This Week in Ford Racing April 12, 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot/Scotts/World Financial Group/AAA Taurus, became the 11th driver to win in NASCAR's top three series when he swept...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 12, 2005
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot/Scotts/World Financial Group/AAA Taurus, became the 11th driver to win in NASCAR's top three series when he swept the NASCAR Busch and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this year. Edwards, who is 11th in the point standings going into Sunday's Samsung Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, was this week's guest on the NASCAR teleconference.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Office Depot/Scotts/World Financial Group/AAA Taurus
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GETTING OFF THE SHORT TRACKS AND GOING TO A BIGGER PLACE LIKE TEXAS? "Well, to be honest with you, I'm just excited to go anywhere after the last two weeks we've had. Our Office Depot car, we got off to a terrible start at Bristol. I spun out in qualifying and it just went downhill from there. We were ready to go to Martinsville and give Scotts another really good run, and we just didn't have a good day. I really love short track racing, but I think it was just bad luck. We're pretty pumped about going to Texas. I love racing there, so we feel like every race is an opportunity to show how good our team is so we're ready to go."
DOES A TRACK LIKE TEXAS PLAY FAVORABLY IN YOUR HANDS? "I feel like anytime as a driver when I have more space to work in, a bigger race track, everything is not so close and you have an opportunity to relax just a little bit more and kind of feel your way through a race. At places like Martinsville and Bristol racing against the Cup Series guys is so tough that there's just no room for error. Our incident there on Sunday was just a series of small mistakes we made that led to having a terrible day and at a place like Texas there's a little more cushion there and it's a little more forgiving."
WERE THE TWO SHORT TRACKS A BIT HUMBLING? "Yeah, it's extremely humbling but that's how racing is, but we looked at it from a little bit different perspective after we got home. We said, 'Hey, if we would have sat down at the beginning of the season and said six races in we'd be 11th in Cup Series points, leading the Busch Series points and have a win in both series that would have been perfect.' So we know how good our team is and I feel like the things that happened at Bristol were mostly my fault. They were small mistakes that led to terrible outcomes. Martinsville was really just a fluke deal, but you're gonna have that kind of luck in racing."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE REST OF THE SERIES HAS CAUGHT UP TO HENDRICK AND ROUSH? "I think the term domination was a little bit premature in the season. A lot of people were talking about that, but I'm aware that we had some great runs and Hendrick had some great runs, but we are literally at the seventh race of the season coming up and that's just not enough races to get a full feel for how the season is gonna go. I think that's what you saw at these short tracks. You see Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick - Childress and Gibbs - and these guys running great and that's because they're great teams. They just weren't having the great days we were the first few races, so I think it'll all even out. So, in a way, yes, the other teams are starting to have success and I feel like as we run more races it's a pretty level playing field."
IF YOU HAVE AN EDGE, WHERE WOULD IT BE? "From my perspective the edge the Roush Racing has, if we have one, is the way our teams work together without egos getting in the way. It's truly a team effort all the way up until the last 25 laps of the race and that's just an awesome feeling to know that I can lean on my teammates for advice for setups or any type of help that we need. I think that's a big advantage."
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE FREE PASS RULE? "You know what? Boy, the way our last two short track races have gone I think it's a great rule. I think it's kind of a neat thing. It keeps a lot more cars in the hunt. If we go back to Bristol and have the same type of qualifying effort or bad luck in qualifying, it still allows you to go into the race and know that, 'Hey, it's OK if we go a lap down early in the race. As long as we have a good car and we deserve to be up front, you can get back on the lead lap.' So in that respect I think it's a good thing. If you're a dominating car, it's a little bit frustrating to watch other guys get laps back, but I think it adds something. I think it's kind of fun."
HAS YOUR EARLY SUCCESS PUT MORE ON YOUR MIND OR LESS? "It's definitely a feeling of accomplishment. There's no more pressure - anybody that knows me will tell you that I'm the hardest person in the world on myself. There can't be any more pressure on me. I don't really feel things from the outside as far as pressure is concerned. I have this internal desire to win every time I go and do anything. It wears me out sometimes, but I tell you what, having that win at Atlanta, I think it took a lot of pressure off because the big picture is we got a win for Scotts and for Ford and for the 99 team and that helps us with marketing and helps us to secure partners for the next two or three years and allows us to build a team that can go out and win championships. That's the thing I've been really deep down thinking about is, 'Hey, we need some continuity. We need a good, solid team for the next few years to win these championships.'"
HOW MUCH HAS DOUBLE DUTY HELPED YOU IN CUP AND DO YOU THINK YOU'D HAVE THE SAME SUCCESS DRIVING ONLY CUP? "No. I'm really grateful to Jack Roush for giving me this opportunity. To drive the Charter car with Brad Parrott crew chiefing it is awesome and I've learned so much from him. Brad is probably as experienced as anyone in the Nextel Cup Series garage and I've got him as a Busch Series crew chief, so it helps me with a bunch of things - mainly learning the tracks and learning to drive against the other drivers - especially with the number of Nextel Cup Series drivers that come down and run in the Busch Series. It helps me a lot just to have extra laps against them, and it also helps me to understand pit strategy and the little things that can hurt you - like not pitting when you've got flat left side tires and grinding the swaybar through like we did at Martinsville. Things like that, it helps me to learn all those things without having to learn them all in the Nextel Cup Series."
IS YOUR NAME IN STONE IN THE 99 CAR? WHAT ABOUT THE 6? "I'm the driver of the 99 car right now and that's what we're focusing on. I'm just as curious as the rest of you guys. I kind of want to know who is gonna drive that 6 car. That's a big deal, but I really don't know. I asked somebody the other day, 'Hey, what's going on? Am I still gonna drive this thing? What are we doing?' And they said, 'No, we've got partners that want to do this 99 deal. You've got a great crew and they said we're just gonna go along and we'll stick somebody else in it.' So I don't know how it's gonna work out."
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED SINCE THAT WIN? "I feel exactly the same to be honest with you. I still live in the same apartment. We've got a two bedroom apartment. My buddy lives with me and then my motorcoach driver sleeps on the couch. The only difference is I'm sitting here looking at my calendar right now. I'm talking with Sheri Herrmann, my PR person, we've been doing this all morning just trying to fit everything into the calendar. That's been the biggest thing. Things are piling up and I'm getting to do appearances and stuff for our sponsors that I probably wouldn't have gotten to do, so that's fun. But, mostly, I'm just a little busier. The other cool thing is it seems like a lot of people recognize me now. We went to a park the other day. I went mountain biking and I was taking a break. I walked down to the dock and this guy was fishing and I was gonna see if he was catching any fish because I thought it might be a good place to fish. He looked straight at me and said, 'Man, you look like Carl Edwards.' I was like, 'Whoa, man, I'm out here just me and this dude on a dock and he knows who I am.' I thought that's pretty crazy."
IS PHOENIX ALMOST LIKE A SHORT TRACK? "Yeah, Phoenix is like that. We got caught up in a deal last year at Phoenix where some cars stacked up in front of us and I knocked the radiator out of the car - a lot like we did at Bristol, so that track can be like that. But, then again, if you get a long green flag run, that's a really fun track because you can move around a lot on it. We actually went out there and tested and had a great test. I feel like that test is gonna help us run better. I learned things that I didn't realize I didn't know. I learned some different lines and stuff, so I'm pretty pumped about Phoenix."
WHEN JACK SAID YOU WERE THE HEIR APPARENT IN THE 6 CAR, DID THAT CHANGE THE WAY YOU FELT THE TEAM PERCEIVED YOU? "I think it might have changed the way some people looked at me within the company because then they kind of realized, 'OK, that's what we're gearing him up for.' It was kind of neat of Jack to say that that early and I think it aligned people to help me out a little bit more with things I was having trouble with. For me personally, it kind of set something out there - it set a goal out there of something to work specifically towards and gave me a reason to go to all the Cup races and watch and pay attention and learn just knowing that's what I was gearing up for. No doubt, that was pretty awesome for him to say."
DID ANYBODY FROM ROUSH TEST AT TEXAS? "I think Mark Martin went with the 9 Pennzoil Busch car to test there, so we're using those notes a little bit. But Texas is one of those places where Bob Osborne, my crew chief, and I looked at it and said, 'Man, we feel pretty good on these mile-and-a-half race tracks. We feel like we've got a good car, a decent setup, and I've run Texas quite a bit in the trucks. So we looked at that and said it's one we can probably go without testing and have a better test at a place like Dover or Phoenix, where we really struggled. I like Texas. I think we're gonna be OK there without testing, but, heck, you never know. The Busch car is different, obviously, but Texas is pretty straightforward from a driving standpoint. So, really, we would just be going there to work on the setup and we feel like we can probably get that nailed pretty close in practice."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW INSTRUMENTAL YOUR FAMILY HAS BEEN IN BUILDING YOUR CAREER? "My parents were married up until I was about 21 or 22 and about three years ago they got divorced, but I can speak about how great my parents were. They really did help me a ton, but it was definitely in different ways. My father, I'm sure this is how it is for a lot of folks, but my dad and I didn't necessarily always see eye to eye growing up, so I spent a lot of time with my mom. But my dad was really the one when I started racing that I learned a lot about my father and started to develop a relationship with dad that was awesome, so that was probably when I was about 15 or 16 years old. I really started to realize that my dad is a great guy, he's a fun guy, and I learned a lot from him about the nuts and bolts of racing. In our house it seemed like that's the way it worked. My dad could help me with the nuts and bolts of things in making decisions for the setups and things on the race car, but my mom was always the person who looked ahead and helped me with marketing stuff and sponsorships. She'd cook me dinner at night when I was out there working on my race car. She was always there to emotionally support me in this quest to be a Nextel Cup Series driver. It seemed like we worked all the time at that and my mom was really a strong person and a huge influence in my life just trying to keep me focused and keep me working towards a goal. They were both instrumental, but it was definitely in different ways. Without either of them, I definitely wouldn't be racing like I am today."
SO IT WAS A FAMILY AFFAIR? "Yeah, it was a family affair. My little brother, he just started racing. He ran his first race on Saturday night in Moberly, Missouri. Mark Martin loaned me his plane and we flew up to Moberly right after happy hour at Martinsville and went to the dirt race and watched my brother run. It was pretty cool because my dad was down there in the pits helping my brother. My mom was up in the grandstands with my stepdad watching and it was kind of cool to have everybody back at the dirt track together. That meant a lot to me."
MARK MARTIN LOANED YOU A PLANE. TWO YEARS AGO DID YOU THINK YOU'D EVER UTTER THOSE WORDS? "No. My motorcoach driver, I call him my motorcoach driver but he's one of my best friends in the world - Tom Giacchi. We got on Mark's plane and flew to Moberly, Missouri, and we talked about that. I was literally borrowing cars from my friends to drive to school and to work three years ago and it's unbelievable to be sitting in Mark Martin's jet flying to a dirt track that just a few years ago I was driving a borrowed pick-up truck to. So that's pretty wild."
YOU MUST FEEL LIKE YOU'VE HIT THE BIG TIME. "It's definitely different. Personally, I'm really proud of the fact that my family and friends, we've all worked really hard to get to this point and I'm really trying to enjoy it. It's just a lot of fun. It's really neat to go back, especially to a race track where I used to race a lot, and to go back in a different position and be able to sign autographs for people, and have cars there and drive a nice car for somebody and they want me to drive it. It's just fun. It's an amazing feeling."
ANY PLANS OF RUNNING OPEN WHEEL? "Yeah, we're gonna run the USAC Silver Crown race at IRP. We're working on it right now. Ford Motor Company has a Ford Fan Day the same day as the race, so if I can get USAC and Ford and everyone to help me out a little bit, I plan on driving the RE Technologies car there at IRP on Thursday night, I believe it is, before the Indy races."
ANY RACES OF SOMEDAY TRYING THE INDY 500? "Boy, that would be amazing. I would have to do some serious testing in some open-wheel cars before I even tried something like that. I love racing in any respect. I'd like to do a lot of things. I'd still like to drive a midget at the Chili Bowl. That's one of my dreams. I'd like to run something at Eldora and, yes, I'd definitely like to run an Indy car sometime, but I'd want to really go wholeheartedly towards that. You couldn't just do that as a one-off race."