Edwards post-qualifying press conference

Ford Racing press release

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion –

“It’s an amazing feeling. I just cannot thank Jack Roush enough for all the work that he’s put in, and Doug Yates. I feel like he should be sitting up here with us. Those guys have done an unbelievable job of working through the transition to the EFI and it’s just amazing to know for the next week that Bob and all of us are gonna be working on the fastest racecar here at Daytona and preparing it for the biggest race of the season is a lot of fun. It’s great, so I’m just glad I’m driving it.”

Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

CHIP BOLIN, Head Engineer, Roush Fenway Racing

DID YOU THINK YOU WERE GOING TO BE ON THE POLE? “We would like to think we were going to be. Our goal was to sit on the pole. You come down here to try to run the fastest lap you possibly can and the guys at Roush Yates Engines have worked really hard to get us ahead on the EFI curve, and we were discussing last week. We felt like this was the best crop of superspeedway cars we had brought to the race track in a long time, so our entire organization was really confident about it. Bob has built this program on steady, calculated moves and we just tried to execute the plan that he expected us to do and here we are.”

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion

“It obviously starts in the shop. Robbie Reiser is under the weather today as well, but he’s worked really hard all winter. He’s got a great manufacturing program for us. Chip has behind the scenes with leading the engineering group with the simulations and the predictive things, and the wind tunnel work that’s being done, and the kinematics on the suspension. I tease him as he’s bringing up new stuff all the time, but there’s a lot to this. There’s a lot more than driving the car fast and a lot more than having a fast engine. You’ve got to coordinate every piece so that it’s ready to do its job when it’s time, and it all came together for us today. I think we may have been a little bit lucky on our wind too. I’m not sure that we didn’t have more favorable wind than some of our competitors. Certainly I think Greg’s lap was impacted more than Carl’s was, but it’s just a crapshoot when you line your stuff up and see what you’ve got, but if you’ve got great people that we’ve got behind the organization, if they’re as diligent and ambitious as they are – on a good day you can have the success we had today.”

YOUR REACTION TO THE FIRST FIRST BEING ON THE FRONT ROW IN THE 500 SINCE 2007? “It was great. We had a sweep that’s also in the record book in 2004. We had one of Robert Yates’ No. 38 car and Greg Biffle’s No. 16 car then, but it’s great for Ford Motor Company. Ford has been behind my racing and been a great partner for more than 40 years now. Many days they don’t get what they deserve, but today we’ve rejoiced in success and I’ll be happy to get the phone calls early in the week from people as they go back to work and read the newspapers and figure out what’s happened. Hopefully, they can sell some more Fords on Monday as well.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – HOW DO YOU ACCOUNT FOR THE SPEED YOU RAN? “It’s not that simple. It’s not the same rules package, so a lot of that is just chance. Our speed is based on what package NASCAR thinks is gonna race the best and works the best for the current rules. You can’t really compare speeds here from year to year. Really, all you can compare is where you stack up against the rest of the field on a given day. For us sitting up here, that’s where the pride in this accomplishment comes from is we got done with the season last year and we ended on a very high note, but, obviously, this shows that everybody went back to work hard and they brought the best racecar that we could here. And like Jack said, the wind worked out in our favor and everything went our way, but at the end of the day it’s not just one Ford up there it’s two of them - -two Roush Fenway Fords – so I think that says a lot about the organization.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – HOW DOES IT FEEL TO COME OUT OF THE BOX LIKE THIS? “It feels really nice. This is our second pole in a row, so it feels nice to pick up right where we left off. I’ve been telling everybody – it seems like every media question and all anybody says is, ‘How great would it have been to have one more point and how did you deal with that this off-season?’ I think this is nice to come here and show everyone that, hey, it isn’t just talk. Everybody at Roush Fenway went back and worked hard and kept their heads down and dug, just like Chip said, they’re the best racecars we’ve had in a long time, so I thank Jack Roush for that and I thank Chip and Bob and Robbie Reiser and Doug Yates and everybody who builds these racecars for not letting the disappointment of not winning that championship slow us down, but, instead, giving us real motivation.”

HOW DOES THIS RATE IN YOUR CAREER? “This is very special. It’s not a driving accomplishment, this is a team accomplishment, this pole. Any one of the drivers that would have gone out at the time I went out and would have been driving that 99 car, the Fastenal Fusion, the would have run the same lap time that I did, so this pole and these qualifying sessions at these restrictor plate tracks shows you what the guys are doing at the shop. It shows you the engine capabilities and the engineering and the decisions by guys like Chip and Bob, so this is about the team. Today, there’s a lot of pride in this for everyone. Just like Jack said, I’m excited to have all the guys back at the shop this week know they sent the best racecars down to Daytona.”

THURSDAY WILL BE DIFFERENT. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO APPROACH IT? “That’s one way to look at it, but the other way is that I know how good our back-up car is and I also know that you can’t give these other guys any advantage and if I were to not race and not understand the dynamics that are gonna happen during the daytime here at this race track with this package, I’d be giving them something, so I’ve got to go out there as a driver and mix it up and race and see how our car handles, but there is a little bit of a, ‘Man, there might be something really special about this car,’ so I’ll talk with Bob and I’m sure Jack will have some words for me before that race.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “We’ve talked about it. I think you’ve been a little late going to the front sometimes, so you should go to the front a little earlier tomorrow. That would be my advice. (laughter)

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED. “Okay. I just do what I’m told. You guys write that and we’ll see what happens (laughing).”

ANY CHANGE IN QUALIFYING STRATEGY FOR YOUR TEAM? “Jack hasn’t been doing much carburetor tuning, have you? (laughing). JACK SAYS: “Yeah, they’re working me closer to the door. The further this technology thing expands, the less there is for a dinosaur like me to do anything worthwhile, so I’m just a comedian now (laughing).”

CARL CONTINUES: “Bob and I and Jack and Chip and everyone, we’ve recognized the last couple year that qualifying is more important, that it’s harder to pass and I do get a lot of really good advice from Robbie and Jack and Bob and all these guys about my shortcoming as a racecar driver. They’ve kind of kicked me in the butt a little bit and we’ve all agreed that we need to focus more on qualifying. I think that our success out there comes from some of that recognition that it is important and focusing on it.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “One of the things that happens is the qualifying event and the race are totally different, except for an impound race. We’ve made an effort with Chip’s support and the direction that he’s had with his guys back in the shop, to be able to bring a racecar to the track that was set up with known things that would be of benefit for a qualifying package. We started with those in our practice and dedicated time that otherwise might have been fretted away looking for that last shock absorber, that last pound of air-pressure or whatever. There’s been a focus made that start with Chip and the guys in the shop that the crew chiefs have carried forward to dedicate a certain amount of time in practice for the qualifying event.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – IS THERE ANYTHING OTHER THAN LUCK THAT MADE LAST YEAR END THE WAY IT DID WITH A TIE? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENT? “No. It’s just like the 4000th time I’ve been asked that question , but I know what you’re saying. I’m just giving you a hard time. We sat down and we had a meeting. We all sat there and it was Jack and Robbie and (Chip) and Bob and me, and the first thing Jack asked was that same question. And I started to kind of think and Bob said, ‘Hey, no. If we started that Chase again right now, we’d do the same thing. We’d put our effort in the same places and I wouldn’t change a thing.’ As we sat there and talked about it, there were some races – Martinsville and Kansas in particular, where we were truly running somewhere in the high twenties or low thirties. We were running laps down and we were able to come back those days and finish ninth at Martinsville and fifth at Kansas. I know that doesn’t seem as exciting as a victory, but those days I was more proud of those and our ability to gather up those points those days. Those two days themselves were probably 40 points we didn’t really deserve, so at the end of the championship when you look at it, we tied a guy who won half of the races, and I venture to say that if we would have been able to win half of those races, we’d have just dominated that thing. So, I guess that’s a long version of me saying that we did the very best we could and there weren’t any races where I got out of the car and felt like, ‘Oh man, I could have got another spot.’ I got out of the car in seven or eight of those races and I thought, ‘Thank you Lord for the spots you gave me,’ and we were able to capitalize on it. In the end, it ended up a tie and that’s it. I don’t know how else to look at it. Another simple way to put it is we didn’t lose it. We didn’t go out there and do anything wrong. We went out and raced hard and raced well and they came and they beat us.”

DOES IT GIVE YOU RELIEF TO KNOW YOU’RE STARTING AT THE FRONT ON SUNDAY? “I don’t know. We’re likely to wreck up there in the front too. Last night, I was running second behind Greg and Clint was third and he got turned sideways coming out of the tri-oval, so I truly don’t know there’s a safe place on the race track with this style of racing, but the think that’s really good for me is that Greg is a guy who has been my partner at these restrictor plate races is starting right there with us. Him and I can work together. I know Greg has my best interests and Roush’s best interests in mind, just as I do for him, so that kind of makes me feel better, that we’ll be together at the start and we don’t have to go find each other to help one another later.” DO YOU GO INTO THE RACE ASSUMING THE 500 WILL END GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER? “I think you have to. Chip and I last night, he was calculating fuel based on going through a green-white-checkered and I think everybody knows that’s very likely to happen. As a driver, in your mind you have to plan how aggressive you’re gonna be and get a plan for that too, so, yeah, we take that into consideration.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED -- THERE’S A SENTIMENT THAT PLATE QUALIFYING DOESN’T MATTER AS IT PERTAINS TO HOW YOU FINISH ON SUNDAY. “That’s what I’ve always said, but I’ve never qualified up front (laughing).”

OTHER THAN THE MARKETING PART OF THIS WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO YOU? “It probably wouldn’t have mattered to me the first time I came down here or the second time, but now after seeing how hard everybody works all winter and how much pride the guys take in how these cars qualify, it does mean something to me. It’s a sign of the strength of your team and it’s not that we just have one car up there, to have that whole front row says a lot about Roush Fenway Racing, about Ford. It’s huge for our sponsors. You said other than the marketing, but there’s no part of sport that is other than the marketing. The sponsors and their ability to use this racing to benefit their business is huge, so for Fastenal to come down and be on the pole for the Daytona 500 in their first Cup race, that’s huge too. But your question is specifically what does it mean to me? It’s that understanding of how much goes in to it and now that I’ve been in this for a little while I recognize that this is huge for everybody at the shop.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – WILL TREVOR GETTING A SPOT HELP YOU FIND SPONSORSHIP? “Certainly it helps. Trevor is the reigning Daytona 500 champion and we have not managed to put together full sponsorship for either the Cup program or Nationwide program, but we do have ongoing conversations. I don’t know that there will be any great improvement in our prospects based on this, but it would certainly have been a downer if we had failed to qualify or if we would have had a problem with our car on that lap.”

WHAT HAS FUEL INJECTION BEEN LIKE SO FAR? “It’s been like Doug Yates and Ford Motor Company have set the curve. We’ve had three or four tests where we were invited to bring our fuel injection and our system worked better than everybody else’s every time we went out and today, it’s not a well-kept secret, but we had a qualifying calibration for the fuel injection and I think that some of the speed we found in our car from the practice on Saturday to what we had on Sunday here was the result of the work that Doug and the guys did in the shop and with Ford Motor Company’s support. So the fuel injection thing has been a boon for us based on our support and our partnership with Ford and the insight and the inspiration that Doug and the guys have had.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – SHOULD THEY MAKE THE CARS MORE STABLE IN THE REAR? “I guess you’re right. I don’t know. In my mind if they just take the front splitter off and the rear spoiler off the thing entirely it would be better. To me, the less stable they could be the better because it would separate the cars a little bit and make it a race, but that’s not what people want to see. They want to see that pack, so what NASCAR has done, and I give them credit, they’ve done a really good job of making the cars just stable enough that everyone can stay together in a pack, but they’re not stable enough to really partner up well and push one another. Now, Kyle and Tony were able to do it and we’re gonna look close at that and figure out how we can be able to do that ourselves, but you’ve got to look at the big picture of what’s happening here. We’ve got a race track out there that could hold such high speeds and they’re trying to slow the cars down enough to where you keep them under a certain speed, but that speed makes it easy for the cars to drive, so then they have to take downforce away to make them harder to drive, but not so hard that all the drivers complain that things get strung out. NASCAR is just trying really hard to keep this race so that it keeps everybody happy.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – DO YOU FORESEE ANY ENGINE ISSUES? “We pretty much decided that 250 degrees water is all we recommend for water temperature. It’s down substantially from what we had before NASCAR got involved with the number of things that they required as limitations in the system. Everybody that loses water in their engine has an indication that the water is leaving and there may be some situations where there will be cars hit pit road for a drink of water, but I don’t think it’ll be a major factor. I think the bar has been lowered with what the tolerance is for temperature for the engine and I think everybody understands what the impact of that is and it’s gonna be okay.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – DO YOU FEEL THIS CAR IS REALLY GOOD? “We’ve been able to do the things that we’d done at these restrictor plate races, which, for me, I don’t have a win yet, but we’ve had some really good runs with cars that were not this fast on qualifying day. So, to me, I’ll take a little extra speed anytime. There are times, no matter what anyone says, when you’re running around that pack and you can tell one car is just a tick faster than the other. For me, that’s a good feeling to know that I’m gonna get in this Fastenal Fusion on Sunday and I’ve got as good of a car as anyone, even if it’s just psychological or a placebo and doesn’t mean anything. It’s nice to have that feeling.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BALANCING THE FACT YOU WANT TO WIN YOUR DUEL BUT PROTECT YOUR CAR? “We talked about that a little bit earlier and I haven’t thought much about that. I’ve never been in this position, so Bob and I will talk about it and, like I said earlier, I’m sure Jack will have some input and we’ll just decide what we’re gonna do. Even if we make a change halfway through the race and say, ‘Hey, things look smooth. Let’s just go for it,’ or ‘Things are looking insane, let’s save the car.’ I don’t know exactly what everybody will want to do.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bolin, edwards, ford, roush