An interview with Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards
KERRY THARP: Carl comes in third tonight. You come out of here halfway now and you're the points leader.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it's huge for us. We had this one circled on the schedule as one that our whole Aflac team was nervous about.
We qualified well. We were not that fast at the beginning of the race and Bob did a really good job dialing it in, the car and the track kind of came to us, so just overall a really good nice for Roush Fenway, it's great to see Matt get a win. Those guys, I guess it's great as a teammate, but now he's only seven points behind us in the Chase. A great race and a lot better finish I than I thought we were going to have so I'm happy with it.
KERRY THARP: We are joined by our second place finisher, Kyle Busch who drives the No. 18 M&M's Toyota. Kyle moves up to fourth in the points, 18 out of the lead. Kyle, talk about your race out here this evening.
KYLE BUSCH: It was a good race for us. Certainly we started pretty deep in the field and made our way up through there slowly and steadily, and just real tough to pass and make up ground. You could be 2-10ths faster than the guy in front of you and run him down and catch him and slow down and just get stuck.
So you had to be creative and work your way up and work your way past guys, but I don't think we made a change to the car all night. We just kept running with it and just kept letting the race play out, and let it do what it was supposed to do, and lo and behold, we thought we were going to win and you get down to all of these late restarts and give it away. So finished second.
Q. Carl, we saw you talking to Kyle after the race and we heard your comments on TV and then Kyle shed a little bit more insight into it, and I asked this question with all due respect, shouldn't the guys racing for second and third be rating each other hard, because Kyle's explanation seemed to be that you were unhappy with the way he raced you.
CARL EDWARDS: We should definitely be racing each other hard. It's just that there's a difference between racing hard and then cutting across the guy ease nose.
What I told Kyle is I just wonder why coming off of turn two when I got underneath him that he drove down instead of going up to the wall like we would normally do. And I just let him know that next time that happens, I'll just stay where I'm at and he can drive across my hood and wreck himself.
It just surprised me. Now he told me that he didn't mean to do it, and so I got to believe that, but I don't know what else there is to say about it. Just it's racing, and we didn't wreck, and we are going to race hard like that; that's just how I saw it.
Q. For Carl, what was your reaction when you saw Jimmie or heard Jimmie had wrecked and what does that mean for all of you in the Chase now?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, it can happen to any of us, so you know, obviously the more points we can get on the guys in the Chase, the better. But it's obvious that that could happen to anyone. So he could go on a tear and be leading the points in three or four weeks; and that could happen, too, so I don't have count him out.
Q. Kyle, could you speak of the balance between the frustration of not winning against actually getting a good finish and being in the best position you've been at this point in the Chase, each time you've been in it?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, we've kind of set out that we need to start finishing where we run during the race, and we have not done that maybe but Loudon. For tonight, we certainly ran really, really well. We ran strong. We drove up through the field and we got in position to win the race and was leading much of the majority of the end there.
Just got out-drove there by Kenseth there on the restart there. He just flat-out drove right past me like I was standing still. The frustration is, again, we did not finish where we wanted to, which could have been a real win, a real highlight.
The next frustration is we have yet to win a Chase race, and I'm sure I'll be hearing about that for the next four years if I continue that. But, you know, we'll keep working on it, and going into next week at Talladega and see if we can't get one there.
Q. Could you describe the engine issue that led to the change? TV seemed to say that it was not a failure but some sort of maintenance issue that caused the problem.
KYLE BUSCH: I can't elaborate. I don't know what it was. I heard something in the valve train, rock or arm stud, that's all.
Q. Can you comment on Matt, everybody talks about you guys possibly winning the title, but looked like he came out of nowhere tonight. Is he a real threat to this thing?
CARL EDWARDS: He's the only one of the three of us that's got a championship. He's doing really well, and tonight, that car was really fast and he drove it really well. I spent a lot of time behind him. He was wheeling it. So I don't think you can count him out at all.
KYLE BUSCH: You can never count out. It seems like those Wisconsin guys are awfully quiet most of the time. You know, maybe that's just a part of it. They will squeak it out there at the end, and leave you in the dust.
CARL EDWARDS: It's all the cheese they eat.
Q. I know that the Chase has not started the way that you would like to, but in a sense do you feel like you've gotten the worst of your tracks behind you and you guys have a good stretch coming ahead to look toward to?
KYLE BUSCH: You know, it's not necessarily the way we look at it. I feel like certainly we have -- we were running Top-5 at Chicago, ran out of fuel. Loudon was certainly not our best track, and then Dover was a pretty good track for us. We were running third and way too loose at the end and finished sixth, not bad. Kansas we ran fourth, fifth, all day. Just got caught up in the wrong lane on some restarts at the end and faded.
We had some decent runs going. Just were not able to capitalize on those runs and finish where we wanted to. So with the weeks remaining, we just can only take it one by one, and go into next week and put our best foot forward, put our best car on the racetrack and try to win Talladega and from there go to Martinsville where we get better every time we show up.
There's certainly some positive tracks that are coming up that we look forward to.
Q. Was there any key adjustment you made to the car to achieve the finish that you did tonight at a racetrack that's not been your best; and how was your car compared to last week?
CARL EDWARDS: It was a lot better than last week but we were off a little bit. We were not as fast as Kyle or Matt. We have to go back and look at it. Greg was fast and Trevor was screaming fast at one point in the race. He was really good. I don't know what happened to him but I thought he was going to be the guy to beat. We'll just go back and look at it and figure out what we are missing. It might be something I'm doing driving that's not correct here and there might be some set up stuff but we are slowly working on it. I feel better after this run. The All-Star Race, Coke 600 and this race were all decent for us, so that's three in a row. That's the best we have ever been here.
Q. Probably should not be a surprise that you're going to lead the points two weeks in a row during the Chase considering the way you ran during the off-season, but the people way Jimmie Johnson, not won as many opportunities as you've had, maybe it is a little surprising. How do you look at it with five races to go? Is it where you expected to be? Does it matter that they have as many wins --
CARL EDWARDS: The wins, they matter, obviously. It's great to win. But our goal is to win the championship. We have won nine races in a season and not won the championship, and I definitely trade that for a zero-win or one-win season with a championship.
Our goal is to win this championship. We are leading the points now which does not really amount to much with five races left but it is the -- we are on track. We are doing well. So there are some tough races coming up for us. I mean, Talladega is not my best track. Martinsville is not my best track. But after those, I feel pretty good.
Q. Carl, this is the latest in the season you've ever been the points leader. At what point do you have to start thinking about that, racing with that in mind? Does it change your style? Are you aggressive? Do you race conservatively to hold it -- do you know what I mean?
CARL EDWARDS: I was probably -- well, I don't know. I think right now, you have to still get everything you can. I mean, I raced really hard tonight. Not quite as hard as you (turning to Kyle).
KYLE BUSCH: I'm in the catbird's seat.
CARL EDWARDS: I'm racing as hard as I can, trying to get every point I can. That's how we have raced all season. It has not worked out for some wins but that's mostly been strategy and stuff like that.
I feel like I've kind of -- I found kind of a balance where I've wrecked enough, made enough stupid decisions early on that I'm trying to be better at not giving them away. So just keep doing what we've been doing and if it works out, it works out.
But part of your question, I don't think -- I don't think -- this season's not like others. I think that it's going to come down literally to the last few laps at Homestead. If you watched what happened tonight, anything can happen. It can turn, you know, turn quickly.
Q. Kyle, I know obviously would you like to start up front and race up front all night, but did you at least have a little bit of fun starting at the back and getting to pass that many cars that early on?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, there was a point in which the leader was going into one and I was coming off of two. So you know, that kind of leaves you a little bit worrisome.
But you just have to let it play out. Certainly there's going to be some cautions in there that will allow the field to bunch back up and everything like that. You know, it was -- it's all funny guess when you can start back there and run well. You know, there's obviously the big chance in getting caught up in something early. There was a couple of cars that came off turn four within the first ten laps of the race pulling sideways and I don't know how they didn't wreck. I was checking up to see what was going to happen, whether they were going to go shooting through the grass or keep it straight. That always keeps you on toes, keeps you a little nervous. The more you get up toward the front sometimes, there was a few moments that got a little close out there. But overall, that's just a product of racing.
Q. Seemed like almost all night long drivers were complaining about how hard it was to pass. Kyle, you were able to go and pass a lot of cars tonight, but when the leader is struggling to pass slower cars, the lap cars, what is it, just too much aero push? Is it time to relax the rules a little bit and let the crew chiefs and engineers work on these cars and figure out a way for them to pass a little bit better?
KYLE BUSCH: (Shaking head).
CARL EDWARDS: Be fine with me if they took the spoilers off and splitters off and we didn't have any downforce. The cars are so close that the difference between them is smaller than the difference when you're following somebody.
So NASCAR has done a really, really good job of making sure that the rules are close and we're all about the same speed. But then when you're going that fast and relying on downforce, it makes it really tough.
This track is probably one of the toughest ones to pass on. But you know, it just overall tough almost everywhere we go.
Q. Do you agree with Carl's assessment of what happened on turn two, or what was your version of it?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, certainly it's a tight race and Carl got a good run through the turn and got up to my left rear quarterpanel, and typically that gets you a little loose. And my car got loose, and it started moving out a little bit and I just held the wheel straight and it was essentially staying -- steering almost downhill.
It did not get sideways like really loose, loose, that I about wrecked. It just started steering and kind of free-wheeling, so I just let it go. I ran him a little tight. Essentially it made me run him a little tight out there on two and I just hugged on his door down the stretch to kind of side draft him to keep him alongside of me to give me another chance at redeeming myself through three and four and getting back by him and it worked out.
There was no malicious intent involved to cause anything or to hurt his chances at finishing second or anything. So it was just a product of what we had at the end going for everything we could, and trying to come home second.
KERRY THARP: Thank you so much and good luck at Talladega.