Edwards Still Preparing For Championship -- In '13*

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion, has one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at Dover International Speedway. As the circuit heads back to the Monster Mile for the second time in 2012, Edwards spoke about his goals for the remainder of the season and what he and his team need to work on for improvement in 2013.

Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

THERE’S ALWAYS PRESSURE IN THIS SPORT, BUT HOW HAS IT CHANGED NOW THAT YOU’RE NOT FOCUSED ON TRYING TO MAKE THE CHASE? “I’ve had to come up with new things to create pressure. It’s a letdown to not have that big goal right now, so our goals have shifted to just winning races and, as important, building our team for next year. Those are the goals now, so there’s not a lot of pressure with either one of those goals. We know how to win races and we’ll do it if we can. We know how to build a good team and we’ll do that, so it’s almost like the biggest goal for me is the 2013 championship. This is the earliest I’ve ever started thinking about a championship for next year, but that’s what we’re doing. That’s what we’ve got so we’ve got to make the most of it.”

HOW DO YOU DO THAT SPECFICALLY? “It’s about the people and deciding what we’re going to devote our resources towards – what kind of testing, what parts of the car and what problems we’re going to try to fix. How do we make our pit crew faster? How can I communicate better? All of those things. This sport is so close. We were painfully reminding this year that being a little off or having a little bad luck like spark plug wires or throttle linkages or me not paying enough attention to miss a wreck at Bristol, all of those little bitty things where you just have a momentary lapse can have a huge impact, so we’ve got to recommit ourselves. I know I am to being a perfectionist on everything and making the most of it.”

IS IT A MATTER OF TAKING A LEGAL PAD AND WRITING IT DOWN? “Yeah. We kind of had a heart-to-heart about a week ago and we said, ‘Hey, look. If we can just back up a few feet and look at this thing objectively, where are we losing these races? Where is our performance?’ And we have specific areas. We have about three or four things that we need to be better at and those are the things we’re working on. That’s all you can do is be real honest with yourself and say, ‘This is our problem. How do we fix it?’”

CAN YOU TELL US WHAT THOSE ARE? “Basically, we’ve got to be faster on pit road. That’s a start. We’re half-a-second to a second behind on pit road and that starts with me getting in the box, with everybody being able to work together. We know our guys can do it, we just have to do it consistently. We have to qualify better consistently. That could be the way we practice, the way I drive, the way I communicate. That has to be better. And the balance of our race cars has to be a little bit different than it is now. That’s something we struggle with at some tracks and we’ve got to work on those things, so I would say those are the three biggest things that if we could fix all three of those things each week, we’d have a lot better chance of winning. The good things we have is that our engines are really great and we don’t have a lot of parts breaking, things that for a lot of teams would be problems. We don’t have a lot of those problems. I feel like our problems are pretty simple to fix.”

YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT HOW YOU HAVEN’T REALLY HAD A CHANCE TO GET TO KNOW CHAD NORRIS VERY WELL SINCE HE CAME ON BOARD. IS THIS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENHANCE YOUR COMMUNICATION AND BUILD SOME CHEMISTRY? “Yes, and we talk a lot. If you look at how we’ve run compared to our teammates, I think Chad is doing a very, very good job. It seems like almost every practice we’re the same speed as our teammates and in the races we’re as fast or faster than our teammates, so we’re doing well, we just have to work on those things. At some point you have to say, ‘OK, we’re doing the best we can with the tools we have. We need to make our tools better. We’ve got to take the next step.’ And Chad is right at the front of that. He’s the guy standing there saying, ‘Let’s break this down into simple things. What can we do?’ So I think that’s good.”

DO YOU GO THROUGH THESE NEXT EIGHT RACES ASSUMING YOU’LL HAVE THESE SAME GUYS STARTING IN 2013? “No, nothing is in stone. I’m going into these next eight races, and I know everybody on the team is, saying we’re wide-open to anybody’s ideas and any changes we can make to be better. From me all the way down to any parts of the car that are getting built, anything we can make better we’re gonna make better. So there’s nothing in stone and that’s it.”

DOES YOUR POSITION OPEN UP SOME TIME FOR OTHER THINGS? “I didn’t have to go on the media tour, but I enjoy getting out there and doing that stuff. As much of a burden as some of it seems like sometimes, I can tell you it’s a hell of a lot better than sitting at home. I probably complained last year about something in Chicago and I shouldn’t have because I was at home the other day thinking, ‘Man, I wish I was there getting asked those same questions over and over and over.’ I would have given anything to have been there. I guess I do have a little more spare time, but anybody who is around me knows that I don’t like spare time that much anyway, so I’d rather be out there talking about how great our team is and how we’re gonna win a championship.”

Source: Ford Racing