Atlanta II: Edwards - Friday media visit

CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion YOU WON YOUR FIRST RACE HERE, SO YOU MUST FEEL GOOD COMING HERE? "Yeah, I enjoy racing here just because of the track and the fans and the way the place drives, and how competitive it is. I also really...

CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion

YOU WON YOUR FIRST RACE HERE, SO YOU MUST FEEL GOOD COMING HERE? "Yeah, I enjoy racing here just because of the track and the fans and the way the place drives, and how competitive it is. I also really enjoy it because of the memories I have here. Five years ago, that weekend was really huge and changed my whole career. Everytime I come through the tunnel I remember that and it gives me a really good feeling. It seems like we have good cars in both the Nationwide and the Cup Series. The practices went really well and I'm just looking forward to the race. It's a long race and the tire, I think, is gonna make it a complex and difficult race for the driver and the crew chief. I think that strategy and the way you drive the car is gonna be huge, and that's really fun when it's more in your hands. I like that."

IF YOU HAVE A BEEF WITH A DRIVER WHO WINS A RACE, CAN YOU ENVISION GOING TO VICTORY LANE TO DISCUSS IT WITH HIM? "I think I've done that before (laughing). It just depends."

KYLE BUSCH DID IT LAST NIGHT IN THE TRUCK RACE? "I didn't see it, so I don't know. I can't comment on that particularly, but I've gone to victory lane before to explain to somebody about what happened, so it just depends. It's racing. Every situation is different, so I guess sometimes I would say that's acceptable. But, to be clear, I'm not commenting on what happened because I don't even know what happened."

AS YOU GUYS HAVE IMPROVED. ARE THERE SPECIFIC AREAS YOU KNOW YOU'RE BETTER AND AREAS YOU STILL NEED TO IMPROVE? "There are a couple of things we've been working on and it starts with that engine - the engine that Doug Yates and those guys have been developing. I think that helps us everywhere, so, right off the bat when we unload we're a little faster. And then we've been working really hard on some other things, but it's not just one thing it's a combination and it starts with that engine. It's been nice. These last six or seven weeks we've run very well. Being fourth in points and going up is a good feeling, so we just need to keep digging. I still don't think we're as good as we can be and that's good because here in a couple of weeks if we can peak right when that chase starts, it's gonna be good. But it's not one thing. It's a number of things."

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO IMPROVE ON? "I need to qualify better. That's a big deal. Watkins Glen was really good. Bristol was good and I think that showed us that if we can get that good qualifying position, and work on those qualifying setups in practice a little more, then even if we have something bad happen in the race, we're kind of ahead of the game. I'd say for us as a team, qualifying is kind of our number one effort and then still all of the stuff with the car - the setup and suspension geometry we've been working on - but strategy-wise, it's qualifying."

HOW SURPRISING IS IT YOU'VE LED ONLY SIX LAPS ALL YEAR? "That's an interesting statistic and, to me, that shows how much we've been able to do without a dominant car. We haven't had a car yet that's just been a world-beater during a race - that we can lead the whole thing. In a way, it shows me that we're maybe a stronger team than we have been in the past with cars that aren't able to go up there and dominate races. We're able to still have these great finishes and make up all these points. If we can have one of those or two of those or three of those races where we can go out and dominate, and we can do it in the chase, that's gonna be really nice. And if we can combine that with what we've been doing, it's gonna be really, really good for us. So it is interesting, but that shows you how hard we've been working."

CAN YOU EXPLAIN ABOUT TIRES HERE? "I'll try to explain it the best I can. When you drive down in the corner here, there's a certain amount of grip that you're looking for. You expect to drive down in the corner and have the car grip a certain amount, and what's happening here is that on the entry and exit of the corner, the tires feel really slick. The car has to be really compressed in the center of the corner to make a bunch of grip, so it becomes difficult to drive because it's like ice. You're sliding and sliding until you get the car compressed in the corner and then it turns. I don't know what causes that. I don't think my crew chief knows what causes that, so we've been struggling with it. In the race, you'll see guys kind of go in a little too hard and miss the line or something and the car just takes off sliding. It's just hard to drive, and I think that makes for great racing. I like that style of racing. I like that type of tire. I don't know how they can get it to do that at other places, but it's neat when you drive down here in the corner and you've got to pitch the car sideways and wait for it to grip and do all that. I think that's a neat way to race."

HOW MUCH DO THEY FALL OFF? "That's the other question. I think you're gonna see tonight in the Nationwide race, if the caution comes out and you've got 20-25 laps on your tires - in the Cup race, everybody is gonna get tires - but in the Nationwide race we've only got four sets sitting on the ground, so it'll be interesting to see. I think you could stay out, run a full fuel run, and a guy could almost stop, pit, and get tires in the middle of it and beat you. I don't know if I'm describing that well enough, but what I'm saying is new tires will make up for a pit stop after a certain number of laps. I think at the end of the Cup race, the decision to take tires, two tires or four tires, I think there will be people taking tires all the way up to six or eight laps to go. The race could be really dynamic at the end."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW TOUGH RICHMOND IS TO RUN? "Richmond has been really hard for us. My first race there we ran sixth and had a car that I think could have won the race. That was my first time there in a Cup car. I was like, 'We're gonna dominate this place,' and then went about eight more races before we had a good one again. But the last race there I think we finished fifth and the car was really good, we marched forward. Coincidentally, we qualified terrible. I don't know where we qualified but it was like 35th and then we ran fifth, so I'm pretty excited about that race. If we can come out of here with a decent finish, then all we're really doing at Richmond is just going for the win. We've put ourselves in a good position in points here, so we don't have too much stress. That will be a more fun race than it could have been for me, no matter which way it goes, I guess."

WHEN YOU LOOK BACK ON EACH SEASON YOU'VE EITHER WON A LOT OF RACES OR YOU HAVEN'T. HAS THAT FELT AS DRAMATIC TO YOU AS IT LOOKS ON PAPER? "I can tell you that I feel like my ability in the race car has steadily gone up. I feel like I have more experience and what I do now is look back and think, 'Man, I should have won so many more races.' If I had it to do over again, we had those screaming fast cars in 2008. In 2005 is a perfect example. I thought, 'It's only gonna get better.' I thought, 'This is easy. We're gonna win five or six next year and eight or 10 the year after that.' I thought, 'This is great.' Looking back, I had the golden ticket that year and just didn't know how to use it well enough, I guess. That's not exactly what you're asking, but it's interesting to look back and see how it's gone. I feel now I have a much better perspective on this sport and I'm not as quick to judge someone's talent as I used to be. I feel like now I'm just waiting for our cars to be perfect and everything to click and then we're gonna just go, so I have more patience, but I'd sure like to have those nine-race wins every season. That would be nice."

DOES IT FEEL THAT DRAMATIC? "The stats are all over the place, but I'm certain that I'm better than I was in 2005 and definitely better than I was in 2008. I think that, for me, that six laps led this season kind of shows me that we're able to make more with less, and not make those dumb decisions on the race track that I've made before. I believe if we can get it all put together, it's gonna be really good. We've just got to go do it."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW NERVE-WRACKING IT IS FOR GUYS ON THE BUBBLE? "If you make the chase, it's a good season. If you don't, that's really bad. There's enough of a point spread (between Bowyer, McMurray and Martin) that I would assume Mark and Jamie are just gonna go for it and hope for the best. But for Clint and those guys, a bad night here would be hugely stressful. My first year in 2005 I went to Richmond and that was probably the most stressful race I've ever had in my life. I didn't like that at all, so I'm glad I'm not in that position. Hopefully, we aren't in that position after tomorrow night, but the way Jamie and Mark have been running, anything can happen. They can run one-two and a couple guys could have trouble and it could be a whole different event in Richmond."

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU THAT WE'LL ONLY HAVE ONE RACE AT ATLANTA NEXT YEAR? "I wish we raced Atlanta every other week, maybe three times a month. I really, really like this place. To me, it's sad that we're not gonna run here twice. This track is really special for a number of reason, but, most importantly, it just puts on great races. Hopefully, this one event can become something that the fans really support. I know it will make an Atlanta win more special for the drivers, but just for the pure fun factor I wish we raced here more. It's too bad."

IS THE PERCEPTION OF FORD'S TOUGH SEASON CLOUDING THE FACT YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN IMPROVING AND COULD HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I'm not too concerned about the perception. The thing I am frustrated with is I like winning. All of us at Roush Fenway have been working so hard and we haven't won an amount that's representative of that hard work. The goal is, whether we win or not, my mission is just to go win the championship. I think in the last seven races, we've scored enough points that if those were the first seven races of the chase, we'd be leading regardless of no wins. For me, I've won the most races in a season and scored the most points in 2008. I know what that feels like. I'd be just fine with going and winning that championship whether or not we get a win. I'll try my hardest, but that championship would be nice, and I think that would be fitting for Ford with everything they've done by not using our tax money and doing their business right and supporting racing through all this. It would mean a lot to win for Ford."

-source: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup