Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion, has been leading the point standings for 10 straight races after originally taking the lead at Texas. Edwards, who is still seeking his first win at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, held a Q&A session before qualifying for tomorrow’s Coke Zero 400.
“This is gonna be a really, really wild weekend. With the two-car tandem drafting, I don’t know how to explain it but it seems like this has evolved. Even through practice yesterday it seems like everybody is just trying to figure out the little small things you can do to gain an advantage. I believe there will be things that happen in this race tonight and tomorrow that we haven’t seen yet. There will be guys trying new things and new tactics. I’m just glad we’re in a great position in the points because there’s no telling what’s gonna happen here. And I’m also really proud to represent Subway in both races. It’s a big weekend for Subway and our team. They haven’t been pressuring me too much, but I know how great it would be to win the Jalapeno 250 with the Subway car. That would be huge, so we’re going out there to get some victories. This is gonna be good.”
HAS FATHERHOOD CHANGED THE WAY YOU VIEW NEGOTIATING YOUR CONTRACT? “That’s a good question. In generalities it hasn’t. It’s just not much different. This is my career. My job is to do the best I can out here racing. I feel like I am the luckiest guy in the world and I’ve won the lottery. I just can’t believe I get to do what I love to do for a living. For me, I just want to do the best that I can. That’s my career. That’s what I do.”
SOME FANS DON’T LIKE THE TWO-CAR TANDEM DRAFTING. WILL THIS LAST FOREVER? WHAT CAN BE DONE TO GET BACK TO REAL RACING WHERE IT’S AN INDIVIDUAL AGAINST AN INDIVIDUAL? “That’s what’s interesting about this whole thing is if we come here and run these restrictor plate tracks the way we used to, I think that what we’re doing now is more racing than what we used to do just running around in a big pack. At least now two guys can get together and with their skill level and ability to work together, they can gain an advantage over other people. The whole underlying thing that people forget is that in these races when you don’t have to lift the throttle, it’s not auto racing in the classic sense. There’s no sliding the car around. There’s no talent in balancing the race car and managing the tire grip and things like that, so these races, for the last however many years they’ve had restrictor plates, they’re just races of placement of your car throughout the race and luck. At least now when two cars are together, you can kind of navigate around some of the stuff you don’t want to be around. You’re not just stuck in a big group of cars, so I think this is more racing than what it was before we were able to do this. I don’t think a lot of people understand, and I think that’s something I think is very important. I feel a little bit like when I get done with these races and people come up to me, like the Daytona 500 was a great example, people still come up to me and go, ‘Man, you came out of nowhere. You just must have got everything just right there at the end and you came out of nowhere and you finished second and you almost won that race.’ I feel a little bit, I don’t know the name or term of the emotion, but I don’t want to let them in on the secret that that was my plan. I wasn’t racing hard the whole time. I was trying to be there at the end, so I could compete for the win, and I think it’s a little unfair sometimes to our fans and it’s confusing to people who don’t understand the sport very well that these races are so different. They’re a totally different event. It’s not like going to Atlanta, where you just race your guts out and you try to go as fast as you can and get all the track position you can. We don’t do that here. We make sure we’re there at the end, then we go for the win and you just hope that it works out. It’s a much different style of racing. I didn’t like it before. Now I like it more with the tandem draft and I think we need to do a better job as a sport explaining that to people. I don’t even think some of the crew members and people understand what’s going on.”
DOES IT CROSS YOU MIND HOW FAR YOU’VE COME IN A RELATIVELY SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME? AND WITH YOUR FUTURE WILL YOU WRESTLE WITH LOYALTY OVER WHAT COULD BE GREENER PASTURES ELSEWHERE. ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO THAT OR ARE YOU DOING THAT ALREADY AND HOW WILL THAT GO FOR YOU PERSONALLY? “You guys come up with the greatest ways to ask these questions, but I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given – more grateful than people know. My mom and I were talking about it when we were coming back from the beach this morning. It’s like I can’t believe we’re at Daytona, we’re halfway through the Sprint Cup season, I’m leading the points, I won the All-Star Race. This is like a parallel dimension that’s not where I was eight or 10 years ago at all, so I’m very, very fortunate. I feel like from my perspective, I’ve been given a lot of opportunities by a lot of different people and I do my very best all the time to make sure I repay those people in any way that I can, and I definitely think about that with any decision I make. Every day I make sure I treat people right and that I don’t take advantage of a situation, so in relation to my contract and stuff like that, that will be a big part of any decision that I make, just as it is every day with every smaller decision.”
I know this sounds funny, but I still don’t feel like we’re locked into the chase.
ARE YOU STARTING TO FEEL LIKE THIS IS YOUR YEAR? “Man, this thing can change quickly. You guys know how this works. I mean, look at what Kurt’s been doing. They’ve turned things around. They’ve been running spectacularly. Until this season is over, if I’m standing there with the trophy, that would be great, but I’m gonna just keep my head down and keep working because anything can happen, but we have had a very, very good year. It’s nice to be disappointed with second-place runs at a lot of these tracks, and I believe that as a team we’re running well, our cars are fast enough that we don’t have to go make these lunges for life and have crazy strategies, and I don’t have to do wild things on the race track to run well and have chances at winning, so it’s been really good.”
WHEN YOU’RE IN THE STANDS WITH THE FANS IS THAT YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT AND WHAT DOES NASCAR NEED TO DO TO BRING IN MORE YOUNG FANS? “I think NASCAR is doing a really good job of communicating with the teams. They’re doing a really good job of listening. You guys have been around here longer than I have, some of you, and you know that NASCAR has really turned a page and turned over a new leaf and they’re really listening, they’re trying to understand what they need to do to make this sport the best that it can be. I don’t know the answers. I don’t know exactly what they need to do, but I do enjoy going up there with the fans after the races. Those are my favorite moments with fans. We won the race, everybody is pumped, that’s a neat experience. I keep saying it, but I really believe that other drivers would enjoy that too and I’d hope that some of them would start doing it because it’s really neat. To see the looks on some of those peoples’ faces is really cool, and then to look back out on the race track and see it from their perspective with the flag in your hand is really a cool feeling, so I enjoy that.”
WHAT’S THE WEIRDEST THING YOU’VE EVER AUTOGRAPHED? “I can’t say – besides the contract. That was pretty weird the first time I signed the contract. The first time I realized the level of devotion of some fans is there’s a guy named Andy who comes to the ORP race and this guy was super, super-pumped to meet me. He had a Roush Racing tattoo with flames and all this stuff and he said, ‘I want you to sign right there above it and I’m gonna get it tattooed.’ I said, ‘There’s no way you’re gonna do that.’ I thought he was just messing around. He’d been drinking a little bit, so I signed it and the next race we came back and there he is, Andy, yelling at me and showing me his tattoo. I thought, ‘That’s unreal. I can’t believe he did that.’ He’s like, ‘You better do well. You better run good.’ I’m like, ‘Yes, sir. I understand. You have some skin in this,’ so that was pretty interesting. When I see Andy I still can’t believe he’s got my autograph tattooed on his arm. And then one time I was at my merchandise trailer and the counter is real hot in the trailer. People are walking up and you’re signing stuff and this guy kicks his leg way up here and I thought, ‘How did he get his leg that far up,’ and then I realized it was a prosthetic leg and he just set it up there. He thought that was pretty funny and that kind of got me.”
CLINT SAID THE SAME THING. “I don’t know , but the way this guy did it is he just threw his leg up there and kind of smiled. I was like, ‘How did he get his leg up here. Ohhhh, he took it off.’”
DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE TIMES OVER THESE LAST 10 RACES WHERE YOUR HEART IS IN YOUR THROAT WATCHING WHAT SOME OF THE OTHER GUYS COULD DO TO TRY AND MAKE THE CHASE? “I know this sounds funny, but I still don’t feel like we’re locked into the chase. Anything can happen. We can blow up, wreck, I could hurt myself – something could happen and we’re not locked in. As we get closer and closer, until we’re locked in, I’ll still be focusing on making sure that we accomplish that and then on the other side of it there’s these two wild card spots and I think people are gonna do whatever it takes to win races. There is going to be some interesting stuff that happens leading up to Richmond. I guess emotions will be higher. People will be trying harder and I think there will be people in situations that happen where people realize, ‘we can make it if we just do this,’ and then they’re gonna go do it regardless of the outcome, so I think it’s gonna be really neat to watch. I hope that I’m watching it from a position of being locked in and in the chase.”
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN OFFERED SOMETHING TO AUTOGRAPH THAT YOU DECLINED? “Yeah, I’ve been offered a few of those. They usually come in pairs (laughter). I said, ‘Hey, I probably shouldn’t do that right now.’ Shoes (laughter). I don’t get those offers anymore. I’m married and if I did I probably wouldn’t even know what’ s going on. Now, I’ve never signed a duck. We do those photo shoots. My hero cards and stuff, that’s a real duck and that can be interesting.”