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Carl Edwards open to running for U.S. Senate in 2018

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Edwards, 37, surprisingly retired from NASCAR earlier this month.

Joe Gibbs Racing Press Conference Photo by Bob Leverone/Getty Images

Recently retired NASCAR driver Carl Edwards may be contemplating a bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate, challenging Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, in Missouri next year.

Edwards’ name was dropped as a potential candidate by Terry Smith, a political science professor at Columbia (Mo.) College, in a Wednesday editorial for KBIA’s Talking Politics. When reached by The Associated Press, Edwards did not dismiss the possibility.

"I believe firmly in the principles that the U.S. was founded upon. If I could help, I definitely would consider it,” Edwards responded in a text. He then, according to the AP, stressed he has no plans at the moment to run but also quoted Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation."

The 37-year-old Edwards unexpectedly retired after a 13-year career in the Cup Series, NASCAR’s premier national division, which saw him win 28 races and nearly a handful of championships. He twice finished runner-up in the standings — including losing on a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart in 2011 — and was the highest running title-eligible driver with 10 laps remaining in the 2016 season finale before crashing out.

Running for public office is something Edwards has spoken about previously. He acknowledged the possibility during his retirement press conference on Jan. 11 when he announced he was stepping away with a year left on his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I do have really strong feelings about our country and what it means, what America is about, and the principles that keep us free and safe from the biggest risks in history,” Edwards said. “I'm not prepared right now to participate in any public office or anything, but I am very open to helping that cause and helping the cause of liberty and freedom and what it is that America is about.”

Stoutly private, Edwards rarely talked about his family in public and often before granting one-on-one interviews requested he not be asked about his wife and two young children.

When explaining why he retired from NASCAR in the prime of his career, Edwards said, among the reasons, he wanted to spend more time with his family and pursue interests outside of racing. He also said his decision had nothing to with issues related to health. While the majority of NASCAR drivers have relocated to Charlotte, N.C., the hub of the sport, Edwards continued to live in his hometown of Columbia, Mo., and commuted regularly by flying his own plane.

Denny Hamlin, Edwards’ former JGR teammate, was asked about a potential Edwards Senate campaign on Wednesday afternoon at the NASCAR media tour in downtown Charlotte.

"What does he know about politics?” Hamlin said. “I would say he knows a lot about Missouri or Kansas — that is where he is from, right?"