Carl Edwards, driver of the No.99 Aflac Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session in the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield media center after Thursday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session
“It’s been a great week. That was a huge win for us. We went and did some road course testing this week, which is a lot of fun. I had the Speedway Children’s Charity Gala last night and that was a lot of fun. I was really pleased with how many folks showed up to that and donated money to Speedway Children’s Charities in honor of Bruton Smith and all that he’s done over 30 years with the charity, so it’s been a great week and we’ve got a couple fast race cars here for this weekend. I’m ready to go racing. This is gonna be fun.
THE TRUCK SERIES WILL HAVE ITS 400TH RACE NEXT WEEK AT KANSAS. YOUR THOUGHTS? “That’s huge. If it weren’t for the truck series I wouldn’t be here. Mike Mittler reluctantly hired me to drive his truck in 2002. I ran seven races for Mike, so if NASCAR hadn’t come up with the truck series and guys like myself didn’t get those opportunities, this sport would look a lot different today. One of my biggest wins in my career, hands-down, was the truck win at Kansas in 2004. That was a spectacular win and it meant a lot to me. That’s cool. Four hundred starts at Kansas, that will be a neat race.
HOW MUCH DOES IT MEAN TO YOU WHEN YOU DO CHARITY EVENTS? “The best way to describe that is I think you hit it right on the head, we talk a lot about how much people in this sport do for people in need, but I learned a huge lesson in that with my first trip to the Aflac Cancer Center. We went to the Cancer Center and I thought, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go brighten someone’s day here.’ And I got there and I saw children who were more courageous and had more positive energy and were kinder than I could ever hope to be, and they inspired me hugely. I thought, ‘Man, I came here with a totally different take on what was gonna happen.’ The reality is much different. I can speak for all of us here, when you run into a kid that’s gone through the things no one should have to go through and they’re eight years old and they have a smile on their face, and you can tell they really believe in themselves, I think that’s inspiring and I’m grateful to have met a lot of those people.
TREVOR SAID YOU SAW HIM AND TOOK YOUR GUITAR. “That guitar is something very special. Trevor is one of those guys that I think we can all look up to for a number of reasons, but I learned a lot about Trevor with that trip. I walked into the room right when they were telling him they didn’t really know what was going on and it was a really scary moment, but the strength that he has is amazing. But that guitar was a gift to me from Zak Brown of the Zak Brown Band. It’s a little traveling guitar that he said he wrote a bunch of songs on for the last 10 years and he gave it to me and said it was something that always inspired him. When I went up to the hospital I knew Trevor needed something up there to do and I thought that guitar would be a good thing for him to have and it was neat to be able to bring it.
DO YOU PLAY? “I play just a little bit. In fact, there’s a guitar company – Dean Guitars – just sent me a guitar that’s really neat and I was playing it in the motorhome before I went out for practice today. But I’m no good. You’ve got to give me a little bit of time and then maybe I’ll play you guys something. I’m no Monte Dutton for sure.”
WHAT WAS KIMI RAIKKONEN DOING IN NATIONWIDE PRACTICE THAT IMPRESSED YOU? “They need to take about 500 pounds of right-rear spring out of that thing. He is loose and he was driving the wheels off it. I was just surprised. I didn’t know who was in that car. I had no clue, and then I saw that Perky Jerky on there and I thought it might be him, but he definitely has some car control, that’s for sure. That’s not lip service. That was pretty amazing. I might have seen smoke off the right-rear.
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN TREVOR DURING THAT VISIT? “I don’t know what kind of details he’d like me to share, so I’m not gonna share any details, but, essentially, I felt like I didn’t belong in that room. I needed to leave and he said, ‘No, no, no, no. Let me show you exactly what we found out.’ And he went through everything and explained everything to me and I thought, ‘Man, he’s just learning all this stuff. I can’t imagine what’s going through his mind.’ We’re not old friends or anything. I’m a guy that he works with, so for him to stop and be so considerate to me and explain what’s going on and, maybe to his detriment, he has a trust of people that is something above and beyond what I’ve seen. He would walk in here and tell you guys, if you ask him a question, he’s gonna tell you the honest answer no matter how personal it is. He really believes in people. I don’t know if I’m explaining that well, but he was just very generous with his time and his explanations and extremely well composed in the situation he was in – much more than I expected. It was shocking.
It could be a huge night.
WERE YOU NERVOUS TO GO THERE? “I wasn’t really nervous to go up there, I just wanted to make sure he knew that we were thinking about him, but I didn’t expect that. I don’t know how to describe it, but I guess composure is the word. He just seems to be a very strong person.
IS THIS SETTING UP TO BE A BIG NIGHT FOR RFR ON SUNDAY? “It could. It could be a huge night. I think one of the things that’s hard about this place is it’s so competitive and I think that the pit strategy is gonna play such a huge role in the outcome that it’s hard to just go into it and say we’re going to be dominant and we’re gonna have a shot at winning. I know we’ll have a shot. What I saw out of that All-Star Race is that the last pit stop can make or break anything, whether you’ve got a great car or not. It could really make things hard if you don’t have a great pit stop, but, overall, our performance has been there and it has been at these mile and a half tracks. We’ve been really, really good. It kind of reminds me of 2005. Every time we went to a mile and a half it seemed like all the Roush cars would be in the top 10. I hope that’s the case, but I still am a little hesitant. I don’t want to get too confident just because it’s a long race and there’s still a chance – you saw what happened with Tony Stewart at Vegas. I mean, he had the field covered and Matt came out of nowhere as far as I was concerned. I didn’t expect him to be that fast in the race, and I think there’s an opportunity for some guys to surprise people on Sunday.
YOU MENTIONED YOUR TALK WITH KEVIN HARVICK LAST WEEK. HAS THAT BEEN A POSITIVE STEP FOR BOTH OF YOU? “Yeah. Let’s face it, we’re all competitors. If you go through the garage, there are a lot of people that you go through times like that with and there are a lot of people you really don’t like at certain points, but we’re all competitors. The biggest thing for me right now is just to focus on what we’ve got going on with our team. I’m grateful that I don’t have any big issues with anyone. We’re just racing. I think it’s good. I think it’s better for me and I’m grateful for it.
WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN IN NICK HOFFMAN IN THE TRUCK SERIES? “I think Nick Hoffman is a guy that you guys are gonna hear about a lot in the future. His father and his uncle are amazing racers. Nick has been doing really well. He’s been running dirt modifieds and doing great with it. He does a backflip when he wins, which I think is really neat. They’re a family that are true racers. When I moved down to Charlotte and Jack hired me and I was looking for a place to live, I lived at their house for the first couple of weeks while I was in Charlotte, so they’re just good people. Nick is driving Mike’s truck. I think they’re going to Kansas with it and he’s a very smart racer. He’s got the gifts that it takes, it’s just a matter of him getting the right opportunities and him and Mike getting him that experience that he needs.”
We have become better and that’s good.
ARE YOU AMAZED IT’S NINE YEARS SINCE ROUSH WON A POINTS RACE AT CHARLOTTE? “That’s a stat I did not know. I’d say we’ve got a really good opportunity to end that streak, but I know I have run really poorly here. There have been some races where we’ve really, really struggled. I think the progress here is emblematic of the progress we’ve made overall. I think it’s a really good sign because this has a place we’ve obviously struggled. I didn’t know it was that bad, so for us to run the way we are right now here, I think is another little piece of evidence that we have made real progress. This is not just a flash in the pan. We have become better and that’s good.
WHAT ABOUT THE PROSPECT OF SWEEPING THE ALL-STAR RACE AND 600? “It would be huge. It probably would have been easier with the other race car, but that is my fault and my problem, I guess. I joke around about that, but I think our car that we have right now is as good or better, so I don’t think that will really be a factor. But that would be huge. I don’t think about things like streaks and goals like that. What I really want to do is win that race because we want to win, first of all, but, second, I really want those bonus points going into the chase. I want that second victory to really lock ourselves into the chase with the wild card spot if something should happen. But, most of all, I just want to win that Coke 600. That’s a big race.
THOUGHTS ON TWO RACES AT KANSAS AND IS THERE ANY FRIENDLY COMPETITION WITH BOWYER ABOUT WINNING THERE FIRST? “He can’t win there before me. That would be terrible. I’d like to race there every week. That’s a lot of fun. For me it’s a lot of fun because so many people from Columbia, Missouri go to that race. Yeah, there’s a healthy rivalry that dates back about 150 years with us and the guys right across the border there. If one of us could win that race, one of us is gonna win it before the other, I would definitely like to be the one to win that first. There would be a lot of pride. I think between Clint and I that would be a big deal.
DOES IT DESERVE TWO RACES? “Yeah, I think Kansas deserves two races. I think the fans really love racing. If you look at Iowa, the fans there are really hungry for NASCAR racing. They’re real racers. There are more race tracks in that area of the country than there are anywhere else – it’s a lot like New York. There are a lot of dirt racers, a lot of really savvy racers, and a lot of racing families in history. So I think the people there really love the racing and I’m glad they have two races and I think they deserve them.”
-source: ford racing