Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth all held Q&A sessions following Friday's practice session and discussed a variety of issues. CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE APPEAL? "The whole appeals...
Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth all held Q&A sessions following Friday's practice session and discussed a variety of issues.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE APPEAL? "The whole appeals process, it was interesting to go through it and see how they did it. I guess we all race under these rules and under these appeals processes, so, eventually, it all ends up evening out, but in this case it's still really difficult to understand -- being penalized for something that was a disadvantage and being the first person ever penalized for that exact infraction at a downforce track. It's just too bad that that's the way it's gonna be."
HAS THE TIME COME TO GO OUTSIDE OF NASCAR AND HAVE AN ARBITRATOR? "I was impressed with the guys who came and heard our side of it. They were all volunteers and it's awesome that they do that, but they all are appointed by NASCAR, I guess. If I could have brought three or four of my friends to hear it, I'm sure it would have been different."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR POINTS POSITION? "We just need to go out and win some races. We need to hope that Jimmie and Jeff and Clint have some of that bad luck that a lot of the other guys have had. They've been doing really well, so it's gonna be hard to make up 200 points without them having some bad luck."
CAN THEY BE CAUGHT? "Oh yeah. We've got six races left and a lot of things can happen. This is a crazy sport. Some of the guys 300 points back can still win the championship. There are a lot of possibilities."
CAN TONY STEWART STILL BE A FACTOR? "Yeah, I think everyone is a factor in the chase right now. The guys that are 300 or more points back, that's gonna be really tough for them, but I think anyone within a couple hundred points with six races to go, I tell you, the face of this thing could change in two or three races. I think everyone has a shot, really."
YOU AND BIFFLE WERE TEAMMATES WHO BATTLED FOR A TITLE TWO YEARS AGO. DOES IT HAVE AN AFFECT ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP? "I know it probably won't happen, but it would be nice if Jimmie and Jeff quit sharing notes and they started to hate each other and wreck each other on the race track. That would really help the rest of us quite a bit, so that's what I'm hoping for, but I have a feeling they're gonna just keep plugging away and they're gonna be tough to beat no matter what."
BUT YOU AND BIFFLE WERE CLOSE, RIGHT? "Yeah, Biffle and I were close in 2005. Teammates help you so much throughout the year. At the end of the year Biffle and I tied and he ended up second and I ended up third because of wins and I was happy for those guys. We all work together so closely. I do what I can to help Matt in this chase. They do what they can to help us and we do the best for our teammates."
SO YOU DON'T STOP SHARING STUFF IN THE CHASE? "No. On the race track, I'm here to beat everyone -- teammate or not -- but this sport is a lot bigger than what happens just on the race track. I think that behind the scenes we help each other as much as we can."
WHAT ABOUT THE SURFACE HERE AT LOWE'S NOW? "My car seems to be a little bit easier to drive with the tire that Goodyear brought. The surface is getting a little bit more forgiving, so I'm pretty excited about qualifying tonight."
DO YOU WATCH THE RED SOX AT ALL? "I've been to a couple of Red Sox games and I've met a lot of players. If I sit back and actually get time to watch the TV, if there's a Red Sox game on, that's what I watch, but it' s hard to keep up with anything other than racing. I'm becoming a fan. I never really watched any other sport, so it's taken me a while to get used to it and learn everything, but I'm having fun with it."
DO YOU THINK THE RED SOX WATCH YOU GUYS RACE? "They're just as busy as we are, but, hopefully, they watch a little bit. They're right in the middle of a busy time of the year right now, too, but I'm telling you, to be able to go to Fenway and do some of the things we've done through that, I didn't expect it to be so great and so awesome. It's cool. My screensaver on my phone for months was me in the box overlooking Fenway Park. That's how much fun I had."
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 3M Ford Fusion
YOU HAVE A SPONSOR FOR NEXT YEAR? "Yeah. We've had a sponsor for quite a while. 3M has been a great partner of ours. They were really, really disappointed in 2006 when we kind of got separated with Ameriquest coming in and not being able to participate on the Busch car. They really liked doing that, so they did Todd Kluever. Then this year we were able to get back together and they were really excited about that, so they've been a great ally of ours the entire time. I think they wanted to wait to announce this deal, but we've had it for a while now -- kind of in the back pocket -- but they've announced a deal that they're gonna be on the 16 full-time and they're loving it. It works out great for their marketing and they get a lot of business and recognition out of it like all these other sponsors do. It's a great thing. We enjoy doing stuff with them. We do a lot for their different departments, so we're pretty happy about it."
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR YOUR STATUS BEYOND '08? "Right now that's on the back burner. Probably this winter we'll start talking about it and get moving forward on an extension since we've got 3M signed up for multi years." BECAUSE THEIR DEAL AND YOURS DOESN'T MATCH UP. "It's sort of backwards because a lot of times you've got to have a driver to be able to sell the sponsor, so I'm sure 3M is like, 'Hey, if Greg is around, we are. It's not a problem.' That's really what it boils down to and when everything gets calmed down, then we'll get to negotiate back on that again. It looks like we're running better. Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself because everytime I say that -- I kept my record up at Talladega, where I haven't finished a race yet in five years."
YOU ORIGINALLY SAID IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE A DEAL WORKED OUT BY THE END OF THIS YEAR YOU WOULDN'T TALK NEXT YEAR. HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND? "Yeah, a little bit because I felt like it was important to get it done and not become an issue next year. Let's say we get three weeks into the season next year and I'm not really under contract -- I'm a free agent -- well, when so-and-so announces they're gonna have a fourth team or somebody gets fired because they did a bonehead move, or whatever happens, I'm the first guy who is gonna be going to the 49 or going to the 28 car -- who knows, whatever it is. I don't want that to be a distraction. I don't know how soon we'll get going on it, probably as soon as we get winter testing going we'll probably start getting after that."
SO YOU FULLY EXPECT TO BE BACK HERE? "There's no doubt I'm here in 2008 and even beyond that I have a 90 percent feeling that I'm gonna be back here. The thing was is we had to get this race team winning races and bringing competitive cars to the race track. That's what we needed to do and Greg's done a good job of organizing the guys he's got. He's still shifting a few guys around. He just made mention today in the transporter that the guy back in the shop that is head of our shock department for the 16 is doing a great job helping him out. He's got the Martinsville car ready. Everything is done on it that needed to get done, sort of a little bit ahead of schedule -- half a day ahead of that -- so Greg is happy with the direction things are going. We finished 13th at Loudon, second at Dover and for those two races I felt really good inside. Those were COT races and that's what we're racing full-time next year. Loudon, New Hampshire, I was the slowest car there in the spring. I was at the bottom of the sheet. I went out, cinched my belts down and ran the fastest lap I could and came in, and I moved up one spot. I was completely disgusted that we can not get going better than this. This is not a place I want to drive in the future if we can't go faster than 49th. We can't be top 10 everytime, I understand, so when we went back, we ran in the top 10 the entire time. We had a little problem on a pit stop and ended up 13th or 12th when we gave Carl a spot at the end, but that was acceptable. That was really acceptable and quite an improvement. We go to Dover and run second -- a huge improvement -- so I'm feeling good about what the future holds. And then we go to Kansas back to the old car on our mile-and-a-half program and win, so it's just a good feeling to be back. Gosh, I feel like I got my life back. I feel like I got out of jail."
MATT KENSETH -- No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion
IS IT A STRAIN TO RACE YOUR TEAMMATE FOR A TITLE? "I don't think it's any big deal. I don't think it's really that much different than the rest of the season. Obviously, there's more pressure at the end of the year, but I think that if you are racing somebody for a championship and it gets down to the last race with them -- which they've still got a long ways to go -- but I personally would much rather be racing a buddy or a teammate or somebody that trust racing with rather than somebody you're not as sure about. So, if anything, it's probably a little bit of an advantage because you kind of know what to expect from each other."
IS IT A TREND TO SEE WHOEVER LEADS AFTER THE FIRST 26 RACES WINS THE CHASE, TOO? "I hope so. I think that whoever runs the best all season really deserves to win the championship. They were probably up front after the first 26 was over for a reason and I don't think that's really gonna change in the last 10. The only reason that there should really ever be a different champion, except for the top couple of guys that were battling it out all year, would be if they had bad luck. Other than that, they're up there because they're running the best."
WHAT WERE YOU WORKING ON IN PRACTICE? "It was the same as every week. We worked the first half of practice on race trim and then made a couple of qualifying runs, just like most everybody does. Our car was OK in race trim and this track more so than others really changes a lot with the weather. This wasn't really the conditions we're gonna race under, so we maybe didn't spend as much time in race trim as we usually would."
DO YOU FEEL YOUR BAD LUCK IS OUT OF THE WAY AND DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE TRACKS COMING UP? "Yeah, I feel good about them all. Realistically, we're probably out of it unless something major happens to a lot of cars, but we still want to try to finish as high as we can in the points. We're gonna go out and try to win races and lead laps and finish as high as we can every week. I don't even really look at the points that much every week. I mean, you go out and finish as high as you can. You gather as many points as you can every week and see where it stacks up."
DID YOU LEARN FROM THE YEAR KURT CAME FROM SEVENTH TO WIN? "Really just to not over-analyze it. Jimmie came from eighth last year, I think after Talladega, and won it and came from behind there a little bit. I don't know. It's simple. I know we all have to have something to talk about and I say this every single week, but you get the most points to win the race and so on and so forth. The higher you finish, the more points you're gonna get. You go out every week and try to finish as high as you possibly can and just see where the points stack up. There's really no trick strategy to it. You try to finish as best as you can every week."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ALL OF THESE OPEN-WHEEL DRIVERS COMING INTO THE SPORT? WILL IT TAKE SOME TIME FOR THEM TO GET UP TO SPEED? "I don't know. Everybody gets in a different situation. It's not just those guys, but anybody who comes into this sport, some guys adapt to it really quick and other guys don't adapt to it so quick. I've seen guys come in that have won everything they've ever raced and come here and struggle, and I've seen people that have been real mediocre and came here and got with a great team and have been just unbelievably good right away. Obviously, a lot depends on equipment and the team and how well they can relate, and a lot of it depends on where the car is in points. Some of them might have a hard time. Sam is struggling. Obviously, he's a great driver and he's come in with Penske, which is a great team, and struggled because they don't have any points and they've struggled making races. So if they can get in the first races and gather some points right away, they'll probably be fine."
DOES THAT MUCH INEXPERIENCE ON THE TRACK CAUSE YOU ANY PROBLEMS? "I don't really worry about it. You race against different people all the time. I think the more the merrier. The more diverse the group is in the garage and the fans on pit road, I think that kind of makes it more exciting. You've got more people paying attention to you and I think it just adds more interest to the whole thing."
-credit: ford racing