Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, met with the media following this afternoon's practice session. WAS THE OFFSEASON TOO SHORT, TOO LONG OR JUST ABOUT RIGHT? "I'd say the offseason was just about right. They usually seem ...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, met with the media following this afternoon's practice session.
WAS THE OFFSEASON TOO SHORT, TOO LONG OR JUST ABOUT RIGHT? "I'd say the offseason was just about right. They usually seem extremely short; this one seemed pretty nice without the testing. I liked it."
BUT, YOU WERE STILL PRETTY BUSY... "I was busy, but I really got the month of January pretty much to myself, and that was a lot of fun. There was one stretch of 10 days or something that I didn't have anything planned, and it's been a long time since I've had that. That was pretty cool."
YOU GOT MARRIED. "Yeah, getting married. By far, the best thing I've ever done, and it's still going well. It's early. That's what everybody tells me when I say it's great. In 16 years, I'll get back with you. It's been cool. She takes cares of me."
HEADING INTO THIS SEASON, EVERYBODY IS PICKING YOU AS THE FAVORITE. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT? "That's great that people are picking us to win this thing, but we've got 38 races or something before the season's over, so we've got a lot of time to hopefully prove them right, but there's a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong, I know that, so we'll just do our best."
WHAT ARE SOME OF THINGS YOUR TEAM WORKED ON IN THE SHOP TO PERHAPS BE EVEN BETTER PREPARED IN 2009? IT WILL BE TOUGH TO TOP LAST YEAR. "You know, you try not to mess ourselves up. Bob and the guys worked on a lot of things. Bob doesn't tell me all the time what he's working on, so I hope they're all good things. It seems to be running really well here. We tested really well. We had one test, the tire test, and it was great. So, as long as we don't lose any ground, I think we're in really good position starting the season."
THIS RACE IS SO MUCH DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHERS, SO DO YOU REALLY NEED TO GET TO CALIFORNIA NEXT WEEK BEFORE YOU GET A GOOD SENSE OF WHAT THE TEAM HAS THIS YEAR? "This race is a different style race than the meat of the season. It's been said before and it's been proven that a good race or a bad race here doesn't portend how your season is going to go, but it would be nice to get a 500 win. That would be cool."
IS THE TEAM PRETTY MUCH INTACT FROM 2008? "The thing that we gained the most is Pierre Kuettel coming back. He's a championship-level crew chief on the Nationwide side, and he came back to be a car chief here, and we retained Jason Myers, who's been the car chief for a lot of our wins, so that's a pretty stout team right there -- Bob, Jason and P.K."
AND THAT CONTINUITY IS IMPORTANT? "Oh, yeah. P.K. was the car chief here for I don't know how many years at the 99 and through my first season, 2005, with all of those wins. That's a big deal to have a guy like that come back and do this."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE RELATIONSHIP WITH CREW CHIEF BOB OSBORNE? "Bob and I have a great relationship. It's one that has been the same since day one. He tells me exactly what he thinks, whether I like it or not, and I've learned to do the same with him. It ends up being a really productive relationship on the track. I can just be brutally honest with him, and he's the same with me and we get right down to business, and that's the way you have to do it with limited time." HOW'S YOUR CAR FOR THE 500? "I think it's pretty good. This practice was crazy. I mean, there were cars -- I saw cars hit the fence, sideways, I mean, this is practice. It's going to a crazy race. It's going to be action-packed -- no clue what's going to happen. Let's hope I'm running at the end, and I think if we are we'll be in the top 10."
WHAT ARE THE DYNAMICS, SAY, FOR THE FIRST 400 OR 450 MILES AND THE REST OF THE RACE? CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOWIT S DIFFERENT RACE AT THE END? "It's probably like the difference between a Neil Diamond concert and Pantera. They're both great, but way different. The first Daytona 500 I was in, I would say about halfway through the race, I'm running around and I was thinking, 'Hey, this is just another race.' I had run 14 Cup races before that, came here in 2005 and and that was just normal, and then I think it was the last re-start, 15, 18 laps to go or something like that, and I'm telling you, you could see all the fans go crazy, the drivers all of a sudden where they would give somebody three inches before, they were rubbing against them. The energy level goes through the roof, and I think that's the difference."
DOES IT FEEL ANY DIFFERENT THAN, SAY, THE LAST 20 LAPS OF THE JULY RACE HERE? "Oh, yeah."
CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE? "I can. It's a couple of things. It's the Daytona 500. Everybody, no matter what they say, wants to get out of here with a good points day, everybody, in their mind, rationalizes it as, 'I've got plenty of time to make up points. Go for it.' So it just ends up getting crazy."
CAN YOU FEEL YOUR HEART RACING FASTER? "Oh, yeah. We're all real calm, cool, but this is the biggest race we could win. Other than the Indianapolis 500, this is it, it may even be bigger. If you're up front, if you happen to see the lead, I've been there a couple of times where I'm close enough, it starts to get exciting."
IS IT BECAUSE OF THE HISTORY OF THIS RACE AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR A DRIVER'S CAREER? "Yeah. Everyone wants to stand there and say, 'We won the Daytona 500.' I just can't imagine going to sleep Sunday night and being able to say that. Last year, I put it in my memory bank, after the race, my motorhome was right next to Ryan Newman's and I stayed the night last year, and he got back from all of the Victory Lane stuff and walked over there, and literally it was like he was walking on a foot of air. I've never seen a guy with that kind of -- I just wanted to stand next to him for a while. He was so pumped up. I want to know what that feels like."
-credit: ford racing