Loudon II: Edwards - Friday media visit

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, comes into this weekend's first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup trailing points leader Mark Martin by 40. He spoke about the chase and his chances after Friday's ...

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, comes into this weekend's first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup trailing points leader Mark Martin by 40. He spoke about the chase and his chances after Friday's practice.

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEKEND? "It's a nice easy weekend for us -- one race. It's a fun race track. I've run well here and I've run poorly here, so I'm hoping this is one of the good ones. A year ago, we came here and Greg won and I finished. That was a great start to the chase, so that's what we're hoping for. The first practice was a little bit rough for us. We were not quite as good as we need to be, so, hopefully, we can put something together for qualifying and then tomorrow make the car faster in race trim. That would be good."

IS JIMMIE THE FAVORITE AGAIN? "I think so. I think Jimmie is the favorite. He has to be. He's shown that he can do it, but the last couple of days we've spent a little time up in New York with all the guys and when you really look at the group this year, I think that this is wide open. Anyone can win this thing. I think Juan Montoya has just as good a chance as Jimmie Johnson with the way he's been running. Brian (Vickers) has scored more points than anyone the last 10 races and there's nothing saying he couldn't do that again. And then you look at Greg and myself. Last year, we put together a really strong chase and nobody expected Greg to come out and win the first two and be that fast. Yeah, he's the favorite (Johnson), but I think this is gonna be a real interesting one. It has that feeling to me."

FOR A GUY WHO HASN'T WON YET THIS YEAR IS IT REDEMPTION TIME OR A FEELING LIKE 'IF WE HAVEN'T DONE IT BY NOW WE'RE NOT GONNA DO IT?' "No, it's definitely not the latter. It does not matter what you did last week. It doesn't matter what you did the last 26 weeks. This is a second chance here. This is a new beginning. For the same reason you can't look at last season and say who is gonna be in the chase this year, you can't look at the first part of the season and say who is gonna be strong in the last 10. Really, this isn't lip service. It really has the feel that any one of these 12 guys can win this thing. That's good for me. I want to be that guy. It seems like the peaks and valleys are a shorter frequency and higher amplitude right now."

TV RATINGS ARE UP. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SELLOUTS AGAIN. DO YOU THINK DRIVERS HAVE HELPED THIS TURNAROUND ONE HANDSHAKE AT A TIME AND HAVE HELPED PUT PEOPLE BACK IN THE STANDS? "I think that's a part of it, for sure. I read somewhere, and excuse me if I'm wrong, but I read that NASCAR is gonna allow 300 fans to come to the banquet. They're gonna somehow give those tickets out and under that article there was one comment and it was a fan saying, 'This is why I love NASCAR because NASCAR goes out of their way to have access for the fans and allow them to be a bigger part of the sport.' I think the fans recognize that, but I think a bigger thing is the competition on the track. We have more winners, a more diverse group of people running well and I think that helps, too. I think people enjoy that kind of competition, so everyone is doing their part -- the drivers, NASCAR, the teams, the sponsors -- everyone is trying to give the fans a better experience."

HAS YOUR SCHEDULE BEEN ANY DIFFERENT? ARE YOU SPENDING MORE TIME SHAKING HANDS AND KISSING BABIES? "What I've done has been primarily through my website and through my Facebook. I've tried to be a little more open and connect with the fans a little more through that, and they've really enjoyed that. That's been fun. And then at the track, we all recognize that we've got to do our best and I think it's fair to say that all of us appreciate each fan more now than ever. I think that's good."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Mark Martin