NASCAR Sprint Cup Series post race press conference All-Star Race at Charlotte
An interview with:
KERRY THARP: We have our 2011 Sprint All-Star Race winner, Carl Edwards, for Roush Fenway Racing. He's joined by team owner Jack Roush. This is Carl's first All-Star Race win, the eighth different winner over the past eight races.
Carl, your racecar was just right on out there tonight. You drove it like a true champion. Talk about winning the All-Star Race and all that that means.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I don't think it's sunk in yet. I'm really excited to be able to get on the phone (audio feed interruption) and Iowa tomorrow, it will be neat to show up there as the All-Star winner. It's going to be fun.
Can't thank Jack enough, Aflac. My pit crew stepped up tonight. They did an unbelievable job on that last stop. If we wouldn't have come off of pit road first, it would have been a very difficult race. It took me about 10 laps to get by Kyle, so it would have been a very difficult race. Those guys, they get a lot of credit for this win.
My pit crew stepped up tonight.
KERRY THARP: Bob Osborne, talk about some of the changes you made to the car, if any. Certainly that racecar was lights out.
BOB OSBORNE: Thank you very much. We really didn't make a lot of changes through the race. A couple changes for the last 10 laps, it seemed like it worked for us. Carl got a fabulous restart, got out front there, seemed to be able to do the business he needed to do.
KERRY THARP: Jack, congratulations. This race organization is off to a very solid start. Winning the All-Star Race here tonight, just your thoughts about that overall?
JACK ROUSH: It's a testament to the hard work everybody's been doing. There's a lot of discussion about hard work in this business. But the Roush Fenway guys have really, really suited up for it in the winter, and the manufacturing part is working well.
Carl went through a manhole cover in the end and damaged the car. Most people looked at the car and said, That car has to go to the 600. Bob assured me he has a better car back at the shop waiting to go.
The unsung hero tonight is Doug Yates and engine tonight. I watched the way that engine held down the straightaway, and it was really, really, really good. A long time since we've seen our engines run as good as they did tonight.
Glad to have Ford here with us tonight. We had a big contingent of Ford, Albert, the great grandson of Henry, was here, then the grandson of Henry, Edsel, was here as well. We had really a good Ford showing at the same time we had great performance from all the guys that worked behind this thing.
I'm amazed at the calls that Bob makes. I generally want to make a call, a change that's half as big or twice as big, and he always has it right.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Carl, Bob or Jack.
Q. Carl, you got a great restart there on the last jump against the best in the business. Did you have any fears with that FR9 horsepower you might spin the tires?
CARL EDWARDS: I was a little bit worried about spinning the tires. What do we do when we make mistakes? We learn from them, that's what we do (smiling). Thanks, Jack.
So I learned from that. It's the positive light you have to shed on things like that. I'm sure we're going to get to my destroying the car incident and I'm going to shed some positive light on that, too (smiling).
But the restart was good. Man, that thing really runs. You do have to be careful, especially these engines that they brought for the All-Star Race. They're fast. It was a great restart. It could have gone either way. I mean, Kyle could have really hung in there and it would have been a really tough race, so I'm glad we were able to get him.
Q. I know you're a racer, and racers love to race. You're excited about every chance. How in the name of God can you win $1 million after midnight out here. I know you're a Midwesterner, then go to Iowa at the crack of dawn tomorrow?
CARL EDWARDS: That's Cessna Citation for you right there. Got a really nice plane. I'm going to go jump in and fly up there. It's amazing we're able to do all these things.
That car, I went up there this morning and practiced in it a little bit. Brian Ickler practiced a little bit after I left. Mike Beam and Jack and all of these guys, Doug Yates, had prepared a racecar that any one of these guys would like to go get in and race tomorrow. That's what it's about, is having fun and going racing.
It's interesting as a racer, I think a lot of racers feel this way, I know for myself, when you win a race, something big like what happened tonight, it's kind of fun, because you got a little spring in your step. I really can't wait to go tomorrow. People say, Hey, what are you going to do after you won this race? The most enjoyable thing I can do is go race another car. I appreciate Jack giving me the opportunity. I'm really excited about it.
Q. Carl, clearly you had a great car tonight. Could you talk about sitting on pit road that 10-minute break trying to figure out what to do or not to do to that car.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I did not like that part, sitting on pit road. I did not enjoy that. I was a little embarrassed to tell Dick Berggren how nervous I was about the last 10 laps. I felt like we had the fastest car. If I did everything right, got a good restart, Bob and I made the right adjustments, this was our race. I felt like we were that good.
You know, those are the only times I really get antsy, which I know, If I do everything right, we can win this thing. So, yeah, I was ready to go back to racing. I didn't want to be sitting there.
Q. Jack, as bad as it was a couple of years ago, couldn't have been much better to have won every segment tonight.
JACK ROUSH: We could have lined all four of our cars up in the top four. We missed that. Have to work on that for next year (laughter).
The guys worked hard. I'm just proud to be part of their program. They got me really close to the door so there's not as many tools I can get my hands on and not as many things I could screw up as I used to.
But the manufacturing piece that's headed up by Robbie Reiser and the job he does with all the managers in the shop is just extraordinary. I can't imagine anybody is doing a better job than they are doing today at getting these cars ready.
The new Ford engine has come online. Last year was a teething period with it. Took us a while to figure out exactly what it wanted. Doug has the measure of it now. As Carl said, the engines we have here are a little better than we'll have next week for the 600. But the engines that we have here will be coming by Chase time in the fall.
So the engine is good, the car is good, the engineering is just incredible. People ask me, How do we get off last year? The winner of 2009, 2010, we had some simulation help that we had consultants help us with that didn't correlate. The correlation, Ford stepped in and helped us with it. Things are correlating now.
When the engineer tells the crew chief, which Bob is an engineer himself, so he looks at things different than a lot of crew chiefs do, but when he gets the indication that the sensitivity is going to be track bar for this track or it's going to be wedge or camber, whatever it's going to be, he believes that and it works out that way. We would not have had the year we've had to this point if our engineering didn't stand as tall as the rest of it behind it.
Q. Carl, you said you didn't like that 10-minute break. Seemed like tonight a lot of breaks, 50-lap segment where things got strung out. Is it time to reexamine the format of this race?
It ended up being a race that we were able to pull away from.
CARL EDWARDS: Hell no. It's perfect (smiling).
No, you have to remember, you're not always going to have side-by-side, three-wide finishes. I think that tonight our car was superior. It ended up being a race that we were able to pull away from.
But one little thing being different, one different bump-stop combination, track bar height, tire pressure thing, it could have been a much different race.
I believe, as much as we ended up winning the race by, I think that's a rarity in this event. I think with a 10-lap shootout at the end, four fresh tires, nine out of ten times it's going to be a much closer finish. Changing the format, I think that would be a jump.
I know I was really nervous about that last run. I did not feel like we had it in the bag by any means. So it just so happened to turn out that way.
Q. Carl, I think you were kidding. You said somewhere out there I guess NASCAR is mad, think we're hiding something with the car, I think you referred to the incident in the grass. Can you elaborate on that and shed some positive light on the destroying the car incident.
CARL EDWARDS: I think some people would like to think that I'm smart enough and savvy enough, all of us are, to come up with some trick and destroy it like that and make it look like an accident. We're not that smart. I really did just tear up the racecar.
They have to look at it, like they might have tried to gain an advantage, which we didn't. I'm sure that the conspiracy theorists will ponder that for a while. But that's okay. It's what happened.
The light I was going to shed on it, you never know what comes from misfortunes. It was definitely unfortunate that I tore up that racecar. Like Bob said, we got another one at the shop. It might be the difference in winning the race at the Coke 600. I'm going to have confidence that something good will come out of it.
Q. Carl, if you aren't the most coveted free agent, you are among them. How does having this much speed tonight and all year impact a tough decision that you're facing?
CARL EDWARDS: All I'll say about that is we're running really well right now and it's because of Jack Roush, Ford, all these people's hard work. Those talks are going on behind closed doors and we'll hopefully get something done.
But right now we're running well and that is fun. What I'm trying to do is focus on that because we have a championship to win this year. That's the number one goal.
Q. Carl, last year Kurt Busch won this race then won the 600. How much confidence does this give you?
CARL EDWARDS: Did he use the same car, do you know?
We really have struggled at this racetrack. I have. Jack has had a ton of success here. Bob and I, I would say it's fair to say that we have been not very good here and sometimes terrible. I think that we figured some things out. Bob and the guys have done a really good job. I think it bodes well for the 600, for sure.
I would hope we can come back here next week with as good or better a car and definitely a lot more confidence than we had before we got here this weekend. That's good.
I think some of the things we learned here we can apply later in the season, which will be important. But, you know, this is the first time I've come here and run like this, so it's huge for me.
If you look at our whole season, we've run really well at almost every racetrack. It's been a really good season. That's because of Jack, Robbie Reiser, all the guys at the shop working to get everything in order.
Q. When you went up in the grandstands, looked pretty crazy. You stole someone's hat. Looked like someone was trying to take the checkered flag from you.
CARL EDWARDS: That guy wouldn't let go, but I was taking it with me.
That's really fun. The fans are what make the sport so great. I was impressed with how many fans were here tonight to enjoy this race. It was neat to be able to go up in the stands. The first one I ran into had an Edwards shirt on, that was pretty cool. Just to be able to go up there, that's a lot of fun.
It's just one of those things, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing the first time, but now it's one of the neatest things about winning.
Q. Carl, four of the next seven races are on intermediate tracks, if you consider Michigan intermediate, not to mention you're going to be at Pocono where you won twice, then Daytona. Heading into the 600 where you've admitted you didn't run that well before, going to tracks where Roush has been dominant, what kind of confidence does this give you to expand on your points lead?
CARL EDWARDS: I haven't spent much time looking at the schedule. Yesterday we sat down and we started looking at the next month. I'm really excited about it. Just like you said, got some tracks coming up that are really good for us.
I feel like Jack and Doug have got the engines to a point where we can run with and beat most of the guys on the racetrack, go down the straightaways. Bob and the guys at the shop have got the cars really good. My pit crew, tonight is exactly what we needed for their confidence. We know they can perform those fast pit stops. I'm really looking forward to these tracks. It's going to be fun.
It's fun to have the points lead because it's like a little insurance. You go to these tracks, it's good. You can take little gambles, you can race hard because you have a little cushion. Hopefully we can keep that up.
Q. Carl, did it surprise you tonight that there were very few accidents and very few cars torn up during the race?
CARL EDWARDS: It did surprise me that everyone raced so cleanly. I truly believe we're at a point in the sport right now where guys are getting better and better all the time, the car setups are getting better, people are understanding how the air works on the cars so well that the guys are able to do some amazing things. I think you saw that tonight.
I saw in that first race, there were some guys sideways, three-wide, sliding, saving the cars. Paul Menard had an amazing save at one point. Everybody is doing a good job. I think that's what you're seeing on the racetrack every week.
Q. Bob, some guys bring a new car to this race. Some bring an old car. What did you bring?
BOB OSBORNE: We ran this car at Phoenix and Martinsville this year.
We build each car the way we think it needs to be built, bits and pieces wise...
CARL EDWARDS: That thing was all used up anyway.
BOB OSBORNE: Yeah, maybe once or twice (smiling).
CARL EDWARDS: That's the one we crashed just like that at Phoenix?
BOB OSBORNE: We did the same thing at Phoenix to that car.
CARL EDWARDS: That's what I'm talking about. Positive light on a bad situation. That was good (smiling).
BOB OSBORNE: I don't really have in the shop particular builds for particular racetracks, per se. We build each car the way we think it needs to be built, bits and pieces wise, to go to whatever racetrack we're going to. Bodies are the same. Chassis are the same from track to track.
Q. Was it a disposable car or your best car for this track? Disposable car or things you wanted to test?
BOB OSBORNE: The 99 program does not have disposable cars. We don't have test cars either. What we try to do is build the most similar car across our fleet so we have consistency. So there is nothing special about this car relative to it being the All-Star Race.
Q. What happened in the infield grass? Bob, are you able to shed a positive light on it?
CARL EDWARDS: Bob was a little pissed off about it (smiling). You guys know, I usually pull down there, do a back flip. I thought, Hey, I'm going to do a slide to the grass. This will be great. As soon as I turned to the grass, I found the drainage cover there, I guess. It just dug in the splitter. I didn't expect that.
Bob has been doing a really good job of keeping the splitter down. It helps on the racetrack, but it doesn't help on the grass. There you go.
My mom brought me this half hundred dollar bill. I forgot about it. She's been carrying it around in her purse. Humpy Wheeler gave me this in 2005 on pit road. He tore it in half and he said, I'll give you the other have when you win the All-Star Race.
So I don't know if Humpy is anywhere around, but I owe Jack $100 from another deal. It would mean a lot.
I thought that was pretty cool. Thanks for saving that, Mom.
Q. Any positive, Bob?
BOB OSBORNE: The only positive I can see here is that Jack allows us to build a new car.
JACK ROUSH: I get credit for having a lot of power in the organization. As strong as I am, I'm not strong enough to slow down the manufacturing thing. There's more new cars that flow into this thing that we can wreck or use, and we have warehouses full of the ones that have been cast aside.
BOB OSBORNE: That is a fact, we do build some racecars.
Q. Jack, with your dominance right now on the intermediate tracks, in years past would you have worried about NASCAR making changes to try to hold you back? Is that no longer any kind of issue in this era of the sport?
JACK ROUSH: What used to cause the concern was when you had the cars being dramatically different from manufacturer to manufacturer. Of course, whenever one car would win more than its share for a period of time, there would be a rules change that would impact that manufacturer.
But the cars are so similar today as far as the aero mapping and the engines for their parameters, the dimensions are similar among the engines, there's not really an excuse that can be made, nor does NASCAR have an inclination that they can make based on a manufacturer's performance because they spend so much time behind the scenes making sure they don't give out one manufacturer more than another. Maybe I should be concerned. You may know something that I don't.
10 years ago, I'd have been very concerned about a rules change right now. But today I don't think that it's in the cards.
Q. (No microphone.)
JACK ROUSH: No, you know, there was a time, and I used to look at the things, even the chassis and the engine both, you'd look and you'd have a trick. You would say, Man, you got the front spring, the higher intake port, or you got a camshaft for the bigger diameter quill, you'd have a trick. Until everybody else found out about your trick, you could use that to your advantage.
Today there's no tricks in the sport. It's hard work. You go to a place like Daytona, the biggest reason we were able to have the dominance we had there with all of our Ford cars is the cooling systems worked better. It's the cooling system performance, the aero performance, the brakes, the kinematics of the suspension. All of those things have to be right.
It's not a matter of finding a trick. With all the inspectors they have today, they won't let you have a trick. It's a matter of doing the complete job better than everybody else.
Once you get that going for you, you can ride it for a while. We're going to see what we can do with it for the rest of the year.
Q. Jack, can you talk about the value Carl brings to the organization.
JACK ROUSH: Well, Carl is a rockstar. He's the only back-flipper in the field. He's the first one to crawl up into the stands. Some of the drivers wouldn't go up in the stands like that after a race, and for good reason. But Carl, he's well thought of and he's out there doing things that other people wish they thought of first, and he drives the hell out of our racecars.
He was the cornerstone of our organization today. He's a draw for sponsors and a rallying point for his team. All the guys that work on all these cars that don't get to go to the racetrack will be able to stand a little straighter on Monday because Carl won here. The last time Carl won, of course the times he didn't win, he missed a couple races just because Bob --
CARL EDWARDS: It wasn't Bob's fault.
JACK ROUSH: I told Bob there were no right or wrong calls at Darlington or Dover.
Carl has been a factor at all the races. He would have had a good shot at Phoenix. He won in the fall there, had a good shot in the spring, if he hadn't had an encounter with another car and wound up off the racetrack early on.
Q. Carl, you and Kyle raced each other hard for a lot of the race. You do have a history. He came on strong at the end. Did you feel like he raced you clean? Did you race each other okay?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, he raced me really clean. I thought we raced each other really well. We didn't race much that last 10-lap segment. That could have been pretty wild if we had to go door-to-door for it.
Overall I thought everybody did a very good job of being very aggressive, to the limit. Greg, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie, Kyle, all of us were racing really hard. I don't know what it looked like, but it was turned up a little bit tonight on those restarts, for sure.
We're trying to maintain the focus on keeping our season together...
Q. (No microphone.)
CARL EDWARDS: No, I wasn't too concerned. Our car was pretty good. I would have welcomed any type of race. We were ready to race. It was on 'go.'
Q. Jack, you just spoke pretty glowingly of Carl. Where do things stand in your contract negotiations with him?
JACK ROUSH: I think Carl said it best. We're trying to maintain the focus on keeping our season together. We want to put ourselves in the best situation we can to make a championship run, to be in the top 10, then make a championship run in the closing months of the year.
It's going on behind closed doors. With some accuracy, I say I really don't do the money, I try to stay out of the money part of it. But I will have to pay attention to this deal as it gets closer. It's not something that we're going to debate or discuss in the public. It's not a media issue, it's a private business issue that's ongoing.
Q. Carl, this is sort of a money question. Before the race a lot of drivers were talking about the million dollars. Kenseth said, I got three kids to put through college now. You mentioned the million dollars a few times. Is a million dollars still a lot of money to a driver? What do you want to do with it?
CARL EDWARDS: You could ask Bob or Jack, my mom or anybody. Any money's a lot of money to me. We're talking about that earlier today.
BOB OSBORNE: You want to see a fight, let me grab this hundred dollar bill over here (laughter).
CARL EDWARDS: It's only half a hundred.
It is a very big deal. I think all of us sitting up here, we've all been very fortunate. We've got great incomes. We're doing what we love. We all started at a different place. I think every driver out there respects that Sprint is putting up a huge amount of money for us to go race for. It's just surreal, it really is.
JACK ROUSH: If you looked at our organization, I think the other top teams do the same, we have a hundred people that stand behind every driver. They all get fed by what the car generates. That financial incentive affects everybody in the organization.
CARL EDWARDS: It's a lot to you, isn't it? Buy a lot of diapers.
Q. Bob, how glad were you that everybody had to take four tires on that last stop?
CARL EDWARDS: Let me say, I was real glad (laughter).
BOB OSBORNE: Considering the last two weeks, I was very glad we were all on the same field relative to tires. I will comment about the 10-minute intermission. That's obviously unique to what we do. It is very nerve-wracking to have to do it that way. Normally we're making really split decisions and we're used to doing it that way so there's no time to second guess yourself.
There was a lot of discussion about changes, what to do, why we should do this, a lot of back and forth. It was more, like I said, nerve-wracking than what we're usually experiencing on a pit cycle, so...
All in all, I was happy it was four across the board.
KERRY THARP: Carl, Bob, Jack, congratulations on winning the 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Keep it up, you guys are having a great year.
CARL EDWARDS: Thanks a lot, guys. Thanks for all you do. Thanks for being here late and doing everything you do. Appreciate it.
JACK ROUSH: Thank you.
BOB OSBORNE: Thank you.