Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, jumped into the Top 12 after last week's seventh-place finish at Phoenix. Edwards, who sits eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, conducted a Q&A session with reporters...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, jumped into the Top 12 after last week's seventh-place finish at Phoenix. Edwards, who sits eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, conducted a Q&A session with reporters before practice on Friday.
"We had a pretty good test at Lowe's with the spoiler, so everybody on the team is excited to come here and see how we stack up. We'll get some practice in today and then we'll just see how they race. We've had a lot of success here. I love racing here and this would be a great spot to get our first win of the season. That would be wonderful."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT MARK MARTIN AND NEXT YEAR BEING HIS LAST FULL SEASON? "Mark has been a big help to me in a number of ways, beginning when I was about 18 years old. He inspired me to get in shape and take care of my physical fitness. That was huge. I never planned on being as close to him as I am now, and now, up until this week, I called him this week to talk about some stuff. He's always been someone I can lean on and trust and look up to, and he's just fast. The competitor in me thinks it would be nice if he wasn't racing all the races because he's awfully good (laughing). A lot can happen. A lot happened this week and I believe there's still a lot up in the air. I don't know that Mark, for as good as he is and as competitive as he is, there's nothing saying he won't race full-time for another five years. I haven't talked to him about that in particular, but from the outside looking in, I wouldn't say that this is gonna be Mark's last season next year definitively."
WILL THE NEW FR9 ENGINE BE THE CURE ALL FOR FORD NOT WINNING YET? "That's a good question. I don't believe the engine is gonna be the thing that makes everything right and we win one out of four races or something like that. I believe that's a step, but there are other parts of car that are getting better. We're running better now than we were a year ago, and I'm proud to be driving a Ford. If I look at what's going on in the world, Ford is in a really good position, I believe, and Roush Fenway is in a really good position because of that, to go out and build something very strong so that we can get back to the way we were in '03, '04, '05, '07, '08 - those years where we ran really well. Yeah, we've had a year-and-a-half that's been very frustrating, but I'm hoping it's just that - just a short period of time. The engine will help a little bit, but it's the whole package. It takes a lot."
IS THERE POTENTIAL FOR A BIG CHANGE IN THE BALANCE OF POWER WITH THIS SPOILER? "There is the potential for a change, not at the smaller tracks but at these tracks. We can speculate, but, really, we'll know once Sunday comes around how these things will handle and when there are 20 of them in a group. It probably won't be much different, but, personally, I'm hoping it will be a little different so we get an opportunity to shake things up and maybe take advantage of the change."
DO YOU TALK MUCH WITH BOB ABOUT WHAT TO DO IN A GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER SITUATION? "We probably should talk about it more, but it's a chaotic thing and Bob really makes those decisions when they happen. We kind of went back and forth on Saturday night about what to do. I think I said something like I wanted two tires for track position and he said, 'We need four because there are three opportunities for a green-white-checkered.' And I said, 'But what if we're one of those opportunities?' So it's tough, and it almost worked out that way, but, in the end, if there would have been one more green-white-checkered, we were looking pretty good on four tires and staring at the guys with two. I think it makes it a pretty big gamble at the end, I believe because of the double-file restart and the opportunity for more than one green-white-checkered that it will shake up a lot of races and, I think, for the fans that's good. But we don't have a spreadsheet as far as what we would do each time."
HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS IN THIS SPORT AND ARE POINTS AND CHAMPIONSHIP FINISHES GOOD ENOUGH OR IS THE BOTTOM LINE STILL WINS? "Wins are what we do this for, so it is frustrating to not win for a long period of time, but the way that I keep going and the way I keep looking forward is I look at it not as results-based, but performance-based. If I get out of the race car and I did the very best job that I could, like Phoenix for example, I raced with Mark for 35 laps, battling as hard as I could at the end to get one more spot, and at the end we raced real hard on the green-white-checkered and finished seventh and picked up six spots in the points. Seventh-place, nobody in any race wants to finish seventh, but I still walked out of there and thought, 'OK, that was a successful night. We gained points. I did the best I could. The pit crew was good. We've just got to work on the car a little bit.' I think if you walk away from that with your head down and kicking stuff, then that's not reality. It's just such a tough sport you have to take those small victories, even though they're nothing like standing in Victory Lane. That's as good as it gets."
WHY HAVE YOU BEEN SO GOOD HERE? "I don't know. I just think we have really good race cars at these mile-and-a-halfs, historically. The engines run really well at the high RPM range. I really like the way that these mile-and-a-halfs drive. For my first race at Kansas on a mile-and-a-half in the truck series, I've just liked these race tracks. It's a combination of that, but mostly the car. Jack just does a really good job and all the guys at the shop do a good job with the things that make the cars fast at these mile-and-a-halfs."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TALLADEGA AND THE FINISH A YEAR AGO? "That was just wild. That was very close to winning my first race at a superspeedway and I learned a lot from it. I hope going back that I can find somebody to work with those last couple laps, whether it's Brad or somebody else. It would be nice to be in that position again and have another chance to do that, and I think we will, eventually. But that was a really dramatic finish. I guess I'm looking forward to that race a little more now because of how close we were than maybe I would have in the past."
SINCE ATLANTA, HOW HAVE THE FANS BEEN TOWARD YOU? "I expected it to be pretty bad, but it's turned out to be unbelievable. The fans are awesome. I think they see Atlanta for what it was - just two guys going at it. Overall, the response has been really good. It's just racing, but I'm glad it's behind us. Brad and I have raced really well since then and I think it's just one of those events that we'll look back on and go, 'Man, that was pretty wild.'"
DO YOU LOOK AT THE TALLADEGA CRASH ANY DIFFERENTLY NOW THAN A YEAR AGO? "I haven't seen a replay for a little while, but I'm sure I'll see it a couple of times this week. I'm just glad that everybody was alright. Anytime there's a wreck like that, whether it's that one or Atlanta, or Joey's wreck at Dover - anytime you see a wreck that's like, 'Whoa, that's not good,' you're just glad that everybody gets out of it and everybody ends up being OK. I think Blake Bobbitt and her family will probably be there again next week, and I'm so happy that she didn't hold it against us for what happened to her. She's a real positive young girl. It's just part of racing. Wrecks are gonna happen. She reacted to that whole deal better than anyone could have. She's so cool. You guys have probably talked to her, but for something like that to happen to someone and for her to just be like, 'Ah, it's no big deal. My jaw was wired shut for awhile. I missed prom and saw my life flash before my eyes, but I'll be there for the next race.' She's just pumped up and ready to go racing. That's pretty cool. That made me understand our fans a little better. We race on the inside of these race tracks and I can only speak for myself, but you start to think of the fans a certain way. It's not bad, but she reminded me of what the NASCAR fans are about. She's passionate and that's pretty cool."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT HOW MUCH LONGER YOU WANT TO RUN NATIONWIDE FULL-TIME? "The Nationwide Series right now is ultra-competitive. I did notice that Brad stole my spot in the garage. I think it's five points or something like that, but it's ultra-competitive. Our Fastenal Ford Fusion seems OK. I don't know how long I'll do that. As long as I enjoy it and as long as we're competitive because those Saturday races, sometimes, are such a blast. There's less pressure. I've got a great group of guys and we get to have these battles. Last year, for example, there wasn't much to talk about on the Cup side, but on the Nationwide side we got a bunch of wins and kind of battled for the championship. Kyle ran off with it, but I still had a good time and I learned a lot, so I'll do it as long as I'm enjoying it and as long as they'll let me. It's pretty neat to be able to race twice a week like that."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT COPART AS YOUR SPONSOR? "Copart and Fastenal are our partners on the Nationwide team. Copart, what they do is they sell cars online. They have an online auction, but before they had the online auction, there was a salvage yard just up the road from my dad's shop. My dad was a salvage dealer, so what we would do - one of the ways I made money to go racing - is we would go buy these salvage cars at the auction for like $50 or $100. They would be a totaled car and the insurance company would auction them off, and then we'd fix them up and take them to the highway patrol, where they would inspect them and we would sell them again. Those were the cars I drove for four or five years. The ones we didn't sell were the cars I drove. Copart ended up buying that auction, so when Copart came on board they started explaining to me what they do and I said, 'Yeah, I used to go to this auction right off I-70 in Columbia,' and they're like, 'Yeah, we own that place. That's exactly what we do.' So it turned out to be a really neat match because that's how I made a lot of my money to go racing was buying cars from Copart. It's neat when sponsors work out like that. I eat Subway. I've got Aflac. I used to buy my cars from Copart. Fastenal is the first sponsor that ever took a proposal from me - the local Fastenal. It's strange how 10 years can go buy and you can kind of change your position in relation to someone like that and it becomes a really good partnership."
DOES THE SPOILER FEEL ANY DIFFERENT THAN THE WING? "We ran the test and at the test it didn't feel much different. I think we'll find out here after practice. Maybe one of the guys who comes in here after practice can tell you specifically what the car does differently, but the number on thing is it just looks better. I hope it'll be good. I think it will maybe have a little more front downforce and maybe turn just a little bit better. That's what everyone predicts."
-source: ford racing