Edwards - Atlanta Saturday media visit

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Ford Racing press release

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, has clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He addressed the media Saturday morning at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

YOU HAVE A SPECIAL PAINT SCHEME THIS WEEKEND. “Yeah, this weekend is very special for our Aflac team. We’ve got the Friends of a Feather paint scheme. I spent a little bit of time at the Aflac Cancer Center yesterday and this is a really special cause. The Aflac Cancer Center has been treating thousands of kids every year, whether they can pay or not, for cancer treatments, blood disorders, and they’ve started this program for the month of September. All you have to do is go to Aflac.com/friends and every dollar donated Aflac will double the donation. Their goal is to put $2 million into the Aflac Cancer Center this month. This month they’ll also pass the $67 million mark for donations that Aflac has directly given to the Aflac Cancer Center, so it’s a great cause. It’s a way to let these kids know that we’re supporting them and our paint scheme, there is a young girl named Hannah, who is going through her treatments, and her Friends of a Feather – the people who have committed to being her friends on the Aflac.com/friends site are on our car. Hannah is gonna be here, so it’s a really special weekend. If you guys can help by putting links on your web pages or in your stories about this it would be great. Aflac is giving away a ton of money to help these kids.”

HOW WOULD YOU FINISH THIS, ‘ATLANTA IS….’ “Fun. That’s what it is. This is a fun race track. The race track drives like you think a race track should with stock cars. You can slide around, there are multiple grooves, the pavement has aged. To me, it’s perfect. It’s a really great race track to race on. It helps that I’ve got some of my best memories of racing here. That picture over on the wall in 2005, that moment, I don’t even know how to describe it, but it changed my whole career and my life. I really love coming here. Specifically, the pavement is really, really great to race on and the banking and the character that it has all makes for a fun race track.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW DEVELOPMENTS ON THE CAR? “We do have a couple things we’ve been working on that I think should be better. We’ve got some stuff that we’re gonna try to use throughout the Chase. I think everybody is doing the same thing. They’re working on things right now that they feel are gonna help them in the Chase, but it’s nothing I can talk about specifically. Overall, we’re doing our best from the engine to the aero to tires, pit stop, everything, we’re trying to work out any last little kinks we might have.”

YOU HAVE FOUR LAPS LED IN THE LAST NINE RACES. ARE YOU CONCERNED? “We haven’t had the best results for a while now, but we’ve still been able, I think, to perform on average very well. We had the wreck at Daytona, the valve trouble at Pocono, the spark plug at Michigan. If you look at how our car was running at those three races, I think those were three opportunities to have really good races, so as good as our luck was at the beginning of the year, it changed a little bit the last few races and, hopefully, we’ll get this out of our system and we’ll go run the way we know we can. The wreck was my fault. If it weren’t for the fluke mechanical failures, we’d still be leading the points by a pretty good margin and we’d be doing okay.”

YOU AREN’T GOING TO THE WHITE HOUSE NEXT. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHY? “Yeah, I think that’s blown a little bit out of proportion. I proudly serve on the President’s Council for Fitness Sports and Nutrition. I spend a lot of time with Secretary Sebelius and Shellie Pfohl and all the folks up there at the White House. This is not only the busiest time of the year, this is about the busiest time of my life and the folks at the White House, I spoke with them. They understand and the NASCAR folks understand. If something changes, then I’ll be there, but, right now, I’m just not able to go.”

DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE CYCLE THEORY OF THIS SPORT? “It is pretty amazing in this sport. It seems now more than ever things are very cyclical and the trick is to run so well when it’s good that when it goes down a little bit you can still maintain what you gained through the high points. I think it’s just the nature of the sport and sometimes there are a lot of factors that come into play that look like something is good or bad. For instance, it looks like we’ve had some bad races, but we were real fast at Michigan, we were real fast at Daytona, we were real fast at Pocono and we just had trouble at those races. If we wouldn’t have had that trouble, it would look a lot differently. A valve, a spark plug and a wreck are all three completely different things, but it is interesting. The trick is to make sure you don’t have those troubles in the last 10 races, which sometimes feels like it’s impossible to actually control, but, somehow, Jimmie Johnson and those guys have been able to do that. I hope we can run the way we’ve run most of the season. We led for tons of weeks and, hopefully, we can run that way for the last 10. It’s hard to sometimes point at things and say, ‘Why are we in the position we’re in?’ Some of it is pretty intangible.”

YOU’VE RACED WITH A BROKEN FOOT AND BRAD KESELOWSKI HAS A BROKEN ANKLE. WHAT DO YOU MAKE ABOUT WHAT HE’S BEEN ABLE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH THAT INJURY? “I think they’ve done a really good job. It’s a spectacular performance. With my foot, it didn’t really change much. I was on crutches. I couldn’t put any weight on my foot for eight weeks, so, for me, it was more about outside the race car my life was different. Just trying to get up and down the stairs, and stuff like that, was difficult. In the race car, it was my right foot and there wasn’t a lot of stress on that foot with the throttle pedal, so it wasn’t that difficult in the race car with my particular injury. It was outside the race car that was frustrating.”

SO ARE YOU IMPRESSED BY WHAT HE’S BEEN ABLE TO DO? “Oh yeah. Those guys have been unreal. It’s amazing what they’ve been able to do. If they were to run like that the rest of the year, we’re all in trouble. We’ve got to hope that their cycle is on a downward slope because it’s a pretty amazing performance right now.”

IS THERE SOMETHING TO BRAD BEING AWAY FROM THE NATIONWIDE SERIES DURING THIS RUN THAT HAS ALLOWED HIM TO MAYBE CONCENTRATE MORE ON THE CUP CAR? “The only Nationwide race that I skipped this year was Road America and we ran really well at Sonoma, so maybe there is something to that – maybe there is a correlation there between staying out of the Nationwide car and making you run better in the Cup car. I don’t know if that’s true because you look at Kyle Busch, he runs Truck, Nationwide and Cup it seems like every weekend and he runs really well, too, so I think it’s different for each person. I think if you’re not focusing on the Cup car because you’re spending too much time in the Nationwide car, then maybe there is a gain there.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE FOR A DRIVER WHO IS IN THE ZONE? WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE? “I know you spend a lot more time passing people than holding people off. When things are going well it seems like you’re always moving forward, you’re always passing people, your cars are always good, you’re picking up spots on pit road, you’re frustrated when you qualify third. Those are really good times. It’s hard because when it’s going like you still want to do better. Like I said, you’re frustrated when you don’t win. And then when it’s not going well it’s hard to sometimes figure out and put your finger on what exactly you need to fix. It’s really difficult.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE YOU’RE RUNNING DOWN THE INTERSTATE JUST PASSING PEOPLE? “No, it never feels that easy. That would be nice, but it always feels like you’re the one on attack, you’re the one on offense and that’s a neat feeling. That’s good when they drop the green flag and all you worry about is ‘how am I going to get by these guys?’ You’re not looking in your mirror. That’s a good feeling.”

HOW DOES GOING THROUGH A WINLESS STREAK IMPACT THE TEAM DYNAMIC FROM A COHESION STANDPOINT? “I think when you struggle it tests everyone, it tests the driver, the crew, the relationships between everyone. It tests how much pride everyone has because, at some point when things aren’t going well, somebody has to say – maybe it’s everybody – ‘Hey, what we’ve been doing and what we’ve been believing in isn’t working.’ So we have to stop and maybe take an idea from someone else, you might have to say, ‘Hey, I was wrong. I shouldn’t be doing this. I should be doing this other thing.’ I think it tests everything. It’s very difficult. When things are going well it’s great because everybody gets to take credit for it and everybody feels like, ‘Hey, we’re doing the right thing,’ but when things aren’t going well I think it’s really difficult to find people who will say, ‘Hey, this is something I can change. This is my fault. I can do better. I can change the way I’m thinking here,’ and with a big group of people, that’s very difficult. That’s why I think the guys like Robbie Reiser and these team managers and team owners don’t get enough credit when they turn things around because to manage that amount of people and to get them to do an about-face and say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna go in the other direction,’ that’s really tough on a personal level.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT FASTENAL MOVING UP WITH YOU TO CUP, AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR AFLAC? “That’s all speculation. What we’re doing right now is we’re working really hard with Aflac to put together a program that works well for them next season. They’ve been an unbelievable sponsor and whether they do all the remaining races or no races, I’m gonna keep my Aflac coverage and support them. They’re great people, but I have a feeling that we’ll have a really neat program with them. I’m really excited about Fastenal stepping up and being a huge part of our season next year. I think they’re really great people. I don’t know if you guys have spent much time around them, but they’re salt of the earth folks, hard-working, and all they care about is delivering the best service to their customers. They’re an amazing company, so I’m proud to represent them too. I feel blessed to have the sponsors that I have. All of them, from Subway, Kellogg’s, Scotts, Aflac, Fastenal, everyone is really good to me and whatever program we put together for next year will be great and I’ll be happy with it.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags atlanta, edwards, ford, sprint cup