Carl Edwards Homestead Friday media visit

Ford Racing press release

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, held another Q&A session with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway Friday afternoon just before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice to discuss this weekend’s championship finale.

Championship contenders press conference: Carl Edwards
Championship contenders press conference: Carl Edwards

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

"I went to the outlet mall last night, so I feel for you, Jimmie. I’ve never been to a Coach bag store before. We got caught looking at little baby clothes at The Gap as well, but it was fun.”

THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEKEND. “It was nice to get out in the Fastenal Mustang this morning and get on the race track and remember some of the braking points and the places that have grip on the race track. That was really nice. I think that was really good for me and I’m just excited to get in the car this afternoon. I’m hoping this weather holds off. If it rains again, will they go late? Have they said anything on practice? Hopefully, we’ll get some practice in and I’m hoping that we’re gonna be fast. I love this race track. It was neat to get out there and feel that pavement. You can really slide the car around. There are multiple grooves. The track was changing a lot during that first Nationwide practice. It’s Homestead. It’s gonna be fun. I’m excited, but, really, it was nice for me to get in the race car. This week has been a lot of talking, a lot of thinking about what’s gonna happen, and it was nice to just get in a car and drive. That felt good.”

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO GO FROM HANDING OUT BUSINESS CARDS LOOKING FOR A RIDE TO WINNING THIS TITLE? “That would obviously be huge. Everyone at this race track that’s getting paid to do this, you guys included I’m sure, all of you thought, ‘How cool would it be to get paid to do something you like? And be part of something you enjoy. I was talking to my wife about it and I said, ‘The whole goal during that time was just to get hired to drive a race car. I feel like the rest of this and the success we’ve had has been icing on the cake. It’s been amazing. Like Jimmie said a minute ago, to come into this race with an opportunity to win this championship – to be able to have a weekend like this, where you get to go lay it all on the line and try to go for the biggest prize in American motorsports, this is really cool. I’ve talked with a lot of folks, including Mike (Mittler), folks from home that have helped me over the years, guys that I raced with at my local dirt track, and it’s so neat how excited everyone is and all the support I have. It feels really good.”

HOW HAS YOUR FAMILY HELPED YOU THROUGH THIS? “I think there would be something wrong with you if you weren’t excited about it and anxious and had all of that energy built up, but my family is just amazing. I’m very fortunate and my close friends are so supportive. I’ve got such a good group around me. It starts with Bob Osborne. He’s just such a calming guy and a focused guy. He’s the same this weekend as he is every other weekend. If he’s nervous, he hasn’t told me. It’s unbelievable, so from Bob to my wife and my mother and father and stepfather and my in-laws and everyone – my brother, my close friends – everyone knows me real well and they know what this means to me and how hard all of us have worked and my whole team of supporters have worked for this and it’s cool. I feel like I have a very good group of people around me and they’re helping me a lot just to stay focused and make sure I go do the best I can.”

HAS TONY BEEN LIKE A FLY YOU TRY TO SWAT THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? “That’s a pretty good analogy right there. Their performance, I think, has been amazing. Their ability, I learned a lot about Tony, and their ability to go from really being on the outside of this Chase, struggling to make it, and to turn this around and to run the way they have and to show that ability, I give them a lot of credit. Those guys have done an amazing job and, yeah, we’ve run better the last few weeks than we’ve run in a long time and those guys are still right there knocking at the door. That’s what great battles are made of – two guys, we’ve said it over and over, I believe we’re raising each other’s level of performance, we are pushing each other and this race, I don’t think, is going to be any different. I’m going into this race to go hard, and I think he’s doing the same.”

THE FACT HE’S ADDED A LITTLE SPICE WITH HIS COMMENTS HAS THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE? “We’ve talked about that a lot. That truly doesn’t matter to me. It’s neat. We stopped at a restaurant and got dinner last night and this kid comes up to me and says, ‘Man, I’m so excited to see you and Tony race this weekend.’ That’s pretty cool. I think that the talking he’s done has brought a lot of attention to this and I think that’s good. It’s been fun. We had a little fun with it and we got to spend a little more time yesterday together than we have in a long time and it was pretty neat.”

HOW DO THE COOLER TEMPS AND OVERCAST SKIES LEVEL OUT THE FACT THIS RACE ENDS AT NIGHT? “That makes it easier. The only thing is that’s a pretty heavy rain that just came down. There are two things that affect the track conditions in my eyes, it’s the temperature of the track and the amount of rubber on it, and we just washed off a bunch of rubber and if it rains again hard it will be even more, so we may not get to practice in conditions anywhere near the amount of rubber that’s gonna be on the race track during the race. We’re getting a little break without the sun here, it’s gonna make it easier without the sun, but it’ll make it tougher if that rubber is all gone and we’re practicing on a real virgin surface and then we go race out on this track that’s got a ton of rubber build-up. It’s always something. I thought the same thing this morning. I thought, ‘It’s gonna be overcast. It’s gonna be perfect,’ and now the rain has kind of thrown us a curve.”

YOU DON’T SEEM NERVOUS. YOU SEEM RELAXED. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MAKE SURE YOU STAY THAT WAY? “It would be real easy, you guys have known me for long enough and how I am. If I get wound up about something, I go into full on attack mode. We’re gonna solve the problem whatever way seems best at the time, so what I’ve been doing is focusing on all the lessons that I’ve learned over the last seven years and the things that I’ve seen. It’s really good to be able to watch Jimmie closely these last few years, and I think it was very educational for me to be a part of that Chase in ’08 and to be able to be really close to him and kind of see how he approaches things, so whenever I feel myself thinking, ‘Oh man, this would be awesome if I won it,’ or ‘What happens if this,’ I say, ‘All right, take a minute here. Go do the best you can. Be the best race car driver you can be,’ and I think of it as just being a machine in that race car. I need to get in that race car, go do everything that I know how to do to win this thing, and all of the other stuff doesn’t matter.”

DOES KENNY STILL CUT YOUR HAIR? “I need a haircut, I know. No, Kenny hasn’t cut my hair for awhile. My mom gets so mad when I let my brother cut my hair because it looks terrible, so I’ve been getting a real haircut. I’ve been paying for them.”

WHO IS ORGANIZING THE PARTY IF YOU WIN ON SUNDAY? “I don’t know what I’m gonna do. People are asking me who is organizing the party after this deal on Sunday. I don’t have a party organizer. Maybe Jimmie could be my party organizer. I knew when I went back to the motorhome, I think it was last year or the year before, and Nick Lachey and his entourage came out of Jimmie’s motorhome and they got in a limo and went somewhere, I thought, ‘That’s gonna be a party there.’ I don’t know what I’ll do. That might be one night you’d see the other side of me. That might be kind of fun. I need help with that, though, guys. You have to keep me in order.”

DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM IS THE BEST AT ADAPTING TO THE TRACK WITH CHANGES? “I don’t know that we’re the best at it, but I believe Bob Osborne and my guys have done such a good job of taking notes, finding patterns, I mean, sometimes we’ll be in the middle of practice and I’ll say something and Bob will say, ‘Hey, remember last time we were here or three years ago,’ he said, ‘I’ve been noticing you say this in practice, but what I think you really mean is this.’ And I’m like, ‘Hey, this is good. I didn’t catch that,’ so Bob finds patterns. He does a good job. If we got no practice today and we just had to go out there and qualify and race, I would put Bob and my guys up against anyone in the garage to make that car good. They’re very good at simulating the setups and coming up with something that will work, so, I guess, as a team we’re definitely better than we were a while back at that. We’re the best we’ve ever been at that, but I don’t know if we’re the best in the garage as a group, but I feel pretty good about it.”

HOW OFTEN DURING PRACTICE OR IN THE GARAGE YOU LOOK OVER THE 48 PARKED NEXT TO YOU IN THE GARAGE AND USE THE VISUAL OF THE CAR AS A REMINDER OF WHAT YOU’RE GOING FOR? “Yes, I’ve looked at them a lot and it’s been interesting this year. That’s the most time I’ve spent in the garage next to those guys and I’ve watched what Jimmie does when he gets out of the car. From a distance I can’t hear everything that’s said, but the way he communicates with Chad and the way his guys work, and I’ll go out on a limb here because I haven’t talked to my guys about this, but I think it’s good for even my guys to see that and be that close and realize, ‘Hey, these guys are doing the same job we’re doing, they have an obvious and huge success level at it,’ and it’s been good for all of us to watch that. I don’t know if I’ve learned anything that I could write you a list of things that I’ve learned, but I think it’s been good for me just to be there and see it and be close to those guys.”

DID YOU CONTEMPLATE NOT BEING IN THE NATIONWIDE RACE THIS WEEKEND BECAUSE OF WHAT COULD HAPPEN – BROKEN ARM – SOMETHING LIKE THAT? “Man, if I break my arm now. I thought a little bit about that, but we didn’t really think of it from that angle. I hadn’t thought of it as a physical risk, which maybe I should be thinking that way, but, for me, I guess the last seven years we’ve run the Nationwide Series every weekend that it runs that I can be at the race, and that’s just kind of my race weekend. That’s what I do and let’s say it rains again, I think it could have been an advantage to run on the race track today. The short answer is, no, I’m not worried about it. I didn’t consider not running the race, and I think it still helps me. I think that this weekend it helps me in two ways – to get on the race track a little bit, and it gives me something to do instead of sitting around shopping at the outlet mall or something on Saturday. I’m focused on racing and I think that’s good.”

IF IT COMES DOWN TO WINNING THIS CHAMPIONSHIP WOULD YOU MOVE TONY STEWART OUT OF THE WAY? “Now that I know how he feels about it, I guess that’s pretty easy for me to decide (laughing). By the way, we’ve got Speedway Illustrated up in some places in central Missouri now. We’ve got the little stands up, so that’s been really cool. I think it was neat to hear Tony talk about it yesterday. It is a national championship. This is a huge deal. This is a big race. Let me put it this way, I would only do it if I thought the other guy would do it to me. That’s that.”

YOUR DECISION TO SCALE BACK NATIONWIDE, DOES THAT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE FACT YOU CAN’T WIN THE TITLE? “A little bit. It was disappointing to me to find out after I had committed to running the Nationwide Series full-time this year that we couldn’t run for the championship, but I believe I’m probably one of the few people who that is frustrating for. For everyone else – fans, drivers, teams – it’s probably best what NASCAR is doing and I couldn’t be happier for Ricky. He is an amazing driver. He’s really, really good. He will win multiple championships. He will be sitting right here where I’m sitting before long. He’s unreal, so I’m happy for him. But, for me, my personal decision I’m getting to the point now that it’s best for me if I focus on the Cup car a little more. I don’t know how many races I’m gonna run next year. I don’t know if it will be zero or 20. I don’t know what I’m gonna do in the Nationwide Series, but, yeah, that made it a little easier when they said, ‘Hey, you can’t run for the driver’s championship,’ because that’s really fun to do. To me, my dream for the last seven years would be to win both championships in one year. That would be spectacular. We still do have the owner’s championship we’re going for. We’re one point behind the 18 car, so that’s huge. The guys have a lot of pride in that and we’ve been having fun in the garage. You guys haven’t been covering the same way as the Cup championship, obviously, but we’ve been having fun with those 18 guys going back and forth, so there is pride in that and, who knows, we might try it again sometime, but not next year.”

WHAT WAS YESTERDAY LIKE FOR YOU ABOUT WHAT WAS BEING SAID? DID YOU FEEL RESTRAINT? “A little bit, but, really, I understand that’s just part of it. At the end of it, I thought it went really well. I thought it was pretty fun and I thought it was good practice for hopefully many years to come. We were talking about it on the way home we thought, ‘How much fun would it be if it was Tony and I again next year?’ We could just build it up more and more. I thought it was a lot of fun. I really did enjoy it. I didn’t know what to expect. The hardest part for me is to come from Missouri, where the weather has not been the greatest, and to sit there in that tent knowing how nice it was outside and not being out there on that beach. But I had as much fun as I could have in there.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags edwards, ford, miami, roush