'That was my first Ricky Bobby moment.'
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Kelloggs/Cheez-It Ford Fusion, takes to the track at Pocono Raceway Sunday looking for his second win of the season and the third of his career at the “Tricky Triangle’. Edwards met with media after the opening practice session Friday afternoon.
YOU SPENT PART OF YOUR WEEK IN KENTUCKY, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE THERE WITH STEVE CAUTHEN?
“It was actually really fun and got me excited about the horse race tomorrow. I know a bunch of people in the garage are going to drive down there and go watch it. That was really a neat experience. It was a beautiful farm that Mr. Cauthen has and it is pretty interesting because I have never been around horse racing but to talk to him and see in his eyes that he is a racer just like us. To hear him talk about the risks he takes during horse races and the strategy and stuff, I thought that was pretty fun. It was really cool because Bruton (Smith) came out there and we got to talk. He was telling me that he rode bulls when he was a teenager and that explains a lot to me. I knew there was something he had back there that was wild. It was really cool and a good time. It has been a good week. We tested a little bit. I wish we were faster here today. We got one qualifying run in and I thought it was pretty good until I saw Vickers’ time up there. That is an impressive lap. Hopefully we are good in actual qualifying.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU THINK KNOCKOUT QUALIFYING WILL BE LIKE TRYING TO GET OUT OF THE WAY AT ROAD COURSES?
“I hadn’t really thought about that. That is going to be interesting. There will be the potential for people to really mess up someone else’s lap but honestly I just haven’t thought about it. I love racing at Sonoma and qualifying has been tough. I guess everybody could probably say they felt like they should have been on the pole there if they didn’t make this mistake or that mistake but I do feel like a number of times out there we should have been on the pole if I didn’t make a mistake. It would be nice to get two rounds and that will be nice. It will be interesting. Hopefully we don’t get stuck behind someone.”
YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE TUNNEL TURN WITH THE CURBING GONE? ALSO, WHAT ABOUT THE MOISTURE ON THE TRACK?
“The tunnel turn now – there is less of a penalty for getting in there and misjudging the apex, which is nice because I do that a lot. I am the master at hitting that curb back there and really messing up my lap and I notice now that if I cross over that line it is just a little more forgiving. As far as the moisture, I never saw it so I am glad somebody saw it and addressed it. That is one of those things that if it is just the right way and you hit it just the right way in a seam or something it can really make you lose your car pretty quick. I am glad they addressed that. I never saw it even after they told me where it was, I still didn’t see it.”
IT IS KIND OF HARD TO SAY WHERE TEAMS ARE RIGHT NOW, BUT HOW DO YOU LOOK AT WHERE EVERYONE STACKS UP RIGHT NOW FROM THE 48 ALL THE WAY TO ROUSH FENWAY?
“You asked me before if I was worried about Jimmie because he was on a losing streak. I am worried about him now for the opposite reason. As I look at the leader board there, I think the Stewart Haas cars have been strong, particularly the 4 car. Those guys have done a great job. Obviously Jimmie has turned a corner the last couple weeks. The Ginassi guys are running well and the Michael Waltrip cars have been a little under the radar this year but I have seen speed out of them. The Gibbs camp, I thought they were struggling early on but I saw some real speed out of them last week. Our cars, we have basically had the same struggle all year and are working on addressing that and fortunately have time to fix it before the chase, hopefully. There hasn’t been a lot of shift in the field but at the end of the day, now is the time when you have to think about if we are going the right direction or wrong direction, performance wise. That is what everyone has on their minds. How do you be the best you can so that you peak at Homestead? That is what you have to do.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE ROUSH IS GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?
“Yeah, I feel like there have been a bunch of moves internally – there definitely will be changes at Roush Fenway Racing. Chip Bolen moving on is a huge change and shows you the magnitude – I guess we understand where we are at. We know we have to be faster and there are big changes trying to address that. Robbie, Bob Osborne, Jack, everyone is working as hard as we can and we just have to hope that we work on the right things and are able to implement the findings and be better. We have everything there, we just need this much more speed and we would be really good.”
YOUR TEST AT NASHVILLE, DID IT PROVIDE ANY HELP OR IS IT STILL LITERALLY SPINNING WHEELS? SECONDLY, IN LIGHT OF THE NBA GAME LAST NIGHT, WHAT IS THE HOTTEST YOU HAVE BEEN IN A RACE CAR?
“So the test was positive. I was hoping that we would be better here today in light of one or two things we found but it is still a pretty young weekend here. There is some stuff we would like to try tomorrow. The hottest, I don’t know the hottest I have ever been in a car. The heat that shocked me the most though was my first NASCAR stock car race, a truck race at Memphis. Mike Mittler let me drive his truck there and I remember at one point they threw the caution and I couldn’t see what it was for and then I realized I was on fire and they were throwing the caution because my truck was on fire. It was so hot. I don’t think it has ever gotten any better, it is just that you get used to the heat. I don’t know of there are physiological things that happen or if it is all psychological. As far as heat is concerned, the hottest I have ever been is on some of these hot days. It is usually about plus-40 in the car but I have learned to enjoy it. It is kind of fun when it gets really hard and that becomes part of the race that you have to overcome, part of the difficulty. I look forward to the hot days.”
SO THAT WAS YOUR RICKY BOBBY MOMENT.
“Yeah, exactly. That was my first Ricky Bobby moment. It is hard to describe. Driving these race cars on a hot day, especially if you don’t have the seat right and don’t have the blowers in the right place, it is extremely hot. Even now, I don’t think of it much anymore, but at Dover during the race I was lifting my heels off the floor on the straightaway because it was burning my heels. Everybody does that all the time but the first few times you realize, ‘Wow, I think my heel is burning’. You don’t realize everything in the car is that hot. Those guys back in the day without the fans and ducts, those were some men. That is tough. It had to be really, really hot.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CONFIDENCE IN FORD AND YOUR CONNECTION THERE?
“As far as Ford, I am really proud to represent Ford. I don’t think anybody makes better cars than Ford does. I think they really care about their products and they definitely care about racing. It is part of their DNA. That is what we talk about. The company is based on auto racing. As far as their contribution to NASCAR, it is immense and right now yielding great results from the Penske side. I think as a group we have to step up our performance at Roush Fenway to be representative of Ford’s contribution. I am really proud to drive for Ford and I think they do a great job.”
ANY INTEREST IN TAKING THE CHILDREN TO SEE THE QUARTER MIDGET RACES HERE?
“I was really fortunate, my parents didn’t push me into racing at all but they supported what I wanted to do and I think it is really cool to see those kids out there having fun and enjoying racing. I have seen that track driving over here and it looks really neat. We will see what happens.”
TO FOLLOW UP ON WHAT YOU WERE SAYING ON JIMMIE. YOU HAVE A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE WITH THE HEAD-TO-HEAD BATTLE IN 2008 FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP. IS THERE A SENSE OF INEVITABILITY THAT THE 48 TEAM WILL ALWAYS BE THERE AT THE END?
“They have proven and earned that position. I could sit up here all day and deny that I think they are good enough to win the championship but at the end of the day they are. They are good enough to win the championship year in and year out. They are basically the only team to continually operate and perform at a high level and everyone is aware of it. That is the model, definitely performance wise; it is the model of how all of us would like to perform. It appears they are doing it again. It is our jobs to go out there and beat them. I will say one thing, if someone does beat them; specifically this year while they are in this position in their careers, it will make it that much better. I would be extremely proud to beat them for the championship. That would mean a lot to me.”