Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus, is sixth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings and trails leader Tony Stewart by 100 points. Edwards held a Q&A session following Friday's first practice session in preparation...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus, is sixth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings and trails leader Tony Stewart by 100 points. Edwards held a Q&A session following Friday's first practice session in preparation for Sunday's Banquet 400.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Office Depot Taurus
HOW DID PRACTICE GO. "It's a nice day to be in the race car. It's real cool and makes the car handle better. The cars run a little better and run a little cooler with a little more power, and I think as long as the weather stays about the same for the race, it really won't affect anything."
ARE YOU HAPPY TO JUST GET OUT OF TALLADEGA WITH THE FINISH YOU GOT? "Oh yeah. I was really happy just to make it through Talladega. We dodged at least two big wrecks. I thought I was in them. It was like to the point of closing my eyes and wincing a little bit, so that was pretty cool to get through both of those and get out of there with a top-five finish."
EVERYBODY THOUGHT THE POINT STANDINGS COULD TURN UPSIDE-DOWN. "Yeah and as the race wore on and folks in the chase were having more trouble, it became more important to just do whatever it took to finish the race. That's what we did and I'm really proud of our team for that."
DO YOU THINK EVERYBODY IS STILL IN IT? "Absolutely, there's a ton of hope. Kurt Busch can still be the champion this year. Any one of us can be the champion. Guys like Kurt and Mark, they've been in so many points races that they've probably got a better shot being that far back than some of the guys in front of them."
CAN ANYTHING BE DONE ABOUT THE KIND OF RACING AT TALLADEGA? "They're really in a tough situation at Talladega. If they take the plates off, yeah the racing would spread out and it would be like you see it at a normal race track, but the cars would be going so fast that it becomes a real danger.
"The force would be so huge if there's a wreck and the chance of a car going into the grandstands would be greater. I think with the current format it would be really tough to have a race at a place that can sustain such high speeds - to have a race at relative slow speeds like we're having without all of those cars being bunched together. I don't know how they're gonna do it. I know NASCAR is doing a great job of working towards making cars safer. I think if you can't avoid the wrecks, you might as well make the cars safer and that's what they're doing."
BETWEEN BUSCH AND CUP DO YOU GET MUCH OF A BREATHER? "No, I don't get much time off, but that's all I could ever hope for is to get to race this much. It is fun. I have a lot of people around me that work really hard to make it easier on me, so it's fine for me. I spend a lot of time at the race track and a lot of time around the car, but nothing I do is difficult. It's all fun and I have a good time with it."
HOW DID THE MONDAY TALLADEGA TEST GO? "Monday went really well at Talladega. Kyle Petty, Brett Bodine and myself all got together and drafted a little bit. I thought it went pretty well. I understand people's concerns about the cars and about changing the sport and taking something away. Jack Roush has made great points about that, but from a driver's perspective I think the cars are gonna be a lot safer. At least at a place like Talladega I would be ready to race those cars tomorrow just because they're safer, so I think it's a good step forward."
DID IT FEEL LIKE A TRUCK? "Yeah, it felt a lot like a truck. In that format I don't know if there will be less wrecks, but at least the guys will be safer. It might even be a little bit more exciting and we currently have exciting races, so that would be pretty wild. It did feel a lot like a truck."
HOW WAS IT WITH THE SEAT MOVED OVER A LITTLE BIT? "It was alright, except when I kept pulling in the Busch garage - where the doors are really narrow - I kept pulling in real close to the left side door and I was like, 'What's going on here?' I didn't realize it was just because I was moved over a certain amount in the seat. It's a little bit different, and when you're running right on the yellow line and you're sitting towards the middle of the car it's kind of different."
DOES THAT CHANGE THE VISUAL ACUITY A DRIVER HAS TO HAVE? "No, actually that car - I don't know if it was just the way the seat was mounted - but I could see better out of that car than I can out of my Cup car right now, so I thought it was good for vision."
HOW WOULD THE RACING BE? "Right now if you turned them loose it would be just like a truck race at Daytona because they make such a big hole in the air. We did some stuff where we dropped back. Brett and Kyle Petty would be up there nose-to-tail and I would drop back 100 yards and I could catch them real quickly, just like in the Truck Series. I think it's gonna be very interesting. It's gonna be wild."
IS THIS A TRACK WHERE YOU REALLY FEEL YOU CAN WIN? "Yeah, this type of race track - we race on so many tracks this size and in this format that as a driver I've gotten really good at these places and I feel comfortable coming to these places. As a team we've developed some awesome cars. We went out there and I think we were third in the first practice today. It's pretty straightforward. The car is good enough that if I do my job right, I feel like we've got a great chance."
HOW IS IT WITH ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY AROUND? "It's pretty cool. I never experienced anything like walking through that Fan Zone over there. It was crazy. There are definitely a lot of folks here that are behind us and the 99 team and that means a lot. It's really cool. I told my guys this morning in the Busch car - things weren't going quite right and I got real testy on the radio - and I just told them, 'I'm sorry guys. I just want to win here so badly that I'm a little bit amped up here.'"
IS THERE A WAY TO GIVE A LITTLE EXTRA BECAUSE YOU ARE HOME? "I don't know. I try to give everything I can every week. Once we get on the race track it's always the same, but I might give a little bit more in practice or a little bit more precise with everything I do just because I want to win here so badly. I think, if anything, it's a good thing to remind me of how hard I can try."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN HERE? "Boy, I can't even imagine. Winning here would be the biggest win of my career."