Atlanta: No. 99 team press box interview

PRESS BOX PRESS CONFERENCE CARL EDWARDS DO YOU FEEL LIKE A SUPERSTAR? "No, I definitely don't. I don't. I guess from the outside a couple of years ago if you would have told me we just won this race and won the Busch race and everything...

PRESS BOX PRESS CONFERENCE

CARL EDWARDS

DO YOU FEEL LIKE A SUPERSTAR?

"No, I definitely don't. I don't. I guess from the outside a couple of years ago if you would have told me we just won this race and won the Busch race and everything was just going great I'd say, man, I feel like a superstar. But it doesn't happen quite that way. It seems like there's an awful lot of work and an awful lot of people like Bob Osborne and Jack Roush, who put so much work and effort into it that now I think I have a better understanding of what it takes. The thing that makes it happen, there's nothing magical or spectacular, it's just hard work and dedication. So it just seems like I don't feel like a superstar. It's like, 'Wow, it's amazing that all of this work is paying off.' It's that type of feeling."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR DIRT RACING BACKGROUND?

"I had a lot of fun when we were doing our dirt racing and stuff. I got to do some fun jobs like substitute teach and I worked a little bit of construction and things like that. All of that made me realize that I really wanted to make a living racing because this is a lot of fun. The dirt track experience, I wouldn't trade that for anything. That and the USAC Silver Crown experience, the Baby Grand Stock Cars, everything I've driven, I think, has helped me to prepare for this and I think it's done that with actually handling the car and the differences in all the race tracks. It's helped me with that and being able to adapt to the different engineering stuff that Bob comes up with as far as springs and setups because they all handle very differently."

WE KNOW YOU CAN DO BACKFLIPS, BUT CAN YOU LEAP TALL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND?

"That's funny (laughter)."

YOU WERE TRYING TO PASS THE LEADER AND HOLD OFF THE THIRD PLACE CAR. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

"I just feel like way too many people have worked way too hard for me not to give it 100 percent until the very end of that race. That's all there is to it. I'm not going to give up - ever - no matter what. I learned that from my father early on racing and I've learned it from a lot of people since then in life. That's all there is to it. If you can get it done, get it done because there's only one opportunity."

HAS JIMMIE JOHNSON TOLD YOU THAT HE THINKS YOU'RE THE NEXT SUPERSTAR?

"Jimmie has been an amazing competitor. He's been someone, just like everyone, I look up to Jimmie for his abilities and what he can do in a race car, but he's also been a really nice guy. I've met a couple of guys like that, Mark Martin and some others really stand out, but Jimmie seems like one of those guys that has a really good time racing. I think he enjoys it like I enjoy it and it's fun to race against him. When we were racing for lead out there, he's holding thumbs up out the window at some point in that race and I was like, 'Man, this guy is just having a blast.' He did that in the Busch race yesterday, too, so he's pretty cool. To be able to win against him, that makes this win very special to beat him on the last lap. That's a big deal for me."

JACK ROUSH

CAN YOU GO OVER YOUR REASONS FOR LEAPFROGGING CARL FROM TRUCK TO CUP?

"First of all, let me say that it takes three things to make these race teams work. This is not a secret, but I feel very strongly about it. It takes a driver that can. It takes technology and support from a manufacturer that is competitive with what else is out there and it takes a team that's able to support all that. I felt that I had a team in the 99 team that was able to support all that and I felt that I had technology or was demonstrating that I had technology that was capable and I wasn't willing to let the 99 team die, in spite of the fact that I lacked sponsorship. My decision making about keeping the 99 team alive was, I told Geoff Smith, our president, we will continue to run the car until we have no prospect of sponsor and you tell me I can't afford to do it. So we didn't reach that point where we couldn't afford to do it, even though our prospect for sponsors in the dark days there weren't great. Carl was the heir apparent for the 6 car. I designated Carl years before to be in the 6 car, so we were gonna run Carl one year in Busch and then move him into the 6 car when Mark retired. But with needing to make the decision to keep the 99 car alive, we had to go ahead and put him in the slot."

IF YOU HAD NOT BEEN SUCCESSFUL WITH KURT WOULD YOU HAVE TRIED IT WITH CARL?

"I've been running multiple cars and multiple drivers in my racing program since 1966, so I believe in what I do. I believe in my methods. They're well practiced and they've been successful over a period of time in four different series, so I wouldn't have given up on that. I felt that Carl had the ingredients, he had the capability, he was demonstrating the potential to make that move. If we hadn't have been successful with Kurt, that would have been the first case where I had judged a person to be ready that I had been unsuccessful and there was at least three or four different instances of pulling people ahead like that. When you add up all the things that were going for it, it was just compelling. Carl is so incredible. Kurt was so incredible. There are a handful of drivers behind them that have been similarly demanding that they be given the opportunity when it was available."

CARL EDWARDS

ANY CONCERN YOU COULD BE SPREADING YOURSELF THIN BETWEEN BUSCH AND CUP?

"I wouldn't change it a bit. Jack brought this up to me as an actual possibility last year at Richmond and I couldn't have been more excited about it. This is the perfect situation for me. I started driving race cars because I loved it and I love every lap of it, so the more laps the better. I think it's helping me definitely, especially with a lot of the Cup guys going down and running the Busch cars. I got a chance to race against Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson yesterday and I learned a lot from there. So I've just got to thank Charter and Ford and everyone for giving me such great stuff to go run in. It's amazing to get to hop in cars - two separate teams. Bob Osborne, the crew chief of the Cup car, and Brad Parrott, the crew chief for the Busch car, are both perfect. The teams are perfect. The engines are perfect and I just get to drive both of them. It's an honor."

JACK ROUSH

WHEN DID YOU SIGN CARL AND HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT HIM?

"Max Jones and Rich Reichenbach and Jimmy Eikish were running our Truck program, I guess it was three years ago now, in Michigan and they identified Carl as somebody that was incredibly talented and was doing a great job with equipment. There was some limitations of funding and the team was doing a great job. They were doing everything they could. They were keeping the faith and putting Carl in the best stuff that they could, but they didn't have all the resources that many of the people he was racing against had, and he did a better job than he should have been able to do. When we had an opening, Max went off to Carl's owner at that time and asked him if he would mind if we put Carl in a full schedule, rather than run the limited schedule he was on and in so doing being able to get him in more resources than he had.

"His owner was willing to step aside. Mike Mittler was willing to wish Carl well and see him on his way. Mike Mittler and Max Jones and Rich Reichenbach really set the stage for that. We can't say enough about what it means to be with great companies like Ford Motor Company that stands behind us, and with Goodyear for their great tires, and, of course, our engines ran flawlessly today. The Roush-Yates engine program with Doug and Robert Yates, with David George and all the guys down there. They're doing such a great job. We couldn't be doing what we're doing without all this great support we've got behind us."

WHY IS YOUR TEAM AND HENDRICK SO FAR AHEAD OF EACH OTHER?

"Well, certainly we're benchmarking against one another. We're parking against one another in the garage and the crew chiefs talk to one another and they look at the hardware. As much as I dislike it and I'm sure Rick dislikes it, there's a lot of cross-pollination with people that move around and have breakfast and lunch together in the Charlotte area. But, anyway, we're definitely challenging one another with what we do. I think the Hendrick organization and the Roush organization are fast out of the blocks. I think there will be other players in contention and other teams will obviously win races, but we're fast out of the blocks. There will be times when other teams that aren't winning races yet this year will be innovative and they'll have some of the luck that we've been having and they'll win their share. The way that Brian and the NASCAR organization has got the championship run set up, they're gonna line these 10 fast horses up nose to nose for those last 10 races and it's gonna be an all-new ballgame. This is the first part of the season. A minute ago I referred to it as a preseason season and maybe that was not being respectful enough of it, but these first 26 races are a time to accept your risk and to look for new things and to try to stand and perfect your package and then we'll really go racing after starting from Richmond on for the championship and we'll be well represented by many of the teams that aren't yet successful at this point in the season."

CARL EDWARDS

WHAT IS THE TRUE VERSION OF THE BUSINESS CARD STORY?

"The deal was my buddy was an aspiring actor and they have their comp cards, so I thought, 'Man, I need to get a card or some sort of piece of information that I can give to people.' I sat down and talked to my mom about it and she said, 'You need a business card. You need a business card that says you want to drive race cars.' And I thought, 'Man, that's great.' So I went down to the local printing shop - Accent Press - and they were awesome. They gave me a great deal. It was like 100 bucks for 2,000 business cards with my picture on them and everything on it. My whole resume was on the back - not in very small print either - but I had a resume and I just started handing them out to everyone. I think I passed out 2500 or 2800 of them. Everywhere I went I always had business cards. I figured eventually the whole world would know that I wanted to drive race cars and there would be some owner that would need a driver and somebody would say, 'Man, you ought to hire him,' so that's how that went. Also, I want to take a second to point out that Bob Osborne is an amazing individual. I think once you guys get to learn a little bit more about him like I have, you'll want to ask him a lot of questions about his motivation and his education and what makes him so good. I have a feeling that Bob is gonna be a huge player in this sport."

JACK ROUSH

"We think that Bob, from an education and from an experience point of view is gonna be a template of what crew chiefs will be in the years to come."

BOB OSBORNE , Crew Chief - No. 99 Scotts Taurus

WHAT MAKES YOU AND CARL CLICK?

"What makes us both click together? Probably that both of us are goofballs. Ninety percent of the time we're always clowning around and having fun. I think that makes the serious side of this sport a little easier to take for both of us. Because of that, we always have a good time. We get along and it makes the day go by quick."

CARL EDWARDS

WHAT WAS YOUR WORST DAY SUBSTITUTE TEACHING?

"There really were no worse days. It was a lot of fun. It was a good time. I got to clean up and get out of the shop and go do something and make a little money. But the funniest one was I was late, like I always am, and I showed up at this high school I hadn't taught there before and hadn't been there. I walked in and I had to go to the bathroom so bad. I really had to go - just like I did before I came in the press box here. I was like, 'Anybody, where's the bathroom?' And this kid tells me, 'It's right there.' He points to the door, so he goes down the hallway one way and I walk in the door and go to the bathroom. I'm washing my hands and this girl walks in and I'm like, 'Whoa, what are you doing in the bathroom?' And she's like, 'I don't know what you're doing in here, but this is the girl's bathroom.' And I thought, 'Man, this is a great way to start off the day.' So that kid got me on that one. I wish I remembered what he looked like because I was looking for him after that, but, other than that, it was always fun. I had a good time. I was just a substitute for the Columbia Public School District and the way they had it set up was they had an automated system that would call you in the morning around 6 a.m. and let you know which teaching jobs were available. I just marked K-12 and I was fine with whatever they had. I tell you what, it made me brush up on some subjects that I really hadn't thought much about because those kids ask a lot of really good questions. It was a neat experience. I have a lot of respect for people who teach on a full-time basis. Substitute teaching is very simple compared to that. They have one of the toughest jobs around."

BOB OSBORNE

DID YOU HAVE ANY REALISTIC HOPE CARL COULD WIN DURING THE LAST FEW LAPS?

"With five to go or so, Biffle and the 16 team came on pretty strong. At that point, I was thinking to myself, 'Top five finish. We've got to look at the big picture here and settle for a points race, instead of the victory.' Well, Jack came over the radio and gave Carl some advice and I think it lit the fire under Carl and Carl took off. At that point, he asked Carl to give Greg Biffle a little bit of room - to give Biffle a chance to win the race if Carl thought he was faster than him.'"

JACK ROUSH

"I don't know what I said, but what I meant to say was that if Greg had gotten to Carl, he was faster and he should let him go and let him try to win the race. But the thing that was clear from talking to Carl since, that I didn't recognize because my perspective was limited by being on the frontstretch here, is that he was obviously noodling around the race track trying to find some traction - trying to see where he could make his move - and he may have found a couple of things that didn't work and I was watching the things that weren't working for him and I thought he was done. I thought he spent his shot, but he was just getting ready as it turned out."

BOB OSBORNE

YOU KEPT TELLING HIM TO WAIT UNTIL 50 TO GO.

"Yeah, that's the gameplan we try to use. We used it last year and it worked fairly well for us and we're gonna stick with it this year. We try to keep a level head early in the race and not get into any position that could cause us some trouble and we wait for 50 laps to go before we really start pushing the car."

THOUGHTS ON THE LAST LAP?

"I was thinking about how unbelievable it was. He has an amazing ability. He ran a couple laps really high on the race track and cleaned all the dirt out of the way and I figured with one lap to go I knew he was gonna do that high line again and he was either gonna win the race or finish last - one of the two."

CARL EDWARDS

THOUGHTS ON BRISTOL.

"I love Bristol Motor Speedway. It's a lot of fun. We won the Truck race in our Superchips Ford there last season and that was one of the biggest victories of my career - to win at a race track like Bristol. Bob and I have discussed it and we feel pretty comfortable going there. I'm pretty excited with Kurt's success there and Roush Racing's success overall, we're really pumped about Bristol. I love it. My car definitely was not a fan of the contact after last season, but the racing I've done there I've realized that if you're faster than those guys and you prove that you're faster throughout practice and qualifying and even in the race, usually if you get your nose in there far enough they'll let you go."

BOB OSBORNE

WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION BACKGROUND?

"I have a bachelor's of science degree in mechanical engineering from Penn State University."

CARL EDWARDS

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH FUN YOU'RE HAVING?

"Just look at what we're doing. We're sitting up here above the most unbelievable race track you could ever imagine. All of you guys are working hard. We've got power and lights and driver's suits and money and haulers and race cars and all this stuff. It's the neatest thing in the world. It's like this huge awesome event and we get to go out there and race as hard as we can - drive as fast as we can and think as hard as we can about how to make the cars faster. And aside from all of that, there's this huge competitive aspect where you're competing against other human beings, which is the neatest thing in the world. We get to go out there and risk it all and race for glory and all that stuff. It's the most fun thing in the world. It's just awesome. We get to do all this and we get to take it seriously and it's something where the three of us sitting here have worked hard to get to do. I think it would be a shame to not be able to enjoy it a little bit, so I just try to have a good time. Trust me, I take it very seriously when we're out there racing. I do my very best, but I just can't help but feel bad for people who can't have fun doing this. I mean, this is as good as it gets."

JACK ROUSH

IS IT TOUGHER FOR YOU TO HAVE THIS MANY TEAMS RUNNING WELL?

"I'm rooting for all of them, obviously. My heart went out to Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth for getting caught up in that wreck early in the race. I generally find something to really be upset about by the time I get in and visit and have my staff meeting with the guys on Tuesday. There are ample things to try to improve, but we're just looking for excellence in everything we do. There are a lot of people around that have a lot of excellence, so we just have to identify and then go back and perpetuate it. That's what we do."

ANY CHANCE OF ADDING ANOTHER TEAM?

"There's no chance of adding another team anytime soon. Five is a load. If you look at our Truck and our Busch involvement, which we've got balance in our program, we've got 10 programs - seven drivers and 10 programs. We're pretty much maxed out. I just hope that I can keep doing this and the sponsors will give me the support and NASCAR will give me the racing room and I can continue to make deals for talented people like Bob and like Carl that will stay with us when they have other opportunities to do other things for other people."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Jack Roush , Robert Yates , Max Jones , David George , Mark Martin