Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, along with his wife, Kate, are the proud parents of Anne Edwards, who was born earlier this week. Carl spoke about the experience of becoming a father, and re-introduced Drew Blickensderfer as...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, along with his wife, Kate, are the proud parents of Anne Edwards, who was born earlier this week. Carl spoke about the experience of becoming a father, and re-introduced Drew Blickensderfer as his Nationwide crew chief Friday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
YOU'RE A DAD.
CARL EDWARDS: "Thank you very much. She's a day-and-half, almost two days old now. She's doing well. I just talked to Kate and, to say the least, that's a life-changing experience. I'm just very blessed. Everything went very well and Kate is doing great. It's just amazing."
DREW BLICKENSDERFER: "A week-and-a-half ago they made a change on the 17 and, with that, Jack told me there was an opportunity probably elsewhere and to keep my head up and don't get too comfortable in the R&D seat that he put me in, and probably three or four days later I got a call from Carl and Jack saying there was an opportunity on the 60 Nationwide car and they wanted to know if I was interested. Of course, I jumped up and down for it. I had a lot of fun with Carl a year ago -- 13 or 14 months ago -- racing the Nationwide Series. We had success and I really enjoyed it and I'd probably rank this in the top five jobs in all three series of what I'd like to have and what I'd like to do, so when the opportunity arose, I jumped to come back."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE INTRICACIES OF HOW YOU SET UP FOR A CUP RACE VERSUS A NATIONWIDE RACE?
DREW BLICKENSDERFER: "I think the Cup side was completely different for me because of the budget, the amount of tires, the time that you're at the race track. When you go Nationwide racing you set up in race trim and you don't even worry about how you're gonna qualify because they're all impound races and you don't really get to change anything. Whereas, the Cup mindset is completely different. You have qualifying practice, you have race practice, you're there for another day and then you have the race itself, where a lot happens and a lot changes. There are more cars that are competitive and it's something you have to worry about daily. You can't lose track position because you have to fight through 35 rally good cars versus 20 really good cars, and that's something that takes time to learn and get used to, so there is quite a bit of difference between Saturday and Sunday racing."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO WORK ON SO YOU'RE MORE PREPARED THE NEXT TIME A CUP OPPORTUNITY ARISES?
DREW BLICKENSDERFER: "I think more than anything the reason that the change on the 17 came and the deal with me was just how the team was fitting all together. The dynamic of the pit crew and the A team guys and the B team guys and myself and Matt and how that dynamic all fit was more of the issue than it was how I called the race or how I decided to set the grille tape for debris at California. So I think the things I took from last year and previously were that not all leadership styles are the same in every situation. I led the 60 team with the 17 team and vice versa. You have to be able to adapt and change depending on what role you're in."
HOW WILL THE RAIN FORECAST CHANGE HOW YOU APPROACH TODAY?
CARL EDWARDS: "Yeah, one more thing about the baby. I want to thank Erik Darnell for being there the last couple of weeks and standing by. I know it's agonizing for him to stand there and just watch all that practice and racing and not get to drive the car, so that was really nice of Erik. And another thing I want to say is Mike Kelley did a really good job on our Nationwide team and he pointed out to both of us that he left us with the point lead, so it's up to us to screw this up. He's gonna be our director of competition over there, so that worked out really well. As far as the rain, they say it's going to rain, so in Cup practice we will focus on race trim to prepare for the race in case we don't get any practice tomorrow. And then in the Nationwide car we'll just prepare to race and, hopefully, we'll get it in tomorrow, but if we don't it won't change the Nationwide practice very much. Cup practice will be different because we'll spend less time on qualifying."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT A DRIVER'S FOCUS WITH THE BABY BEING SUCH A BIG PART OF YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE THE TRACK?
CARL EDWARDS: "I haven't been in the car yet and everything that happens is new. I just called to check on Kate and she was eating something and was kind of choking on it a little bit. I thought something was wrong and she was choked up about something. I about had heart failure on that. That tore me up. She was like, 'No, something just went down the wrong way.' So it's all new to me, but I feel a lot more calm now. There is a lot less anxiety because everything did go well and we're not waiting. Waiting is the hardest part."
WERE YOU SURPRISED WITH THE CHANGE AND WAS THERE ANY RUMBLING LIKE THIS DURING THE OFF-SEASON?
DREW BLICKENSDERFER: "I didn't think so during the off-season. I was a little surprised of the change. If you're in that situation and you're completely surprised, you probably aren't aware of all that's going on around you, so I wasn't completely surprised by it. Of course, I was disappointed. As a winner, you want to be at the top level performing, but I was probably disappointed about our performance on the race track more than getting switched out. That was definitely something I didn't see over the winter, but it wasn't a huge surprise probably."
DID YOU TRAVEL YESTERDAY? IT MUST HAVE BEEN HARD TO LEAVE.
CARL EDWARDS: "Yeah, it was. When I left, I kind of looked back. I was driving my truck and I thought, 'Wow, I have a family.' That's pretty interesting, so it's definitely a different emotion than I've ever had. My one buddy tells me, 'Oh, you wait. You're gonna really love racing now.' I guess that's because you get to leave when they're crying, but I'm not to that point yet, so it was different."
DID YOU HAVE ANY GUILT?
CARL EDWARDS: "No, I didn't feel guilty. We all have jobs and everybody has to go do their job, and, to put it in perspective, one of Kate's best friends has a baby and her husband is serving over in Afghanistan and he didn't see their baby until she was three months old and he was only home for two weeks and had to leave again for six months. So I've got a great situation relative to a lot of folks who are out there doing very important jobs."
WILL THE WEATHER THREAT CHANGE QUALIFYING AT ALL?
CARL EDWARDS: "It might help us. It seems like the harder we try, the slower we go. Right now, what we're focused on -- what Drew has been working on and what Bob's been working one, what everyone has been working on -- is trying to figure out what we're missing. The more time we can get to practice race stuff the better, and I think that, in a way, not having to focus on qualifying is a little bit of a blessing. We can try some things we've been wanting to try because, let's face it, we've got to get better and we've got to get faster and this track is representative of a lot of the ones we'll be racing at this season that are gonna make a difference. So, for me, I think it's good and I think from a fan's perspective they might see some comers and go-ers when the race starts because there will be a lot of guys that are slower than they could have been because they're not working on it."
WHAT WAS WEDNESDAY LIKE AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE NAME 'ANNE'?
CARL EDWARDS: "First of all, the name was simple. That's what Kate wanted to call her, so that was it. I started to protest a little bit just because. I didn't really have a better name, and she made it clear that's what she really wanted. So it's Anne. We're gonna call her Annie. Wednesday was really just amazing. I had a lot of different emotions that I didn't plan on. When she was born, it was like, 'Wow.' I'm focused on this baby and you have all these emotions. Then we're over there at the table and they were doing everything -- cut the cord -- and then I thought, 'My wife is laying right over there. Is she alright?' So then I run back over there and I'm talking to her. It was just a whole rush of things that I thought I was prepared for, but I wasn't. And then after that just being able to sit there with Kate and Annie. I'm sure anyone that's a parent can tell you how that feels. It's just amazing. It's a miracle."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT NATIONWIDE RACING HERE AT VEGAS?
CARL EDWARDS: "The Nationwide racing here is a lot of fun. We had one of the most exciting finishes I've ever been a part of in the Nationwide Series with Mark, and I think it was Brad Keselowski. That was wild. It didn't turn out good for me, but it was exciting for the fans. It's a fun race track. They're high speeds. The cars drive well around here, so it's just a fun race. It's a good race and it's Las Vegas. Everyone loves to come here. We get a lot of fans and I hear throughout the year people come up to me and say, 'Hey, we were at Vegas. We had a good time.' It's the way we're supposed to race. It's a lot of fun."
WHEN JIMMIE WINS A RACE THAT HE LUCKED IN TO, HOW ANNOYING IS THAT?
CARL EDWARDS: "It's pretty annoying when people say that stuff, but there's always people who just can't accept the fact that somebody is doing a really good job and, no matter what, they have to take that little dig. That's just part of competition. It looked to me like he did a pretty good job. They did get lucky with pit road, but I think Jimmie said it best -- he hasn't been just lucky for the last four years and 48 wins. I had a little taste of that with our win here a couple years ago when the oil cooler lid came off and just having to listen to all those people. It doesn't bother you so much as it's just like, 'C'mon guys. That's all you've got?'"
HAVE YOU CHANGED A DIAPER YET?
CARL EDWARDS: "Yes, I changed a diaper. Matt and Katie Kenseth let me do a little training the other week and that actually helped me out a lot. I think Matt had a good laugh about it, but it prepared me for what was to come. So Kate, she was laying in bed so I changed the first four or five diapers and it went pretty well. It was good and very, very funny."
IS IT HARDER TO GAUGE WHERE YOUR TEAM IS RIGHT NOW WITH THE SPOILER CHANGE COMING DOWN THE ROAD?
CARL EDWARDS: "We've got the tires that are a little different. The spoiler is coming, and, yes, we've only had two races, but California is a pretty good indicator. This one will be the best. I think when we come out of here, based on California being mediocre at best for us, if we're not out here with fast cars and leading laps, we're already buckling down so I don't know what we're gonna do. But we'll know where we stand, so, hopefully, we'll come out of here good. The things that are different are good for us. The more that we can change right now, the better off we're going to be. At the current rate, we just have not been good enough, so anything that comes along that shakes things up is good for us."
-source: ford racing