The Ford Five - Week 8 of the Chase for the Championship November 1, 2005 Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus, is coming off his third win of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. He heads to Texas Motor Speedway this ...
The Ford Five - Week 8 of the Chase for the Championship
November 1, 2005
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Taurus, is coming off his third win of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. He heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend tied for fourth in the point standings with Ryan Newman - 107 points behind leader Tony Stewart. Edwards spoke about his position with only three races remaining on Tuesday's Ford Five teleconference.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Office Depot Taurus
IT'S ONLY BEEN TWO DAYS BUT IT'S ALREADY BEEN A BUSY WEEK FOR YOU SINCE WINNING ON SUNDAY. "It's been busy. We went to a Pennzoil appearance this morning and we're gonna go down and visit Office Depot tomorrow in Florida. It's just been awesome. The success that we had this weekend will hopefully carry on for the next three weeks and we'll have an awesome finish to the season."
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DOING THOSE BACKFLIPS 20 YEARS FROM NOW? "Hopefully I'll be doing victory back flips 20 years from now. I don't know, I might just have to get my crew to bring out a pad or something if my bone structure gets brittle, but I think I'll be alright. As long as I can keep winning races I'll keep doing backflips."
IS THAT SOMETHING YOU JUST PICKED UP AS A CHILD? "Definitely nothing formal. It was just goofing around when I was a kid. It was regular kid stuff."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW JACK ROUSH HAS IMPACTED YOU FROM A PERSONAL SIDE AS OPPOSED TO THE RACING SIDE? "I've been very fortunate. I've had some really awesome people in my life and Jack Roush is definitely one of the most influential. He's really intense. I've driven for two owners in NASCAR competition. One was Mike Mittler and one was Jack Roush and I swear both of them are from the same exact mold. They're both really hard working individuals. Jack is a self-made man. He's a guy who races and competes because he wants to win and there's no other reason, and that's really cool to have that pure competitive spirit. It's definitely been something to help me to focus and that's pretty cool."
WHAT HAS HE TAUGHT YOU? "One of the things he's done is Jack puts a lot of faith and trust in the people around him. He doesn't command anyone really to do anything. He gives his opinion and he lets people go out and kind of create their own results or their own destiny or however you want to say it. That's been one of the things that really was awesome at the beginning of our relationship. When I first came here I made a lot of mistakes. I still make quite a few, but I made a lot more and he did a good job of calming me down and making me understand that he hired me for this and he's behind me 100 percent. He really went above and beyond what I expected as far as his patience for my learning curve and that was pretty cool. That taught me a lot about sticking to your word and things like that."
SEVERAL OF YOUR PEERS HAVE SAID NOTHING BUT GREAT THINGS ABOUT THE WAY YOU'VE CONDUCTED YOURSELF IN THE CHASE. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU FOR THESE LAST THREE RACES? "Boy, that's really nice of them. That's awesome. The reality of this chase is it's just a matter of math. It's who can accumulate the most points over these 10 races. These last three races are gonna decide who is the champion and it could come down to the last lap at Homestead. I don't really know what to say. It's just really awesome for them to have nice things to say about me. I don't know what else to say about that."
WHAT'S YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL GOING TO TEXAS? "We had kind of a poor result at Texas and most of that was due to the damage that we sustained in an early accident. That was just a little bit of inexperience on my part. The cars, I think, are a little bit better and my car and team - with the way we work together - all of that has improved and grown since that first race. So I really feel great going to Texas to be honest with you. I think we have an opportunity to run just as well there as we did at Atlanta. I think other than going back to Atlanta, I think Texas is about as good as it gets for us right now on the schedule."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE THREE RACES AWAY FROM THE TITLE? "I feel really good going into these last three races. I don't feel a lot of pressure. I hope that's good. I feel like we're in an awesome position. We're really in the underdog slot. Nobody expects us to win this championship other than us really. We're doing our best to accumulate as many points as we can. We've already had a great season. We've far exceeded our expectations and I can assume we've exceeded other folks as well, so we really have nothing to lose. We're gonna go into these last three races and just give it 100 percent and just kind of see what happens. If we end up winning the thing, it'll be the most spectacular thing that's ever happened in my life. If we don't, it'll still be OK. So we're just gonna go out and have as much fun as we can and give it 100 percent."
HOW WAS THE CAR OF TOMORROW TEST AT ATLANTA? "The cars move a lot more air, so they're a little bit different to drive. We didn't really get enough time. It's gonna take a lot of time to get the car figured out as far as what kind of springs and shocks and things we should run, but my initial reaction is that it's just gonna be a change. It's just gonna be a different animal altogether with the way the front edge is arranged - the way the splitter or front spoiler, how it's gonna be configured. They moved a lot of air, so they seemed to act a little bit differently around one another, but really we just need more time to test and figure more things out. I think we'll get it down, but, for me, it was an awesome opportunity to get ahead and learn a little bit about them."
WHY HAS THERE NEVER BEEN A REPEAT WINNER IN NINE SPRING RACES AT TEXAS? "I don't know. Nine years isn't a long time. There are so many factors. There are 43 guys racing for a win so it's kind of hard in nine years to get one guy to win both of them. I think the odds would be something like one in 43 squared, so it would be pretty long odds if everything else was equal. Even though they call them cookie-cutter race tracks they're so much different. It just takes really small things. Like Texas, for example, the corners flatten out quicker than they do at Atlanta. So if you're coming off the corner, the corner drops away so just that one little thing makes that setup, to me, a lot different than a place like Atlanta. I guess it doesn't surprise me."
WILL YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT SETUP THIS TIME THAN THE SPRING? "We actually are gonna go back with the same setup, but we're prepared to change it right away. That's just been our m.o. for the season. We'll go back to a track the second time - even if we didn't run very well there - we'll go back with the same setup we started with and work from there. I guarantee you that the setup that won in the spring probably will not be the same as the one that wins (this weekend)."
DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO SEE THE BIG PICTURE AND WHAT THE EXPECTATIONS MIGHT BE FOR YOU IN THE YEARS AHEAD? "That's fine with me. To be honest with you, I really don't care what people expect of me or what they think of me. I go out and do this and have been motivated to win from the first time I started racing until now, and I've treated each race with the same level of intensity. Yes, there will be kind of an inherent expectation that we all kind of carry around. Just for example, going back to Atlanta we expected to win and that's kind of odd to go to a place and expect to win. I've thought about it a little bit, but every week is different. Every week we go to the race track and it takes just a complete fresh outlook and you have to go and plan on doing the best and putting all the effort in. If you do that every week, I can assume that you'll continue to have the same results with everything being the same. So I don't really feel any extra pressure. I don't think there's any reason to be scared of success. Ever."
BOB OSBORNE, Crew Chief - No. 99 Office Depot Taurus
THERE WAS TALK ABOUT TAKING YOUR ATLANTA CAR OR THE NEW SISTER CAR TO TEXAS. IS THE PLAN TO STILL BRING THAT NEW SISTER CAR? "Yes it is. We just finished it up in the shop and are about ready to put it on the race truck - right now as a matter of fact."
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN CARL DEVELOP THROUGH THE SEASON? "Let's first start with this. Carl had an extremely great amount of talent the day I met him, which the day we first started working together was at Michigan last year. He's had that talent and that's been honed long before he and I got together. The area where he has grown quite a bit in this season alone is his ability to dictate his own race. He, in the beginning when we first started working together, he was like a wild horse. He wanted to go as fast as he could every lap, every race, and go for the win. Well, over the season this year he's realized that sometimes that gets himself in a bad position and gets the team in a bad position. So he's realized that he needs to manage the race so that he's in a position at the end of the race to finish well. He's done a great deal with that and has come a long way."
WHERE DOES DRIVER TALENT COME INTO PLAY ON THE INTERMEDIATE TRACKS BECAUSE ALL OF THE ROUSH CARS SEEM TO HANDLE SO WELL. "I'm probably biased in my opinion, but I believe we have, by far, the best talented drivers in the industry. Like I said, I'm biased because of the programs that I work with here, but you have to have a package that's true, and I don't know that we do anything different from other teams. Obviously, I don't know what other teams do, but we work very hard on all of our programs, whether it be short track or mile and a halves or speedway, and we do the best we can for every race that we go to. Can I say there's one specific thing that makes our mile and a half program stand out? No, I can't tell you that. I really don't know that off the top of my head."
THOUGHTS ON THE TONY STEWART/CHAD KNAUS SITUATION? "I'm not aware of a Tony Stewart/Chad Knaus interaction."
EVIDENTLY CHAD SAID SOME THINGS ON THE RADIO THAT TONY TOOK OFFENSE TO. "I try to stay out of that sort of thing myself. I try not to make statements like that. I am human though and at certain frustration levels I slip up and say things that I probably really shouldn't. They're not meant to be malicious, they're just the frustration of the moment coming out and I think that happens to everybody. Should it happen? No, it shouldn't happen but it does."
WHAT'S YOUR SPIN ON THE CAR OF TOMORROW FROM A TECHNICAL STANDPOINT? "At first when the whole idea surfaced, when they unveiled the car of tomorrow earlier this season, I wasn't very happy with the basic aerodynamic characteristics of the car just looking at it and understanding basic principals. We ran it at Talladega and it did fine at Talladega, which I think anything would be OK at Talladega at this point from what I've seen. And then we ran it again at Atlanta, as you know, and it was fairly competitive. It wasn't too unstable. There were some unstable characteristics in the draft. It was a little freer than we'd like to see at this point, but there's still a lot of work to be put into those cars. I believe that they'll be improved a great deal by the time we actually see them on the race track and I'm willing and able and ready for the challenge."
CARL THOUGHT THE WINNING SETUP FROM THE SPRING WOULDN'T BE FUNCTIONAL FOR THIS RACE. DO YOU AGREE? "Carl's right. It's very rare that you can take a setup from any race in the spring and come back in the fall and not change anything. In my eyes, though, it is the best thing to start the fall race where you left off in the spring. It's a great baseline, especially if you ran extremely well. That's what we'll do. We'll start where we left off to baseline, but I guarantee we'll make drastic changes to the setup throughout the weekend."
THAT'S WHAT YOU GUYS DID IN ATLANTA LAST WEEKEND. HOW MUCH DID YOU CHANGE FROM THE FIRST RACE? "We changed quite a bit. We changed front spring rate. We changed rear spring rate. We changed all four shocks and they weren't minor tuning adjustments either. They were fairly significant rate changes, especially in the rear, so, you're right, that's a good example of how a good setup in the spring doesn't necessarily relate to a good setup in the fall."
DO YOU DO ANYTHING SPECIAL TO CREATE AND MAINTAIN TEAM CHEMISTRY? "All of the guys on the team here get along great. We're all friends. There's no animosity in our group at all, which is great. You have a lot of teams where there are a few characters on them and they don't necessarily get along with everybody, but fortunately we do. We try to do team functions. We have lunch together sometimes and when we're on the road we always go out to dinner as a team - once a weekend we try to. A majority of the time that happens. Sometimes it doesn't, but we try to do a lot of functions together to make that happen."
WILL ANY OTHER ROUSH DRIVERS USE THAT ATLANTA CAR OF YOURS THIS WEEKEND AT TEXAS? "Not at this point, no."
CARL HAS DONE WELL JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE BUT SHORT TRACKS AND ROAD COURSES. WHAT IS IT GOING TO BE LIKE WHEN HE GETS THOSE FIGURED OUT? "I don't know if it's all Carl. I happen to personally think it's not. He's ran well there in the truck program at the short tracks. Obviously, he didn't get any road course experience in the trucks, but he ran well in the Busch car at Mexico. I believe he has the talent and the capability to run well. I believe the downside right now is my ability to get a package - car and setup - underneath him that makes him feel good. When I get that figured out, that's when it will come around."
SO WHAT IS THE UPSIDE? WILL HE BE LIKE TONY STEWART WHO CAN WIN ON ANY KIND OF TRACK? IS THAT HIS FUTURE? "I believe so. I believe if I had better cars for him this year, you would have seen him win on short tracks."
Pat Tryson, crew chief of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus driven by Mark Martin, provided his FIVE keys to being successful at Texas Motor Speedway.
Be fast - "It sounds kind of silly, but there are 42 other cars out there and if you're gonna be any good at Texas, you've got to be fast."
Make adjustments - "Texas has always shown a tendency of being a tight track, so you have to keep your car free. Keeping up with the race track throughout the day is really important."
Tire management - "You've got to be real careful on the right-front tire. That place will blow a right-front tire because of the speeds we're running, so you've got to take care of your tires."
Track position - "Track position is critical, so pit stops will be crucial."
Pit strategy - "It seems that most of the races at Texas come down whether or not you take two or four tires towards the end, so whoever can figure out the right way to go will have a good chance of winning."
"THE FORD FIVE" Quick Fact:
Ford has won six of the nine NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway by six different drivers - FIVE of whom are still driving for the blue oval.
Mark Martin (1998), Dale Jarrett (2001), Matt Kenseth (2002), Elliott Sadler (2004) and Greg Biffle (2005) have all taken the checkered flag in the Lone Star state. Jeff Burton, who was driving for Roush Racing at the time, won his first series race and the inaugural Texas event in 1997.