Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford, heads to Martinsville Speedway this weekend with the luxury of not having to worry about points. Edwards talks about being more aggressive at Martinsville this weekend, all the different rumors he has heard for why his season hasn’t produced a Chase spot and more.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE THAT SAY BECAUSE YOU AREN’T RUNNING THE NATIONWIDE RACES THIS YEAR, THAT HAS HAD AN IMPACT SOMEHOW? “I have heard people say that is the deal. I wish it were that simple. I wish I could just go run some Nationwide races and all of a sudden run better. I ran that series for seven years straight with the Cup series. I don’t think anyone has done that in this sport. I ran almost 500 races straight over seven years. For the last two years the cars ended up diverging a little bit and they were becoming less and less relevant to one another. The time commitment was taxing and I wasn’t able to focus on the Cup car. Right now, I still firmly believe that not running the Nationwide Series is better for my Cup program. If we determine that it is not, I would be the first person to go run a Nationwide car. If it helped me, I could go drive one this weekend but I really believe I am doing the right thing.”
HOW ABOUT PEOPLE WHO SAY YOU ARE SO MENTALLY DEVASTED FROM THE EVENTS AT THE END OF LAST YEAR THAT IT HAS IMPACTED THIS SEASON? “The only way I can describe how that championship affected me is to take people into the way I look at racing. I learned that you can’t place all the value on your result. You have to place some on performance. When you drive the perfect race and if your car is not fast enough, or you have some bad luck, you might finish fifth. Some of those races you finish fifth are better than ones you win. I have won a number of races where I knew my car was faster and somebody else had bad luck. What I am getting at is that at the end of that race at Homestead, as devastated as I was that we didn’t win, and trust me I was really frustrated that we didn’t win, I can still hold my head up and say that we went into that race with all the pressure in the world, Tony doing all his trash-talking, everything on our shoulders, and we qualified on the pole, led the most laps, and we were leading when it started raining. We just got out gambled in the pits and it didn’t go our way. I am telling you, if I went back and ran that race again, I don’t know if I personally could do a better job managing that race. My wife and I, we got done that night, and I had all my family there and everyone was kind of down you know but we got up the next morning and went to the championship banquet for the Nationwide Series because we won the owners championship and my wife and I went out on the beach for a walk at about 10 in the morning and we were talking about it and we made a deal right then that it was done and over and it was a fun time and we wished it would have gone different but we pretty much buried it in the sand on the beach that next day. When people ask me how long it took to get over that it took about 10 or 11 hours and that is it. I came into this season planning on winning about 10 races and dominating this thing. We went to Daytona and sat on the pole and I thought it was on. It just hasn’t gone our way. I appreciate everyone wondering why we are running poorly but basically I think we have had a little bad luck and just haven’t been quite as fast as we have needed to be. I promise you that I get in that car ever week with the plan on winning.”
ANOTHER THEORY IS SOME PEOPLE WHO SAY BECAUSE YOU ARE A FAMILY MAN NOW, THAT IT HAS AFFECTED YOUR RACING. “Yeah, I have heard that one too. The same way the fans question me and ask these things I do the same things. I ask if I am spending enough time at the shop, am I emotionally in this the right way? Am I eating the right things? Am I sleeping enough? I go through everything and I have to say that my family has been the best thing in my life. Truly, it is the best thing that I have ever done. When I got married in 2009, that first year was slow. We didn’t run very well, all of Roush didn’t. Everyone said it was because I was married. Then at the end of 2010 we won a couple races, 2011 we were dominating all year. I read everything from it was because I settled down and was having kids. Whatever you are doing generally people say that is why you are doing well or doing poorly. I tell you what, I feel like I have given a lot of reasons and excuses here but the basic thing is that me, Carl Edwards, I get up every day and think about how I can be the best race car driver and I plan on doing that for a long time. We might have a bad year here or there. I guarantee it to everyone who supports me that, more often than not, we will be fast and I will be doing this for a long time until we get plenty of championships.”
HOW BIG OF A LOSS IS IT TO YOU AND TO THE ORGANIZATION TO LOSE MATT KENSETH AT THE END OF THIS SEASON? “I think if it weren’t for Ricky Stenhouse being there waiting to run that 17 car it would be a huge loss for our team. It is still a big loss because Matt is such a great teammate and is a champion and knows as much about this sport as anyone. For me, it is kind of frustrating because we have become really good friends. We had more than one run-in, but just one that was on TV, and I don't think we liked each other for about two years but once we got to know each other I really started to think a lot of Matt Kenseth. He is a guy I look up to in the garage a lot. He is a great person and a great driver. I am sad that he is going to go to another team because I know how much he will help them but I am telling you that Ricky Stenhouse is as exciting and as talented as any driver that I have seen in this sport. I think he has about everyone in this garage nervous because he is so good.”
YOU TESTED AT MARTINSVILLE. HOW MUCH DID THAT HELP YOU FOR THE RACE THIS WEEKEND? “I am pretty slow at Martinsville. We have just been terrible there the last couple of years. The test helped a little bit. I think we have a better game plan there and if we can get a top-five at Martinsville and run up front all day that would be a huge step forward for us. I think that 2013 test helped a little bit, and it is time for us to have a good run. I think Chad and all the guys are working really hard on it.”
DO YOU HAVE THE LUXURY OF DRIVING DIFFERENTLY AT MARTINSVILLE THIS WEEKEND THAN YOU WOULD IF YOU WERE IN THE CHASE? “Yeah a little bit. I can be more aggressive and don’t have to worry about points. It has been a long time since I have gone to Martinsville and didn’t have to worry about points.”
Source: Ford Racing