Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, will be trying for his third straight NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Sunday's Golden Corral 500. He spoke about that after Friday's practice session...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, will be trying for his third straight NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Sunday's Golden Corral 500. He spoke about that after Friday's practice session behind his team's hauler.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO COME BACK AND ARE THE MEMORIES STILL THAT FRESH? "Yeah, I was thinking about that in practice when I was sitting in the car. I can't believe it's only been a year. This day a year ago we hadn't won a Nextel Cup race. We weren't sure if we had a sponsor or not for the season. So much has changed and I'm so grateful for everything that's happened in a year, but I love coming back here.
ARE YOU LOCKING INTO A CERTAIN GROOVE HERE OR DOES IT CHANGE? "At Atlanta Motor Speedway you can run multiple grooves. I like running the outside groove but only when it's fast. We set up our Office Depot Ford today to run right around the bottom. I might have run one lap on the top just to see what it was like, but we were pretty good down there. You never know. When the race starts the fast groove might be right around the white line for the whole day and not up on the top like it was last time.
THE WEATHER MIGHT BE DICEY ON SUNDAY. HOW DOES THAT EFFECT YOUR WEEKEND? "I was fortunate enough to go do the Weather Channel this morning and I got a real good look at the weather. They said there might be a little bit of rain, so we spent a lot of time in race trim during practice. We made only two runs in qualifying trim, I guess. That's kind of our strategy -- just spend a little more time working on the race car trying to make it right.
THIRD TIME THE CHARM HERE? "That would be unbelievable. I don't know how probability works. Everytime you go to the race track you have the same chance of winning no matter how you performed in the past, so I'm trying not to think about what happened before -- just go out and do the same thing we did the first time and the second time and if we get the same result, man, that would be unbelievable.
IT WOULD BE BACKFLIP TIME. "Yeah, it would be a fun backflip to do for three in a row." DOES THIS TRACK COME AT A GOOD TIME FOR YOU? "Coming to this track is what we need right now. We need to just come out of here with a top five run, just like we did at California, maybe lead some laps and move ourselves up in the points. We had such a terrible week at Daytona and then Las Vegas was surprisingly bad. We didn't expect that so we need a good one.
HOW HARD IS IT NOT TO PRESS OR OVERTHINK COMING INTO THIS RACE? "That's a great point. I caught myself a little bit this week getting a little nervous thinking, 'Man, I've got to go win this race again.' But that's not the case. The case is we have to be in the top 10 in points at Richmond in the fall and that's all that we have to do. To do that, we can't wreck and we can't mess up. If we run second, we run second. I'm not gonna wreck the car trying to win it.
LAST YEAR THINGS FELL INTO PLACE BUT THIS YEAR IT'S GONE THE OTHER WAY. "I said at the end of last year that we had a great year and barely made the chase. We had a lot of good luck and things went our way a lot, but we did have some bad luck too. We went to Bristol and wrecked in qualifying, wrecked out of Martinsville, wrecked at Talladega, wrecked at the second Daytona. Hopefully, we won't have anymore bad luck this year. We're not changing our strategy. I'm not panicking. We're not doing anything, but if we go to Martinsville and Bristol and Talladega and wreck, that's gonna make for a miserable season, but we go to every race the same.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ATLANTA THAT YOU LIKE? "I think the thing I really love the most about Atlanta is just the pace of the race track, the way the banking is built and the way the corner entry is it reminds me of just a big dirt track. It's the same pace of what I've been used to growing up."
WILL NOT BEING ABLE TO TEST MARTINSVILLE BE A BIG FACTOR FOR YOU? "As long as it's the same for everyone there's really no difference. I would love to go and spend about two weeks straight at Martinsville and run a million laps, but that's not gonna happen so we just have to go there and do the best we can. I'm telling you, one of these days we're gonna get it. We're gonna haul the mail at Martinsville. We're gonna run great at the road courses. I'm not giving up. I don't care if I'm 40 years old when I finally catch on, but we're gonna keep working at it.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET BETTER? "We're gonna go try to test at some short track somewhere. NASCAR is doing a good job of limiting testing. Whatever they can do to make it to where there's less testing going on makes it easier on everyone.
WHEN YOU HAVE A BAD RACE LIKE VEGAS IS IT HARDER TO TAKE BECAUSE OF THE SUCCESS YOU HAD LAST YEAR? "Honestly, I've failed way more times than I've succeeded and some of my failures have been a lot worse and more embarrassing than Las Vegas that's for sure. I'm pretty confident I know what we did wrong at Las Vegas and that's comforting. If we were to run that bad and not know what we did wrong, that would be pretty scary so, I guess, no. It doesn't bother me.
DID YOU PICK THE WRONG SPRINGS? "Yeah, we tried some stuff that we probably shouldn't have. We brought a new car and tried some things. We brought the same car here and it's fast, so it wasn't the car. It was the springs we put on it.
IS THIS THE CAR YOU WON BOTH TIMES WITH LAST YEAR? "No, this is a brand new car. It was new at Vegas. That's Bob Osborne. He's ice cold. I couldn't believe he decided to bring the same car here. I was nervous about that.
WHAT ABOUT THE CAR FROM LAST YEAR? "We had two different cars, but Bob doesn't believe in that same car thing. That's something new to me. He's not scared to do great at a track and bring a whole different car. He relies on the data of the wind tunnel stuff so that's pretty cool.
HOW MUCH ARE YOU COUNTING ON TURNING THINGS AROUND THIS WEEKEND? "Atlanta Motor Speedway couldn't come at a better time for the Office Depot team. I guess we've run three races so far and we've run terribly at two of them. We need Atlanta. We need to come here and run well. We need to have a top three or top five day and that would help a lot.
IS THE CONFIDENCE STILL HIGH? "Oh yeah. All it took was about three laps of practice and they told me the times. I feel like this is gonna be a great race for us.
WHAT DID ATLANTA DO FOR YOU PERSONALLY? "I'm really glad we raced at Atlanta, that's for sure. It kind of made our year last year. That first win got us Office Depot as a sponsor and got the momentum going for the year. The second win was spectacular too, so Atlanta means a lot to me.
ALL THESE QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW TERRIBLE IT IS MUST TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE A LOT OF SUCCESS. "That's fine with me. I agree with everybody standing here. We want to do better than we're doing right now. If we didn't, we wouldn't be the competitors that we are. Our whole team wants to perform at the highest level and to do that we have to have a little bit of luck, but we can also be better at some decision-making stuff and I can do a little better job driving. If it was all easy it wouldn't be this much fun when you win."