Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Kellogg’s Ford Fusion, came into the Pocono Raceway infield media center to talk about how testing is going for this weekend’s Pocono 400.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Kellogg’s Ford Fusion – HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR? “I haven’t been very fast, so I’ve still got a little bit to work on. We’ve been working on different things we wanted to try in testing. The track looks completely different. It took me a minute juts to get used to the different visual cues and braking points and the transitions in the corners and stuff, but it looks great. It drives really well and it’s fast. It looks like they used a different aggregate and it seems like it grips just a little better than some of the other new repaves. We’ll see how it goes with the line widening out once we race a little bit and I think it’s definitely gonna be a faster race. The cars have a ton of grip. I don’t know if it will be better or not, but at least the track will last longer and I don’t see any huge negatives.
HOW RADICALLY HAS THE INCREASED SPEED CHANGED CORNER ENTRY AND SHIFTING POINTS? “It changes it quite a bit for me. I’ve always enjoyed racing here and felt I had a good handle on it and where the braking points were and how I’d apex my corners and now that’s completely out the window as far as I’m concerned. It feels like a new race track to me. The way you drive into turn one, you can be much more aggressive on the throttle. You can be really aggressive on the brakes. It feels different, so I think it will be an opportunity to really shake things up here. The guys who normally run well here don’t have an advantage anymore. It’s a new day."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RACING GOING TO 400 MILES? “It’s obviously going to be a different length of race, so it will affect a lot of things. It won’t be the same outcome as if it would be if it was 100 miles longer. The way it was described to me that made it much more palatable is they took the middle 100 miles out."
DOES IT MATTER WITH SO MANY VARIABLES AT THESE REPAVED TRACKS? IS IT SOMETHING YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU’RE DRIVING? “It matters. Last week was a complete surprise. It was a shock to drive down in the corner. The day was going perfect and we were planning everything the right way, we had the right strategy, the car was good, and all of a sudden something caused the sidewall of the right-front to blow out. I don’t know if something hit it or if it was a problem with the tire. Goodyear is still looking at it, but that’s the kind of thing that reminds you that it’s not over until it’s over. Anything can happen and we need all the insurance we can get right now. We need a couple wins is what we really need. It almost feels as important and as tough as those last few races of the championship last year because we realize these next 10 races or so are gonna determine whether or not we even have a shot this season. We’re serious about it right now, that’s why I’m not paying attention to the other stuff. I’m trying to focus on the race car."
GREG FINALLY GOT TOWARD THE TOP OF THE SPEED CHART, BUT THE FORDS SEEM SLOWER OVERALL COMPARED TO THE OTHERS. IS THERE ANYTHING TO READ INTO THAT? “Yeah, that’s not good. We need to be faster. Last week, I don’t think I would have traded my car with anyone other than maybe Jeff Gordon. His car looked really good. I couldn’t quite tell how fast Jimmie was, so from last week I felt like we had superior cars at Dover to this week. This is only the second day of testing. Bob and I are over there almost coming to blows over there. I’m saying, ‘We’ve got to go faster.’ And he’s like, ‘We’ve got a test plan. We’ve got to stick to our plan.’ I’m like, ‘No, we’ve got to go faster.’ So he has a way of working through everything and by the end of tomorrow if we’re not good, then maybe it’s time to make some big changes to the car. But right now we’re just going through the plan and I’m trying my hardest when I get out of the car to walk by and kind of put the blinders on and not look at the sheet because I know we’re testing and not going for all-out speed, but Mark Martin is fast. I followed him a little bit and he’s very spectacular in that car.”