Edwards - Bristol II Friday media visit

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Ford Racing

Carl Edwards, who currently stands fourth in the Cup point standings and was the fastest car in both practice sessions at Bristol Motor Speedway Friday, met with media members prior to qualifying.

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

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

THE SPRINT SUMMER SHOWDOWN IS COMING UP NEXT WEEK IN ATLANTA. YOU HAVE WON HERE IN BRISTOL AND AT ATLANTA SO I AM SURE YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET A WIN HERE THIS WEEKEND TO BE ABLE TO GO FOR THE MONEY NEXT WEEKEND. “Yeah we talked about that in the hauler and Bob Osborne says he has been entering as much as he can. I don’t know if he can actually be a part of the fan winning thing but he has actually been trying to participate. If you see Bob extra excited in the next two weeks if we win, that will be why. This race is big for us. Last week was very frustrating. We had a spark plug that was bad. We sent it back to the manufacturer and they are trying to figure out exactly what was wrong with it. That was a heart breaker. We had such a great race car. We are just coming here with the same mindset, to go for the win. We have 90 points on 11th place, so we feel like we can really go for it. We have had good luck here and our car is very fast. We have the Aflac Dental paint scheme and it would be nice to have all those teeth in the same place on the front of that car when it is over with. I think if we can do that, if we can stay out of trouble and qualify like I think we can and like we seem to with the speed we have had so far today, it will be a good race.”

IS YOUR CAR AS GOOD AS IT LOOKED IN THESE TWO PRACTICE SESSIONS? “It looks really good but I think Jimmie is real fast. I think his car is very good. I think everyone is so close it is just going to be a track position race. With that being said, I think qualifying will be important and a good pit stall will be huge. I don’t know. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. It is really neat to be that fast in practice but we have to go race still.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS ATLANTA WITH FIVE 1.5 MILE TRACKS IN THE CHASE? “Atlanta is always really special to me and to our team. We have run well there and had a lot of really great days there. It is an indicator of how your chances are going to be at the mile-and-a-half’s after that. Those are the really important ones. We will go to Atlanta and pull out all the stops and do everything we would want to do in the Chase. That was kind of our mission on Sunday at Michigan. We told the pit crew to go for it. DO whatever you wanted to do all year. If you make mistakes no problem. I was going to go for it and we had the rug pulled out on us with that spark plug problem. Atlanta will be a lot of fun and I am looking forward to that one. Hopefully we will run well enough here that there won’t be any pressure with the points. Hopefully we have a decent night here at Bristol and we go to Atlanta and it will be a fun race for us. That would be cool.”

PEOPLE KEPT SAYING DURING YOUR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS THAT IF YOU DIDN’T MAKE A DECISION SOON IT WOULD AFFECT YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP POSSIBILITIES. SINCE YOU SIGNED YOU WENT FROM FIRST TO FOURTH. CRUEL COINCIDENCE? “I should have held out longer huh? I don’t think that the stroke of the pen on the line there affected the spark plug on Sunday. I think it is just racing luck right now. We had cars on Sunday that were very good, cars that could have won that race out of the Roush Fenway camp and I felt like ours was one of them. We have a fast car here. Yeah, that is kind of an interesting coincidence and I thought about that a little bit.”

WHAT WAS THE PRESSURE LIKE FOR YOU IN 2008 AND 2010 AND WERE THE TWO YEARS DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER AND DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR? “I learned a lot. I didn’t realize how much I was learning in 2008. When I look back on 2008 it just was fun and all coming together and working out and I don’t know if I took it seriously enough that, ‘hey, this is an opportunity to win the championship.’ I wrecked at Talladega and then we had trouble at Charlotte, the ignition trouble, and all of a sudden I was like, ‘Man, that was going so well, what went wrong there.’ I learned from that that you can’t take steps backwards, especially in the Chase. You have to plug forward, you can’t hurt yourself because there are things that will happen that are outside of your control like that spark plug last week or ignition boxes. If something like that happens, you can’t add to it. I learned a lot there. In 2010 it was much different because we didn’t really have a shot at winning the championship but we kind of in our minds, in my mind at least and all of us talked about it, the plan at the end of 2010 was to just go for it and do everything as if we were racing for the championship. We came on very strong and finished very well. I look at that as a practice round for 2011 and hopefully we can apply all of that stuff.”

THE WAY JIMMIE JOHNSON DESCRIBES THE CHASE IT IS THE MOST ARDUOUS THING. CAN YOU DESCRIBE THAT FOR THE FANS? IS IT LIKE CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN OR SOMETHING? “What is the guys name that climbed Everest first? He is the one who said ‘It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.’ I think that when you go through something like the Chase, and for me it has not been the Chase but the leading up to it. We were watching TV a minute ago and they were looking at the wild card stuff and I said, ‘Man, that looks like it would be stressful,’ and Bob said, ‘Don’t you remember, we have been through that a number of times.’ Those times are very tough. I guess I’ve only had a couple shots at the championship and maybe wrongly but I haven’t looked at the Chase that way. It hasn’t felt like this massive amount of pressure. When things are going well I’ve been having a good time and when they don’t, like I said earlier, I look back and think that maybe I should have taken it a little more seriously. I feel bad for Jimmie though if it was that stressful to win all those championships. I hope if we win it that I have a good time with it.”

DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE WITH THE CHAMPIONSHIP THAT THE NATIONWIDE STUFF IS TAKING A LOT OUT OF WHAT IT MIGHT TAKE TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP? “It does make for long days and that is why next year I am going to run very few Nationwide races. I am going to focus on the Cup car. I remember it like it just happened, riding along in Jack’s airplane coming back from Pike’s Peak. He said, ‘Do you think you have what it takes to run both series’ full time?’ and I said yes. He challenged me, kind of like a dare. I told him I could do it and that was seven years ago and we have run a ton of races. Now I feel like sometimes on Friday’s and Saturday’s if I had a little extra time with my crew chief that I could be a better Cup series driver. That is the next step in my career. I want to focus solely on the Cup series and get the championships that I feel like we can earn if I give it enough focus.”

DID YOU RUN IT MAINLY BECAUSE OF THE DARE OR BECAUSE YOU FELT THE SEAT TIME WOULD HELP YOU OR WHAT? “The reason I ran it was not because I felt personally challenged by Jack. I felt that he was giving me an opportunity to gain two years of experience each year. I look at guys that when I came in in 2005 I was having to race Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and these guys had a bunch more experience than I had. I felt like if I could run two years to every one of theirs. I feel like I have run 14 seasons now instead of just seven. Not that the Nationwide series fully prepares you, but it does help you. The mistakes I make on Saturday’s are sometimes very fresh in my mind on Sunday afternoon and has probably kept me from making bigger mistakes in the Cup series. Now I feel that that there is more to be gained from focusing on the Cup series.”

YOU ARE RUNNING A SPECIAL CHILDREN’S PAINT SCHEME NEXT WEEK I BELIEVE, WHAT IS IT LIKE RUNNING ONE OF THOSE, IS IT OVERWHELMING AT ALL? “You guys know how it is, our lives are fast paced and we are going all the time. Last week I got the chance to go out to the USS Eisenhower and visit some sailors and that was one of those moments that stopped me in my tracks. I realized that these people are out here 18 hour days on the deck of a ship, one of the most dangerous environments on earth, protecting our freedoms. That struck me. My first trip to the Aflac Cancer Center was a huge eye opener. For any of you guys that haven’t been to the Aflac Cancer Center I would recommend you go. They treat over 6,000 children a year, whether they can pay or not. The kids show up and have cancer or blood disorders or any number of ailments and they treat them. The first time I went there, I went there kind of going through our week and we had to take this trip and I got there and man, it was a moment that made me realize the things I stress about are nothing compared to what these little kids are going through and they have smiles on their faces. Dalton gave me his courage beads that I wore with me for the rest of the season in 2008. That was a big thing for me. It meant a lot and it was inspiring. I know that is a long winded answer but I am really trying to convey to you guys that it is good for me to stop and realize what is going on in the world for real and to be a part of something like the Aflac Cancer Center.”

IT SEEMS LIKE ANY TIME A GUY RUNS RUNNER UP IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP, THE NEXT YEAR HE HAS AN OFF YEAR. YOU WENT THROUGH THAT, WHAT IS THAT LIKE? “I don’t know much about Denny’s situation. I don’t know exactly what he has struggled with. I know he beat me at Michigan this year and it didn’t look like he was struggling that day. I don’t know why they are in the position they are in, if it is failures or they have run poorly, I haven’t paid enough attention. My experience was massively humbling in 2009. To go into that season with such high expectations of ourselves and realize that we had fallen behind in a number of areas and it wasn’t going to be easy to get back out of it. That was tough. It is tough in general when you aren’t running well, but when you expect to run really well and you run poorly is very tough. You just have to keep going, keep digging. You can’t give up. That is the trick, not giving up.”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO THE FANS HOW FAST THINGS HAPPEN HERE? “Yeah, it is very fast here. The first couple of laps in practice they always get my attention. Before I run in the car I try to mentally prepare for practice and think about it. Today I got in the car and it got my attention pretty quickly. You forget how high the banking is. You drive down in the corner and the forces pushing the car into the track seem so much greater than anywhere else we go. The rate at which the car is changing direction is very fast. You are looking up through the top of the windshield kind of at the top of the race track. It is an amazing place. It always takes me a few laps in the race, 10-15 laps in, to get comfortable with the pace of it because things are happening so quickly here. It is a really neat place to race at. It is unbelievable they built this place how they did. It is amazing they sat down and designed this place and made it how they did, but I am really glad they did. It is really fun to come here.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bristol, edwards, ford, roush, sprint cup