This Week in Ford Racing
August 5, 2003
NASCAR Craftsman Truck
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford, has burst onto the racing scene, capturing two of the last four NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events. The 23-year-old Missouri native captured his second win of the season last week at Indianapolis Raceway Park, and in front of team owner Jack Roush, Edwards did a celebratory backflip from the bed of his Ford at the start-finish line. Even though his truck is currently unsponsored, Roush has committed to running the full season with Edwards, who is currently 10th in the point standings and is leading the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings.
CARL EDWARDS-99-Roush Racing Ford F-150
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA TO DO A BACKFLIP AFTER WINNING A RACE?
"I saw a poster on my buddy's wall when I was about eight of Ozzie Smith doing one. I thought, 'Man, I've never even seen a baseball game, but if I was going to go to one, I'd watch him.' Then I saw Tyler Walker do it after he won a sprint-car race, and I though that would be cool to do for the fans. Then we started doing it at Holts Summit in Missouri and the kids loved it, so I kept doing it ever since."
ARE YOU A GYMNAST OR DID YOU HAVE LEARN THE ART OF A BACKFLIP?
"I'm definitely not a gymnast. The practice was brutal, too. We had a padded room up at the University of Missouri. I used to go up there after my weightlifting, and I practiced with my girlfriend. She was a good coach and it worked out, but, man, I hurt my self a couple of times."
YOU'RE CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO DO IT ON CONCRETE?
"I can do one right here, there's no problem. I practiced. I think that if I was going to fall down at any point in my life, I would want it to be in victory lane because I really don't think it would be that bad."
THERE WAS A RULE CHANGE FOR THE CHEVROLETS HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND'S RACE AT NASHVILLE. IS THE CHANGE GOING TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR ALL THREE MANUFACTURERS?
"We've worked hard on our trucks this year to try to get more front downforce without adding drag, and it's been a great expense for us not only in time, but in money as well. Chevy is getting a free pass with the rule change and it's not so much a Chevy versus Ford thing, but it's a Dodge versus everyone else situation. When we go to the bigger tracks the Dodges have an advantage over everyone. To give a rule change to the Chevys, and they've got the points lead, is not going to level the playing field. I wish they'd just take something away from the Dodges rather than give something to just one make. We've worked hard to overcome the deficit we're in right now and we'll just have to work even harder. Hopefully, the additional work doesn't put too much of a strain on our guys."
YOU TESTED AT NASHVILLE SUPERSPEEDWAY, BUT YOU'VE NEVER RACED THERE. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO GO TO A NEW TRACK?
"Nashville is a type of track that Jon and I seem to run well on. It's nearly a mile and a half in length, it's got good banking to hold the trucks and it's wide enough to get some good side-by-side racing. I've never raced there but we tested there a few months ago and we were really happy with the test. It was after that we tested there that we really started seeing an improvement in our speedway program. We know we have the motor to get around there and hopefully Jon and I can put on a good show like we did at Kansas, Texas and Kentucky."
IS THERE ANY NEWS ON THE SPONSOR FRONT?
"I think we have quite a bit of interest, and you'd have to ask Jack, but from what I can tell, we won't have sponsorship problems next year, hopefully. We're trying to develop this thing. They tell me they want to develop my talent for the long haul so we're not going to rush into anything hastily, and we want to come up with a partner that we feel good about and that we can do the best for.
JACK ROUSH, Owner-99, 50-Roush Racing Ford F-150s
WHEN WILL YOU DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO RUN CARL AND JON IN THE TRUCK SERIES NEXT YEAR?
"It'll be a 12th hour kind of thing, toward the end of the year based on what our sponsors want and what our assessment is from Ford Motor Co. on what their participation will be going forward."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE IN CARL FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON?
"For Carl, there has been more change in the team being able to do what Carl and Jon both need than there has been in either one of them in terms of what they can do. Carl went through the natural progression of being motivated to go out and show what he can do and not having the equipment to support that. So, we had some wrecks, and we had some things that didn't work out in Carl's favor as a result of his trying harder than he should in equipment that really wasn't able. The discussion we've had and I'm sure his mindset is to take a truck and get the most out of it that he can every time that we race. If the truck's not perfect, Carl's willing to wait, as Jon is, for the guys to work on it and try to get it better. We' didn't have that understanding to begin with. Carl wasn't sure that each race wasn't going to be his last and that he was out there to make as much of a statement as he could. What did he know about Roush Racing and Jack Roush, except for the fact that we'd given him a little bit of support to get going and he didn't have the understanding that he has now. And, it wasn't as clear to me what Carl could do and how much we can help him in developing his career. We're both committed and certainly I'm secure with it, and I hope he is, too. For that reason, if we have a third-place truck, I think Carl will be willing to finish third rather than pile it up in the fence trying to win."
YOU ATTENDED THE RACE AT IRP LAST FRIDAY. WITH THE RACE COMING DOWN TO FUEL MILEAGE, HOW INVOLVED WERE YOU WITH THE RACE STRATEGY?
"I was totally ignorant of what they were doing with gas. I just look at the crew chief who was going to make the final decision anyway and I said, 'Doug, are you in trouble?' He said, 'Nope, we're going to be fine.' I really haven't worked with him long enough to know if he was lying to me or not, but I accepted that and I went off and watched the radar to see what the weather was doing and I was thinking maybe it will rain anyway. The rain didn't happen and Doug was OK and between the two of them they worked it out and I had my hands off, I wasn't involved in it."