Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford brings a two-race win streak dating back to last season into Sunday's Daytona 500 where he looks for victory for the first time. Edwards will start 22nd in the 500 and answered questions from the media on Friday.
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT BEING IN DAYTONA SO FAR, THE RULES CHANGES, THE CARS AND WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED GOING INTO SUNDAY? "I think we have all kind of seen what is going on with the two-car drafts and we got to run yesterday, Greg and I had a lot of time in the Gatorade race to try to learn about that and I feel like we did. I don't think anyone really knows how the race is going to be on Sunday. Have you guys heard if they are talking about any rules changes yet? Nobody has said anything? I don't think we are going to have much more time on the track to look at what things are going to be like. We have seen what it is going to look like, generally. I feel like if that is how we are going to race, then we are prepared."
WITH THE APPARENT EMPHASIS OF THE NEW ENGINE ON COOLING PROPERTIES, DO YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT BEING ABLE TO DRAFT LONGER BASED ON WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN OUT THERE? "I feel like Matt (Kenseth) showed us in the first qualifier, by pushing the 29 car, showed us what could be done by sticking the nose out there a little bit. I did not push anyone for a long period of time, so I didn't get to see the temperatures and how it worked. I believe that one of the positive things about this FR9 that I didn't really think much about until we got down here, is that it cools better or at least seems to. That could be really beneficial for us on Sunday. I still don't think we have taxed these engines long enough to know where the breaking point is. We will find that out Sunday. Guys will be running right at the upper limit of temperature and RPM's and I think engine failures will become a big part of the race. That FR9 engine seems to be one that can stay cooler, which is great."
IT HAS BEEN A BUSY OFF SEASON, HOW GOOD WILL IT FEEL TO GET OUT ON THE TRACK SUNDAY AND HAVE THE SEASON OFFICIALLY BEGIN? "This season kind of snuck up on me. We had a really busy off season with a lot going on at the shop and traveling with my family. It feels like it has come really fast. I am excited though for it to get started. I am really excited about hopefully getting out of Daytona with a good finish and then Phoenix; we could not be going to a better track for us right off the bat. Vegas should also be great. I don't know about you guys, but there is something about this season that feels different to me. It feels like all the teams and drivers and NASCAR and even the media are all positive. There is a lot of positive energy and coming off last season I am really excited about this one."
YOU MENTIONED PHOENIX, BUT THEY ARE GOING TO CHANGE THAT TRACK AFTER THE UPCOMING RACE, WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT? "I will be out there laying in front of the excavating equipment trying to get them to leave it. I really like that surface a lot. Everything they have done out there through the years has been better. The way they changed the outside wall off of turn two was good change at the time. I really liked that wall, I thought it was neat. I feel like the pavement will be positive. No matter how hard you try, I don't think you can mess that race track up. It is the right size, the sun beats down and it gets slippery. It will be neat with the new pavement as well."
EARLIER THIS WEEK RYAN NEWMAN WAS TALKING ABOUT LIFT OFF ON SPEEDS. YOU ARE A PILOT, WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM SAFE SPEED FOR THESE CARS? "That is a good question. I got that feeling driving with someone pushing me that if we had a little trouble, like let's say I drive through turn one and blow a left rear tire and the guy behind me doesn't realize it quick enough, I think there is a dynamic with two cars with one being sideways is bad. We saw that with Brad and I, unfortunately, with the car pushing the car that is sideways it does something to the aerodynamics and makes it more likely the front car will go airborne. With these two car drafts it concerns me a little bit that it could be more likely to happen. I think NASCAR has answered that by trying to keep the overall top speeds down to try to answer that. You just don't know though, it is all about how the cars are positioned." ARE YOU SPENDING MORE TIME PAYING ATTENTION TO THE GAUGES IN YOUR CAR AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE A DRAFTING PARTNER? "It is all there is. Yesterday the most important thing was the guy that was pushing you or that you were pushing. In my case, Greg was pushing me. That was the most important thing and there is nothing more important. If you come apart or are not working well with that guy and really helping one another to do the best you can together, then you are going to have no chance at winning. This race, I believe, is truly going to be the biggest exercise in team work that we have ever had to be a part of. You can't just jump ship and go, not like a pack of cars is, you have got to pick a guy and work with that guy. You are going to have to work with him for the last 10 or 15 laps to be in a position to win. As far as the gauges, I have never messed around with my radios and stared at my gauges and looked in my mirror ever at a race track. You have to pay attention. This will be a much more draining race. Much more difficult to keep the attention level where it needs to be to avoid disaster."
KEVIN HARVICK SAID THAT HE WOULD PREFER TO BE IN SECOND PLACE COMING TO THE FINISH LINE, YET ALL THREE OF THE RACES HAVE BEEN WON BY THE GUY BEING PUSHED, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING BEHIND OR IN FRONT? "I think you want to be leading if there are a bunch of cars racing toward the finish line. For instance, if I am pushing Greg on Sunday and we are battling another two car group or two different groups, six cars total and we are two of them, I am going to just keep pushing. I want my teammate to win the 500 more than I want for both of us to lose to somebody. If you are out there by yourself and have that lead, then I think what Kurt (Busch) did by holding off Regan, that is not going to be the norm. It is going to be very difficult for the guy in front to hold off a guy in second if it is just the two of them. It all depends on the situation at the end of the race, if it is a whole mess of cars or just two."
GUYS ARE TALKING ABOUT NEEDING PARTNERS AND FRIENDS OUT THERE, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THAT EXACTLY? "You definitely want friends for sure. It also can change in a heartbeat. Yesterday, Greg and I got separated and I got lined up with David and all of a sudden David is the guy that I had to work with. That is likely to happen on Sunday too. You could work with someone for three hours and get stuck with someone else the last 15 minutes. You better get to like that guy really quick."
IF YOU ARE PUSHING A CHEVY DOWN THE LAST FEW LAPS LIKE BAYNE WAS WITH GORDAN YESTERDAY, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DEAL WITH THAT? "Good question. I can just picture Jack Roush if I finish second and push some other manufacturer across the finish line. He probably isn't going to want to say much to me. I guess you have to make those decisions at the last minute. There is going to be a lot of thinking and break power being used the last mile of this race and guys determining how much they really like that guy in front of them or that manufacturer or car owner. There is a lot to it. It really at the end of the day, for two guys to do well, they have to go with one another almost to the very end."
HOW DOES A DECISION GET MADE IF YOU ARE PUSHING SOMEONE OF WHEN TO SWITCH AND TAKE YOUR TURN IN THE LEAD, AND DO YOU LIKE THIS STYLE OF RACING? "Coming to grips with the fact that you might not be the guy to win the race is tough. Jamie pushed Kurt first in the Bud Shootout I think, so that is a case from the outside looking in, that is pretty interesting. He just said that he was going to stick with it and push him and he wrote that race off. Now Kurt owes him a little bit and maybe that pays off on Sunday. You have to think bigger than this one race. You have to know we are coming back here in July, going to Talladega, come back here and have the same type of racing next year, and all of that makes that decision easier. It makes it easier to push a guy and know that maybe next time it will be reciprocated. Now I know it is the Daytona 500, but if you always abandon ship, trust me I have tried, I used to be the first guy to jump out of line and go for me, but pretty soon guys won't work with you because they know you will jump ship and that doesn't pay off in the long run. You are investing in future partners. Right now I am sitting here at this nice desk and once I have a helmet on sitting behind the wheel looking at the checkered flag at the Daytona 500 I think we all might think differently. Do I like this style of racing? I like racing where the driver and crew chief and the way you drive the race car are the things that dictate whether you win or not. This style of racing is not my favorite. I do think that the way the car is driving now where two guys can separate themselves I feel like there is a lot more control. I would much rather have that than just running around in a big pack of cars. I think this is a really big step forward, in my opinion, for restrictor plate racing."
THE GOODYEAR GUYS SAID THERE WAS HARDLY ANY WEAR ON THE TIRES AFTER 60 LAPS. HOW DOES THAT WEIGH INTO YOUR STRATEGY? "I guess if wear is not a problem then we just have to worry about temperature. I haven't heard anything about blistering or anything, so I think you will see guys go as long as they can and somebody will test the limits of the tire. I hope we aren't the ones to find the limit. Goodyear has done a great job and obviously has a great tire and the surface is nice and it is all working out well. I don't think that will be a big factor in the race."
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW MENTALLY GRUELING THIS RACE WILL BE. MENTALLY, WHAT DO YOU GUYS HAVE TO DEAL WITH AND WHAT IS THE THOUGHT PROCESS THAT IS SO GRUELING? "You have to think about so many things. Communication with the guy pushing you or the guy you are pushing. For instance, Greg was pushing me and the guys wrecked in front of us, so I am yelling in my radio to slow down hoping Greg hears it. There is that and the anxiety that goes with that. We have to monitor the temperature of the car and run in a position so the guy behind you can get his nose out. You try the best you can to keep guys from breaking you apart and all that stuff. You are thinking essentially about two cars instead of your own which is a different style of racing which is much tougher.
-source: ford racing