Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is currently second in the point standings heading into Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, a track he has three career wins at, including a sweep in 2008. Edwards spoke with media members Friday after happy hour practice.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR YOU TO GET YOUR FOURTH CAREER WIN HERE? “We are going to have to keep doing what we have been doing. The car is good. We just got done with some qualifying trim runs and it seems pretty fast. Texas is fun. It is a fun place to race and they pay a ton if you win which is great (laughter). This afternoon we get to go for that shotgun which has definitely eluded us. We have been second in qualifying here but Bob and I want to win that shotgun so we can fight over it. I don’t know who would get it, me or him. That is the first step here, to qualify well and then 500 miles at night. It will be a little bit different racing in conditions we haven’t practiced in yet so that will be interesting. It is fun to race here. I am glad to go, ready to go, glad to be here.”
TELL ME ABOUT THE LIFE OF FARMER CARL. “I am not a good farmer yet but I have some farmland in central Missouri and my buddy and I sharecrop it. I am learning a lot about farming. It is not as simple as it looks but we have been having a lot of fun with it. I think it is something that is so different from what I do every week that I really have a lot of fun with it. It is a good time. I have a tractor and everything. I am dangerous with my tractor. I need a four wheel drive tractor. I got mine stuck the other day a little bit. All they let me do is mow stuff down. They don’t let me do anything that requires any great skill. I have fun with it though, we have a good time.”
YOU HAVE A LOT GOING ON TODAY BETWEEN THE TWO SERIES’, HOW DO YOU KEEP IT ALL STRAIGHT AND DOES RUNNING THE NATIONWIDE HELP? “I don’t even know what time we qualify for each one. We qualify the Nationwide car next right? I have been a little behind on everything this weekend. Hopefully my driving is better than my logistics. I didn’t know we were coming to do this until Randy was like, ‘Look, we are late’. Oh, here is my schedule. Right now we are in NASCAR top-12 media, which is awesome to be a part of let me tell you. It is bad when you aren’t a part of that. We have qualifying at 4:00 and Cup qualifying at 5:40. It will be interesting because now I have to get in that Nationwide car and I ran a lap in it at 9:30 this morning. I rolled out of bed and went over to the race car and that is a great wake-up to go that fast first thing in the morning. Our car was real fast. The trick will be that they drive so differently. You drive that Nationwide car almost like an Indy car around here just darn near wide open. The Cup car you have to use the break and it is a lot different driving style. That Nationwide lap will be one thing and then I have to forget that and run like we just ran the Cup car a couple of minutes ago. I am not the best at qualifying. My qualifying efforts are not the greatest all the time. It is pretty tough and something you have to focus on to do well at. The last year or so we have been working harder at it and have gotten more poles so it is going well. We will see here in a minute. If I am out there pointing my shotgun at the sky and laughing later it will be great.”
YOU ONLY RAN SEVEN LAPS THAT LAST PRACTICE. WERE YOU THAT DIALED IN? “We didn’t run any race trim the last practice. We did all of our race trim practice yesterday where a lot of people spent the last part of yesterday running qualifying trim and we elected to run race trim when the temperatures were a little lower. The temperatures are higher now. We figured if we worked on race trim now that it might not help us as much for the race at night. That was our strategy. It looked like other people had different strategies and usually that doesn’t mean that ours was very good but you never know. It might work out great but we decided to stick to our guns with the decision we made. I wanted to run a little more race trim but you can fool yourself here because it is so different in the heat with the sun up.”
We figured if we worked on race trim now that it might not help us as much for the race at night.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO LEARN TO GET ON AND OFF PIT ROAD AND DEAL WITH THE TIMING LINES AND DOES RUNNING THE NATIONWIDE RACE HELP YOU WITH THAT FOR SUNDAY? “I think running the Nationwide series helps me because everybody makes mistakes on pit road. You will get in too fast or speed through the first one or get greedy racing someone off pit road and speed through the last one. I think running the Nationwide series lets me make those mistakes on Saturday. You are just trying to get everything you can and every once in awhile you go over that line or NASCAR might have calculated their speeds a little differently for one segment than another. We have seen that where one particular segment gives everyone a hard time. It is another spot where you have to get everything you can but it is really bad when you get caught.”
FOLLOWING UP ON YOUR FARMING ANSWER, PERHAPS YOU CAN ADD CROP DUSTING? DO YOU SEE ANOTHER ADDITION TO YOUR FLEET OF AIRPLANES COMING? “Crop dusting would be a lot of fun. It would probably be a short career for me. Those guys are good. I actually bought an old 1946 Piper Cub which was originally sold as a crop duster. I fly along in this thing and it has a back seat where you fly from but I guess when it came out 60 years ago the back seat was a tank with the chemicals in it and I just fly around in that thing around Missouri and I can’t imagine buzzing down over fields and under power lines. It would be an exciting career though.”
WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DO YOU EXPECT THE SMALLER PLATE TO HAVE NEXT WEEKEND AND DO YOU ANTICIPATE ANY TWO CAR DRAFTING ANYWHERE CLOSE TO DAYTONA? “The plate is smaller than Daytona? I didn’t even know they changed it. Because we don’t lift off of the throttle I think if we were going 100 miles per hour there, if the plate only let us have 100 horsepower or whatever would get us to 100 miles per hour, I think we would still see the exact same style of racing. If two cars are better at X speed then two cars should be better at 2X speed. I don’t think it will change anything. Overall it will just keep the speeds lower so there is less of a danger of that big flying through the air wreck that nobody wants to see there. I think that will be the difference but it should look just the same.”
WILL YOU LEARN SOMETHING FROM THE NATIONWIDE RACE TONIGHT TO HELP WITH THE NIGHT TRANSITION? “Yeah, I think we will learn some things. It starts at like 7:45 or something which is pretty late. We will get to run deep into the night tonight and see how the track changes. Right now if you look at it it is taking rubber the whole way and is real slick and greasy and there is a lot of heat in the race track. I am interested to see how that works when it cools off 50-degress of track temperature or whatever the number is. It will be different for sure.”
“Actually there is one crop duster here in Texas that knows me and I was just thinking about this story. I was flying a little Saratoga. I got my pilots license and it was my first plane and I flew it all over the country and Mike Helton and those guys were always telling me that I had to get a plane with two engines. This little thing was great. I landed for fuel in Demmit, Texas and that looked like a good place ot land on the map and I didn’t think to check the wind sock, so I landed down wind. I am landing at 60-80 mph plus 20 mph wind and I am screaming down this runway trying to stop and I get to the end and there is a guy ready to take off the correct direction. I can see him look at me like, ‘You idiot.’ It was great, I bought this plane and didn’t know what color it was when I bought it and it was pink (laughter). They call it magenta or something but it was purpleish pink and so here comes this idiot in this plane and he is looking at me like, ‘Now what are you going to do moron? You have to turn around because I can’t back up.’ So I turn around and taxi back in and beg these people for some fuel and they are like, ‘You are NASCAR driver Carl Edwards!’ So all along I am thinking the only guy that saw that landing was this one guy. Like a year later I was doing an autograph session here at Texas and I hear form the crowd, ‘Hey downwind!’ and I think ‘Oh, man he knows … somebody knows’. He was like, ‘I was that guy in that crop duster. You are a terrible pilot!’ It was pretty funny. I am sure in the crop duster community around here they laugh at me as a pilot. They call me down wind.”
You drive down the corner and get sideways at 200 mph it is exciting.
SO DOWN WIND, DOES JACK EVER TALK TO YOU ABOUT GETTING A SECOND ENGINE? “Now I have a Citation jet which I should have bought from the beginning but I am pretty thick headed and thrifty so I flew around in that little plane. When I got back to Missouri and they delivered that plane and it was purple I couldn’t believe it.”
WHAT ABOUT THE SPEEDS HERE. DO YOU FEEL IT AND SENSE THE SPEED HERE? “This place is fast and you really do feel it. This morning in the Nationwide car I got really loose into turn three and it was like all your hair stands up and you get a high sensation of speed. They keep showing that wreck that McDowell had. It was going on for 15-seconds. There is a lot of speed here and I think everyone respects that. It is a tough place. It gives you that feeling of that this is what racing is about. You drive down the corner and get sideways at 200 mph it is exciting.”
IS THERE ANY DRIVER FROM HISTORY YOU WOULD LOVE TO GO UP AGAINST? “I got the chance to be on the race track with David Pearson at Darlington for a PR event and he was in that 21 car and I was in my car and we were doing photos and he keeps going faster and faster and is passing me and stuff and looking over at him in that car to me it made me think about how cool it would be to be lined up at Darlington however many years ago and be able to race with guys like Pearson and Petty. That would be cool to me. I like the way those old cars drove. They had big cars sliding around and the aero stuff wasn’t as big of a deal and there wasn’t down force. That stuff looks fun to me. I would love to have been able to race back then.”
HOW DO THE NATIONWIDE CARS DRIVE AT TALLADEGA? “They drive just like the Cup cars. There really is not a big difference. The one thing that we will see there is how well they match up. They didn’t match up very well at Daytona and it made that difficult. Talladega is a little bigger and the bumpers might match up well enough that we could do some two car drafting. My Daytona race didn’t last long because we had some trouble with a spark plug wire so I didn’t get to race real hard for very long. It would be hard for me to compare them really. I think they should be pretty similar though.”
-source: ford racing