Fontana II: Edwards - Ford Friday interview

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is coming off a win in last week's Sharpie 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Edwards, who is locked into the Chase for the Nextel Cup, spoke to the media...

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is coming off a win in last week's Sharpie 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Edwards, who is locked into the Chase for the Nextel Cup, spoke to the media after Friday's practice session for Sunday's Sharp AQUOS 500 at California Speedway.

CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion

WHAT'S IT LIKE IN THE CAR WHEN IT'S THIS HOT? "When it's this hot, it's just about right. This is what I train for and I enjoy these hot races. I think it's a fun challenge and that's what I look forward to and why I train every week."

WINS ARE WHAT COUNTS THE NEXT TWO RACES FOR MOMENTUM. "I'm not too much of a believer in momentum. Sometimes you have to race for points and, sometimes, very infrequently, you get to race the way in which we're gonna race this weekend and that's to go out for a win and have a good time. I can tell you for me in the Cup Series right now with this Office Depot team, the next two weeks are really just like a vacation. We just get to go have a good time, run as hard as we can, and there's really nothing on the line except for trying to get those wins."

HOW CHALLENGING HAS IT BEEN TO GET BACK TO THIS POINT WHERE YOU'RE WINNING ON A REGULAR BASIS? "I think winning races in the Nextel Cup Series is one of the most challenging things you can do. Last year, we didn't end up in the chase and we didn't win any races, but we were so close. The difference between finishing the season with a couple of wins and running really well in the chase versus not winning and not being in the chase is a huge difference. The perception is huge and it definitely feels a lot better to be like this. It has been tough, but everybody has worked really hard and I feel really good about it."

IT'S GOING TO BE TRIPLE DIGITS SUNDAY. HOW WILL THAT BE? "Like I just said, I enjoy the heat. I don't like cold weather. When it's really hot out, I love being outside. I love being in the heat and I feel like my trainer and I work hard on that, so this is when I feel like that work pays off."

DO YOU LOSE A FEW POUNDS? "Oh yeah. We ran at Bristol and that was a pretty hot race and took a lot of fluids to try to get back from that. I could definitely tell on Sunday and Monday how much I lost, so these are tough races and back to back like this, I think you'll see a lot of guys having trouble. I hope I'm not one of them."

WHAT BOTHERS YOU MORE, THE DRY HEAT OR HUMID HEAT? "It depends. With humidity, your sweat doesn't evaporate as much, you don't lose as much heat, so your temperature may be higher but when it's dry there's less moisture in the air so more sweat evaporates. I think you lose a lot more water when it's less humid. You might feel better but you're losing a lot more fluids, so this is definitely tougher."

ON RICHMOND NEXT WEEK. "The fall Richmond race for me in my Cup career the last two years has been extremely stressful. In 2005 after the race I told them that I didn't know if I could do that again right now because of the anxiety. If anything would have happened, we weren't gonna make it in the chase. So now to go back there and just have a good time and race, that's gonna be pretty cool. You don't get that opportunity very often."

WILL BEING LOCKED IN THE CHASE EFFECT HOW YOU RACE IN BUSCH? "Really, the Cup side and the Busch side, there's not much that overlaps. As great as it is to be locked into the chase and have everything running well, the only thing that I have that nags me at night is that owner's championship in the Busch Series. As much as it bothers me that we don't have a bigger lead, it motivates me. I think our team has responded pretty well. We're doing everything we can and that's the one thing we're really working hard on is that owner's championship."

DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR CAR NUMBER VERY MUCH? "To me, personally, I've driven a lot of race cars and have had a lot of special races -- a dirt race here or there or my first Silver Crown car and stuff like that. The numbers are special, but, at the same time, it's winning races and stuff that's really important. For the fans at this level, that's where the number would bother me the most is to lose my number or have to change it because all of my fans stood behind that number and the brand that's been built around it, but, for me, I'm at the point in my career where the 99 means a lot because of what Jeff Burton was able to do with it. The 60 is important because of Mark Martin and the guys who have driven that, so I still feel like I'm a ways from defining myself as a partner with those numbers."

WHAT KIND OF RACE ARE WE GOING TO SEE SUNDAY? "There's a lot of different races and a lot of races within the race going on right now. Guys like Dale Jr. and Kurt and Ryan are racing for a different thing than we are. Like I said, I'm just having fun. These next two weeks of no points stress, we're gonna have a good time but, at the same time, we have to be cognizant of the guys who really have a lot of pressure on them. We can't mess any of those guys up."

THERE SEEMS TO BE LESS DRAMA LEADING UP TO THE CHASE. IT COULD BE DECIDED WHEN WE LEAVE HERE. WHY HAS THERE BEEN A DROPOFF IN DRAMA TO MAKE IT? "I don't know that we've done enough of these to see a real trend. I think we need more years to see how it's gonna go. I mean, four or five years from now if it's such that every year it gets more and more defined earlier in the season who is gonna be in the chase, but with the way this racing goes, there could just as well be eight guys on the bubble right now. Everybody goes out and tries to get as many points as they can. I don't know that you can design a situation where it ends up being less boring or more exciting."

DOES JIMMIE JOHNSON HAVE ANY SPECIAL AURA AS A CHAMPION OR IS HE JUST ANOTHER DRIVER? "I don't think by any measure that Jimmie Johnson is just another driver. He's awesome. He's a great driver and he's shown that he can win championships, but going into the chase as a competitor, I just look at every one as another competitor. I do everything I can to beat all of them. In this sport, last year was a long, long time ago. It only takes a couple of bad races and a guy can have a lot of trouble. It's more like, you look at who has been running good the last three weeks and that's who you really worry about."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Mark Martin