Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion, is 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings going into Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. He came into the infield media center after practice today and answered questions from the media.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion – HOW WAS PRACTICE? “Our practice was OK, not as good as Marcos Ambrose’s, so we’ve been watching him and Greg Biffle – both of those guys seem very fast in their Fords and we’re gonna lean on their setups a little bit. I’m gonna have to drive the thing a little bit harder in qualifying, so we’ll just go out there and get the best lap we can tonight. It is a 600-miler, so we saved some tires for race practice tomorrow thinking that would be the most important thing, but, still, we need a good lap tonight. It looks like it’ll be just one lap, so it’ll be all-out, you go down there as hard as you can and hope the car does what you need it to do."
BOB DOESN’T TELL YOU WHAT CAR YOU’RE DRIVING FROM WEEK TO WEEK. WHY IS THAT? “A long time ago when Bob and I first started together I would have favorite cars and there have been times when I’d show up at the race track thinking that we were running a certain car and Bob would have switched the car out and my attitude would change negatively and I think he got tired of that, so he quit telling me which cars we were running. For a while, I would ask and he wouldn’t tell me and it was kind of a joke, but then I quit asking and there have been a number of times where we have run a car one week, come back the next week and run really, really well and I’d say, ‘Boy, I really like this car. I’m glad you guys got it turned around,’ and they said, ‘Well, that’s a different car.’ So he’s done a good job of keeping me from having favorites and I think that’s the best thing. I think that’s best for us, instead of hanging on to a good performance and saying it was because of a specific car and then having cars that you don’t like, which is just as bad or maybe even worse – having cars that you don’t like – and that’s been his way of doing things and it’s worked out pretty well. It turns out I got here and after doing that interview (earlier today on radio at Roush Fenway), I was wondering which car we had and he said it’s not the same car and he walked away because he didn’t want to talk about it. That’s Bob."
YOU ARE ONE OF THE MOST FIT DRIVERS OUT THERE. DO YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT FOR THIS RACE IN THAT AREA? “I work with Dean Golich, my trainer from Carmichael Training Systems, and this week particularly he’s had some specific instructions and things to do. It looks like it’s gonna be hot, a long race, and I’m not gonna tell you what I do, but I do prepare for it. But all of these races are tough and sometimes the ones you think are gonna be tough aren’t as bad. There are some days you just don’t feel as good and some of my hardest races have been ones that I didn’t think were gonna be that hard, I just wasn’t feeling that good or maybe I didn’t have enough fluids in me, or I hadn’t eaten enough or ate too much and I felt pretty bad. So we’ve tried to tune that in over time and I think it’s been really good for me. I feel at the end of these races that I usually feel like I could start the race again and go run. They used to have a little snack box in my car, but I don’t do that anymore. This race is one that maybe if you had something to eat in the middle of the race it would be good, but you’ve got to be careful about eating something when you’re under that much stress and you’ve got the belts tight and everything. I’ve learned that you’ve got to be careful about what you eat during a race, even if it seems really simple, so I just don’t eat during the race.”
HAVE YOU TALKED ABOUT THE ENGINE ISSUE FROM LAST WEEK? “Doug (Yates) came over first thing right before practice started and explained to me one more time what had happened and he just wanted to have my mind at ease. We were trying something that they’ve been working on for a little while and trying to get it to work and it obviously did not work, but I understand. If you’re not trying those things, you don’t get better. They made tons of power, they just didn’t last very long. I’m not sure, but that’s the first engine failure we’ve had with our team in a long time, maybe since Pocono last year or something. I’m happy with the engines. I think Doug does a great job and I don’t think he’s covering his tracks like he made a mistake. They told us before that race that, ‘Hey, we’re doing something different. It might work and if it does, it’ll be great. But if it doesn’t, sorry,’ and it obviously didn’t. I think they had just been wanting to try whatever they were doing for a long time and they just have few opportunities to do it in a race situation, where you could live with an engine failure. We don’t have that many opportunities anymore to do that."
MICHIGAN IS COMING UP. YOUR THOUGHTS WITH THE NEW SURFACE? “I don’t know what to think. We were at the White House event and that’s the only time I got to hear about what was going on. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth were talking about it, and they said it was really, really fast. They said you’d drive down there in the corner and it’s seriously fast, so I think it was cold too, so we don’t know how it will be out in the sun and the heat. I hope it works out. The shape of the race track is the same and it theoretically should be similar, but I think it’ll be one of those things, for me especially and guys who haven’t run on it, it’ll be a challenge to figure it out quick enough to have a good car in the race."
WHEN THE ENGINE GUYS TELL YOU THE ENGINE MAY OR MAY NOT HOLD UP, ISN’T YOUR REACTION, “I WANT TO WIN THE $1 MILLION?"
“Yeah, but the problem is us drivers say, ‘Hey, I think I’m gonna try something in qualifying,’ a lot and that doesn’t work out sometimes. I think they’re more scared of us than we are of them, but, trust me, they were trying that stuff because they want to win that $1 million bucks too and it just didn’t work. I’m OK with it. Doug is the man. I think he does a great job."
FASTENAL IS ON ALL THREE RFR CARS AND YOU’RE CELEBRATING THE AMERICA SALUTES PROGRAM. “I think it says a lot about Fastenal and their dedication to the sport. It’s neat for them to sponsor and put these paint schemes on all three cars for this race and a lot of times, and you guys are probably familiar with this, in the corporate world it’s hard to get something like that through and pass a paint scheme and something that’s outside the norm, and I think it says a lot about Fastenal. They’re behind our troops 100 percent. They understand what Memorial Day is about and they’re willing to just say, ‘Hey, these cars look great. It’s fun. It’s a celebration of America and their involvement in the sport, and I think it’s really cool.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE CLASS? ANY SURPRISES IN YOUR MIND? “It’s Rusty Wallace, Leonard Wood, Buck Baker, Herb Thomas and Cotton Owens and I think that’s a great group. I think it’s a heck of a mix. You’ve got guys that are still here week-in and week-out, guys like Rusty. Now that I’ve done just a little bit of that broadcasting I respect Rusty a lot more because he’s been able to do a great job driving, a great job with the broadcasting. I think he’s still bringing a lot to the sport. Leonard Wood is an amazing guy, and the way I understand it is there’s a large group of people who vote on it from all different aspects of this sport. Every time they announce a group, each time they have, I’ve been interested to see the stories and learn more about those people and the history of this sport through it, so it’ll be fun. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to go to the event and be a part of it, just be there and witness it. The emotion is really cool. All of us think we as race car drivers usually think in terms of ourselves, so I was listening on the radio the other day and I was listening to Mr. Wood talk about things and they were talking about Rusty and I thought, ‘Man, that has to be such an honor for everyone in the sport to recognize you like that.’ I don’t think any of us in this sport are thinking like that, but I started thinking about guys that are in the sport right now who are sure picks for the Hall of Fame and we’re racing with them every week and out here digging and working. I think it’s a neat thing and I think it’s a good thing for NASCAR to be doing."
CAN YOU TELL HOW HARD YOU HAVE TO SAIL THE CAR INTO ONE FOR YOUR QUALIFYING LAP? “I can’t. That’s one of my problems. Jimmie Johnson said it the best when he said he wants to see if the grip level matches his commitment level. I have a hard time with commitment in general, but commitment into turn one here at 200-and-something miles per hour, when you just don’t know what’s gonna happen, plus Bob’s changing the car around, so it’s one of those things you just kind of stick your thumb out there in the wind and say, ‘Let’s go for it.’ It’s really difficult. And one lap it either works or it doesn’t. It’s tough.”