EDWARDS COMPLETES ATLANTA SWEEP; EARNS FIRST CUP VICTORY * Carl Edwards captured his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory with today's win at Atlanta. Note: Media Center Press Conference CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Scotts Taurus HOW DID...
EDWARDS COMPLETES ATLANTA SWEEP; EARNS FIRST CUP VICTORY
* Carl Edwards captured his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory with today's win at Atlanta.
Note: Media Center Press Conference
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Scotts Taurus
HOW DID YOU DO IT?
"I have to thank my sponsors first because if it wasn't for them coming on board, I wouldn't be driving the car this year. Scotts, World Financial Group, AAA and Office Depot. I thank Jack Roush for giving me this opportunity. As far as the race is concerned, my pit crew got us off pit road, I believe, first on that last pit stop and that was unbelievable. If it wasn't for that, we wouldn't have been in position to win. As far as the race, I just drove as hard as I possibly could trying to figure out a way to get by Jimmie, which is just about impossible, and it just worked out at the end. I can't believe it worked out."
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING?
"No, not at all. To be honest with you, this is beyond my wildest dreams and I'm enjoying every minute of it. About two and a half years ago I was working on my dirt car in my garage at home and this is pretty cool. It's unbelievable."
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE BACKFLIP?
"I almost didn't make it around on that one. I was a little wore out and excited. I was definitely off, but I'll make it up to them next time. Tyler Walker gave me that idea. He's a World of Outlaws driver and now he drives in the Busch Series and it's just a good way to show how excited I am. I don't know. The pictures look kind of neat. I think that's kind of cool, but that's about it. It's just something fun to do."
JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - No. 99 Scotts Taurus
WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT WHEN HE'S DOING THE BACKFLIP AND WHAT ABOUT THE 99 TURNAROUND?
"The first time I saw him do it I thought it was luck. I went over and said, 'We're going to be doing this a long time and if you keep doing that and relying on luck to get you around it's not gonna work.' He said, 'Don't worry about it. When I was in college I had a girlfriend that would help me with it. I had a padded room and I fell down a lot, but I'm not gonna fall down. I can do it.' I guess it's not bragging if you can do it and he's been doing it really well. The 99 team gets a standard ration of grain and nutrients just like every other team - the very best we've got all the time and that's what it's had forever. Bob Osborne was there before Carl came and we've only had a handful of people change. Just a few people have changed and it's realized its potential. Not all the combinations are right for all the drivers any given time, but Carl has gotten in there. He took a look at Mark Martin and said, 'You know, if Mark can drive it, if you'll just serve me up a portion of what Mark's got, I'll go out and do my business with it.' On the other hand, when Mark won his race at Las Vegas in the Busch Series - actually Carl let him have one with his flat tire at Las Vegas - they asked what he thought about Carl and he said, 'You know, if I was a little younger I'd pick up the backflip myself.' I'm pretty sure that will take him a long ways."
DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD HIM AT THE STRIPE?
"Boy, yeah I guess I did know. That was kind of a surreal moment for me. I don't really know how to explain it. I was thinking a lot of things and somehow, yeah, I knew we won the race. Was it really like a foot or something? I thought it was a little more than that, so that makes me more grateful."
YOU JUST FOLLOWED JIMMIE THE LAST FEW LAPS.
"Yeah, I'm really glad he was leading the race with 10 to go rather than me because I felt like for not having won a race before that point I would have been really, really nervous leading. Just like yesterday in the Busch car, I was a little nervous. I don't think I drove as well as I did today in the Cup car being second - being able to watch everything Jimmie was doing and taking that into consideration and pressure him. I was just kind of carting around trying different things. I noticed he was having just a little bit of trouble every once in a while, so I could tell that I was giving him a little bit of pressure, but, man, it just all came together there on that last lap. It was pretty neat."
YOU WEREN'T HAVING THE EASIEST TIME CHASING JIMMIE.
"Yeah, the race track has different levels of grip all over it and I was using one amount of throttle, which was all of it. Every once in a while we'd go over a spot that didn't have much grip and it would spin the rear tires. I was just being really aggressive and I probably hurt our chances a little bit by doing that, but the car was just a little bit free. In Bob Osborne's defense, I'm really excited about how well he got it for that last run because that was the best it had been all day and I was able to go hard pretty comfortably - more than I could earlier in the day."
YOU GOT REALLY SIDEWAYS.
"Yeah, coming off of two? I grabbed a lot of right turns on that one, but when you're trying that hard it's pretty easy to correct those things."
WHY WILL CARL BE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER YOUNG DRIVERS WHO START FAST BUT DON'T MAKE IT ALL THE WAY?
"That's the stuff of editorials. We're yet to determine how good he can be, but I certainly think he'll be able to go all the way. I was more excited watching today's race. In fact I'm still so excited I can hardly talk. I've never been more excited at any race than I was today, including the first race we won in 1989 with Mark. For Carl to fall into Jimmie Johnson's tire tracks and go out there and noodle a place on the race track where there was enough grip for him - to spin the daylights out of his Goodyear tires. I don't know if anybody but me looked at the tire, but before he did his burnout, when he was out there doing his backflip, he's got two inches of rubber missing - two inches of cords showing all the way around the outside of that left-rear tire. So he had no tire at all. He did it strictly on guts and determination. That is incredible that he was able to pull that off. I couldn't be more excited or proud of Carl and his family and Scotts and everybody that stands behind it. I told Carl he's my retirement. If I can do this thing as long as he can do it, then maybe that will be enough for me. Right now I'm 63, I would 83. Yeah, I could probably do that. (laughing)."
CARL'S ENTHUSIASM SEEMS TO INFECT EVERYBODY, INCLUDING YOURSELF.
"It's contagious. It was also Bob Osborne, our crew chief for our 99 car, it was his first win. It was probably more folks that had their first win today than any time in recent memory, any team in recent memory. That's a fairly new, young, yet to be really successful group of people that are assembled there. Carl, when they had a bad pit stop he rubbed them down and said, 'Guys, it's gonna be OK. We're in this together. It'll be alright.' He gives praise where it helps and he consoles where it helps. Carl is the entire package and there aren't that many entire packages out there as we see."
WERE YOU AS LOOSE AS YOU APPEARED AND DID YOU MAKE THE CALCULATED DECISION TO FREE THE CAR UP ON THE LAST STOP?
"I don't know what that last corner looked like, but we tightened the car up that last run. That's the tightest the car had been. I was just driving it harder, so once you get the car pivoted, you can really stand on it when it's tight like that and that's what we were doing there. The car was just about perfect. All four tires were aimed the same direction, the throttle was down and whatever it looked like that's what it looked like. I don't really remember much about that last corner, I was just kind of going wherever it was going."
BIFFLE SAID IT APPEARED JIMMIE MIGHT HAVE BEEN CLEAR ENOUGH OF YOU TO MOVE UP AND BLOCK. JIMMIE SAID HE MIGHT HAVE HAD SIX INCHES BUT IT WAS TOO CLOSE TO RISK. DO YOU THINK HE HAD ROOM TO BLOCK AND WERE YOU ANTICIPATING THAT?
"There wasn't anything in the world that was gonna take my foot off that throttle pedal at that point. Nothing. Whatever would have happened it would have happened."
YOU ARE THE 11TH GUY IN HISTORY TO WIN IN ALL THREE SERIES AND THE FIRST TO REGISTER HIS FIRST BUSCH AND CUP WINS ON THE SAME WEEKEND. CAN YOU PUT IT IN WORDS AS TO HOW YOU FEEL?
"Some day I'll be able to explain it better, but I can't really describe to you guys what this all means to me. It means a lot. I don't think I could describe it right now, but it just means the world to me."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW BIG THIS IS FOR YOU AND HOW YOU GOT HERE IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME?
"Everything just worked out perfectly. I had a lot of really good people. My mom (Nancy Sterling) and her husband, Jim Sterling, are unbelievable. They've helped me so much. My mom has always been my backbone and supported me so much. My dad is the smartest racer in the world and I feel like the things I do on the race track and the way that I approach racing is because of my father. But as far as getting from running our dirt car to here, I just realized through a little bit of help from my mother that the only way you can get where you want to go is to make it happen and to make things work. So I printed business cards and went to every race that I could get to physically and did everything I could do to meet as many people as I could. I sent out resumes and did everything just to get opportunities. I tried not to get opportunities that were so far advanced that I couldn't perform well. I tried to just slowly step up the ladder. People just gave me opportunities. Mike Mittler put me in his Craftsman Truck way before anybody should have put me in something like that. It's a long story, but the bottom line is a lot of folks have really just been very good to me for some reason. I'm really grateful."