Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 UPS Ford Fusion, met with media members after the first practice session Friday afternoon at Kentucky Speedway.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO TRY TO DO HERE THIS WEEKEND AT KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY. “Well what we want to do is win this race. We want to deliver UPS a win just like they deliver so much to so many people. It is an honor to be driving the UPS Ford Fusion. I flew into Louisville yesterday and got to see from the air how big UPS’s operation there is over at the hub. I got to spend some time at Best Buy and they work really closely with UPS. I got to learn a lot about both of their businesses, Best Buy and UPS. We want to get them a win here. This race track has been great for me. We have won the Truck Series and Nationwide Series races here and finished fifth here last year with a pretty ill-handling car. Bob (Osborne) and I are trying to use all our brain power here and go start this 10 race run to the Chase in a really positive manner so we can make that Chase and go fight for the championship. That is the mission for us right now, to win races, get points and march up there and be in a position to go win this championship.”

WHAT KIND OF A TEAMMATE DO YOU THINK RICKY STENHOUSE JR WILL MAKE FOR YOU IN THE CUP SERIES? “I think Ricky will be a huge addition to our team. I think that he can drive a race car as well and as aggressively as anyone I have ever raced against. I believe that whatever the final plans are next year for Ricky, whether it is running just the Cup car or a mix or both full time, I think he is going to be a great addition. I think he can bring a lot to the whole Cup program with a lot of new energy and really he is just a fun guy to be around. I think it will be a good time.”

WERE YOU SURPRISED BY MATT’S DECISION AND WHAT IS YOUR REACTION THAT HE WON’T BE YOUR TEAMMATE NEXT YEAR? “I was surprised. Matt has been a great teammate. It took us a long time to figure out one another and I fell that over the last few years he has been as close of a friend in the garage as anyone. I have a ton of respect for Matt. He is a heck of a man and a great race car driver. He has been a huge part of developing things on our team. He does a really good job of testing and relaying information to make our cars better so there is definitely a huge loss for us and a gain for whoever ends up with Matt as a driver. At the same time, if Jeff Burton hadn’t moved over to Childress I would have never got the opportunity I have at Roush and same with Chad Little leaving and Kurt (Busch) coming in. Jack, over the years has developed some guys that have had success at Roush and I think that losing Matt is bad but the potential gain with Ricky could make it a net positive in the long run for Roush. Definitely Matt is a guy that is going to be a championship contender and great competitor whether he is at Roush or somewhere else and we definitely hate to lose him. I do.”

HAVING GONE THROUGH A LITTLE OF THIS LAST YEAR YOURSELF, CAN YOU RELATE TO WHAT MATT WAS GOING THROUGH AND HOW DO YOU PUT THAT DISTRACTION ASIDE? CAN HE DO THAT AND CONTEND FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? “I don’t think there is anyone more mentally tough than Matt Kenseth. If anything, I don’t want to speak for him or anything, but I would imagine the difficult stuff is behind him now and he can go out and race and do the best he can. Definitely that stuff weighs on you. He did a really good job of keeping it out of the spotlight. I should maybe talk to him about that. That part was no fun last year. I think it is really up to each individual person which is the same thing I said when you guys were bugging me ever week last year. A guy has to do what he thinks is best for him and his career and Matt didn’t get to where he is by making poor decisions. He is making a decision he thinks is best. I respect that and I think everyone should.”

HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO EVALUATE THE CHANGES MADE HERE IN RESPONSE TO THE TRAFFIC SITUATION LAST YEAR AND HOW MUCH DID THAT OVERSHADOW THE EVENT AND THE RACE HERE LAST YEAR? “Being a competitor we had a motor home here so I didn’t have to drive in but obviously it was a huge point of frustration for the fans and everyone. Did they make a new exit on the highway? All I know is I showed up at the race track last night, coming from the south and pulled off at exit 55 and it wasn’t the normal exit I thought. I came in off exit 55 and drove through all the parking and everything and it seems like there is a lot of room for a lot of folks. I though Bruton put in a new exit. I guess I have never been south before. Hopefully it is a good race weekend for the fans. This place has more energy than any place we go to. The fans are wound up and they are pumped about NASCAR racing and I am hoping that they can make it to the race and don’t get stuck out there in traffic.”

WITH MATT LEAVING DO YOU FEEL MORE PRESSURE ON YOUR SHOULDERS AT ROUSH NOW? “That is a good question. Because of what Matt brings to the table and the ability he has to test and to add to the team, he is the only Cup champion there, he brings things that with him leaving we are going to have to step it up. Greg and I and Ricky and all of us are going to have to make sure that we do the best we can to fill those gaps and there is more pressure. We have already talked about it a little bit in the shops and said that we are going to have to have a bigger role in testing and Greg will have to have a bigger role in developing things and I think that is something that we will miss with Matt being gone.”

CAN YOU LOOK AHEAD TO LOUDON AND WHAT IT TAKES TO RUN WELL THERE? “Loudon has been really hot and cold for us. It is a great race track for us because the Red Sox and Fenway Sports Group is based up there. A win would be huge to have John Henry and everyone there. It is a flat, simple race track and that makes it really hard because most people know how to get around it but you have to have the car perfect and drive perfectly. We had a chance to do the tire test up there a couple months ago and I think that helped me a little bit. It is a deceivingly tough race track. This one has bumps and is big, fast and slippery and looks like it would be a tough race track but since it is tough for everyone it gives you an opportunity to take advantage of people. A place like Loudon, if you have a weakness it really shows up. Trust me; I have been passed by a lot of cars at Loudon.”

SHORTER SIDE SKIRTS ON THE CAR THIS WEEK AND A NEW REAR SWAY BAR RULE. DOES THE CAR FEEL ANY DIFFERENT FOR YOU? “I don’t think the cars are much different. This track makes it hard to tell because it is so bumpy. They are going the direction I like. They can knock the rear spoilers off them, cut the splitters off the front, raise the car three inches and I am happy. The less downforce we have the better. I think NASCAR is going the right direction trying to get the cars so we can pass, race closer and even though this car will be gone soon I think any of those changes that take aerodynamic forces away from this type of racing will be good for NASCAR and I appreciate them going that direction. I think it is cool.”

IS THE BRICKYARD STILL CONSIDERED THE NUMBER TWO RACE AFTER DAYTONA BY THE DRIVERS? “Indianapolis is Indianapolis. To me, I am a little biased because I want to win Kansas more than anything and Kansas in number one for me til we get that one out of the way, but I would say Daytona and Indy are both huge. I don’t think there is any bigger race than those two. For me I have yet to win there and know what it is like but that still would be a career accomplishment and I think each driver would feel that way. If you watch the past winners and seeing Paul (Menard) and Jamie (McMurray) and the emotion of that win and how important it was to their teams. I think the guys that haven’t won it dream of being standing there on those bricks. It would be very cool.”

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM SEEING MATT’S DEAL AND HOW YOU WENT THROUGH YOURS LAST TIME, WOULD YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU DID IT LAST YEAR? “No. I think all you can do is, like anyone should do, is look at what is out there and determine what is the best and make your decision. I think that if the press and you guys start getting ahold of it it makes it more stressful because you start getting outside influence and it is really hard to put that aside. It is just my opinion and not a company line but what Matt did was very smart for Matt by keeping it very quiet. He was able to make his decision on his own terms and I think that is why you guys will never know when my contract is up. I am never going to tell you guys again.”

IS DEALING WITH THE HEAT THIS WEEKEND ANY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU NORMALLY ENCOUNTER AND CAN YOU GO INTO DETAIL SOME OF THE THINGS YOU DO TO STAY HYDRATED? “Is it supposed to get hot or something? (laughter). You try to do the best you can to stay in shape. My trainer Dean is standing there in the back and he works for Carmichael Training Systems and he is here at this race. I am sure everyone has their trainers here and making sure they are staying hydrated and doing the right things. All these guys are tough. Nobody is complaining but at the end of the day, ¾ of the way through that race you want to be in top form and the best you can be and I think that is not something you can adjust to right here this weekend. You have to eat your Frosted Flakes and sub sandwiches for lunch for a long time leading up to the race. You have to stay in shape. These are fun races for the guys that do stay fit and work toward this kind of stuff because you get to see some of that work hopefully. I enjoy these hot races.”

LAME DUCK SITUATIONS DON’T ALWAYS END WELL. 20 RACES IS A LONG TIME TO BE A LAME DUCK IN AN ORGANIZATION. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE A FRIEND WORKING FOR AN ORGANIZATION THIS YEAR THAT YOU WANT TO SEE PERHAPS WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP IF IT COMES TO THAT AND YET HE IS A GUY THAT YOU ARE GOING TO TRY TO DEVELOP STUFF WITH THE ORGANIZATION THAT HE MAY BE ABLE TO TAKE TO A NEW ORGANIZATION. “Matt is a true professional and I believe that he and Jack, they know more about Roush Fenway Racing and how to win championships than me and anybody else except maybe Robbie Reiser. I think those two will determine the actual logistics and the planning of who is going to be at what meetings and what information will be shared. Matt is my teammate, he is a guy that I trust and I was down there at his car talking to him about the line he is driving at the race this weekend. I am going to treat Matt the same way I have as a teammate for the rest of the season. He is going to be a guy I am going to lean on and hope he is honest and helping me and I am sure he will be. I just am telling you guys. You know Matt as well as I do almost and he is a real professional. I think he will be a threat to win this championship and I don’t think Jack will back down or any of the crew guys will and we will give him everything we can and as far as what information about future developments we share will be between him and Jack.”

DO YOU LAUGH WHEN PEOPLE SAY MATT LEFT BECAUSE OF YOUR DEAL OR DOES THAT IRK YOU? “It doesn’t bother me. Nobody knows my deal and nobody really knows the details of Matt’s deal. At the end of the day, I can say that Matt and I get along as well as we ever have and it is an open book over there at Roush with Steve Newmark and Jack and everyone. If there is ever an issue like that we have worked it out. It is all speculation. I have heard 100 things about what is going on and I have heard hundreds of things about what I was doing last year. Heck, I was signed up at other places and people knew more about it than I did. I think at the end of the day you have to let the guy go do his business and the rest is just speculation.”

Source: Ford Racing