Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Ford Fusion, qualified 12th for Sunday’s scheduled Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In the first three races of the season, Edwards has finishes of 17th (Daytona), 8th (Phoenix), and 5th (Las Vegas). He spoke about his start and other topics after today’s first practice session.
DO YOU ENJOY PICKING A SONG FOR DRIVER INTROS HERE AT BRISTOL AND WHAT SONG HAVE YOU PICKED? “It is pretty fun. This year was easy because Vince Neil from Motley Crue has been hanging out with us a little, so we picked one of his song. It was a big deal for him, so that was easy, but it is hard. I think a lot of people struggle with the decision because it’s a personal thing and you know everyone is gonna judge you on what song you pick, so I think it’s better just to go with something goofy. Still the best one to this day was when Vickers and Jimmie picked each other’s songs. I think it would be more fun if we got to pick the other guy’s songs, but I’m sure that would get mean at some point, but I think it’s a good thing and it’s fun.”
If we can go there and do well, I think it’s gonna bode well for the rest of the season. But that mile-and-a-half at Vegas threw us for a loop. That was not good.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TRACK GETTING BUMPIER AND BUMPIER THERE? “The bumpier the race tracks are, the better in my opinion. I think when race tracks have character and they age a little bit I think that’s good. It’s not supposed to be easy and simple, it’s supposed to be tough and when you throw in some bumps and aging pavement it makes the racing more dynamic and makes it so that you can do something as a driver to make up for maybe a slow start or a poor-handling race car.”
PENSKE HAS MADE A LOT OF NOISE BUT FORD SEEMS TO HAVE LIFTED ITS GAME. WHAT’S HAPPENING OVERALL? “Overall, if you look at Ford’s performance it’s much higher than it has been recently, but most of that is due to Penske. They have been spectacular. I think what they’ve been able to do this year is really amazing. That’s good for us in that it drives us and it makes us ask questions. We know that Doug Yates’ engines can go do the job and we know that the Ford Fusion can do it, we just have to figure out what part we’re missing as a group here at Roush Fenway and catch up with those guys. I think it’s a case where their success right now is gonna drive us. It’s kind of a sibling rivalry and makes us compete harder, so that’s good.”
MATT TALKED SOME YESTERDAY ABOUT PENSKE POSSIBLY USING WHAT HE CALLED SATELLITE TEAMS TO GET TEST LAPS IN. HAVE YOU HEARD ANYTHING LIKE THAT? “No, I haven’t. If that’s what they’re doing, then we need to be doing that too (laughing). But whatever they’re doing it’s working well. The interesting thing is if you look at the last couple of years it’s about peaking at the right time. We’re just a few races in and I have a feeling that 20 races in or 30 races in it’s gonna be completely different. I hope the Fords are still running the way they are now. I hope we’re not showing our whole hand, although I guess we’re not really – just Ford in general.”
DID YOU EXPECT RIDE HEIGHTS TO BE SUCH AN ISSUE HERE? “We haven’t even worried about that yet. Our cars aren’t balanced very well, so we’ve been struggling. We had a little bit of tire trouble this practice with our left-front tire wearing out a little bit, so that’s been our focus. The ride heights don’t seem to be a big issue for us.”
EVERYBODY IS SAYING THAT SOME OF THE ACCIDENTS YESTERDAY WERE BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE TRYING TO GET THEIR CAR BALANCED. “Interesting. It’s supposed to be hard. I think yesterday was kind of neat to come off the corner and slide the car sideways because the cars weren’t handling very well. I think that’s good. This is supposed to be tough. If they all handle well, then you don’t see much racing, so the harder the better.”
RFR STRUGGLED AS AN ORGANIZATION IN THE CHASE LAST YEAR ON THE MILE-AND-A-HALVES AND YOU TALKED ABOUT THE STRUGGLE AT VEGAS LAST WEEK. IS THAT A CARRYOVER FROM 2013? “That’s a great question. We did struggle in the Chase and we struggled at the mile-and-a-halves at the end of the year last year. We basically changed everything and worked really hard, and that’s what was so scary about struggling at Vegas because it was like, ‘Hey, this is the problem we’ve been addressing.’ Now, once we went back and looked at the race and thought about it a little bit, towards the end of the race on that last restart I had the fastest car on the track for eight or 10 laps. We just kind of lost the balance there and I think we need to understand that, so there’s a big glimmer of hope and some evidence that we can do it, we just have to understand a couple of things the car is doing a little bit better.”
WILL ANYTHING FROM VEGAS CARRYOVER TO CALIFORNIA? “California does have some serious bumps, but they’re mostly down the straightaway. We think California is still a track we can take any information on our performance that we have there and we can say either we’re making gains or we’re not. So we are looking at California as a place to try some different things and hopefully tell us how we’re gonna perform at these big race tracks.”
WERE YOU CLOSE ENOUGH TO SEE HOW THE CALIFORNIA RACE ENDED LAST YEAR WITH DENNY AND JOEY? “Yeah, I remember going down the back straightaway watching Denny and Joey, and then Kyle coming. I was racing with Dale Jr. and I had to tell myself, ‘Focus on your race here.’ It was so entertaining. I hate that Denny got hurt, obviously, but that race was one of the best races that I’ve seen. We got done with the race and Tony and Joey were over there throwing stuff at each other. It’s like, ‘This is NASCAR.’ The whole thing – there were people three-wide at the end passing and wrecking each other. It was crazy, so I think the fact California provided us that great of a race, I think it showed us that even on these big race tracks if the tire is right and everything is right, that we can put on some really great races.”
MARBLES IN THE HIGH LINE WAS AN ISSUE YESTERDAY. IS THAT NORMAL OR WILL IT BE A CONCERN FOR THE RACE? “I don’t think anyone really knows what’s happening with the rubber build-up on the race track. I don’t think we understand it yet. We talked about it last night and it might make this a true one-groove race track again, which maybe could be the best thing for the race. If a guy can get under someone and put that guy in the second groove, right now his tires are gonna fill up with rubber and he’s going to the back. So it could be closer to the old Bristol if we still see this build-up, which, from a driver’s perspective could be really frustrating if you get in the second lane, but I think from a race perspective it’ll make it a really exciting race.”
IS THE BUMP AND RUN BACK THEN? “If it’s like it is right now, and I’m staring at it, there is rubber everywhere but the bottom groove. If it’s like that, I think the bump-and-run will be in full effect. It will be really crazy.”