Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, currently leads the point standings, five points ahead of second place Jimmie Johnson, heading into Saturday night’s Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway. In 13 career races at RIR, Edwards has posted five top-10’s a top-five while sitting on the pole in his last race here. Edwards talked about his season to date and expectations this weekend.
YOU WERE SECOND FASTEST IN THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSION AND ARE LOOKING FOR YOUR FIRST WIN AT RICHMOND. “Yeah, a win at Richmond would be huge. We have had a great year so far and it has been a lot of fun. Our car is pretty fast. We are going to go do a solid qualifying practice here in a minute and we will find out how fast we are in qualifying trim compared to everyone else. We did make a qualifying run which is why we were so fast on the board. This is a fun weekend. I think all the drivers like racing here as far as I know. It is going to be a fun race tonight and a good race tomorrow. We are glad to have Scotts on board. I just got a bunch of grass seed from them that we are going to plant here in the next couple of days and find out exactly how well the stuff works. I am excited. They have been a lot of fun this year. We have had some good races and hopefully we can come out of here with the points lead. We are enjoying leading the points. It is fun for everybody on our team.”
YOU TALKED AFTER THE NASHVILLE RACE ABOUT BALANCING YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AND SPENDING MORE TIME WITH YOUR WIFE AND KIDS, HOW HAVE YOU ADJUSTED TO THAT? “Fortunately I think I married the perfect woman for me. We get along really well. It has been the best thing in my life. It has been a lot of fun. I think the things that I want to do are different than before. I know what you are saying but it isn’t like I am being mandated to do something I don’t want to do by spending more time with my family. The things I wake up in the morning and think are important are a little different. It is very interesting and I have been enjoying it. I am truly blessed. It has been good for me. We seem to be running very well too, so that is good. It hasn’t negatively affected my performance on the race track.”
WHAT WENT INTO YOUR DECISION TO AUCTION THE TROPHY FROM LAST WEEKS WIN AT NASHVILLE? “I think all of us once we have family, I can say that I was struck more by the tragedy there with Jonathan’s (Bunting) death because he has a wife and kids and it really struck me as a very tragic event. I knew everybody at the shop was struggling with that the whole week, to me that was one of the most fun races I have been a part of lately. It was a really good race and I thought it was a good tribute to him. You guys know that I try to always think of something to do with the trophy and I couldn’t think of anything better. Everyone at Roush Fenway came together and worked really hard this week and the guitar is up on NASCAR.com on the auction section and we are taking bids on it. I have had some inquiries from some pretty eager folks that want to buy that thing. I am excited to see where the bidding goes. It is amazing how many people have come out in support of him and his family. I think it worked out great and I just hope that we can help the family.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU LIKE SPECIFICALLY ABOUT RACING AT RICHMOND AND THE FAN SUPPORT YOU GET HERE? “Racing at Richmond is fun. It is fast enough that you get that real sensation of speed here and it is a short track so you can still really mix it up. There is some room for error. You can really race hard here and the fans are second to none. They really love the racing and there is a lot of passion here. It is a very important race track because of where the second race falls in the Chase hunt and all of that. It is a good place. I really enjoy coming here. I haven’t had the success on the Cup side. The first race I came to I think I finished sixth and we had a super fast car and I was thinking this was going to be my favorite race track. We have struggled on the Cup side but run really well on the Nationwide side and had some really good battles. I think I like it for the same reasons everybody else likes it.”
WHAT IS THE DIFFICULT PART OF RACING HERE AND WHEN DID YOU START TO GET IT IN TERMS OF IMPROVING HERE? “There are a lot of things that are difficult about this place. It looks like a simple race track but the entry into the corners is so different. Turn one is so much different than turn three. You enter turn one at really high speed with a lot of banking and it is a decreasing radius corner. It is really hard to get into that corner correctly because of that speed. Turn three is the opposite. You don’t feel like you have built up any speed and it is easy to overdrive it. The car changes a lot on entry. The suspension goes through a big rise and fall. That makes it a tough place, plus the center of the corners just seem so tight. You get in there and the car won’t turn and then the cars are always loose off of turn four. The rear end can jump out like dirt racing. You are driving along thinking everything is great and you can spin the tires at the flag stand. Every lap is an adventure here at Richmond.”
You don’t feel like you have built up any speed and it is easy to overdrive it.
HAVE YOU TALKED TO JONATHAN’S FAMILY AT ALL AND GOTTEN A SENSE OF WHAT HIS WIFE IS GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW? “I haven’t contacted his wife. I have talked to his good friend at the shop, we talked during the week last week and he gave me a pretty good sense of what was going on. It is a terrible tragedy.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS RACE AFTER JIMMIE JOHNSON AND DALE JR. DID SO WELL DOWN AT TALLADEGA AND CLOSING THE POINTS GAP? “Right now at this point in the season it is all about winning races, learning, performing well enough to lock yourself into the Chase and for us to be leading is fun. It feels good. But it is also about having a little bit of insurance. Five points isn’t much with those guys coming. Jimmie and those guys have been doing really well. Hopefully we can keep them behind us. That would be nice.”
HAVE YOU TALKED TO TREVOR BAYNE AT ALL ABOUT HIS CONDITION AND WHAT IS GOING ON WITH HIM AND ALSO WHAT ABOUT CHRIS MAKING HIS FIRST START AS AN 18 YEAR OLD? “Robbie called him? Robbie can be a pretty intimidating guy. I have not talked to Chris but hopefully we will get a chance to talk a little before the race. I don’t know exactly what is going on with Trevor. I got to know Trevor a little bit like you guys have here lately and he is a real strong young man physically, mentally, emotionally. I think whatever they find out through all of this I am sure he will deal with it better than any of us expect. He is a heck of a guy. We are all behind him 100-percent.”
HAS JACK ROUSH SAID ANYTHING TO YOU ABOUT GETTING HURT DOING BACK FLIPS? “He has kind of pointed out that he doesn’t think it is the best idea but he seems to be alright with it. Jack is kind of a risk taker himself. He doesn’t really tell people what risks not to take. The only advice Jack has had for me is that if you are going to be dumb you have to be tough. He is okay with it.”
HOW MUCH ARE YOU GUYS USING THIS WEEKENDS RACE AND PRACTICE AS A TEST SESSION FOR WHEN WE COME BACK IN SEPTEMBER? “It is very important. Everyone always says all the races are the same and stuff but when it comes down to Richmond, I have been through a couple of those races where it is extremely important and all the pressure is on and you pour over everything that happened in this event to predict how it will go. No matter what anyone says, this has special importance because of that and we will be paying real close attention.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FORD FR9 ENGINE AND HOW IT HAS COME ON THIS YEAR? “It has been great. Doug Yates and all those guys have done a great job. We were just watching the finish at Talladega there on TV. The cooling package has been great and it makes a lot of power. It is still in its developmental infancy so we have time to make more horsepower and make gains. There are a lot of good things in the future with that FR9, it is cool.”
YOU ARE GOOD FRIENDS WITH COACH PINKEL, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TWO MIZZOU TIGERS GOING IN THE TOP-10 OF THE DRAFT? “It is kind of odd to watch the draft and see all the video of those guys, it is pretty neat. Coach Pinkel is an amazing guy. I don’t know a lot about football but I can tell you his is a class A guy. I am happy for him and I am hoping they have a good season this year. In Columbia, Missouri, the better the Tigers do the more fun it is to live there. I am cheering for them.”
“It is kind of odd to watch the draft and see all the video of those guys, it is pretty neat.
TRAVIS PASTRANA SAID HE HAS BEEN TALKING TO YOU ABOUT HIS TRANSITION TO STOCK CARS. WHAT ADVICE HAVE YOU GIVEN HIM? “I wasn’t sure if we were still friends or not because I ran so poorly as his teammate in Germany in the Race of Champions. I made some terrible mistakes and he was kind of disgusted with me over there. He is a very good race car driver. I learned that over there. He ran much better than I did and he has massive talent. I think what he is doing is smart the way they are approaching this as kind of a slow burn. He isn’t jumping right in and making mistakes trying to make Cup races and things like that. Did he have a rough night last night? He knows how to race. Hopefully he will do well because it will be good for all of us and he is a fun guy to be around. I look forward to him racing in the Nationwide series once he feels comfortable.”
HOW HAS THE DIFFERENT TIRES FROM WEEK TO WEEK IMPACTED YOU? “I kind of quit asking what tires were on the car or if NASCAR changed them or not because it seems like they change them every time we come to the race track. It is easy to get lost when you focus on stuff like that too much. As a driver I focus on getting my car set up and working the best it can. I know it is a challenge. It makes it challenging when you come back to a track and the tires are different and what you had before isn’t even close. There is a lot that goes into trying to predict how things are going to be with new tires. As a driver I just go drive the thing as fast as it will go and try not to focus to much on that other stuff. I used to pay a little bit more attention and it just didn’t seem to help me. It is important to understand it but if you get mad about it because it doesn’t help.”
WHY DO YOU THINK GOODYEAR IS CHANGING TIRE RECOMMENDATIONS SO FREQUENTLY? IS IT TO KEEP YOU GUYS OFF BALANCE OR WHAT? “Is this a different kind than we ran last time? Did you ask them that? I really don’t know. You know you can go ask them, they are right outside. It is a good question really but I don’t know what the deal is. It seems like they have had very safe tires lately and that is the most important thing. I don’t know why they are changing them.”
-source: ford racing