An interview with: Carl Edwards and Martin Truex, Jr.
KERRY THARP: We welcome third-place driver in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Martin Truex, Jr. You told us you were going to be in here after the race, you had a fast racecar, talk about your run out here today.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, it was -- running good and having a solid race. The guys on pit road did a nice job, no mistakes, and, you know, we have had a season where we have beat ourselves a lot and we have done some things wrong and we have had a lot of bad luck. You know, we have had part failures and things.
But throughout the course of the season, I've had a great team, and we have had good speed in our race cars. We were no match for Carl or Tony tonight, but we were a solid third-place car, and for us, that was a good day.
Just excited about the job everybody has been doing here lately. We have ended the season on a strong note. We kind of took a step back there at Talladega with the windshield and penalties and all the stuff that came with that, and rebounded nicely without my normal crew chief being here. We had two or three different crew chiefs the first couple of weeks and then Scott Miller came in the last two weeks, our new competition director and called the race for us and did a lot of things that helped us.
All in all, a good way to end the season and proud of my team for what they have done the last couple of weeks. We know when we need to do in the off-season like I said the other day. So we are excited about the work we are going to do this year and excited about what lies ahead for us next year.
Q. Michael Waltrip Racing has staked its future on you and even after just one season, you are the senior guy. What you have done these last several races, what's your confidence level like moving forward into 2012?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, I'm cautiously optimistic. At the end of the season last year we felt good. We kind of ended similar. We were running well. Our cars were strong. We started this year off really good, but we had too many bumps in the road. We made too many mistakes.
Obviously we had some bad luck. We got caught up in four or five, I think six wrecks that we had absolutely nothing to do with. That hurts. There were some things that we could have done better. Certainly the penalty we got a few weeks ago, we broke a few parts throughout the season that we probably shouldn't have and those things set us back and took us out of contention into being in the Top-12 and possibly make the Chase.
I'm excited. I think obviously we are still a young team. Rob and Michael and everybody at MWR, they have put a lot into this. Especially throughout the mid part of this season, that we really went to work on our aero program, our chassis program, put a lot of effort into making our stuff better with the help of TRD and all of the people there and the folks at Toyota.
They have put a lot into it and it’s paid off for us. I feel like our stuff is getting better. Still not where it needs to be but we are working hard. We have got some new people, obviously coming aboard driver-wise, team-wise. Scott Miller coming over to be our competition director is definitely going to help us. It's a position that we really have not had for most of the season. Nobody has been in that position.
All of those little things hopefully will add up and they are doing a lot of things to make our team stronger and at the end of the day hopefully those things will help us.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It was really cool honestly to see those two guys up front all night long. You could not ask for a championship to obviously come down to be more exciting. Those two guys were really fast, and it's -- you watch those two race like that, and you understand why they are here, why they race for the championship. You know, as fast as those two were tonight, it was pretty incredible.
Just have to congratulate both of them, both of their teams on what they accomplished. That thing could have went either way. One pit stop, one mistake -- it was cool to watch. I do wish I could have beat them both, though, and they could have raced for second.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Oh, that would have worked. That would have been good for you. Tried my best.
KERRY THARP: Martin, thanks so much. Good season and we'll see you in the off-season.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Hope everybody has a happy Thanksgiving.
KERRY THARP: Carl, terrific season, terrific effort tonight. I'm just going to throw it over to you. Talk about your race out there tonight and the effort.
CARL EDWARDS: Well, the effort was all season. We finished the last two races of last season very strong and we believed in what we were capable of this year. And I think we proved to ourselves that even with adversity and the things that we faced throughout the Chase, the bad runs that we had, and the mistakes that we made and recovered from, that we can compete for these championships.
And you know, I guess the only thing I'm able to take away from this that's really positive is something I think's really important is that at least we know that we can compete with any of these people. We can compete with a two-time champion or three-time champion now winning half of the Chase races; we can still score as many points as them. That's a big deal.
And I know that there are a lot of tests in life and I think that the last three or four weeks have been a huge test for me and for my team mentally. You know, for us to keep our confidence up, to keep our cool, and to go out and perform and do our jobs, I'm really proud and believe next year we'll do even better.
Q. Can you even begin to describe your thoughts those last 15, 20 laps, and it got down to 12,11 you and started to see that you just were not catching him?
CARL EDWARDS: I tell you, for me, I thought back to a lesson that I was reminded of at Iowa, second race with Ricky Stenhouse and that was to never, ever, give up, period, ever. I was fully prepared for Tony to run out of fuel, for him to have a tire problem, for anything to happen, for a caution to come out and have a restart. That's all I can do is to be as prepared as I can be.
I didn't really let myself think about the consequences of what was going on. I just had to go drive the hardest I could, and I did. I mean, that's -- I drove it to the edge and beyond, and that's all I had.
Q. I can't help but watching you, thinking that you will spend the rest of the off-season thinking about what you have to do, where you lost that edge and what you can do to come back and just be even better than you are right now. Is that pretty accurate?
CARL EDWARDS: Yes. Here's the deal. Whether we won tonight or we lost, I mean, tomorrow is the start of the next season. I was prepared before this race began to do exactly what I'm going to go do and that's to be even better next year and to apply what I've learned here.
We knew we could come into this thing and we knew that of all of the circumstances that could happen, this one was the least probable. I mean, for us to finish like that, tied, fighting for the win. That is the least probable outcome.
And so I was prepared for anything. I knew that this was a possibility, though, and I was prepared for this. And I told myself, I told my family that the one thing I'm going to do is I'm going to walk back to that most home, win, lose or draw and I'm going to be a good example for my kids and work hard and go be better next season. Because, you know, we talked about it before the race, even if we won this thing, you go halfway through next season you and struggle, that's quickly forgotten.
As painful as this is right now, I know that we have -- we are fortunate to have the opportunity to go to Daytona and just start all over again and go race.
Q. Can you share with us what you said to Bob Osborne when you got out of the car and shook hands?
CARL EDWARDS: I just wanted to make sure that Bob knew that I believe he's the best crew chief here, and that he will be my crew chief for as long as he wants to be, and I'm behind him and his decision 100%.
As tough as it is for me, you know, it's tougher, I think, for those guys, the guys that prepare these cars and determine which things we are going to work on throughout the year and what strategies we are going to use. They make some very, very big decisions that they can't turn around -- inaudible -- is great or greater than mine.
Q. Obviously you're in the moment now and there's disappointment, but this race obviously generated a tremendous amount of interest, you could see on the Internet and on Twitter. Can you take a second to step back and maybe just think about the whole drama of it; has there been something comparable that you've been involved with in your career?
CARL EDWARDS: No. I wish I could do this every day. There are lessons that I learned and things that I learned about myself, about competition, about failure and things about success; things that I could not have learned any other way. If there weren't any pressure, there weren't be any diamonds, that's what my trainer says.
We dealt with a lot of pressure and I feel very proud of the way our team and myself and everyone has handled everything through this, and I feel that we made it all the way through, and although we didn't come out with the outcome that we wanted, that we are better because of it, you know, and I'm not trying to be philosophical or anything.
I'm truly telling you, if I'm in this position next year, I'm going to be better at it. I'm going to be -- I'll be better. So that's cool. That's something you don't get every day is a lesson like this.
Q. Before tonight, did you kind of prepare yourself for the fact that it very well could end up where it did, and the fact that you are still -- you're not nearly to the end of your career, and you've proven you're championship-caliber. Did you prepare yourself for that? And how did you deal with all of the trash talking that Tony was doing? Now that it's over -- how did you really deal with that?
CARL EDWARDS: It's easy. You just have to -- I talked to you guys one time, I said there's Kipling's poem I can't remember the title of it, but when he said, 'You have to meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.' That's the truth.
There's nothing saying that this loss here tonight won't spur a chain of events that could lead to some serious success in the future, and you guys are looking at someone who is not going to miss out on that.
I'm very aware that time is a funny thing. You can't go back and change anything but you can sure as hell change what's going to happen and I will be better and I will do a good job.
Yes, to answer your question, I was prepared for this. I thought a lot about this. Like I said earlier, I feel like we kind of -- I feel like personally, I passed the test. I didn't fall into the trap of the trash talking and the -- I didn't change the person I am to go compete at my highest level. I felt like I did it my way, and I'm proud of that.
Q. Carl, you talked about the improbability of this race ending in this manner. But over the last three weeks, you and Tony have been virtually inseparable. The two of you have gone toe-to-toe, finished in the Top-5 the last few weeks; in a sense is it not surprising it ended this way?
CARL EDWARDS: Right.
Q. And what's it like to be part of that, everywhere you turn, he's there and everywhere he turns, you're there.
CARL EDWARDS: Like I said earlier, I think it's been a true test. It's been a battle. As best I can, right now, if I step back, away from this, and look at it, and I say, okay, here are two guys, one of which has a lot more experience in these situations than the other. Won half of the races in the Chase. And the other guy, I mean, stood his ground, did a darned good job of forcing these guys to perform their best.
I'm proud of that. And I think that what you just said, the fact that it was that way, that it just turned into this, you know, man-to-man battle, that was very interesting. That's something that you don't see in this sport. It shouldn't happen. It only, I believe, happened because subconsciously everybody on these teams just raised their level of performance.
And to be honest with you, I was very, very impressed with Tony. I think that for all of the talk and all of the chest-pounding that he did, I could see that he was really -- I mean, he was nervous about this, too. I mean, they had to perform at a very high level, and I honestly thought that there was a good chance tonight of them making a mistake; of him over-driving, trying too hard, and they showed a lot of mental toughness to watch us go lead the first half of this race essentially and not panic, not make mistakes. I thought they did a really good job.
Q. Yet it comes down to a tiebreaker, I mean, how does that -- how do you go to sleep with that tonight knowing you were tied?
CARL EDWARDS: I would compete with him in just about anything else to break that tie, if we could set up something -- (Laughter). But yeah, that's pretty amazing.
I'm telling you guys, this is not -- I'm not just saying this because I didn't win the thing. But I think we could run this race ten times and it would -- it's a 50/50 deal. A little different pit stop, a little different restart here; you know, ten pounds of spring somewhere on this car, the race could have been a lot different -- not a lot different but the roles could have been reversed. I think it's just amazing.
I'm sure there will be people that will say, this was fake, this was set up, because it's just so unbelievable. I mean, it's like a movie, you know.
Q. The difference tonight, was it this race? Was it a whole season? Where was the difference, when you look back, how will you look back in a tie-point situation? And also, you seem to be putting on as good a face as possible. Is this how you feel or is there --
CARL EDWARDS: I'm telling you guys, this is how I feel. This is how I feel, I'm not BS'ing you, this is me. I'm not going to go rip the door off my motor home or freak out or anything. I'm going to go hang out with my family and we'll go to the beach tomorrow and go celebrate Ricky's championship.
But I think it's important to look back and come up with things -- you know, look at things you could do differently to really analyze everything and to see where you did things wrong, you did things right.
My true feeling right now, my real -- like my gut feeling in my heart, is that I'm just -- I'm obviously disappointed we didn't win. That would have been a spectacular result, okay. But I'm very proud, some of the best races I've run in my life, were this Chase. Kansas was unbelievable. Martinsville, I've never used my head as much as I did at Martinsville. I've never been able to put down my frustration like I did at Dover.
If I look back on this Chase, there's not one thing that I say, man, I wish I'd have done this or I wish I'd have done that. This whole season has gone very well. I'm truly proud of this season.
I mean, but it's over.
Q. Carl, you're talking about your feelings right now and the momentum that you're actually carrying over. How does that affect your off-season? You're already ready for next season, but talk a little about your off-season.
CARL EDWARDS: Well, this disappointment tonight, it won't affect us for next season. That's something that you have to do as a competitor, especially at this level. You have to realize that effort --
Q. Even if you lost, I'm still trying to figure out, what was going on and how in the world -- how did he get ahead of you.
CARL EDWARDS: Well, what they did was they stayed out, and I think they almost ran out of fuel. They pitted -- they did a really good job staying down on the lead. But they pitted for four tires. The rain came, and caution was, you know, came out and we only had a couple laps on our tires, so we came in and -- came in really hard.
If they for some reason shortened the race, we would have won it that way. And then that's the box we were in, so we reached that -- and I don't know if that would have made the difference or not. But he would probably do the same thing -- we would just -- -- but it doesn't appear so. If we had to do it over again, we would probably do the same thing. We would just hope that that rain didn't come, and then we would get another caution.
CARL EDWARDS: I was and it seems that they were just going to try to make it on that stop and save fuel, which is pretty risky, I thought. I really thought that for a second, I thought that -- just take it easy on the engine, but we didn't have any trick engine stuff or anything that I was aware and nobody told me about it so I wasn't too worried.
Q. I know that early in the race, you were more focused on what you were doing, Tony gets a big hole knocked in the grill, the front of his car, sends him to the back --
CARL EDWARDS: I think that's why the fans saw such a good race because this track allows to you do that. If you have a fast car you and do your job and you drive hard, you can pass people here. The fans got to see that, and then, you know, that was just a good job. They did a really good job of recovering from that stuff.
Q. Congratulations on an amazing season.
CARL EDWARDS: Congrats on keeping the mustache all week. Appreciate that. That's good. (Laughter) I like it.
Q. Until the end of the month. And not sort of add insult to injury, but a 4.9 average is what you posted in the Chase and that would be good enough to win every single Chase, but this one. Could I just get your thoughts on that?
CARL EDWARDS: We performed very well. I feel like over the whole season, we performed really well. I don't know if anyone scored more points in the whole season than we did. I'm not sure about that or not. There's a lot of pride or not. We did that in 2008, and I think we did that now -- does anybody now, does that seem accurate or not? I mean, we just performed the best we can. Every week, we put out the best effort we can, and we were one point shy. So I mean, that's just the way it is.
Q. The historical significance of this race, I don't think there's ever going to be another championship that comes down to tie, what does that mean to you, and I know you came out on the short end of it. I literally was jumping up-and-down because it was just that exciting. What does that mean to you?
CARL EDWARDS: It's neat. It's neat to be a part of something like that. It's not neat to lose, but like I said earlier, that's a position that -- I can't think of another thing I can go do that would be, that, would capture my attention and my focus and my effort like this has.
So it's neat to be a part of something like that. I think it's good to be a part of things like this. And I think in the end, it's just making me a better racer, a better person, able to deal with stuff like this. It's amazing.
Q. I don't know if you know the answer to this question, but just curious, how do you think Bob will handle this?
CARL EDWARDS: I think Bob will handle it well. Bob is a very, very mentally tough person, mentally tough. He's hard on himself. He'll figure out things that he can do better. But that's one of the neat things about Bob, he just keeps his head down and he works. So I think this is -- this will be good.
I think we'll just come up with things that we can do to be better, but I mean, really, we all just rose our level of performance. We raised it to -- we rose to the occasion, and that was -- I truly don't think we could have done much better in this Chase with, like I said, the circumstances that we had and the way things went. I was very proud of every point we gathered through the whole thing.
KERRY THARP: Certainly one of the classiest acts we've ever seen in sports. Congratulations on a terrific, terrific season, and all the best to you and your family over the holidays.
CARL EDWARDS: Thank you guys, very much. I appreciate the hard work and I know you guys are going through a lot of struggles, too. Hopefully this race and this excitement helps with the whole sport but I really appreciate everything you guys have done for us, and I hope you have happy holidays. Thanks.