NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Carl Edwards and Jason Leffler June 10, 2009 An interview with: CARL EDWARDS HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's teleconference as we're looking ahead to this weekend's NASCAR...
NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Carl Edwards and Jason Leffler
June 10, 2009
An interview with: CARL EDWARDS
HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's teleconference as we're looking ahead to this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series events at Michigan International Speedway and Kentucky Speedway accordingly. We have two drivers on the call today, Carl Edwards. He's going to drive in both events. And Jason Leffler, one of the top regulars in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He'll be racing at Kentucky.
We'll start off with Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford and the No. 60 Save-A-Lot Ford in the Nationwide Series. Carl comes into Sunday's race having won the last previous Sprint Cup race there last summer. He's sixth in the Sprint Cup points. Comes off a runner-up finish at Pocono.
Carl, you're still looking for the first Cup win this year, but you're in pretty good shape in the points. Then after the Pocono run, what is the feeling for your team coming into Michigan where you usually do pretty well?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, we haven't won a race yet. But I feel like our team has grown a lot over the last month or so. Our pit stops have been a lot better. Our cars have been faster. And Sunday was exactly almost what we needed. I mean, we led the most laps. We had good pit stops. We almost won the race. The most important thing that came out of Sunday was jumping up in the points because the reality of this series is that you can win all the races you want, but it really matters what you do in those last 10 races and you have to be in the Chase.
You know, it's no fun being on the outside of those 12 cars, you know, looking in. Our mission right now is just to go get all the points we can so that we have a chance to run for that championship.
So I feel good about it. Our Nationwide car ran really well at Nashville. It's the best we've run relative to the 18 car, who's been unbelievably fast. You know, if we can just kind of keep this going, work through the summer here, be really strong at the end of the year, I think we're going to be in great shape.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks for that opener. We'll now take media questions for Carl Edwards.
Q: Carl, I have a Nationwide question for you. How would you describe the driving characteristics of the current Nationwide car with the tapered spacer compared to the car you first ran in the Busch Series and then into the Nationwide? What is the current car like comparatively driving-wise?
CARL EDWARDS: At the short tracks the current Nationwide car is great. It's fairly similar to, you know, what we ran before. You know, I started running the Nationwide Series in 2005. But the difference is now we have, I would assume we have more downforce based on the evolution of the bodies and things, and we have much less power.
So at the big tracks, the Nationwide cars become completely different. If you go to a place like Texas, you know, or Chicago or something like that, you kind of lose a variable as a driver with the loss of horsepower because you're almost wide open around the racetrack. So it becomes very, very touchy with the setups and makes it extremely important to have your crew chief and your engineers and all those guys, you know, having those cars perfect. With a little more horsepower, kind of like the Cup car, you can make some things happen.
So it's a different style of racing. It can be very frustrating when you can't get your car to do what you want, but it's good when you're fast, just like anything.
Q: Carl, you talked about being sixth in points. That's the bottom line, being in that Chase. Has it been more encouraging or more frustrating, these last three weeks, where you've had top-10 finishes, but for whatever reason haven't been able to snap this streak?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, I wouldn't call it a streak yet. Because, I mean, this sport's tough. If you look at the guy that won Sunday, you know, Tony, leading the points, he's had great runs. Look how long it took them, even the way they're performing, you look at how long it took them to win a race.
You have to perform like we did on Sunday, you know, for three or four races before you're gonna win one of 'em, just based on the way racing works. So, trust me, I want to win so badly. And even though it's only been 13 or 14 races, it feels like forever. But I think if we just keep our heads down, I think we'll get what we deserve. And definitely the points feel good. I told everybody after the race, I said, I hope I feel a little better tomorrow, because I was not very happy with second. But I can tell you, you know, on Monday morning when I got up, I went and looked at the points, that felt pretty good.
So we're all right.
Q: With Sonoma coming up in a couple weeks, ticket sales have been really strong for the race. They're not down from previous years. They've held firm for the upcoming race. I know attendance and TV ratings have been down at other racing this year. From your perspective, how much does that concern you or if it's a concern at all if maybe NASCAR's rampant popularity might be on the wane a little bit?
CARL EDWARDS: I mean, if you look at the whole economy, I guess the stock market's down, what, 35% from October of 2007 or something like that. You know, if you look at the whole economy and the percentage that it's down, I feel like NASCAR's doing relatively well.
I mean, we provide a sport, you know, and entertainment to fans, and our ticket sales and all that stuff are just based on people's discretionary income, and their willingness to spend it to come enjoy our sport.
So considering that we don't, you know, that it's just fun and it's just sport, and we're only down whatever small amount we are, I think we're doing really well. And I think at the town hall style meeting we had the other day, where we talked about all being in this together and providing the best thing we can for the fans, I think if we can keep that attitude and make this sport the best it can be, when the economy comes back up, I feel like, you know, we'll literally be stronger and have more fans.
So I'm positive about it. I've gone to, you know, local dirt tracks and seen nobody making any money, and a hundred people in the stands. And I'm telling you, I think we've still got a great thing going here. Until it gets to that, you won't hear me complain.
Q: Did some concrete, constructive ideas come out of the town hall meeting?
CARL EDWARDS: There were opinions discussed. You know what I mean? And there were ideas thrown around. The thing that came out of it, you know, the one thing that came out of it so far is the double-file restarts, which everyone pretty much agreed that's good.
But I think the came out that's most positive is the idea that, hey, it's not NASCAR versus the drivers, NASCAR versus the car owners, we're all in this together. That's the first time I've heard that kind of message, you know, come straight from Brian France and Mike Helton and all those folks. And they really just said, Hey, lay it on us, what do you guys think?
It was just one hour. I think as we go forward, that kind of relationship will be good for the sport. I think that's the good thing that came out of it.
Q: I want to look ahead to next weekend's Nationwide Series here in Milwaukee. The results you've had this year are very similar to where you were at this point last year. Close, but still looking for that first win. Does the start of this season have that same feel to it?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, I'd have to actually look at the numbers. Do you know our average finish to date versus last year's to this date?
Q: Off the top of my head, no, I don't.
CARL EDWARDS: I think we're a lot better. And I say that because the worst race I've ever had in the Nationwide Series was at Kentucky last year. We got lapped twice under green by Joey Logano. That is the worst we've ever run, that I've ever run, in a NASCAR race. And, I mean, we were in trouble. I mean, we were just not fast enough. I think we ran 15th or something like that at Nashville and struggled. I mean, that was how slow we were.
So I think we're a lot better. I mean, we're only 65 points out of the lead and we're chasing a guy who is extremely fast right now. So I think we're in a lot better shape. I think last year we were in a little bit of a panic at this time. And this year we're getting stronger and stronger. I feel like we're just as fast as Kyle at Nashville, and that's the first time that happened. So I'd say we're better.
Q: The answer to your question was 7.8 to this point this year and 9.5 at the end of the season after you rattled off all those wins that started here.
CARL EDWARDS: Right. I think we're way better. I think we're about a 12th or 13th average. Dan Stillman and I went testing yesterday and we talked about it. You know, the complexion of the season can change so quickly, just like it did last year had we rattled off seven wins at the end of the season and almost caught Clint. I think we're doing all right, considering how head and shoulders far above that 18 car is right now.
Q: So you're very comfortable with Dan at this point?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I am. It's taken us, you know, a little while to kind of get in our groove, but I'd say we're doing really well. I really feel like it's going to be good. I was a little worried there at first just because things, you know, we weren't winning races, but I'm kind of starting to realize that he is the guy to do the job. I think it's gonna be good.
Q: About your team having picked up recently, do you believe that momentum is kind of like a potent team possession, you think that momentum is as hard to retrieve as it is to achieve?
CARL EDWARDS: I know what you're asking. But I just don't think there's any such thing as momentum in racing. I mean, it just basically comes down to will your car go fast enough and how does your luck go, you know. There's a little bit to be said, I think, for a good, positive attitude. I mean, if you go into the race and you're coming off a win and you feel good, you know, you won't be as self-destructive throughout the weekend, you won't let things go bad as easily.
But for me, it's about how fast is my racecar when we start that race. And if it's a fast racecar, everything seems to go really easy. If it's not, there's no amount of previous wins that can make up for it. You know, sometimes things go well and sometimes they don't. But usually fast racecars make everything work well.
Q: I got a Father's Day question for you. Can you give me a favorite memory or two memories about spending time with your father growing up at the racetracks, and how important are those memories to you?
CARL EDWARDS: Boy, my dad and I became very close when we started racing together. He owns a Volkswagen repair shop, and we raced these little Volkswagen-powered racecars. He raced these Volkswagen cars. When I started racing, we went and bought this car. He bought it. I think he paid 1100 bucks for it. And we worked on it pretty much together for six or eight months and got it ready to go. And he lengthened the trailer. He had a trailer that was just a little longer than the little racecar, so he made it a little longer and we put two racecars on it. And every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we'd go all around eastern Missouri. We'd go to Joffrey, Illinois, St. Charles, Missouri, and we'd race these little Volkswagen cars together. It was usually just my dad and me in his van, pulling, you know, stretched out trailer with two racecars on it. And we had a blast.
I really enjoyed that. That was a very, very good time in my life. I'd say that racing really brought us together.
Q: Just wanted to ask about Mark Martin. He's going to be coming back to Sonoma for the first time in two or three years next week. Obviously he's had as much experience there as anybody. Is it still a bit of an adjustment with regards to the COT, not having driven the COT on that course before?
CARL EDWARDS: I can't speak for Mark, but I'm certainly he's gone and tested. The way he's been running and the amount of talent he has, I mean, I bet he's going there for a win. So, you know, I would not be surprised to see Mark Martin up there, you know, racing in the front of the pack.
I bet he's going to be one of the guys you have to beat, you know, to win this thing. He'll be up there in contention. So the other thing that I think he has going for him is his physical conditioning. You know, that's a tough race out there. And there's nobody in better shape than Mark. I try to be in as good a shape as him. I went and worked out with him once, and that guy's tough. I think he'll be fine.
Continued in part 2