“I didn’t expect that at all. And then to have people here wearing Carl Edwards gear – I didn’t expect that.” ~ Carl Edwards
“The more I’m away from the sport there’s two things that are clear that I miss – I definitely miss driving the car,” Edwards said. “Just sliding a car sideways is a blast. And I miss the people. This is really cool. It means a lot for (TMS President) Eddie Gossage to have me back here just so I can say ‘hi’ to a lot of folks. Never thought I’d be so happy to see (NASCAR executive) Mike Helton again. Just cool.”
Edwards has become a gentleman sailor and worldwide traveler over the past two years, while also devoting more time to his family.
“It’s been a really great two years. I’ve had a lot of fun,” said Edwards, whose career featured stints with Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Edwards added he has had “a couple conversations with people” about racing again, but none in the last year or so.”
I think everyone pretty much understands I’m not interested in coming back and doing anything too serious right now. It’s been off my radar for a long time,” Edwards said. “I do miss driving the cars. I have a feeling something will come up that’ll be natural to do and I get to drive a little more. But definitely I’m not going to go sign up a three-year contract to run for a Cup championship or something like that. Not right now.”
Edwards added he was honored to join Castroneves, the winningest open-wheel driver in TMS history.
Castroneves, whose INDYCAR tenure with Team Penske ended after the 2017 season, owns TMS records for most wins (four), top-10s (15), top-fives (11) and laps-led (506) over the course of a record 20 career starts. Each of those victories was punctuated by his trademark frontstretch fence-climb, a tradition that began after his first Indy car win at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park in Detroit in 2000 and prompted his “Spider Man” nickname.
Castroneves also recorded one pole position around TMS’ 1.5-mile oval.
“Coming here today to see the Speedway, I said, ‘Man, I miss this place,’ ” said Castroneves, a 43-year-old native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, living in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “I miss the environment – but I’m not retired. I’m still driving.”
Castroneves moved to Penske’s sports car organization for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championshipafter 18 successful open-wheel seasons, driving an Acura ARX-05 Prototype with Ricky Taylor. While committed to sports car racing, Castroneves will renew his quest for a record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 win in next May’s 103rd edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with Team Penske at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Castroneves implored Gossage to help him convince team owner Roger Penske to add June’s IndyCar Series night race at TMS to his abbreviated open-wheel schedule.
“We got to start sending messages to RP,” Castroneves said. “I’ll never stop thanking the fans, whether it’s from racing or ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ This is a phenomenal honor.”
The event marked the TMHOF’s first dual induction since native Texan Bobby Labonte, the 2000 Cup champion from Corpus Christi, Texas, and Speedway Motorsports Inc., founder O. Bruton Smith were recognized in 2008. It also was the Hall’s sixth dual induction overall.