CARL EDWARDS, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is in second place in the standings and carries a two-race winning streak into this weekend's event at Phoenix. YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING THIS WEEKEND AT PHOENIX WITH TWO RACES TO...
CARL EDWARDS, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is in second place in the standings and carries a two-race winning streak into this weekend's event at Phoenix.
YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING THIS WEEKEND AT PHOENIX WITH TWO RACES TO GO. "I'm glad to be here at Phoenix. This is a really great race track to race on. Our team has been doing really well and the last couple times we've been here, we've been extremely fast. A year ago we were real fast and we had a little bit of misfortune. Then in the spring we were great but we didn't stretch it on fuel mileage like some of the guys that beat us. I feel like our last couple of runs here have been great. I'm glad to be here. Practice went pretty well and I'm looking forward to the races."
IS THERE A NUMBER THAT YOU FEEL THAT YOU NEED TO SLICE THIS LEAD TO TO HAVE A REALISTIC CHANCE IN MIAMI? I don't. As long as we maintain or gain some ground, I feel like we have a great chance at Miami, just based on the probably that anything can happen. If we run well enough, we could theoretically run down Jimmie and still have a chance to beat him without anything going wrong with their car or their race. When you add in the variables that could go wrong, I think that as long as we're within 130 or 140 points at Homestead, we're still mathematically in it. Obviously, the best thing will be to go out and lead a bunch of laps, win the race and do what we've been doing and gain a ton of points. All we can do is the best that we can do, just like we have the last few weeks. Just go out there, be aggressive and race hard."
THIS IS A BIG WEEKEND FOR YOU IN BOTH SERIES. HAVE YOU EVER HAD A WEEKEND LIKE THIS BEFORE WITHOUT HAVING SO MUCH RIDING ON THE LINE? "Yeah, I guess it comes down to these last couple of weeks. If it's even closer next week, it will be even more pivotal. But every week you have to get as many points as you can and every point counts. It does come down to crunch time, but in a way we've been trying to treat every race like these races. I think that's what kind of helps us to stay confident and not get too worked up because we have been racing every weekend and every point is very important."
HOW CONCERNED SHOULD THE 48 BE OF YOU GUYS? "I think that definitely Jimmie and those guys are aware of where we're at and we've been closing points. I can't speak for them, but if I were in their position, I'd be nervous because everybody sees how this sport can go and in a matter of a week or two weeks things can change, drastically. I hope they're worried about us. I think they are."
IS THE NATIONWIDE CHAMPIONSHIP RUN ALMOST FUN COMPARED TO THE CUP SIDE? DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE THE SAME NUMBER OF CUP GUYS RUNNING NATIONWIDE NEXT YEAR CONSIDERING THE ECONOMY? "That's a good question. The Nationwide side, we won it last year, we won the driver's championship. I do feel like there's less pressure there just because, whether it's right or wrong, we won it last year, but at the same time it's still a really fun challenge. For that matter, the Cup thing is fun too right now.
"Jimmie is a great competitor and so is Clint, I'm really enjoying the race with these guys. I hope I come out on top and can beat them, but they're both really good competitors. Probably, just a little bit more emphasis in my mind on the Cup championship because that would be huge, but they're both fun. I don't expect to see as many Cup guys full time next year. But it's hard to keep these guys out of race cars, so I think that they'll be a lot of teams putting together multiple driver programs kind of modeling it after what the Gibbs guys have done. I think that that works out pretty well for sponsors and it gives the drivers races to race that they enjoy racing. I don't know, you never know until it kind of all gets put together here in the next month or two. Hopefully, that series can survive and the sponsorship doesn't take too much of a toll on it."
DO YOU EVER THINK BACK TO LAS VEGAS? "Not really. We did the best we could there and it didn't work out. It's the same as Talladega or Lowe's, all those races affected the amount of points we have right now. But at the same time, so did Atlanta when the engine blew up and Chicago when we broke the splitter. Every team can go out here and tell you how they lost 100, 200 points all season and how they'd get them back, but these are just the things you learn and really it doesn't do any good to think about them. We just got to go get what we can."
CAN YOU GIVE THE NATIONWIDE SERIES THE ATTENTION IT NEEDS GIVEN THE FACT YOUR POSITION IN THE CHASE? "Yeah, I think so. I think that I've done it for enough years now and I have a good enough group of guys that when I get in the race car, whether it's the Cup car or Nationwide car or a dirt car somewhere or something like that. When I get in there to race, I can really focus. I feel like there's no real issue there. The days like this, you are running back and forth, there's a lot of activity. But race day is pretty simple on both sides. I don't think that either one of the series is hurting the other one."
SOME DRIVERS H AVEN'T WON A RACE THIS SEASON. IS THAT A JARRING THING TO HAVE HAPPEN TO A DRIVER? "The thing is, is that it's so competitive and I think that that's evidence right there. We had our year in 2006. Tony went for a long time, Dale Jr., the guys that you've mentioned have gone for a long time without a win. It's a really competitive sport and the difference between wining and losing is such a slim margin that you can have a couple slip away and those might have been the only couple chances that you had for a while. I don't think it's a reflection on any of those guys or their performances as much as it's a reflection on the competitiveness of the sport. I know that when we had that 2006, we were running great but all these little things would happen and everything has to go so perfectly to win that we just didn't get one."
DO YOU GET TO ENJOY THE EIGHT WINS THAT YOU'VE HAD THIS YEAR? "Yeah, the enjoyment for that is when it's going on, like this week and last week. Man, they're great weeks. It just feels good to win races. But obviously there's that big goal to win the championship. I look at it as we can't lose here. Jimmie's got this big lead and everyone's written all the articles that he's running away with it and all that stuff.
"We can go give it our best and we can win the thing and that would be great. If we don't we will have tried our very hardest and made a good run at him. I don't think that the points or whatever, at the end of the day, you look at a guy like Kyle Busch and the 18 team, you can't take away the fact that they've won all these races this year no matter where they finish in the points. For the whole summer, they had the rest of us stressing a little bit that they were going to run away with the thing. I think that, for me, you just have to take the enjoyment out of the wins and the good runs and whatever happens in the points, that's what happens."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF GOING OUT AND WINNING RACE AS OPPOSED TO CONSTANTLY WORRYING ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS AND WHAT'S GOING ON? "Jack said the other day that one of my problems is that I'm ultra competitive. When it comes down to it, I'd rather do something and see what happens then to calculate and do whatever is safe. Sometimes that gets me in a little bit of trouble, but for me, I think you've got to go out and race as hard as you can all the time and I believe that there is a balance though. Jack is correct. He's never come and given me advice that I didn't think was right. We seem to do better this year just going out there being aggressive, racing hard but Jack still keeps us in check a little bit. I'm sure he's saved us a couple points by leaning on me and telling me what he thinks."
HAVE YOU FELT MORE AT EASE IN THIS CHASE? HAVE THINGS BEEN DIFFERENT OR THE SAME? "I don't know. In 2005, I didn't realize how close we were until after it was over. For me, I try to keep it in perspective. This is a competive outlet and pressure for me was when I was 21 years old, still living at home and wasn't sure if this was all going to work out. People were telling me that I needed to get a real job. Regular life is pressure. I think this is kind of different. Once you get home and get away from the race track, the pressure for me kind of goes away and the only real pressure that all of us feel is on that restart, getting ready to go race for the win. That's when the competive pressure really comes on. I'm sure if we have a chance at Homestead it will be a lot of anxious moments just running around. But for now, I feel good about it. A lot like we did in 2005, but in a different way because of the experience."
-credit: ford racing