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Carl Edwards declines invitation to be replacement driver for Aric Almirola

With Aric Almirola sidelined indefinitely with a compression fracture in his back following Saturday's fiery crash at Kansas Speedway, his team is seeking a replacement driver in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. 

Unfortunately for many NASCAR fans, the replacement driver isn't going to be Carl Edwards. 

Richard Petty Motorsports reached out to Edwards to drive the No. 43 through Sonoma (June 25). Edwards told Fox Sports he was honored by the offer, but respectfully declined.

Along with confirming that Edwards is really done driving in the Cup Series, the update also sheds light on how long Richard Petty Motorsports expects Almirola to be sidelined.

Almirola suffered a compression fracture in the T5 vertebra in the crash involving Danica Patrick and Joey Logano on Lap 199 of the 267-lap Go Bowling 400 at Kansas. Logano’s damaged car veered into Patrick, sending them both into the wall. Almirola, about 10 cars back, couldn't stop and hit Logano’s car violently in Turn 2.

Almirola had to be cut out of his car and was airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center, where he spent the night Saturday into Sunday.

According to ESPN, Almirola's injury isn't as serious as Denny Hamlin's L1 compression fracture in his back during the 2013 season, which forced him to miss four races. Still, it appears Richard Petty Motorsports is going to be cautious with Almirola and gave him at least six weeks to heal. 

Edwards said in March he would be open to being substitute NASCAR driver in retirement, but apparently he doesn't want to be back behind the wheel just yet. 

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 before the 2004 season. He and Tony Stewart tied for the championship in 2011, but Stewart won the title in a tiebreaker.


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