CARL EDWARDS -- No. 60 Dish Network Ford Fusion HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE 2007 NASCAR BUSCH SERIES CHAMPION? "It feels great. In 2005, we went out to run the Busch Series full time. At the beginning of the year, we didn't have a full time...
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 60 Dish Network Ford Fusion
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE 2007 NASCAR BUSCH SERIES CHAMPION?
"It feels great. In 2005, we went out to run the Busch Series full time. At the beginning of the year, we didn't have a full time sponsor for the Cup side and I was really excited about running for a championship in 2005. We got close, then in '06 we got a little bit closer. This year, especially the first half of the year was just so spectacular, PK [Pierre Kuettel] and all of the guys did such a great job and we had luck on our side. It just feels great to be a championship. I won championships at my local dirt tracks and I won two, then I won the Baby Grand Stock Car Racing Association Championship in 2002. It feels great."
PIERRE KUETTEL -- No. 60 Crew Chief
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE CHAMPIONSHIP CREW CHIEF?
"It feels really good. I finished in the Cup series a couple of times in the top five. I finished second in the sports car championships and finally getting to be a champion is a really good feeling."
JACK ROUSH, OWNER ROUSH FENWAY
TALK ABOUT THIS CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON WITH CARL?
"We, of course, had a great start. The rhythms in this business will just drive you crazy as a driver or crew chief, mechanic or an owner. We had an unbelievable start to the year and of course it was unbelievable that we had to get a lot of it back. I would not been surprised after it started to the turn if we would kept breaking things, kept crashing and kept having things go wrong. When that monkey gets on your back, he rides hard and he's got sharp claws. It means a lot to me to be able to watch Carl win his championship in NASCAR and to watch PK win his. We moved Carl around the Busch Series. He didn't stay long enough in the truck series to win the championship there which he certainty could have. We didn't keep him in the Busch Series before we moved him into Cup. Every time for everything we tried to do with Carl, we really put some amount of risk to his career. When he came back a couple of years ago and tied for second with Greg Biffle for the Cup championship, I felt that we hadn't made a mistake for Carl. It was going to be okay. Then Mark Martin never did win a championship with us in 19 years. For us to win a championship now with Carl and get that behind us is really big."
JACK MENTIONED HOW THE RHYTHM LEFT. HOW DID IT GO AND WOULDN'T COME BACK?
EDWARDS: "I just couldn't believe it. I'll never forget Kentucky. We were dominant. We were half a second faster than the field and just doing great leading. On a late restart, I'd already decided who I was going to give the trophy to. I was thinking this is going to be great and sure enough, we got wrecked there. Then, it just seemed like it wouldn't stop all the way up to Memphis last week. That monkey does have some sharp claws. I don't know. That's just the way racing goes though. I think it was Jimmie Johnson who said that momentum was an unbelievable thing. When it's going great it's unbelievable, when it's going bad it's unbelievable. We've had both this season. Hopefully we can just finish these last two races and get a couple of wins and keep going."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU AT THIS POINT IN YOUR CAREER?
EDWARDS: "It's just amazing. I say this a lot, but I've lived two completely different lives. I've been to Texas Motor Speedway. I was here in 2000 with Mike Mittler working on his truck. I drove in the right seat of the semi here from Missouri. I don't remember where I stayed, probably is somebody's roll away in the hotel. I came here and carried ice bags. I just helped out. I did that and to be staying there on pit road with the championship trophy in the NASCAR Busch Series, it's amazing. A lot of good people have helped me. These two up here [Jack Roush and Pierre Kuettel] have done an amazing amount of work for me and fiI'm extremely grateful. It's a great feeling. I can't wait to start the season next year as a defending champion and hopefully do it again."
DO YOU THINK YOU WEREN'T ABLE TO KEEP THE MOMENTUM FROM HAVING TO GO BACK AND FORTH FROM BUSCH TO CUP?
EDWARDS: "No, there really was nothing. It doesn't matter to me to race three times a day, seven days a week. That doesn't affect me. The deal is, it was just terrible luck. Charlotte for example, of all the people to spin out by themselves and collect us, I never in a million years thought Jimmie Johnson would have done it. We had a dominant car all day, so here we go. We led most of the race, we got caught up in a wreck that was a complete fluke and the 29 car wins the race and we finish 40th or whatever. It's just like the luck was astoundingly bad. I don't think there was anything we really could have done. We had the stuff that happened at the road course that was spectacular, welds breaking and parts failing, it was just amazing. I think we just had a lot of bad luck. I'm glad we could still overcome it and win this driver's championship."
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ROUSH FENWAY UP TO THIS.
EDWARDS: "I'm going to write a book, but I guess I could give you the short version. I decided when I was about 13 or 14 that I wanted to drive race cars and from then on I bothered every person that had a race car that I came in contact with. I had business cards to hand out. I never actually handed one to Jack Roush but I'm sure I handed one to 50 or 60 people that he knew or came into contact with. And eventually, some how Max Jones and those folks called me up. I didn't know whose number it was when my phone rang. I knew it was a 704 area code and that was from North Carolina. I remember right where I was standing when Max Jones called me. I remember about six or eight months later exactly what I was doing and where I was when they called me up and said 'hey, you can come and drive this Craftsman Truck. We don't have a sponsor or anything but you can come drive it.' I just remember how amazing that feeling was. It's amazing."
ROUSH: "The unsung hero sponsor for Carl, outside his mother and father and family not withstanding, but Mike Mittler. He probably made a great person investment percentage-wise in terms of what it meant to him, to Mike, then certainly that I have. And Mike Mittler is a guy that I thank for giving Carl a shot and bringing him to our attention."
EDWARDS: "You're exactly right. If Mike didn't have that truck and wasn't within driving distance of my house and I couldn't go up there everyday, I definitely wouldn't be here. I'd be doing something else."
DOES IT TAKE ANYTHING AWAY NOT GETTING THE OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP LOCKED UP WITH THIS? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT IN HAVING THE DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP FOR YOU?
ROUSH: "I feel like a second-class owner if I didn't manage to do that."
EDWARDS: "You're not."
ROUSH: "I thought about this question. In fact, I thought about it earlier today that somebody is going to ask me what I feel like tonight when Carl wins as a driver. If I want to be argumentative, I could pick the best road race driver and the best flat track driver and the best mile-and-a-half driver and have those in my car at different times. Then if I was lucky, you would do better that than you would do with either one of those drivers driving in all three of those different cars. But it isn't that simple. We're third behind Denny Hamlin, too and Denny's done most of his own driving. The Childress organization did a great job putting great drivers in the Busch cars and they had good fortune to go with that. They've just done a great job. And Carl's done a great job. I managed to put him in road race cars and PK helped me with some of that. But I managed to put him in road race cars that broke twice and we lament that and we'll thrash ourselves for that over the winter. But that's not the only reason we got beat. We were unlucky on the race track. We just got caught up in wrecks that we're anybody's fault. So some of the things we could have avoided and that was my fault. Others we couldn't. Like I said, there's a rhythm to this thing. When Matt Kenseth won his championship in 2003, there was a good part of that year when it looked like he was going to win that championship when it looked like he was not going to win a race. Of course, we could do no wrong. We couldn't break a part, we didn't have a flat tire, no body wrecked in front of us, and we didn't cause a wreck. That's just the way it goes. I certainly will do a better job in providing the leadership that will help PK and help the team put Carl in stuff and all the drivers in stuff, the cars and trucks that don't break. That's my primary responsibility. And I assume the responsibility of falling short on that this year."
CAN THIS EXPERIENCE CARRY OVER TO OTHER THINGS?
EDWARDS: "Yeah, it's an accomplishment that I will be able to take with me for the rest of my career. It definitely feels good. I've learned a lot this season and I feel like I learn a lot every year and every race, for that matter. This is something that is a great feeling. Years from now, hopefully this will be one championship of many. I'm just excited to get the first one done."
ROUSH: AT WHAT POINT DID YOU SEE THE TALENT IN CARL? HOW MUCH DID YOU SEE? DID YOU EVER THINK THIS WOULD BE THE OUTCOME?
"You consider what a person does on a race track and you consider who would speak for them and the recommendations will come. I enjoyed Benny Parsons when he was around. He was always watching for talent and he would help me with that. And he brought Greg Biffle to us and for which I'm eternally grateful. So you look at who would speak up for somebody, try to make an assessment as how good you think their equipment is. Different times we've had drivers in our programs that have not been as well thought of as they should have been because our cars weren't as good as they should have been for a period of time. Then I'm inclined to make an assessment of where I think somebody else's program is. Then past that, not everybody that can technically drive a race car has got the determination, the motivation and the inclination to be able to close the deal and win. A driver needs to be a gun fighter. A driver needs to be somebody that you wouldn't like to stand between him and something he needs because when it's really important. I've seen some people mad and me and I've seen some people that see me as a burden or somebody that is in the way. The gun fighter's look in a driver's eye is very important. Your really good drivers are drivers that close the deal. They give you a look like a red-tailed hawk when it's really important. Then they close the deal."
ANY THOUGHTS ON BEING THE LAST BUSCH SERIES CHAMPION? EVEN THOUGH IT'S A NAME CHANGE, WILL IT FEEL DIFFERENT NEXT YEAR?
EDWARDS: "I hadn't thought about it much. But, the other day they unveiled the logo and I got to be part of that for the Nationwide Series. Anheuser Busch has done a lot for this series. To be involved for so long and doing so much, I'm very grateful for that. It's a great company. From what I see, they've done their best to support the series and it's nice to win a Busch Series Championship. But I look forward to Nationwide being the in the series. They're really excited about it and in a few years, it'll be just like NEXTEL coming in and stuff. I think the name will be just as synonymous with racing and the performance that everybody sees on the track. Hopefully we can get one of each, it will be great."
HOW WOULD NASCAR'S CHANGES IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES AFFECT YOUR DECISION TO RUN?
EDWARDS: "It will make it more uncomfortable because I'll have to wear all that make-up for my disguise. It will be tough, all the logistics. I hope that I can race. They way I look at it, if I go to the local dirt track, there's a dirt track that runs on Wednesday nights and I want to go build a late model and go race for points, I can go do that and I'm glad that I can. And I feel that way about the Busch Series as I've got a great team and we've got sponsors that are excited and I'm grateful that I get to run for points in that. If NASCAR feels that they need to change for the good of the series, then I'll do whatever I need to do. If it turns out that I can't race or whatever, that's what I'll do. I just hope I can still race in these Busch races when I want to."
HOW PHYSICALLY DEMANDING IS IT TO DO BOTH SERIES? OR DO YOU THINK YOU'LL TAKE A STEP BACK AND CONCENTRATE ON THE CUP CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT YEAR?
EDWARDS: "Jack and I actually talked about that a little bit. We might try to experiment a little bit next year in focusing more on the Cup Series if it can help. I'm really at a point in my life, I'm 28 years old, I've wanted to race cars for 10 or 15 years now worse then anything and now I have an opportunity to go do it. Really, all I have to do is eat, sleep and drive race cars and I'm going to do that for a while. To me it's not physically difficult or anything. I try to be in the best shape I can be and go to sleep at night and make sure I right and things like that. It hasn't been very demanding. Jack's made it very easy flying me around in the jets and it's really not that bad."
ROUSH: "One thing that we have talked about, there has been a temptation to go to a Busch race on Friday and go back and forth a couple of times on a weekend. I think that's pretty much out of the question going forward. Because you do wind up not doing the best you probably could do in the Busch car for yourself and certainly not as good you could do in the Cup car on those weekends where the races are apart. Carl and I are racing dogs. And most of the people who really carry their energy to the limit are in this business. If they'll let us race for a championship in the Busch Series, that's just fine. If they don't let us race in the Busch Series for a championship, that is also just fine. As long as we can carry sponsors that have the interest in promoting it and I can afford to make a viable business out of it, we'll be there."
WITH EVERYTHING BEING ALL CHEVY FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIPS AND NOW YOU HAVE A CHAMPIONSHIP, IS IT A REAL SHOT IN THE ARM FOR YOU TO BE ABLE TO SAY TO FORD, 'LOOK WHAT WE DID, WE GOT YOU A CHAMPIONSHIP'?
ROUSH: "We'll Ford expect us to race for the championships. There was a time when Ford had a third of the field. And you would expect in those times to win every third year. We don't have a third of the field now with Toyota in and Dodge in and with Chevrolet in; at the most it's like 20-25%. We don't expect to win more than our share, as much as you'd like to win all the time. Ford will certainly celebrate this. But there's no reason to believe that we can't win the Cup championship in the same year."
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU TO REACH THIS LEVEL? HOW DID YOU HANDLE EVERYTHING THIS YEAR?
KUETTEL: "Being in this a long time and finally getting to this point, it's quite and accomplishment. Fifteen years ago or so whenever I saw this on TV for the first time and thought this was pretty cool and thought maybe I'd like to do this. So the hard work doing all sorts of different jobs from driving the truck to doing everything and getting to this point is great. I've worked with a lot of different guys and people. Jack was nice enough to give me a job back in '99. I worked with Jeff Burton for a number of years and won a lot of races. I've had a lot of great equipment and a lot of great people to work for. It's been pretty easy with Jack. If you apply yourself and keep you nose to the grindstone, he sees that and he moves you around which is very nice. Thank you, Jack. Yeah, you have a hard time not getting down when you don't have the luck go your way. It was pretty frustrating at Charlotte. I know we that had an outstanding race car and we didn't come away with a win. Last year, we had let the championship get away from us and I think there was one stretch there we had six weeks we were leading with less than 10 laps at the end and we didn't get the wins. So, to have four wins last and four wins this year, you can't take that away. That's a great accomplishment but I'd still like to get a couple more before the year's out that's for sure."
-credit: ford racing