions at an all-time high and NASCAR changing its protocol at races, it's not inconceivable teams will need a replacement driver this season.

If so, Edwards will be ready. 

Edwards has reportedly considered running for U.S. Senate in his time away from racing and has even been the center of bizarre rumors which link him to a new NASCAR team in 2018. Edwards has shot down the reports, but told ESPN.com he'll be back at the track this weekend in Atlanta helping replacement driver Daniel Suarez in his former No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. 

The affable and outgoing Edwards, 37, has 28 race victories, 22 poles, 124 top fives and 220 top 10s in 445 starts, though he never has claimed an outright title on NASCAR's top series since he broke in in 2004. He and Tony Stewart tied for the championship in 2011, but Stewart won the title in a tiebreaker.

Edwards came close to winning the championship in 2016 but crashed out while running up front at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November after a restart with 10 laps to go. Jimmie Johnson won the race to claim his seventh Cup Series title.

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