Pocono II: Winning team press conference

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono Raceway Post-Race Transcript August 3, 2008 An interview with: CARL EDWARDS ...

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono Raceway Post-Race Transcript
August 3, 2008

An interview with:
CARL EDWARDSBOB OSBORNE
JACK ROUSH

KERRY THARP: Outstanding job out there today, gentlemen. This is Carl's fourth victory in 2008, his second victory here at Pocono Raceway. He moves up to third in the points in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, closing in on second.

Carl, terrific performance out there this afternoon. You had to feel good about that.

CARL EDWARDS: Oh, yeah. There's nothing like winning. I remember sitting here in 2005 and just, you know, this track, it's real gratifying to win here. You know, a lot of really great drivers have done very well here. It just means a lot to be on the list of people that have won here.

Bob did a great job. Wasn't so sure about halfway through when we were yelling at each other. But, you know, Bob did an unbelievable job. Jack, you know, the engine was awesome. The pit crew was awesome. Luck went our way today.

That's as good as it gets right there.

KERRY THARP: Bob, I know this track is kind of in your backyard, Penn State grad. Your thoughts about how the race unfolded?

BOB OSBORNE: It was a little stressful at moments. You know, the rain comes. We're not sure what we wanted to do. You know, we talked about what we would do if the rain cleared up and they got the track dry. That's what we ended up doing. Then it started raining harder. Carl's on the pit box with me, and we're arguing at that point why we did what we did.

It was a stressful day, but it worked out for us. We both had a good time doing it. That's why we're here: to win and have a good time.

KERRY THARP: Jack, another big win for Roush Fenway Racing here today. Now as we have five races left in the Race for the Chase, Carl Edwards is coming on strong. Got to be a guy to contend for that championship. Your thoughts?

JACK ROUSH: Well, Carl has been strong all year. We reunited Bob and Carl together again this year. They've enjoyed one another's company at least most of the time. I wasn't aware of the shouting match.

The crew chief has the power in our world to make the final decision. He's the captain of the ship. The driver knows more about what's going on right in front of him as it relates to who's going on pit road and who didn't. Bob made a courageous call, probably the thing I would have done if I made the call, and most of our crew chiefs would have done, which is to protect what they had. He had a fast car, he was out front. Why would you give that up and go back in the field and jeopardize or take a chance on getting collected with somebody that you didn't need to be racing with if the rain had come and stopped.

But Bob made a decision. He said he thought he wasn't going to win it the way he was. He thought he needed to go to the back. There were a number of people that went with him. But he was the first one. He was the head of that line. It proved to be that right decision. You have to have a little bit of good luck going for you to win this. But unless he'd had the courage to do the thing he thought he was right, he wouldn't have won today. And I congratulate him for that. He did the right thing.

The next time it may not work out as well, but he still needs to make that decision. Whatever he feels is right is what we need to do. That's his job.

KERRY THARP: We'll take questions.

Q: We're all kind of confused before you walked in. Give us the straight scoop what happened. You knew you had a car that could get back to the front.

BOB OSBORNE: We discussed it on the radio. I was planning on pitting. Carl said, What would you do if you thought the track would get cleaned up and we'd run it green? I told him we would come for two tires. When the time came, he came for two tires. I didn't tell him to stay out.

CARL EDWARDS: My deal was, I felt like, you know, he left it to me a little bit. What got to me, Jimmie, they'd committed to coming. I was like, Well, we'll go ahead and come.

But, yeah, I mean, if I would have said stay out, that's what we would have done. But I think we were both about 51% on the 'come in' side and neither one of us were going to argue.

But the argument came from when it started raining real hard, then we were trying to blame one another for the idea of coming. He said it was my idea. I really felt like it was his idea. That's where the argument came.

I had to leave the pit box because I was worried Bob was going to like punch me in the neck or something. You were looking kind of angry (laughter).

Q: How heated did it get? It was kind of clear on television you needed to get away from him.

CARL EDWARDS: Did they show that on TV?

Yeah, I had to walk away. But personally, I feel like we have a really good relationship. We could be brutally honest with one another, and that's really valuable. There's no beating around the bush. If Bob feels a certain way about something, he tells me, and I tell him. To me that's really valuable.

Q: When those decisions don't go well, it can be poisonous to a team. Are you glad it worked out this way because it might have been something that lasted a week or two?

BOB OSBORNE: No. Well, I think it could be for certain teams. But not ours. You know, Carl and I, I don't know what the perception is, but we argue on a regular basis. I mean, it's not out of the ordinary for us to argue. We argue. We get mad at each other. We walk away. Then we walk back together and calmer heads prevail. We have a discussion. Then we might argue again on the same subject, walk away, come back together.

But, you know, through the arguments and through the discussions and through the handshakes and the hugs, we come to terms with what we want to do and when we want to do it. 99% of the time it works out for us. Yes, sometimes it doesn't. And when it doesn't, we say, Okay, we argued through it, we came to terms, we came to an agreement, and it didn't work out for either of us. End of the day.

Q: Jack, the 99 team obviously has been hot all year. The 18, the 48, the 9 have been hot sometimes. Can you assess your team's readiness for a championship run with NASCAR's playoff round coming up? How strong do you feel heading into the Chase this year?

JACK ROUSH: Well, I think it's important to win races. That's the thing that will separate people as we start this year, the Chase. It's important not to have component failures. It's important to race with great enthusiasm. It's important to have some luck going with you. And it's important to have structure and wisdom within the organization.

I'll look at Carl when I say this. He can slap me if he wants. He wasn't ready to win a championship, I think, until this year. I think this year he can go head to head with Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, with anybody else that's there. And I think he can close the deal.

But the championship ultimately winds up normally being determined by how well you do when things go bad, you know, when you have to say, My car's not right, we've had a little wreck, you know, something's happened. Do you go on and self destruct or do you manage to be in a frame of mind where you can go on and get the most out of it? Matt Kenseth and Robbie Reiser did a great job. Matt's done a great job with Chip right now. They and Carl and Bob are in the same league with the best of the best. Unless you've got that level of maturity and wisdom and presence and experience that gives you that, within the organization, having a lot of speed in the car, being able to win a lot of races, is not going to do it. When things go bad, you're going to disintegrate. Carl is going to be ready to do that this year. I'm real confident.

I have hopes still of getting David Ragan in, which will be real exciting if that can happen. Of course, Matt and Greg will make a good accounting of themselves, too. They're in championship form. The organizations look great.

Q: Carl, you said the other day second is as good as 20th. Clearly you're not racing for points right now; you're racing for wins. When you have this discussion with Bob on the box, is this the intensity?

CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, you're exactly right. That's the underlying root of the intensity of the arguments. I mean, if we can win the race, that's great. Anything other than winning, you know, back to about 25th right now isn't going to make a difference for the end of our season as far as the results.

For us, we have to win right now. And we can't give up opportunities to win races. That's what was so heartbreaking about last week, is to finish so close to winning. You know, everybody pats you on the back and said, Great run. But at this point in our season, that's not what we're out to do. So we have a pretty high standard for ourselves, and sometimes that causes a little bit of frustration. But that all changes once the Chase starts. Then it's points racing, you know.

Q: Jack, for the second consecutive weekend we've got just a crazy race. Matt Kenseth at one point had picked up three spots in the standings, at the end fuel strategy kills him and he drops out unofficially of the Chase. Can you talk about that.

JACK ROUSH: Well, Lee Spencer asked me right in the middle of the race what I thought about what was going to happen. I said, I've got winners and I've got losers. I've got people who stayed and I've got people who came and we'll see how it works out. There isn't a correct answer so far. From where Matt was and where Chip was, the fact they didn't have for whatever reason, their car didn't have the fuel mileage that the 99 car did. For everything we could see it should have had, but it was down a couple of 10ths a mile a gallon. And it wasn't close for them. It wasn't as clear a shot for them they could make it. It took more cautions than it did for the 99 to be able to do what they were able to do. Chip made the decision not to do that. If it had rained, he would have been a winner.

The 17 has got a lot of speed. Matt and Chip are doing a nice job. I just hope that the races in front of them, the way they unfold, won't wind up leaving them on the outside.

I give my thanks to everybody in the media for not calling me about the race we had at Indianapolis, which was just diabolical. That was just a horrible race from a owner's point of view, team's point of view, to be able to get down there, run those short stints, have a quarter panel come flying off your car on the same lap that three other cars on the track at that time had flat tires, had worn their tires and were losing air. That's just a disaster. To go through something like that and to wind up, as Carl said, second without the opportunity to get the 10 points to carry into the Chase was a double frustration. I don't know what I would have said if somebody called me last week, but I'm sure I would have been apologizing for it today.

Coming into Pocono, having it rain, is something we put up with the two times we come. You can count on most of the time it's going to rain. If it doesn't rain, fuel mileage is going to be important. If it does rain, sometimes fuel mileage will be important. This is a place where things unfold. And a crew chief's got to look into his crystal ball and decide what's gonna happen. Nobody knows for sure. Sometimes they're right, and sometimes they're not.

There's just so much happenstance that works into this thing when you have a race that unfolded like it did at Indianapolis, it just breaks your heart if you've got as much at stake as we all do.

Q: Speaking of Indy, how important was it today for your confidence knowing that you didn't have to deal with that kind of situation again, maybe the tire situation rebounded from last week?

CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I mean, the deal is that, you know, some weeks it might be the tires, and some weeks it might be the weather, fuel mileage. Everyone's in the same boat.

To me last week was something that nobody wanted to have to deal with, but we did. You know, this week we had a whole new different types of stresses. That's just racing. It's the same for everyone.

Q: Carl, you sounded a little surprised when you mentioned saving fuel at the end a little bit.

CARL EDWARDS: Did they play that? Bob says, How much fuel did you save? What do you mean (laughter)? Or I wasn't listening.

Q: Were you out of gas?

CARL EDWARDS: I don't know. How close were we?

BOB OSBORNE: One lap cushion. We were fine. I was just asking him to be a little conservative in case we needed 'green white checkered' laps, something like that. Just being overly cautious.

JACK ROUSH: Bob and I were watching. I was there interfering with Bob a little bit on the stand. I was a little anxious that if he went out and got himself a seven, eight, nine second lead, and a caution came, you know, or a 'green white checkered' thing came, he might not have enough tire as well as enough gas to be able to do it. I was concerned as much about saving some tires as I was saving some gas. Some of that manifested itself in some anxiety I introduced that was probably unnecessary.

Q: What's the most important thing you take about the win from here? Is it the points, the confidence or momentum?

CARL EDWARDS: Well, I don't believe in momentum so much. But I'll tell you what, you know, the confidence could lead to some momentum. Seeing how happy my guys were, to me that's the most important part. You know, 10 points at the end of the day is great. That's wonderful. But I think the championship is going to probably be settled by more than that. I feel like my guys, having that little, you know, step in their walk, is good.

JACK ROUSH: The confidence will manifest itself in better pit stops than you'll have if everybody is frustrated and dragging around. They'll come together. Bob will be able to get more energy out of them, to be able to channel the energy in very positive ways.

BOB OSBORNE: I agree. I don't believe in momentum myself. But any time you have success at what you do, it makes the next time you do that a little bit easier, I believe, with a little bit more confidence.

Earlier in the season we won a few races, but our pit crew, and I think everybody in here agrees, our pit crew was not as strong as it could have been.

Q: (Question regarding Jack's comments about winning the championship.)

CARL EDWARDS: Well, I had some other issues I could bring up. I mean, I understand what Jack is saying. I'll put it this way. I feel like I'm better as a racecar driver than I've ever been. I don't know if I wasn't ready to win a championship or something like that, but I can tell you that I feel like I've learned a lot. And Jack has helped me a lot, Bob has helped me a lot, my teammates, all the struggles, all the successes. I feel like I'm better now and I do understand things better than I ever have.

So, you know, I don't necessarily agree a hundred percent with Jack, but I get the point. I agree with his point.

Q: There was a fill in engineer from Penn State on the box with the 1 car, and Penske has a Penn State engineer that filled in as a crew chief. What's going on in Happy Valley?

BOB OSBORNE: There's actually a handful of Penn State grads floating around in our business. We like racing up there. That's all there is to. A lot of guys are getting involved in the small racing programs we have up there, filtering down and trying to get jobs in similar sports as this. Obviously some of them are getting jobs in this sport. It's something we all enjoy. Some of us that are in this sport have worked together in the past back in school.

It's just racing's a lot of fun and it's an extremely difficult engineering problem most days. You're going to start seeing more and more engineers I hope more and more from Penn State.

Q: Carl, once the race came out of the red, went back to green, did you feel you were confident enough you could get to the front and how were you able to do it? Did your car get better over those last 50, 60 laps?

CARL EDWARDS: That was the most nerve wracking time of the race. Jimmie took off, he was extremely fast. I knew there was Jimmie, Dale and myself. I didn't realize Tony was so good. But I knew all of us had stopped and we were essentially racing for the win, if it went green. When Jimmie took off, I was real nervous. You know, I saw that film last week, the end of the race, when I couldn't get him, so it was really, really gratifying.

When I got by Jimmie, that was a good feeling because I knew we'd be racing him.

Q: Carl, I know there were some problems with fatigue and heat with the June race here. Did you have any issues with that? Did the break for the red flag help you at all today?

CARL EDWARDS: That really wasn't an issue. It was nice and cool. That really wasn't an issue. I got a sandwich. Tom made me a couple sandwiches. They were real good. I was ready to go.

Q: You did get to talk to Kiefer Sutherland and he mentioned you were a big 24 fan. You did get a chance to go onto the set. Do you have any thoughts on him being grand marshal today?

CARL EDWARDS: It was very cool having Kiefer here. I had not seen him since I got the chance to be on their show. Had a really good time doing that. He's a really cool guy. He's a real nice guy. Coolest part was when we got to the set, and he shows up in this little hot rod Chevelle convertible, mag wheels, dual exhausts. First thing he does, Come check out my car. We're over there with the hood up.

He's a cool guy. It was neat to have him today. My girlfriend sent me a text and said he was cheering for me. That was really neat of him.

KERRY THARP: Guys, congratulations. We'll see you next week.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup