Carl Edwards, a native of Columbia, Mo., teamed with Missouri-based MB Motorsports for seven races in 2002 and immediately turned heads with an eighth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in just his third start in the series. Edwards continued to ...
Carl Edwards, a native of Columbia, Mo., teamed with Missouri-based MB Motorsports for seven races in 2002 and immediately turned heads with an eighth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in just his third start in the series. Edwards continued to impress, recording a fifth-place qualifying effort at Indianapolis Raceway Park later that year, and now the 23-year-old is poised to compete for rookie-of-the-year honors in Craftsman Truck Series 2003.
CARL EDWARDS-63-Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Ford F-150 - YOUR FINAL RACE OF THE 2002 SEASON WAS IN LAS VEGAS. WHAT HAS THE TEAM BEEN DOING SINCE THAT TIME? "We've done a lot of stuff. We started lately working real hard at the shop just getting the truck ready. Before the new year, we were working really hard on finding sponsors. We made a promotional video in the off-season and that was an educational experience putting something like that together. We put together all of the clips from last year, and we've been knocking on doors and going through the whole process. We've haven't secured anything but I think we're close. I think the new Speed Channel package is only going to help us in our efforts to get somebody on this truck for the 25 races."
YOU ARE SIGNED UP FOR THE ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR PROGRAM. DOES THAT MEAN YOU EXPECT TO RUN THE FULL SEASON EVEN WITHOUT SPONSORSHIP? "We are preparing to run all of the races. We are trying to align ourselves with the right people so that we have all of the equipment in order. The only thing lacking right now is a corporate partner to help us take care of the things we need to buy from race to race. We're approaching the season like we're running the full schedule."
YOU'RE INVOLVED WITH A TEAM THAT HAS LIMITED BUDGET COMPARED TO SOME OF BIG NAME ORGANIZATIONS. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR LEVEL OF EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC? "It's really good to do well with a budget that is stretched farther than most other teams. We spend less money than a lot of the teams that we're competitive with. On one hand that makes you feel great, but on the other hand, as a driver, you know you can be better with some additional funding. I think it's better for me in the long run to start out on a team like this and I'm hoping that it's not so much of a stepping stone but that I'm able to help get this team to the next level as I try to progress to the next level. It's necessary for the success that I plan on having as a driver to know all of the things that I'm learning by being part of Mike Mittler's organization, who understands racing. Mike has assembled a volunteer crew, so these guys aren't out here to collect a paycheck, these guys are racers. Mike runs a business and he doesn't have to race, he does it because he loves it and he spends his own money. It reminds me every time I work with him of why we're doing this. If for no other reason, it's to be as fast as we can be."
YOUR TEAM IS BASED IN MISSOURI WHILE MOST NASCAR TEAMS ARE BASED IN NORTH CAROLINA. IS THAT JUST ANOTHER OBSTACLE THAT THIS TEAM HAS TO OVERCOME TO BE COMPETITIVE? "In our situation I think it's better being in the St. Louis area. With the size of the operation that we have, we would be the small fish in a big pond, but with where we're located, we're more of a big fish in a small pond. People in our area know that we represent the NASCAR name right there in our area, and people are more excited to work with us in that area and we hope we can turn that interest into a better ability to find a sponsor."
YOU TURNED HEADS WITH YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORTS LAST YEAR, BUT IT SEEMED LIKE YOU HAD DIFFICULTY PUTTING TOGETHER THE COMPLETE PACKAGE. DO YOU FEEL MORE CONFIDENT ABOUT ACCOMPLISHING THAT THIS SEASON? "Last year, there were so many times that we were doing well, like IRP. We qualified fifth there and it was really fun until the first pit stop where I made the mistake of driving past the pit stall. You try to be prepared for everything and pit stops were something that I wasn't really used to and it's not something that you can really practice. I think if I can keep from making those mistakes and we can continue to make the lap-by-lap success that we've had, I think we're going to be all right. But, to run as well as we hope to run - we think we can run in the top five - we can't have any failures, mechanically or mentally. I have to be just as flawless as the crew just because we don't have anything to make up for it if we do make a mistake."
THIS TEST IS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY. HAS IT BEEN TOUGH TO ADAPT TO THIS TRACK WHEN YOU'RE USED TO DRIVING ON THE SHORT TRACKS? "I now know why Mike Mittler won't let me drive their new Excursion; I've been driving my old junky car with broken balls joints down the road. It's because the race truck wiggles around a lot going down the straightaway. It's good practice going down the interstate in my car. It's really neat. We roll in here in the morning and I have to pinch myself every time because it's amazing that Carl Edwards get to race at Daytona; this isn't supposed to happen."
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO EXPERIENCE THE DRAFT YET, AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FORM WHEN YOU'RE OUT THERE BY YOURSELF? "It's really boring to out there by yourself as far as driving, and I was following those guys and I told Mike that the front-end felt like it was off of the ground. You get right behind somebody and you go into the corner and it feels like it is bouncing off of the ground. Someone commented afterwards that their data said that their left-front was off of the ground. There are some interesting things that happen out there. I went up and stood up on the tower and I watched and I thought it looked easy, and you're out there and you start noticing the little things like the hood shaking and it definitely does not turn off of the corner very well. We're hoping to get some practice in today to work on the truck, but it will be a long 100 laps in February."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BE FLAWLESS AT A TRACK YOU'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE? "I have this problem where I am a real perfectionist and I really get upset when I screw up. I've been in sort of a training routine at home. Besides working out, I'm home sitting in front of the computer trying to simulate a 100-lap race here. It's helping me to keep my focus and not screw up. Racing is so mental and I think the biggest problem that I've had is that I get too excited and I think I can put more effort into it and make things better, but that's not how it works in racing. You have to relax and take what you can get and no more. That's where being flawless is really tough."
IN YOUR OPINION WAS THIS IS FLAWLESS TEST? "No, it wasn't. I made a couple of little mistakes but nothing catastrophic. One thing in my position, I haven't been around as long as the guys working on my truck and I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. They've been in this series since 1995, and when I pull out onto the track and if I fell something that doesn't quite feel right I think it must just be me. Sometimes I catch myself not saying something is wrong. In this case we had a loose engine mount bolt and so the gear shifter was moving around a little extra, but I thought that's just how it works at Daytona. I came back in and they said they couldn't believe I didn't say something, but I was just nervous to say something. I'm learning every lap out there."