Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, will be entering his second full season on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit and there are high expectations after he finished third last year. Edwards spoke about those ...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, will be entering his second full season on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit and there are high expectations after he finished third last year. Edwards spoke about those expectations at media day.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE CONSIDERED A FAVORITE? "It's really nice of everybody to say, but reality is we have to go do a job. As much as it feels like those opinions and everything make a difference, they don't mean anything. We have to perform. That stuff is really nice, but I don't want to get any sort of illusion that things are gonna be easier or we're just gonna back into something because that's not how it's gonna go."
DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE EASIER THIS YEAR? "I don't know. That's what's amazing about this sport is that it seems like there's such a small difference from the guys who are really fast to the guys who are 11th because the reality is if you don't make the chase, everybody considers your season as not being great. There's such a small spread that I don't feel like we can afford to rest on anything. I feel like we have to just go out and work as hard as we can every week."
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS? "I feel like if we don't have bad luck. If we don't have like those three races where we get wrecked or blow engines or do anything like that, I think we have the opportunity to perform really well. It's Bob Osborne's second full year as a crew chief. It's my second full year as a driver and my engineer's second full year, so from that standpoint we should be a whole bunch better than we were last season. If that's the case, then I think we're gonna be really, really good."
HOW ABOUT AT ROUSH RACING? "I think Roush is gonna be great. I was sad to see Kurt go. He was a good teammate, but Jamie is gonna be awesome. He's a fun guy to be around. He's real upbeat, so I think he's gonna do really well and the other guys are just spectacular."
HOW MUCH DIFFERENT WILL IT BE THIS YEAR FROM LAST YEAR? "Just a little bit different. I mean, standing here talking to all of you guys. I was joking around, but last year I sat over there for about 15 minutes and you came by and you might have come by and that was about it. So there's a lot more attention and the biggest thing I'm trying to make sure of is that none of that detracts from my racing because the bottom line is I have to perform on the race track."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE END OF THESE RACES WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO THE LAST PIT STOP? "I don't know what kind of reputation we'd gain, but I truly enjoy those races so much. I love that last pit stop. You've got everything just right and now it's just a sprint for 15-20 laps. I think that's one of the neatest parts of our sport and I enjoy it. Thankfully, that's the part of the race that means the most and that's my favorite part."
STRATEGY CAN WORK SOMETIMES AND SOMETIMES IT DOESN'T. "Homestead is probably the most painful one. I think we took four tires and that was one of those cases where everything was stacked against us. We restarted with like 11 laps to go and we were ninth or 10th and it was a double-file restart and it really came down to one of those things where we had to pass 19 or 20 cars to get the lead and we just couldn't get it done. It was a bad decision, but the other times we had taken four tires and it worked out really well. But that's kind of fun. Those last laps at Homestead, even though we finished third and that kind of kept us out of second in points, that was probably some of the most fun driving I've ever done."
WHO MAKES THE FINAL CALL ON STRATEGY? "It depends. The great part is I get to drive the race car, so I can decide if I turn in the pits or not. But, boy, it sure is bad when I turn out to make the wrong decision. But I really trust what Bob says. He's such a smart guy and he constantly amazes me. I'm not just saying that. He's real smart, so whenever he says something and I say, 'Hey, I don't know about that.' He says, 'Listen to me, I really think we should do that.' I usually just go with his call."
HOW WAS MEXICO? "Oh yeah, Mexico was fun yesterday. I can't believe I was in Mexico yesterday. It was pretty cool. We got to test all day in the Busch car at Vegas and then got a helicopter ride over to the airport and then hopped on Mexicana and flew to Mexico City. We did a press conference and I tried to speak a little bit of Spanish. I don't know if it went over well or not, but it was pretty fun. We had a good time. It's so amazing to be in a city like that. It's different than anything I've ever experienced."
HOW WAS THE 24 TV SHOW EXPERIENCE? "Sheri Herrmann, who was my PR person last season, is now kind of doing a different job at Roush and she's working on all these things outside of racing. One of the things she came up with was this 24 appearance. I thought I was just gonna get to go and hang out and meet Kiefer Sutherland and the guys and stuff. It turned out that when I got there they were like, 'OK, we're gonna take you to wardrobe, you're gonna play the part of this guy and you're gonna have a speaking role.' That was pretty cool. It was a lot like racing. They've worked together for like four years doing the same show and they were really good at it and it was neat of them to let me in there."
DID YOU GET SHOT? "I didn't get shot. It was pretty straightforward. There was no violence or anything. They joked around with me. They told me I was gonna get in a fight with Keifer and they said he never loses, so you're gonna lose a fight on television and he's gonna make you look bad, but they didn't make me do that."
HE'S THAT TOUGH? "I don't know. He seems like a pretty tough guy. They said he never loses a fight. That's the bottom line. He's that tough. It reminded me a lot of Jack Roush. Keifer is a cool guy. He pulled up in one of the neatest little hot-rod convertible cars I've seen. That's what he drives everyday, so he's definitely a car guy and a fun guy to be around."
WHEN WILL IT AIR? "I think it's April 3rd, but I'm not certain."
DO YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE WHEN DALE EARNHARDT HAD HIS ACCIDENT HERE? "I'd been in Daytona helping Mike Mittler and that was the first time I ever saw Dale Earnhardt in person was that weekend. I remember I walked by him and I was like, 'Man, that's Dale Earnhardt. Unbelievable.' And then I went back home, so I was watching the race at home in Missouri."
WHAT WAS YOUR OPINION OF HIM? "I have to say that I always had a ton of respect for Dale Earnhardt. Sometimes I didn't agree. There would be something that happened on the race track and I'd think, 'Man, that was pretty ruthless.' I was just a casual fan. I'm not an expert. I wasn't watching every week and criticizing or whatever. I've said this before, but I always knew there was something really neat about Dale Earnhardt because my dad was not a Dale Earnhardt fan and my mom loved the man. She thought he was just the best driver ever and I think that said a lot. You could take two people living in the same household and have them feel that polarized about something. I think the thing I think the most about is that it seemed like winning was the most important thing to him and it seemed like that's what he enjoyed the most and I think that's the neatest thing about racing."
DO YOU HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF THAT IN YOU? "Winning is pretty important to me. I feel the only thing I'm scared of is not performing well. In general racing is about winning. It's about doing whatever you can as fast as you can. That's kind of how I saw it growing up and that's how the guys at my local track raced and that's what I try to do."
YOUR FIRST SHOOTOUT. "Yeah, I think the Shootout is gonna be fun. I think it'll be a blast. That was one of the neatest things about getting that pole, we got two of them I guess, but just to be a part of that race. I watched it last year and wished I was in it so badly, so that will be fun."
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING WATCHING LAST YEAR ON WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN? "I haven't watched the tape yet. I'm gonna watch it this week. I'm sure it's gonna be just like any other race. Everybody wants to win and we'll just have to not mess up and wreck the car."
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE WITH ALL THIS ATTENTION YOU'RE GETTING? "It's fun, but it's definitely different. Honestly, it's just different. The only frustrating part about anything that's going on is that I don't have the time to talk to everybody I want to talk to, return everybody's phone call. Do all that stuff. If my buddy from high school calls me and says, 'Hey, what's going on? What are you doing?' It's hard to make everybody happy. I'm trying to remember that all I can do is do my job the best I can. Other than that, it's spectacular. I get to go and do all these things. It's a dream. It's unreal. I feel like I've lived two completely different lives."
HAS THE RECOGNITION BEEN OVERWHELMING? "The recognition wasn't really all that overwhelming. I don't know. I don't know how to explain it. I grew up in a family that's just a normal middle-class family. I'd say the neatest moment and probably still is when I first went down to Roush and they said, 'Hey, Ford will let you drive a vehicle for the year. Just go down to the dealership and pick up your vehicle.' And I went down there and I was like, 'I'm gonna go get the nicest vehicle they got.' So I got a Lincoln Navigator. I went down there and my mom was with me and we went to pick up this new vehicle. Nobody in my family had ever had a new car, so it just felt strange. I don't know how to explain it. It was just so different than what I figured the possible things that could happen. This is at the top of the scale. I didn't expect it."
YOU COULDN'T GET A GT? "That wasn't on the list. It had to be like a normal car there. But it's just crazy. Wow."
HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DO YOU HAVE HERE? "We have a lot of confidence about Daytona, but, honestly, my crew chief, Bob, is the most real, rational, objective person. I don't think to him -- and I'm glad -- but he doesn't get caught up in like, 'OK, this is the Daytona 500,' and he spends some extraordinary amount of time on this race because he realizes that next is California and Vegas and Atlanta. So he's focusing and our team is focusing on the things that are gonna gain us the most wins or points on average. The Daytona 500, I will drive as hard as I possibly can to try to win it, but we're focusing on the season as a whole."
WHERE DID YOU GET SUCH A POSITIVE ATTITUDE? "I just really enjoy driving race cars and I can't believe that I get to do it for a living. I get to travel all over and do great things. Everybody is always excited to go racing and do the job and I just really enjoy it. I don't know how to explain it other than just imagine getting to do whatever it is you love the most all the time. It's really almost surreal. It's fun."
DO YOU GET THAT FROM YOUR PARENTS? "Most things are hereditary. I'm just saying that I personally, I don't know. I've got a dream job and I have a good time. Every day you have an option. You can wake up and be real stressed or upset about things or you can go try to have a good time. I've done it both ways and I think that trying to have a good time with stuff usually works better for me."
YOU STILL LIKE RACING ON DIRT. "One of the coolest things I've done in a long time was David Ragan and I went to Volusia and ran a street stock race. It was fun. A couple of things happened and something broke, so it wouldn't go any farther."
TONY STEWART DOES A LOT OF RACING LIKE THAT. DO YOU ENJOY IT? "It's really fun to go race at the dirt track. It's really hard. You can do it a couple of different ways. You can go and you can do media around it and you can get paid to go race somewhere and it can be something you do as a business thing. That's still fun, but then you always have that pressure of having to do this, this and this. Now I understand why Tony just shows up and races. I had more fun the other night at Volusia than I've had in a long time because I just showed up and borrowed a guys helmets and boots and jumped in a race car and raced. That really reminded me a lot of how things were five or six years ago."
YOU'RE KEEPING BUSY RIGHT NOW. "We're gonna go to West Palm Beach to do an appearance down there. I'm pretty excited. I get to fly my airplane down there, so that will be fun. It looks like the weather is gonna be good. We're gonna go meet some people so that will be fun."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN MOST LAST YEAR IN RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES? "I just learned a lot about patience. It's so hard to sit in that pack and realize, 'OK, we're gonna be in this pack all day. Just deal with it.' That was really hard for me. I just wasn't realistic. I kept trying to make something happen that wasn't gonna happen, so I feel like I'm a lot better at that this year."
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AWAY FROM THE TRACK? "I'm working on a couple things that we haven't gotten done yet. It's kind of fun to go out there and do some things that are separate. Doing a little bit of acting was fun, but, in general, trying to have my own brand -- Carl Edwards -- and get that rolling down the road, that's kind of a goal of mine. We've been working towards that, but, really, the stuff outside of racing is neat and everything but I only try to let it occupy just a little bit of my free time because the first thing I have to do is be a race car driver. That's what has gotten me to this point, and if I can do a good job at that and have a good time with it, that's the first thing."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH EVERYONE WANTING SOME OF YOUR TIME? "That's a very interesting thing and I'm trying to understand it. I don't feel like anyone is different or changed, it's just that the circumstance has changed. I have a lot of people who I have made acquaintances with and had great conversations with and have done nice things for me, and we have great relationships. What's happened is now that I have no extra time to speak of that sometimes it can be perceived that I'm neglecting those relationships. It's hard to sometimes deal with people being upset because I don't do whatever they want me to do. It's pretty funny sometimes. People will call up and can't understand it. They want something done. I have to do something. I try to explain to them, 'Look, the same way you're telling me this there are 100 other people that are the same exact way.' But that's a peripheral thing. If I run 30th in the points this year, I won't have that problem, so I welcome whatever comes with the success. I can deal with it."
HOW HAS RACING BUSCH HELPED? "It helped me a bunch of ways. The first thing is I just got to racing more. I'm pretty new to racing stock cars on pavement. Really, I'm still pretty new so I learn something all the time. The other thing is it's just fun. To race on a Saturday and get to run 300 laps or 300 miles at the same track I'm gonna race on Sunday is just awesome."
DO THE CARS FEEL THE SAME? "The cars really don't feel a lot alike, so you can't really do any setup stuff. But you get to race against some of the same guys you race on Sunday and it's the same race track. I don't know. If they were racing on the dirt track outside, the race is just the same. It's fun."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON TESTING. "I think it's good for a number of reasons. We won both Atlanta races, so I feel very comfortable at Atlanta. We feel good about it. I think that us going to Atlanta, just because of the nature of that race track and the way that the races go, you can't go there and make the test conditions like the last 50 laps of that race because that track changes so much and so many things happen. At first I thought, 'Hey man, this is gonna be great. We're gonna have this big advantage. We get a test session,' and then I realized this isn't gonna be an advantage. But I do think they should use race teams, whether it's us or somebody else, because you've got a team with the same setup most people are running. They're gonna run at the same level and you'll have the same tire issues, so I think that's a good way to represent race conditions by using race teams."
WHEN DID IT HIT YOU THAT YOU COULD COMPETE AT THIS LEVEL? "Probably that first Cup race when we finished 10th at Michigan. I realized, 'Hey, this is something we can do. If we could have passed nine more guys we would have won a Cup race, so that was pretty cool."
WHO WOULD BE YOUR FAVORITES FOR THE TITLE? "I think that Greg Biffle is gonna be really fast. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart. Other than myself, and I feel like we're gonna be pretty good, but I think those guys are gonna be really good. There's no reason any of them couldn't win the championship."
ANY TRAITS THEY SHARE? "I think they're very well rounded. Tony and Jeff and Greg, Greg has won so many championships that I think he's got a great feeling for that. But the thing I look up to the most about those drivers is that they can win on a short track, a road course, a superspeedway and intermediate tracks. That's something I aspire to be able to do. That's my goal."
DID YOU EVER FEEL OVERWHELMED GOING FROM TRUCKS TO CUP FROM AN EXPERIENCE STANDPOINT? "I've had that feeling. I still get it at certain times, but that's where a sense of accomplishment comes in where, at the end of the day, if you make it to the end of the race and you don't finish last it's like, 'This is awesome. We did something.' That's one of the coolest feelings in the world. You almost feel lost. Like maybe at a road course race last year or at Martinsville sometimes. I was like, 'Man, what am I doing here? I am not getting the job done.' One of the neatest feelings in the world is to just buckle down and say, 'OK, let's just deal with reality. You have to drive this car around the race track. Get it right.' And at the end of the day it's like, 'OK, we finished 23rd or 28th and the world didn't end. The next time I'll be better.' I try to take little steps and just kind of be relentless and not ever let the overwhelming aspect try to get to me."