Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, has three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, including the first of his career, at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He spoke about his success at the 1.5-mile track and what he expects this weekend before...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, has three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, including the first of his career, at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He spoke about his success at the 1.5-mile track and what he expects this weekend before qualifying started on Friday afternoon.
"First of all, it's really cool of Scotts and Aflac to let us come back with this retro paint scheme. Five years ago was a career-changing weekend for me. I got my first win in the Nationwide Series and we got our first win in the Cup Series, and it's really neat to walk back in the garage and see that Scotts Ford Fusion sitting there. I was just telling Dick Berggren that a lot has changed in five years. I've had a lot of really great things happen in my life and in my career, so that's fun. Right now, as a team we ran really well for a period of the race last week, so I felt we've got that little glimmer of hope that we're turning things around, and there isn't a better place that we could come than Atlanta to keep trying some things and hopefully have a good run to build our confidence and possibly get back to Victory Lane. The car was pretty good in practice."
WERE YOU DODGING DUCKS OUT THERE? "On the back of the car it says 'Making a Beautiful World,' and I did my part by dodging this bird. When you're going 160 miles an hour and you're about to hit a bird, they freak out. The bird went this way and I went that way and I missed him, so I felt like I did my part today."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SEVERITY OF THE BUMPS ON THE TRACK? "As we go on -- and I've only been doing this for five or six years -- but it seems like the tracks get more perfect and more perfect and it makes me appreciate this track more and more. This is my favorite oval to race on. Darlington used to be my favorite one, but this is my favorite one now. I'm sure eventually they'll repave it and it won't be as much fun, but, for now, those bumps are great. It gives it some character. It lets you drive the car and kind of pitch the car around them, or drive around them, and it makes it challenging. For me, I grew up racing on tracks -- like a lot of these guys -- that were just terrible. They had holes and lights out -- stuff that gave them character -- and I think it's really neat. I like the track the way it is now. I hope they never repave it."
YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE TIRES HERE? "We did the tire test here and I think the tires are great. If it holds up, it'll be good. Like the question about the pavement, you can drive the cars sideways here a little bit. You can lean on the tire and you can make some things happen. They seem to have pretty good grip in qualifying trim. I didn't run any race trim, so we'll see tomorrow morning how they last on a long run, but they were good during the test. I think they're better and easier to drive than the tire we used to have here."
THOUGHTS ON BRISTOL ADDING THE SAFER BARRIER. "Bristol will be a lot of fun and Martinsville will be a lot of fun. We've had a lot of success at Bristol. I like racing there. They've paved it and made it to where you could go the same speed anywhere on the track and it makes for some really tough racing and you don't really have to bump people out of the way to get by them. Sometimes we still do, but I think that will be fun. I don't think that will make much of a difference (the addition of more SAFER barriers). I think that, if anything, it'll make it a little tougher, which, I could tell by the release they put out there that that's what they want. It sounds like they'd put a jump on the back straightaway if they could, which is fine by me if they want to try that, but it'll be good. Those will be fun races."
IS IT STILL A CASE WHERE THE OUTSIDE LANE HAS AN EDGE ON A LAST LAP PASS COMING OFF TURN FOUR SIDE-BY-SIDE? "It depends on the grip and where your car is fast. The inside guy gets a little sideforce or rear downforce taken away sometimes, so you can kind of pinch that guy down and make him have to lift. I think on the last lap people will be fighting for the top, but anything can happen. This is a really neat race track, especially when it comes down to the last lap or two. You have a lot of options here as a driver. You can drive down all the way on the apron. You can really slide the car in the corner. You can do some really neat things. It's like a big dirt track. It gives you a lot of options, so I wouldn't be surprised if you see something entirely different if it comes down to it this year. It just depends. It's a cool track."
HOW CLOSE IS ROUSH FENWAY TO A BREAKTHROUGH THIS SEASON? "Well, we might be in the top 10, but we're not running as well as we need to be running. The good thing is though, about 75 laps in at Vegas I thought, 'Alright, this is it. We've got a car that can win here.' And then we kind of messed it up and didn't run so well at the end. I think the Childress guys running as well as they are, that definitely gives me hope that, 'Hey, if those guys can figure it out, we can figure it out.' We can compete with these guys, we just have to keep working. There is still a little bit of time and I think we're closer than we were, so we'll find out here and Texas -- these next few mile-and-a-half races are gonna be the ones that really tell us where we stand. Vegas, like I said, it gave me a little hope because we ran better there than I'd say in about a year and that's pretty big."
-source: ford racing