Edwards grew up watching his father, Carl, Sr., race, and was inspired to do the same. Carl, Sr. has been racing modified stock cars and USAC midget sprint cars for over four decades, winning over 200 races. Carl, Jr.’s career began in 1993, when he started racing four-cylinder mini-sprints at age 13. His success was not far off, as in 1994, he won four feature races in the mini-sprint series at tracks in Missouri and Illinois. He added a combined total of 14 wins from the 1995 and 1996 seasons. Edwards and his #99 Ford in 2005. Enlarge Edwards and his #99 Ford in 2005. Edwards on the cover of ESPN, Feb. 2006 Enlarge Edwards on the cover of ESPN, Feb. 2006
Edwards switched to dirt in 1997, racing in the IMCA modified division. It didn’t take him long to find success there, either, as in 1998, he was crowned Rookie-of-the-Year in that same division at Holt Summit, Missouri’s Capital Speedway. In 1999, he won 13 races in the track’s Modified division, winning the NASCAR Track Championship.
Edwards’ big break came in 2002, when he competed in 7 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events for MB Motorsports. His best finish in the seven races was 8th. However, it was enough to impress Jack Roush, and Edwards became a full-time Truck Series competitor in 2003, driving the #99 Ford F-150 sponsored by Superchips. He won Rookie-of-the-Year honors in addition to three race wins, eventually finishing 8th in the points standings at the end of the season. In 2004, he notched three more race wins, including the season-opening Florida Dodge Dealers 250 at the Daytona International Speedway. At season’s end, Edwards finished 4th in the points. In August of 2004, he made his Nextel Cup Series debut, replacing Jeff Burton, who left the team, in the #99 Ford Taurus for Roush Racing, at the Michigan International Speedway. He finished 10th.
In 2005, Edwards became a full-time driver in both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series. He has already won races in each, and he made history in the process of winning. On March 19, 2005, Edwards won the Aaron’s 312 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, recording his first Busch Series win. The next day, March 20, he beat Jimmie Johnson by 2-hundreths of a second to win the Golden Corral 500 at the same track for his first Nextel Cup Series win. Until this took place, no driver had ever won both the Busch and Nextel Cup Series races in the same weekend at Atlanta, although the feat had been pulled off numerous times before at other tracks by other drivers. Also, Edwards became the first driver in NASCAR history to pick up his first career Busch and Nextel Cup Series wins in the same weekend.
Later in 2005, on June 12, Edwards picked up his second Nextel Cup win by taking the checkered flag at the Pocono 500 at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. The weekend was somewhat bittersweet for Edwards, as the Busch Series race at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee had been rained out the night before, and rescheduled for the same day. Even worse, qualifying for that race had been rained out, too, and in NASCAR, when qualifying is rained out, the starting grid is set by owner points. Through this process, Edwards was awarded pole, but Hank Parker Jr. ended up driving the car to a 20th place finish.
Edwards got his third win of 2005 on October 30th in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.