Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, sits third in the point standings and is 10 points behind leader Kevin Harvick after one race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Edwards held a press conference with reporters in the New Hampshire Motor Speedway infield media center after practice.
THOUGHTS ON CHICAGO AND THIS WEEKEND AT LOUDON. “Chicago ended up being a great finish for us and at one point in the race we had really great performance, so it was a good race. We learned a bunch and now we come here to one of my toughest tracks and our toughest tracks as a team. Practice didn’t go really well. It wasn’t bad, but qualifying might be a struggle for us. I’m a little nervous about qualifying here. We only got one qualifying lap in. We focused on race trim and we were not super-fast, so I’m gonna have to lay it out there on the line in qualifying and see what we get this afternoon."
AT CHICAGO YOU REMARKED ABOUT A PIECE OF METAL THAT FLEW UP IN THE AIR. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IT WAS OR WHERE IT CAME FROM? “No, I don’t know. I thought that maybe it was my imagination or something because I saw it and looked like a piece of metal that got flung like a boomerang off a car and just took off at an amazing height. It might have been something outside of the race track that I was seeing far away or something, but I only caught it down the back straightaway and I just wondered if anyone else saw it, but I’m pretty sure it’s a piece of something that came off of a race car. As high as it was, I can’t imagine it made it back down to the surface. It probably ended up outside the race track."
THERE WERE OTHER METAL PIECES THROUGHOUT THE RACE FOR DEBRIS. “I think lately, I talked about it a little bit after the Nationwide race, but I thought NASCAR did a really good job of letting that race play out. I hope that they aren’t as quick to throw the cautions in this Chase as they have been. I know that could hurt or help you, but, in the end, I think it lets the races play out more naturally and lets the fastest cars, the ones with the best strategy, win instead of late race cautions to bunch things up. I’m not complaining about the race track. The race tracks always look real clean to me and I’ve never had an issue with too much debris on the track. I’ve always had trouble finding the debris that we’re under caution for (laughing)."
SOME DRIVERS ARE WILLING TO TALK ABOUT TECHNIQUES THEY USE TO SAVE FUEL AND SOME AREN’T. IS THIS ONE OF THOSE TRICKS OF THE TRADE THAT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE? “The first trick is to drive a Ford. Everybody knows they get better fuel mileage than the other brands. I don’t think anyone wants to talk about the specifics because that’s a part of the sport that’s becoming more important and you want to get every advantage you can and keep every advantage you can with fuel mileage. With the old engine we had some amazing fuel mileage and in those fuel mileage races we could stretch it out really, really far. We talked a little bit this week and our new FR9 engine makes a little more power and doesn’t get that amazing fuel mileage that our other engine did, but it’s something we’re working on. The engineers are working on it, the engine guys are working on it and there are tricks that the drivers do. Everybody has their own tricks, I’m sure, but I’m not gonna tell you any of mine. But I think they work. I think there are ways to save fuel.”
CAN WE ASSUME THESE FUEL MILEAGE RACES WILL BE A PATTERN THROUGHOUT THIS CHASE? “I hadn’t been paying that much attention to it until we were at Charlotte this week talking about the Charlotte race and some of the media there was pointing out how many races were coming down to fuel mileage and it seems like a larger number. I think it’s gonna be a bigger part of the sport. Until a guy can pull in, get tires on and go past 15 cars, until we get back to that type of racing, I think the guy that can stay out, keep the track position and stretch fuel mileage is gonna have an advantage. It’s probably a byproduct of the parity among cars, the difficulty of passing – that’s where I think it comes from – and it will be a bigger and bigger part."
TONY STEWART WASN’T RUNNING UP FRONT AT THE START OF THE YEAR LIKE YOU AND THE 18 AND THE 48, BUT NOW HE IS. HOW MUCH MORE OF A THREAT DO YOU CONSIDER HIM NOW? “I’d like to agree with him and say he’s not a threat and we don’t even have to worry about him (laughing). But I’m gonna disagree with Tony and say that I think he is a threat. The first time that I actually started getting nervous about that team was at the end of the Atlanta race when he was just marching forward and I thought, ‘Man, they’ve got something here.’ If you remember back to our win at Vegas he was screaming fast there, so I think they’re gonna be tough. I think Tony is obviously a great race car driver. He’s been through championship battles and won them, and I think he’s gonna be tough unless they have some sort of slump like everybody can have and everybody has had, then they’re gonna be tough. He’s not gonna make mistakes."
HOW CLOSE DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE TO CONSISTENTLY WINNING? “I felt like we were really close at Richmond. We had a dominant car. Atlanta was pretty good. Chicago, in the middle of the race I thought, ‘OK, we’ve got it here.’ But it kind of slipped away towards the end of the race. The handling went away. I had a poor restart where Tony got around the outside of me, but I keep seeing these flashes of real speed and raw performance. As we go to these tracks like Dover and Kansas and some of these tracks I think we’re gonna be very good at, I’m expecting us to go out and win a race or two. I’m pretty excited about it."
BECAUSE YOU’RE THAT CLOSE? “Yes. The problem is everyone is that close, everyone is fast. If you look on the last restart any one of the top 10 cars could have won the race. It’s pretty amazing right now for everyone to be that competitive.”