NASCAR Sprint Cup Series press conference
An interview with: Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne
THE MODERATOR: We're joined in the media center by tonight's third-place finisher, Kasey Kahne.
Kasey, you had a strong run tonight. Talk about tonight's race.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, we had a really good Red Bull Toyota. Moved up right away at the start at that long run. Then we just kind of stayed there from about fifth to seventh, trying to get a little bit more speed. The car was just a little bit too loose to get much further than that.
We pitted. The caution came out. Ended up in the front. Then we were strong. We were battling there with Tony, who I felt was definitely the best car throughout the whole race. We battled with him for a while. Took four, got back to eighth, came back to third.
It was a good run. Track position was a big deal. Even on those long runs, it would get spread out. The guy out front could make up some ground. You needed to be as close to the front as possible.
The whole team did a good job. We were pretty close.
I watched Tony and Carl. They're going for it. Tony raced me as hard as he ever raced me. I had to race as hard as I could. They're trying to get as many points as they can. It's intense trying to win these races right now. It's super close.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Certainly Tony has been strong here on the mile-and-a-half's. What do you see out of him, that team, during the Chase where things picked up?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I mean, they have great cars, great engines. It's a great organization over there. I think what they got in the last little while is confidence. Tony knows he's the fastest guy here. His crew's behind him. They're doing everything right.
The problem is they're going against Carl, who also think he's the fastest guy here. It's going to be good. It's going to be really good all the way up till the end, especially if nobody has issues car-wise or makes a mistake, crash, get caught up in someone else's deal. It's going to be fun to watch.
Q. What about you guys? A lot of guys wrote you off.
KASEY KAHNE: Last week those guys wrecked in front of us. Went four laps down. The Red Bull team just keeps doing a good job. They're working hard. It's pretty impressive for a lot of them not knowing their future, not knowing what's going on there, if there will be a two-car team or one-car team to keep putting the cars on the track like they are.
I'm happy to come to the track and drive and work with Kenny Francis and the whole team.
Q. Did y'all have any tire trouble?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, we didn't have any. Kenny thought the left sides were tearing up pretty good, so we took four. I think seven cars in front of us, Carl and Tony, four or five others, took two. We came out eighth just because of that. Seemed like two tires were pretty good. Wasn't a huge advantage to have four like I thought it might be.
Q. Kasey, don't mean to put you on the spot, but who you putting your money on over the next two weeks?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I think I kind of answered that a minute ago. I said Tony thinks he's the guy right now. The guy he's going against think he's the guy. It's going to be a battle to the end.
Truthfully I have no idea. I know both of them have a lot of confidence and have been strong. It will be interesting. I wish I was in the Chase. But not being in the Chase, it's pretty fun to sit there and watch. I'm excited to watch all the way through the finals at Homestead.
Q. How much are you looking forward to taking the information you got here with you over to Hendrick Motorsports next season?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, I think what Kenny Francis does, kind of the way we do things might be a little bit different than Hendrick. The way they do things is really positive, too.
It will be fun to put it all together. There's tracks where they beat us bad and there's tracks where we run pretty well. Hopefully we can all put it together and make some gains, make Hendrick Motorsports a little bit stronger than it already is.
THE MODERATOR: Kasey, thank you.
We're joined in the media center by tonight's second-place finisher, Carl Edwards. He walks away with a three-point lead.
Carl, you didn't get the win, but you are still at the top of the Chase. Talk about that and your run tonight.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, proud of our guys for turning what looked like was going to be a bad night overall, or a disaster really in the points, into something that was really manageable, something we can move forward with.
Obviously definitely we wanted to beat Tony tonight and pad that lead a little bit. At the end of the day we can walk out of here with our heads up. We're still the points leaders. The third and fourth guys, I'm not sure how far back they are, but we had to open up a little bit of space on them, which is good.
Man, we're just going to hold Tony to it. They're going to have to run that well to beat us these next two races. I think really it's going to be a great battle. I'm excited about it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Carl.
Q. Carl, I had the impression around lap 150 that you lost a little bit of speed and the second part of the race you improved. Can you tell me what kind of changes you had done.
CARL EDWARDS: We struggled a little bit with the balance. The car was kind of all over the place. I was really proud of the guys for getting it tuned back in. At the end, I think if we would have had one more stop, we could have made another adjustment, made it a little better. I'm sure everybody could say the same thing.
We never got it quite right. Like I said in here on Thursday or Friday, we gave the best performance we could. We lost a little bit of ground. But it could have been a lot worse. So I'm really proud of my guys. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't do anything differently. That was a good, solid race for us.
Q. Looking forward to Phoenix, what do you anticipate there? You did two tire tests there. What do you think of the tire? What do you think your chances are? Did you have confidence when you left the place?
CARL EDWARDS: I think that Phoenix is still a huge unknown. Tony was out there at that tire test with us. I got to see how good those guys were.
I feel like we're going to be pretty good. Yeah, I think really the surprising thing for all of us today was how well Tony ran here. I didn't expect him to run quite that well. Those guys, they did a really good job. It makes me think that Homestead could be a lot closer than I expected before this race.
We'll go to Homestead with the same package, same ideas, and hopefully have a similar performance. It looks like Tony might be in the same boat. Their mile-and-a-half program is good.
We really think next week at Phoenix has a larger opportunity by a landslide to change the outcome of this Chase. That one will be a very important race. You know what I'm saying? If Tony and I run 1-2 at Homestead, there's not going to be much points change if we run like we did tonight, but Phoenix has the potential to be huge.
Q. Carl, you and Tony raced pretty clean on the track. Tony has been throwing down for the last two weeks. I recall last year Jimmie Johnson talking about Denny Hamlin, Jedi mind tricks. At some point are you going to do your Jedi mind tricks on Tony?
CARL EDWARDS: No. I go out and compete as hard as I can. It is fun to joke around a little bit. But at the end of the day, I mean, any extra energy I spend thinking about other stuff or worrying about other things is not spent in the right place. I'm focusing on what I'm doing. It would be really fun to be standing up there last one on stage at the banquet. I might have a couple jokes then. That would be a good time for them. I learned early in life you have to be careful about throwing the jabs out there. Somebody might get you.
Q. Carl, you said you were surprised a little bit about Tony's performance here today. Can you explain why you were surprised. Secondly, that team can say for three straight weeks they've gained points on you. You are still the points leader, but how do you address that with your team because in situations like this it can be easier being the pursuer?
CARL EDWARDS: I think we're very fortunate to have led the points for as long as we have this season. I think the guys, I know myself, have a certain comfort level with it. We've watched the guys make runs at us and then fall away.
At the end of the day it truly doesn't matter what the 14 team does or what Tony does or what anyone else does. All we can do is just go do the best we can do. It might feel comfortable to them to be the position they're in, to be gaining points. But truly the past is history. We've got to go out and run these next two races.
Yeah, I don't underestimate them for a second. I know how good they are. But we're going to be good, as well.
Q. What surprised you about them tonight?
CARL EDWARDS: I was surprised they were able to put together two weeks that were so good. That was really good work on their part. There's nothing saying that that will play into another solid two weeks after that, but it very well could.
We're going to go home, work hard, put all our notes together from our test at Phoenix, do the best we can.
From the way practice went and everything, I thought we'd have a little bit more of an advantage. I thought we'd have a little advantage tonight. They did all their jobs very well.
Q. The last few years in the Nationwide Series till the bitter end you chased the eventual champion, whether it was Kyle or Clint. How do you think that experience of just being there until the very end and never giving up has affected what you're going through right now?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question. I forget about those things. But I guess you keep the lessons with you. I think at least to this point the story of our season, the story of this Chase for us has been never quitting, never giving up. No matter how well someone runs, we're going to be right there racing them every lap, racing them hard.
I think that having those championship battles in the Nationwide Series, a couple in the Cup Series lately, I think they've made us tougher in general and a little wiser. I guess the best way to sum it up is to say I feel more comfortable in this points battle than in any other points battle I can remember. I feel like we only have to worry about one other guy. We still have the advantage in the points. I've raced Tony long enough, I feel comfortable with him, he's not going to surprise me with anything. I'm grateful for all that experience. I hope I can turn that into a championship.
Q. It seemed like an extremely clean race. Do you think a lot of the drivers after they kind of saw the 'boys have at it' get out of control Friday night decided to temper things a little bit?
CARL EDWARDS: This track lends itself to clean racing. It's so fast. It's easy to drive a little bit sideways. You don't lose control as quickly. It's a fun racetrack.
There might have been a little more restraint on the part of all the drivers just because of what happened. I can say for myself, I didn't really think about it that much during the night tonight. I think Phoenix will be the test. Everybody is going to be fighting for a place in line on the bottom. You'll see the test of how big a message NASCAR got across there at Phoenix.
Q. Were you at all aware of Burton's fuel situation at the end?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I never cheered so hard for Jeff Burton in my life (smiling). If I could have loaned him some fuel, I would have.
That's what they had to do. I thought that was a good move. They had to do that. I'm sure Bob thought about doing that, thought about us doing it. But as early as he ran out, I'm glad we didn't. I think we did the right thing to stay out there.
I'm really proud of Bob. On a side note, I think he's been a really good leader throughout this whole thing. He's not let me lose my head, he's not flailed and tried for something crazy. He's a huge part, if not the most important part, of why we're leading the points right now.