Edwards insisted his reasoning for walking away were pure and personal.

After three semesters studying engineering, Edwards decided that university attendance was not working as he pursued his career goals in racing.

Prior to becoming a full-time driver, Edwards was working as a substitute teacher while pursuing his racing career.

He has driven for 13 seasons in the Cup Series, posting 28 wins and earning more than $80 million.

He got his start in racing with a helping hand from Mike Mittler, a businessman and part-time NASCAR owner in Foristell, Mo.

-- Carl Edwards took the high road Friday when asked about the critical comments former girlfriend Amanda Beard wrote about him in her new book."I'm not going to bash her or say bad things about her," Edwards said in the Texas Motor Speedway media center.

"She's a mother, she's a wife and someone I cared about."Beard, a former Olympic gold medal swimmer, describes Edwards as self-absorbed, insanely jealous and controlling in their two-year relationship from 20.

Sixteen pages of the 256-page book titled, "In the Water, They Can't See You Cry," are devoted to their times together.

The book also details Beard's previous problems with drug use and bulimia."I considered us friends and I didn't realize she had all those problems," Edwards said. It's sad for me to read that and sad that Amanda was going though all that."Edwards married Dr. They have two children; two-year-old Anne and Michael, 11 months.

Mittler sponsored Edwards’ NASCAR truck in 2002 and he was as stunned as anyone about the retirement reports.“It’s very significant that something like that could just drop out of the sky with no warning, no rumors, no nothing,” Mittler said.

“One thing could be that he’s saying, ‘I’m going to move on and do something else in my life.’ When he left Roush Racing people asked why, and he said because he didn’t want to look back and say ‘What if?

Even when we were first together, we’d stop on the road and I’d get a Coke, hot dog and Twinkie and he’d get water and a couple of granola bars.”Over time, Edwards made semi-frequent appearances in races at what was then called Gateway International Speedway in Madison and became the first driver to win three races at the track.