Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus, is fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings, trailing leader Tony Stewart by 149 points. Edwards spoke about the chase after Friday's second practice session. CARL ...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus, is fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings, trailing leader Tony Stewart by 149 points. Edwards spoke about the chase after Friday's second practice session.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Office Depot Taurus
BIFFLE SAID EARLIER HE WAS SURPRISED WITH HOW YOU'VE DONE THIS SEASON. ARE YOU SURPRISED? "Yeah, to be honest with you I am surprised. This is my first full season of Cup competition and I think, really, what's happened here is I guess I got here just at the right time. The teams are as strong as they can be. We've got the smartest people around us. The bodies are great. The engines are great. I think I'm the one that benefits and it's making me look really good, so the success we've had is not all of my doing that's for sure. I'm aware of that, but I am enjoying it."
THERE SEEM TO BE SOME HEAD GAMES GOING ON. ARE YOU AWARE OF IT AND HOW MUCH OF THAT GOES ON? "It can be intimidating - this level of competition and the competitors here they can, but we're all doing the same thing and we're all human. I learned from a very early age in competition at the local dirt track that you can't let any of that get in your head. No matter what anybody says or what anybody does, I come to the race track with the same attitude every week and that's the bottom line. I learned that when I was about 17 or 18 years old and we first started winning races and things got ugly at the local track. You just can't let any of that get to you."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHASE AT THIS POINT? "I think we're just on the outside of having a good chance to win the championship. If we were to do it, it would be spectacular. It would be a long shot, but I tell you what, stranger things have happened. There are only four guys I would trade with right now in the garage points position wise, so I think we're doing OK. We'll make something happen here."
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE WINNING HERE? "A lot of things have changed in my life since I won back here, but the one thing I've tried to do is just keep everything as simple as possible. I know that I'm getting an amazing opportunity that drivers all over the world would love to have, so what I try to do with my daily life is just work hard to be the fastest race car driver I can be and to be conscious of the wonderful opportunity I've gotten."
HAVE YOU HAD COMPETITORS PLAY GAMES WITH YOUR MIND IN OTHER SERIES? "Yeah. Racing at the local dirt track we won two track championships in 2000 and 2001, and to be honest with you, that was more stressful and more hard on me than this is right now. It's just because that was the first time I'd experienced it. People get bitter and people get mad and people try to play head games. The real smart guys will mess with you."
HOW? "Their crew or they'll start little rumors. It's just competition. That's what makes it awesome. Whatever you can do. Anything is fair game. The other day I woke up and went down to my truck at my apartment and somebody wrote, 'Go Tony #20' on my truck. They did it with shoe polish and it was real nice writing. They were real nice about it and I laughed. Then I scraped it off and I thought, 'Man, it would be a good idea to get somebody to go to everybody's house and write, Go Carl Edwards #99.' Because it gets in your head, little stuff like that. Like I said earlier, the biggest thing is to just come to the race track and no matter what anybody says or what anybody thinks or what the media says, just do your best every week and keep your head in the game."
SINCE THIS IS UNEXPECTED BEING HERE HAS TO BE FUN? "Oh yeah, everything is a bonus right now. We didn't expect to be in the chase. We don't have pressure on us necessarily to win the championship. It's all self-imposed pressure, so we're in the perfect position. I mean, just go out here and do the best we can, have a good time and everything is gravy. It's good."
DO YOU KNOW ANYBODY ELSE WHO HAS COPIED YOU AND PUT AN AD ON A BUSINESS CARD OR IN THE PAPER? "Yeah, I've seen drivers - quite a few. The latest is Boston Reid. The Hendrick development program wasn't a good fit for him and now he's looking for a ride and he came and showed me his business card he had the other day and I thought that was pretty cool. The bottom line is you're just trying to sell yourself and any drivers that are out there that can do the job, all they need is the opportunity so you've got to have some sort of medium to get people to understand that."
HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I want to win that championship more than anything in the world. It would be the greatest accomplishment. I hopefully will have plenty of chances in my career to win, but to win it in our first shot would mean the world. And being here in Atlanta and running as well as we are so far here on Friday, I mean it feels good. If we can run this well the rest of the year we will be contending."
WHAT WAS THE WEIRDEST THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU AFTER WINNING IN ATLANTA? "I don't know. Every day is unusual for me, honestly. The people who know me well and know where I was four years ago, when I have my friends from home come to the races and come see what goes on around here, they stand back and look at situations like what's going on right here and they just laugh. The know exactly who I am and where I'm from and all of this is really unusual, so I don't really have one thing."
BUT YOU DID BUY A PLANE. "Yeah, I did buy a plane. I flew it here, so that was pretty weird."
YOU FLEW IT? "Yeah, I just got my instrument rating and Jack's been helping me a lot with it. Matt Kenseth he's getting his too. He's working on it. I think race car drivers and airplanes go together pretty well. They're just neat machines and I've always thought about being a pilot, so I'm having fun with that. It is pretty funny. I have to pinch myself when I'm flying along at night in my own airplane going to a race somewhere. That's pretty cool."
YOUR MOM SAYS YOU STILL HAVE TO ASK HER FOR PARKING METER MONEY. "Oh yeah, I did. I asked my mom, 'Is the parking meter running this week?' I don't ever have any cash. They send my check straight to the bank, so when I don't have my card I don't have any money. So I still borrow money from people. They think it's funny." WHAT KIND OF PLANE? "I got a Piper Saratoga."
HOW DID YOU LIKE FLYING IN THE F-15? "The F-15 was unbelievable. If I would have done that when I was about 16 or 17 years old, I don't know if I'd be standing here. I'd probably be trying to go through flight school. That was an awesome experience. To see what those guys go through, they go through all the physical things we do and more physical things, and at the same time they're trying to survive. It's like racing, but with a whole other dimension. It's pretty wild."
WAS IT WHAT YOU THOUGHT? "It was different than I thought it would be. I thought maybe that I would understand nine G's, but you can't understand nine G's until you go do it. I mean, when he pulled that stick back I couldn't believe it. It was like somebody set a truck on top of you. It was wild."
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A HOUSE? "Yeah, we found a house. I'm just kind of waiting for everything to go through, but that will be kind of wild to be a homeowner. That'll be pretty interesting. It's got a garage, so that would be the coolest part. I've always wanted this old Cadillac convertible and if I get that house that's the first thing I'm gonna go get is this old Cadillac. That will be pretty cool."
DO YOU STILL FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN COLLEGE LIVING IN AN APARTMENT? "Oh yeah. I have a blast. My PR person, Sheri, gives me a schedule. It's kind of like a month in advance, so I know everywhere I have to be and the rest of the time I either go to the shop and work on being faster in the race car or go ride my motorcycle or go back home. I get to live a really adventurous, fun life and it is, it's pretty wild. It's kind of like college all over again, except it's a little bit more fun."
WHAT'S IT LIKE HAVING AN ENGINEER AS A CREW CHIEF? "That's a really good question. I think Bob Osborne is a really great crew chief for a number of reasons, but his engineering background definitely helps. The one thing that I think helps with Bob being an engineer, the one thing that stands out the most, is he doesn't get caught up in anything. He understands everything that's going on. He doesn't do any monkey-see, monkey-do stuff. He does everything for a reason and we end up being scientific and methodical through our process of car setup and we don't really head down the wrong path too often. That's really valuable because you don't have a lot of time to waste." HOW DOES HE MAKE YOU A BETTER DRIVER? "I think Bob and I are so different that it really keeps me in check. He's not a super bubbly guy. His mood doesn't swing high or low. He's really even keeled and I'm the opposite. When I'm doing really well I'm just pumped and excited. I can dismiss a lot of stuff and when things are going well I get real down and out and change a little bit. Bob stays the same all the time, so he really keeps me grounded. That's pretty cool." SKILLWISE HOW DOES HE HELP YOU? "He does a really good job of keeping everything simple. We got along really well at the start when we first met and it's amazing because we still get along better and better. I don't know if there's one specific thing about him that makes him so good, but I think overall he just has a real high level of intelligence. I heard somebody the other day who defined intelligence by being able to solve a problem and we had a lot of problems and he solved most of them, so I think he's pretty smart."
WHO IS MORE RECOGNIZED IN PUBLIC NOW, YOU OR YOUR GIRLFRIEND. "I don't know. It kind of depends on where we are. If we go to the swimming pool, everyone walks right past me and they don't even notice me. They go straight to her. But at the race track probably me. I don't know. She's got some really neat stuff coming up on the horizon with some television stuff and things, so she'll probably get ahead of me pretty far here."