Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, enters the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 60 points behind new leader Denny Hamlin. In 12 NSCS starts at NHMS, Edwards has...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, enters the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings, 60 points behind new leader Denny Hamlin. In 12 NSCS starts at NHMS, Edwards has achieved two top-five and two top-10 finishes. Edwards' best finish at Loudon is second place, captured in July of 2006. In 26 starts this season, Edwards has accumulated six top-five and 14 top-10 finishes, as well as two poles. Edwards talked with members of the media about this upcoming race, the Chase and the Race of Champions.
THERE IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU OVER THE NEXT 10 RACES ISN'T THERE? "Yeah, there is a great opportunity for us. This first practice was great. I believe we were the fastest in first practice. We had a little trouble with timing and scoring, so I am not certain of that. I think that qualifying is going to be very important here. We focused on it today. Track position is going to be important. It is very difficult to pass. The way we have run the last couple of weeks I feel very confident for our chances to get a good start to the Chase here at Loudon."
LOOKING AT THE 10 TRACKS, IS TALLADEGA THE ONE YOU FEAR THE MOST BECAUSE OF THE UNCERTAINTY? "I think everyone fears Talladega the most, you know what I mean? It is because of the uncertainty and because anything can happen. That can go two ways though. You can also look at that place as an opportunity. If you play it smart and maybe have a little bit of luck you can gain ground on people there. It could go either way. For that reason, Talladega is kind of a wash. It makes you nervous, but you never know. The one that worries me a little bit is this one because we've had an up and down record. Charlotte worries me the most. For some reason, we have run very well on the mile-and-a-half's but with that one, the way the tire works with the race track, we've had days we were just terrible. That is the one that, performance wise, I am most worried about."
ARE THERE ANY DISADVANTAGES TO HAVING TEAMMATES IN THE CHASE AND IS THIS THE MOST OPEN COMPETITION FOR THE CHASE YOU'VE SEEN? "The disadvantage, the only one, to having teammates in the Chase is if you start to get competitive too much with your teammates. You are all competing for the same thing. At the beginning of this, all of us want to get a jump on the other one. As long as we can keep that healthy competition, then it is good. I think the advantage is that we've struggled for so long that we've kind of built a better bond as teammates in the shop and on the race track. I think that all three of us being out there gives us a chance to work together all weekend from start to finish. I think that is good."
YOU MENTIONED HOW HARD IT IS TO PASS HERE BUT IN JUNE WE SAY GUYS RUN FULL LAPS SIDE BY SIDE. HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THOSE TWO FACTS? "Well, that is just it. You run full laps side by side because you can't complete the pass. It looks good, but boy it is hard to pass. So let's say you were out there running around and I was two-tenths of a second faster, which is pretty good, and I caught you. I could pull next to you and then you can make it really hard on me to get by. From a distance that looks like a good race, but what we are doing right then is slowing ourselves down and I would be negating my two-tenths that I had on you and maybe the guy in front of you. That is the struggle we have out there. It looks good, but man it is tough to actually make ground up through the field."
SOME OF THE CHASE GUYS ARE ADAMENTLY OPPOSED TO SEPARATE POINT SYSTEM FOR CHASE GUYS. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE POINTS SYSTEM? "Everything that you do there will be an unintended consequence or the potential for one. So if we have our own point system separate from the other guys, then that give you the opportunity to have someone really benefit and not someone else, based on chance. If I run 12th at this race and 11 guys in front of me are Chase guys, then yeah I am the 12th slowest Chase guy. If I run 43rd and everyone else runs one to 11, then I don't know if I really deserve to be counted as right behind that 11th place guy. You have a chance to have a guy that runs a way better average year finish behind a guy because of the way it shook out statistically. I think the way it is is fine as long as we are all competing under the same rules it will be good. The Chase by itself automatically gives the opportunity for someone to win that maybe was not the strongest team that year. I think once you add more it is going farther down that slope."
IF SOMEBODY LEADS 150 LAPS HERE SUNDAY AND WINS THE RACE BY THREE SECONDS, HOW DOES THAT IMPACT EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CHASE? IS IT A DOWNER GOING FORWARD EMOTIONALLY OR MENTALLY? "If it happened here it would be frustrating. I sure would like to lead by that much and win, that would be good. I think that everyone knows that the meat of the Chase is mile-and-a-half tracks like Dover and California. We know that if someone goes to the first mile-and-a-half track and does that, then that is a little scary. Here the only thing that is really going to relate to is turns three and four at Phoenix. You definitely want to get a good start, but I don't think anyone can set the tone of the Chase here, just because it is kind of a unique track."
EVERYONE IS GUNNING FOR JIMMIE. WHY COULD YOU BE THAT GUY TO KNOCK HIM OFF THIS YEAR? "I think that we have proven over the last 10 weeks that we can score more points than anyone in the series, and that is what it is going to take. Jimmie did a good job last week of explaining that you have to have something to hang your hat on going into this thing. You either have to have wins or you have to have been very consistent. You have to have some sort of thing to build your team around. That is what we are building our hopes on, the fact that we have shown over an extended period that we can score better average finishes than everyone else. Now we just have to go do that. That is what I am counting on, the ability to go do that."
DO YOU TAKE THE FIRST THREE OR SO CHASE RACES AND TAKE THEM MORE CAUTIOSLY TO YOU DON'T GET BEHIND? IS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU GO AFTER IT? "That is a tough call to make. I have thought that way and then I started thinking that maybe it is better to go out here and try to gain something the first few races and take advantage of everyone being cautious. The bottom line is you don't want to be behind after these first few races. I think you have to drive aggressively and take chances up to the point where you are wrecking or doing something really silly like running out of fuel. If you don't then someone else is and they will be the guy leading after three races. It is a really fine balance between not wanting to go easy but also you can't really screw up. I still haven't decided how I am going to do it."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE ROC IN GERMANY NEXT MONTH? "It is going to be fun. We are going to Dueseldorf with Travis Pastrana. I got to talk to him for the first time about it live last night on ESPN. I was a little shocked that his excitement level was that unlike other forms of motorsports they let you into the wall one time on each run at the Race of Champions. I was like 'Travis, that is not how we need to approach this.' He is a very fun guy and he is a living legend and it will be fun to go race alongside of him and represent the United States. He is an extremely accomplished Rally racer and I think I will learn some things. Really it is just really fun. You guys should go over there if anyone wants to go cover it. It is a neat event. Sebastian Loeb, Michael Schumacker and a bunch of guys will be there. We had a good time the last time I was there and it is just different cars and a different environment. It is in the soccer stadium which I think has a retractable roof and I think it is the biggest one in the world. It will be fun. It is an honor to go do it and hopefully we can go win."
HOW DOES IT WORK EXACTLY? "The Race of Champions itself is an individual event and then they have the countries compete against one another in a points elimination thing. We will be racing for America and then racing for ourselves."
IN THIS SEASON OF 'BOYS HAVE AT IT', IF SOMEBODY THAT IS NOT A CHASE CONTENDER GETS A PAYBACK ON A CHASE CONTENDER, HOW SHOULD NASCAR VIEW THAT AND SHOULD NASCAR TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION IF THERE IS TO BE ANY KIND OF PENALTY THAT IT IS A CHASE GUY AND IT COULD IMPACT A CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think that you just have to look at every situation and I think NASCAR does a pretty good job of that. I don't see that really happening. I think we've all shown that we race pretty well together and even when we do have issues, we have been able to kind of compartmentalize those or keep them isolated to one track or something. That has been pretty good. I don't really see that happening. I think that it will be fine." IF IT DOES HAPPEN, SHOULD IT BE A CONSIDERATION THAT A CHASE GUY IS INVOLVED? "I just can't see somebody really doing that, you know what I mean? But you never know. I mean heck, I guess we will just see what happens and deal with it if it happens. I don't think it will though."
-source: ford racing