Ford California Testing 2008-01-31 Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, was also part of the testing session at California Speedway and followed Gilliland into the media center to discuss how preseason testing has gone to...
Ford California Testing
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, was also part of the testing session at California Speedway and followed Gilliland into the media center to discuss how preseason testing has gone to this point.
HOW HAS YOUR DAY GONE SO FAR? "So far I've been really pleased with our Office Depot Fusion. I'm surprised at how well the car drove around here. It felt a lot like the other cars that we've run here before, so I'm looking forward to testing some more. It's gonna get warmer and slicker out there, so we'll see how the cars are gonna handle in a little bit, but I think it's gonna be fun."
A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SURPRISED AT HOW WELL THEIR NEW CARS HAVE RUN. IS THAT AN INDICATION PEOPLE ARE GETTING A HANDLE ON THIS THING? "Right. Personally, I was nervous about running these cars on these bigger race tracks. I wasn't sure how they'd handle, but the engineers have been doing a great job of getting the cars so that they feel real nice around the race track. All the stuff I was concerned about was the front end dragging the ground and the splitter bouncing off the pavement and stuff like that, it seems that they've got that under control pretty well, so I'm very and pleasantly surprised."
WHAT CHANGES CAN YOU MAKE WITH THESE CARS BETWEEN DAYTONA AND CALIFORNIA? "That's a really good question. I don't know. Bob Osborne and I have a real simple relationship. I tell him what the car is doing and he works on it. As we get closer to the race weekend, we set out a plan and we know what our parameters are that we can work in, but, historically, Daytona has been way tighter on everyone -- the speedway races have -- and there is room for adjustments at these places. It seems like with these cars it's not as simple anymore as just changing springs and things like that, which, with the way we were running the old cars, it was getting more complex. It used to be how you stayed on those bumped stops on the front end and that's a big part of it. It's not classic setup anymore."
DO YOU MISS ANYTHING ABOUT THE OLD CAR THAT WAS IN THE NEW ONE? "I don't know. In a way it would be great if we could race cars where we were just changing springs for their spring rate and we were making adjustments that were simple and straightforward, but that's just the nature of the sport. I mean, everyone always looks for that little extra bit and these cars make the window of the amount that you can address the car much smaller. It has to be perfect. I don't know if I really miss it, in a way I'm looking forward to these cars because everyone is so close and I believe that it opens the opportunity for the drivers to be able to make a little bit bigger difference. I think that's gonna be a pretty good thing. Overall, I'm excited about these cars -- more than I thought I would be. After running them I'm excited."
HOW DO YOU THINK THE RACING WILL BE HERE. MORE EXCITING? "I definitely think it's gonna be more exciting. The reason I can say that with confidence is that all of the cars are closer. The field is closer. If you looked at the testing at the end of the day at Las Vegas, the field was so close. If you were three-tenths off, you were in 25th place. So I think because of that and the way at this track where you can run it from the top to the bottom, I believe there will be more cars fighting closer together. I think it's gonna be, from where I'm sitting, a more precise race. To be able to win it, you're gonna have to be perfect. I think if you're a little bit off, you'll be running fourth or fifth fighting with somebody who is just a little off. I think it's gonna be a better race."
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES THIS YEAR? "It's to perform the best we can. My hopes are that that's good enough to win a championship. I was real confident going in until we tested yesterday and now I'm a little bit nervous at how fast some of these other teams that we're gonna race against are. I mean, David Reutimann was extremely fast. Cale Gale and Kevin Harvick and Burton and those guys were all really fast, so I'm a little bit nervous about the new engine package and how we stack up using that. So we've got to definitely go back after at least that first day of testing and work on these Fusions and make sure we're as competitive as we should be. Right now, with the way it looked after that test, we've got some work to do. But I want to win a championship."
DOES HAVING THE SAME SPONSOR HELP YOUR CONFIDENCE IN CUP? "That's a good question. Having the same sponsor, to me, means a lot. I love working with Office Depot. The stuff that we've been able to do together with the national PTA, the back to school program. I believe Office Depot has given away 1.5 million backpacks to kids that need them and can't afford them. I've been very proud to be involved in that, and as you go along it kind of gives you a comfort level and a confidence knowing that your sponsor is behind you. In the good times and the bad times Office Depot has been right there with me and I can always call them up or they'll call me and let me know they're behind me, so it's been a good thing for me."
TEXAS IS THE FIRST TRACK YOU'LL GO TO WHERE YOU HAVEN'T TESTED. WILL THAT BE MORE CHALLENGING? "I was really nervous about this car until we went to Vegas, and, like I said, I was just really pleased with it. I think that Vegas, with the way the track drives and the way the banking is and the grip level, very similar to like Texas or Charlotte. I think that test worked for that reason and I look forward to those race tracks now, where before it was a big unknown. It's gonna be fun. It'll be good."
IS THERE A FEELING IN THE GARAGE ABOUT HOW THE GIBBS TEAMS WILL FARE WITH TOYOTA THIS YEAR? "I think that the guys at Gibbs are gonna run really well. The talent over there is spectacular. The drivers are as good as anyone in the garage, so for that reason I think they're gonna be tough. I don't believe that Toyota has shown and real weakness or anything, so they're gonna be really tough competitors. I'm hoping that it's that much more fun to beat them with my Ford, but I think they're gonna be tough."
DO YOU THINK THE CAR WILL RUN DIFFERENTLY UNDER THE LIGHTS HERE? "I think that as the grip level goes up, there are more forces on the car -- more vertical load -- it will change how the front suspension works and the handling will change. This will be a very important test this evening to see how when the track cools off, how the handling changes so we know when we come back how to prepare for the race. So it will be a key."
WHAT ARE THE BASIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THIS CAR AND THE OLD ONE ON THIS TRACK? "Probably the basic difference is that the old car, when you had it set up perfectly, it was a little bit easier to drive. This car has a little bit less downforce and less travel. It feels more treacherous to drive around loose. It makes it more difficult, but that's part of what makes racing what it is. It's got to be hard to drive and hard to go fast, so that's fun."
DRIVERS HAVE SAID TESTING AT DAYTONA WAS KIND OF ROUGH. IS IT THE CAR THAT MAKES IT ROUGH OR DOES THE TRACK NEED SOME WORK? "NASCAR should implement a rule that makes it completely illegal to resurface a race track, ever. It should be as nasty and rough as possible. That makes it so much more fun to drive and race on when the tracks are not perfect. I think it's just the car. Yeah, the bumps, I don't want to say anything. I don't want to get that started. The track is perfect at Daytona. I like it and I think the car has a little less downforce and it moves around a little bit more. I think that makes the racing better. I think that's good. If it was real smooth and perfect and easy to do, that's not racing. That's driving down the interstate."
DO YOU SEE WHERE YOUR NATIONWIDE TEAM CAN IMPROVE FROM LAST YEAR? "Yeah, definitely we can be better in the preparation department. We figured out a lot of ways to lose races in the second half of the season last year and we just weren't as quite prepared as we could be. I made a couple of mistakes that were compounded by mechanical failures on our backup cars and stuff like that. Those are things we can do a little better at and some of the strategy on pit calls -- many of which were my fault, where I thought we could do something to try to win the race, where we could have just gotten some points. That would have been better, so, overall, it's just basic racing, preparation and strategy we can do just a tick better at."
-credit: ford racing