Carl Edwards has maintained that he could come back to NASCAR for the right opportunity, but it does not appear he’ll be lured out of his quasi-retirement for a seat in the No. 88.

With Dale Earnhardt Jr. announcing Tuesday that he plans to retire at the end of the 2017 season, Hendrick Motorsports is expected to have an empty seat in one of its three Chevrolet SS stock cars. Obviously, the departure of the sport’s most popular driver leaves big shoes to fill, and Edwards, who is both available and has his own legion of dedicated fans, naturally was going to be the subject of rumors.

Those rumors reportedly can be put to rest.

Edwards will not be Earnhardt’s replacement, FOX Sports’ Tom Jensen unequivocally reported Tuesday. Edwards’ and Hendrick’s representatives “have had no discussions about Edwards joining the team and have no plans to, according to sources from both camps,” Jensen wrote.

Alex Bowman, who is under contract with Hendrick but currently does not have a ride in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, shared time in the cockpit with Jeff Gordon during Earnhardt’s absence last season. Earnhardt also has promising 19-year-old William Byron under contract with his JR Motorsports team driving the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro full time in the Xfinity Series.

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