CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion "This is the biggest win of my career. This is awesome. To win the night race at Bristol is huge and I can't thank Bob Osborne enough for making the right calls. We were dropping back at the ...
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
"This is the biggest win of my career. This is awesome. To win the night race at Bristol is huge and I can't thank Bob Osborne enough for making the right calls. We were dropping back at the beginning and he used everything he knew and all the engineering and everything that he could muster to make some adjustments and the car just kept getting better and better. We had a blast. The end of the race took about five years off my life just with the cautions and knowing we were gonna have restart after restart, but to win this race is huge. Kasey did a great job. My hat's off to him. What he did last night was spectacular. That was one of the coolest moves I've seen and to be able to race him for this win was really awesome."
BOB OSBORNE, Crew Chief -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
"For the calls, with all the green flag laps we ran kind of made it an easy race to call for me. I had fewer opportunities to really mess the car up, I think. It was a strange race in that we had so few cautions and so many green flag runs and I personally like that. I like the fact that the track allows a lot cleaner race. The drivers can go out there and compete with the equipment they have and not have to force their way around other cars, which makes this upper-level good race track to now a great to spectacular race track, I think. As far as adjustments and so on, we didn't do a whole lot to the race car. You'd be surprised at what we actually did -- just a little bit of air-pressure adjustment here and there."
WAS THIS A CASE OF YOUR CAR GETTING BETTER OR MORE OF KASEY'S LOSING A LITTLE?
CARL EDWARDS: "I don't know. I can't remember the lap times. I don't know how we stacked up to the field at the beginning of the race. I know Bob was telling me we had the fastest car at the end of the race. He said there was nobody coming, so I'd have to say it was our car maybe getting a little better, which I was nervous about. Right off the bat, when they dropped the green we got to the lead and I thought, 'Man, everything is gonna be great,' and then the car faded really badly. I was nervous that everybody else was gonna get way better than us the whole day and we were gonna be in big trouble. I do believe, though, that our car just got better and better and that's a big testament to Bob and the team and how hard everyone has been working. I know when they unveiled these cars of tomorrow we were in trouble, so it's awesome to come out to a race track and be competitive."
DO YOU FEEL THE CHASE FIELD IS SET?
CARL EDWARDS: "If I were 158 points ahead of 13th in 12th position, I'd still be having trouble sleeping at night. It's not done and until it's done, it's not done. I think the last spot is still up for grabs. I believe you can gain 140-some points on someone in one race, so two bad races for Kurt would be rough. Anything can happen and the two race tracks we're going to -- California is hard on engines and Richmond is just plain hard, so you never know."
HAVE THE CHANGES TO THE TRACK CHANGED THE BALANCE OF POWER?
CARL EDWARDS: "Yeah, I think in the big picture this is a transition race. You've gone from an older style car at a track that's been the way it's been for however many years to a new style race track. It looks a lot the same, but it sure isn't the same, so you've got a new race track and new cars. I believe it's gonna take a while to shake out the field and see which teams excel at this specific type of track and with these cars. So it is a change. It may look the same, but it's not. It's a very different race track. I think the thing I'm excited about is what I heard one of the Goodyear engineers say that they may bring back a tire with a little more grip, which I think will make it an even more spectacular race."
DID THE LONG GREENS ALLOW YOU TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO TO THE CAR?
BOB OSBORNE:\n "I believe it did and some of that had to do with how our car started the race. It seemed to be fairly good on a shorter run and knowing that we made a fairly long run initially, I knew pretty easy what direction I needed to go in with the car. The only major decision I had to make was the first series of cautions we had -- the very first one -- whether we stopped -- I think it was like 87 laps to go -- whether we stopped there and put tires on or not. That was the only major decision that needed to be made for the night."
ARE YOU THINKING, "FINALLY"?
CARL EDWARDS: "Big time. Last year went from hero to zero. What happened last year was frustrating. We were so close a few times. I felt like we had a car to beat at New Hampshire one race, we finished second. At Dover we finished second. The difference between winning and running second -- Michigan, it started raining and Kasey won and we finished second -- so Wally (Brown) did a great job and the team was doing a great job, but we just did not get the results. It's easy to do. Tony and Greg and myself all missed the chase. We were top three and this sport is tough, but the greatest feeling in the world is to win these races and I tell you, it's awesome to win at a track like this that's a tough race track where you can have a lot of pride as a driver winning. This is a big win for me and, yet, it's a huge contrast from last year."
MANY DRIVERS HAVE SAID THE TRACK IS BETTER AS FAR AS PASSING IN THE TURNS, BUT THE DIFFERENCE FROM LAST NIGHT TO TONIGHT THERE SEEMED TO BE MORE COMPETITION. WAS IT A RESULT OF YOUR CAR AND KASEY'S CAR BEING THAT MUCH BETTER?
CARL EDWARDS: "I think if last night's race would have been 500 laps rather than 250, it would have looked a little differently. Two hundred and fifty laps sounds like a lot, but here, a guy can hardly come from the back and get up to where he belongs if he's a fast car in 250 laps. I guess what I'm saying is that the longer the race, the more likely people will be in a position where they stack up to where they should be compared to how fast their cars are, so the only thing I think that would have shook it up tonight would be if the tires had more grip and they fell off quicker because I think you would have seen more people take tires and be able to fight their way to the front. That's why I'm so excited about the future races if they do that because it's gonna be spectacular. If the 10th-place guy or 15th-place guy could have taken tires with 110 laps to go tonight and the tires would have been a tick better, he would have been fighting for the win."
DID YOU SEE ANY ADVANTAGE TO A CERTAIN LINE AND WILL THAT CHANGE IN YEARS TO COME?
CARL EDWARDS: "I don't know how concrete ages. I know asphalt, I kind of have a good feel for how it ages, but I think when they get the tires just right, that's gonna be the biggest thing. I don't think the concrete will change a whole lot, but I think when the tires get just right, people get to work on their cars a little more here, I know everyone was kind of -- we unloaded and we could have been 40th-quick, but we were pretty fast, so everybody was kind of taking a guess at it and as it evolves a little bit, it will be different but I don't see the track changing a lot. Maybe it'll get some bumps in it and stuff and that will be good."
WHY IS THIS SUCH A BIG WIN FOR YOU AND WILL PEOPLE HAVE TO APPRECIATE A DIFFERENT KIND OF RACING HERE?
CARL EDWARDS: "You don't have to bump somebody out of the way to pass now, so it does make it drive differently because the way you pass people is different. The reason it's such a huge win is that it's Bristol, it's a short track, it's really tough, it's 500 laps, it's grueling. I mean, this is what I always thought of as a Nextel Cup race. This is what it's about -- a Saturday night at a really tough track that's historic. The things that have happened here are spectacular. I guess, to me, if you win at a track like this it feels really good as a driver. It feels like winning at a big dirt race or something somewhere where you know you had a big part in the way it went."
SO FANS WILL HAVE TO GET USED TO A DIFFERENT KIND OF RACING?
CARL EDWARDS: "Yeah, you can't put 30 degrees of banking on a half-mile and 160,000 seats around it and not have a good race. You're going to have a good race no matter what, but I do think it's gonna be a little different type of racing. I sat and watched the truck race from up there in the grandstands and it was kind of weird to see guys running the high line and stuff. I think it's just gonna be more exciting. It's gonna race like a big track and be this tight all at the same time, that's pretty cool."
WHERE DO YOU STACK UP AS FAR AS RACING FOR THE TITLE?
CARL EDWARDS: "I feel pretty good about the championship. I'm glad to be a part of this team. I feel like Jack and Max Jones, the manager, and Bob and Robbie Reiser, and all the crew chiefs, I feel like we've got a group of racers and people who will do anything it takes to be the best we can in this sport. It's neat, the sport has its ups-and-downs and it was very frustrating last season at times and at the beginning of this season, but I know I firmly believe that hard work can get you somewhere and I feel like everyone has been working really hard. Jack said it really well early in the season when he said, 'Those guys are faster than us now, but if we can peak at the right time, if we can be fast at the right time, we're gonna be great,' and we've been moving in that direction and I'm really excited about it, so I guess I'd say I feel like we stack up pretty well."
Continued in part 2