Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Scotts Taurus, finished a career-best third the last time he raced in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Edwards, who comes into this weekend fifth in the point standings, held a Q&A...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Scotts Taurus, finished a career-best third the last time he raced in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Edwards, who comes into this weekend fifth in the point standings, held a Q&A session prior to Friday's practice session.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Scotts Taurus
ARE YOU SURPRISED AT YOUR PERFORMANCE SINCE STARTING IN CUP? "We've had some really good runs and I think that says a lot about the team that I'm involved with. Not knowing much about these race tracks and these race cars and the competitors, I think it's the team being so well prepared and having such great people and great teammates to lean on. That's what's helped me the most, but, yes, definitely some of these runs have been really surprising. It's really neat to be able to run that well in the Nextel Cup Series."
WHAT RE-ENERGIZED THIS TEAM WHEN YOU JOINED IT? "Jeff Burton and I talked a lot about it right when that transition was happening and he was moving over to the 30 car and I was gonna take over the 99 car. That team - Bob Osborne and Pierre Kuettel and Jeff Burton and all of them - had worked really hard and it was building momentum. It was right at the crest when I got to jump in, so it made me look really good, but the team was building a lot of momentum before I got there. I think a lot of those good runs were just the culmination of a lot of work at Roush. As you noted, we ran 10th at Michigan and I was the fifth Roush car, so Roush Racing as a whole seems to just have amazing strength right now and it's really neat to be a part of that. I don't think it has as much to do with me as it does with Roush Racing, but I'm the lucky recipient of all that work."
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM THE TRUCK SERIES TO CUP? "I can only speak for myself and a little bit for Kurt in saying that what helped me the most is having teammates that were willing to share information. The Truck Series is one thing and the trucks drive completely different in my eyes than the Cup cars, so for me to go run a Cup car it was a little bit difficult to get used to. I go back to Richmond. We had a test there, where I felt pretty comfortable in a Truck at Richmond and I got in a Cup car there and I really struggled through the first day of this test. Mark Martin was there testing a car also and it took probably 15 minutes of going over there and talking to Mark, looking at his data, and finding out exactly what he was doing differently. The next day we were fast and we ran sixth in the race. It was like the whole thing turned around and it could have taken me years to learn what I learned in that one day with Mark Martin. So I feel a lot of that transitional ease or the ability for me to go get in that Cup car and go fast has to do with the willingness of my teammates to share information. I don't know if other guys who have had trouble had that luxury of having teammates that would share like mine have."
ONCE YOU GOT THE RIDE WAS IT ON AN INTERIM BASIS TO SEE HOW YOU DID AND THEN RE-NEGOTIATE YOUR CONTRACT? "Yeah, that's how racing works altogether. There are no guarantees. Boy, that was a little bit nerve-wracking. I don't have very much experience in these type of race cars to begin with, so I was a little nervous that maybe they were asking me to do something a little bit early - a little bit prematurely. Then I thought, 'Man, you don't get very many opportunities like this. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and if I'm not prepared for it well enough, I could really set myself back a long way.' So I was a little bit worried about that. There were no guarantees. We didn't have a sponsor. I viewed it as though I was racing for my career. It was my one opportunity and I think that pressure really helped me a little bit. I like that kind of pressure and it really made us run a little better, but there are no guarantees."
WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO SOME OF YOUR COMPETITORS BLENDING THE LINE BETWEEN FAIR AND UNFAIR LAST WEEK? "Boy, I hate to say something because we could have a rules infraction this week. I don't know. I think it's difficult. NASCAR is in a difficult position because they do the best they can to regulate and to try to make sure that everyone is competing fairly and has the same equipment before the race starts, so that the show that is presented to the fans is not diluted in any way or that at the end of the race they're not gonna change the outcome. I think NASCAR does its very best at that, but, man, I don't know.
"It would really frustrate me and it does frustrate me to get beat by someone and then find out that you weren't competing with the same configuration of your car and theirs was illegal. That's really tough, but we've all been part of it. My first win at Kentucky, we accidentally had the wrong heads on the engine and that was a big issue. It's not the driver's fault. We're all just trying to get the most we can and we can't blame them for it. Every once in a while someone is gonna go over the edge."
IS IT POSSIBLE THAT IT'S GETTING TOO HARD TO DETERMINE THE GRAY AREAS? "Yeah, I know the teams I've been involved with, we've had a couple of rules infractions in the vehicles I've driven and I believe most of them were just that we weren't specifically trying to get around a rule, it's just that there are so many rules that it's really easy to miss something and have an infraction. Like a weight jack bolt or something like that that came off another car that's not legal, I mean, those things happen all the time, so most of the rules infractions, I feel, are things like that. The ones that are obvious - people trying to subvert the rules - those should be dealt with harshly and NASCAR does a good job there."
YOU FINISHED THIRD HERE IN THE FALL. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO TEST HERE A COUPLE WEEKS AGO? "We ran really well with the car last year at Atlanta with the World Financial Group car and we want to run that well with our Scotts car here on Sunday. The rules package is different and the tires are different, so we wanted to make sure - even though it's the same chassis and we did our very best to get the car as good as it was last season - that we would come back here and run really well. So we planned on a two-day test. We unloaded the car and it was great. It was really fast, so we actually cut off the second day of our test because we felt so good about it. Really, it was just one of those things where you just wanted to feel good about it. We wanted to come here and unload and go, 'Alright, we're fine.' We weren't really looking for anything new, we were just making sure we were alright."
HAVE SPONSOR COMMITMENTS MADE THE TRANSITION FROM TRUCK TO CUP MORE TIME CONSUMING? "Yeah, I don't have much of a life outside of racing, so it's really just cut into my spare time but there's really been nothing too difficult. We've got World Financial Group, AAA, Scotts and Office Depot on the Cup car and we've got Charter and World Financial Group on the Busch car and I'm trying to do the best I can for all of the sponsors and it just takes a lot of time. So that has been a little bit different. It's time consuming." WHY DO YOU THINK ROUSH RACING HAS ADAPTED TO THE RULES SO WELL? "I feel like we have a strong engineering presence at Roush. A lot of the crew chiefs - and my crew chief specifically - has an engineering background and they do a really good job of modeling and testing. We have good test procedures and our aerodynamicists are great. I feel like, in that respect, it really helps us a lot to adapt to anything new that was thrown our way. We really looked forward to the new changes just because it's a change and we felt like we could adapt quickly. I'd say that technical background and that technical presence at Roush is what helps us."
HOW ARE YOU PLANNING ON DEALING WITH THE SCHEDULE CONFLICTS BETWEEN CUP AND BUSCH? "I haven't looked at it specifically. Sheri Herrmann knows all the specifics, but these have been really simple and they've been helpful to run the companion races with the Charter car and the Cup car, but there are obviously gonna be some that come up that are gonna be tough. We're trying to test at the tracks where I'm gonna miss some practice. Wherever I'm gonna miss practice in the Cup car or the Busch car, we're gonna try to test the respective car at those tracks so that it's not such a big deal when I miss any practice sessions, but I love it. It's cool to get out of one race car, get in a helicopter and fly to the airport, and run across the country and go run another race car. To me, that helps me focus a little bit because all I have to worry about it is racing."
IF YOU'RE CONENDING FOR THE NEXTEL CUP WOULD YOU RECONSIDER THAT SCHEDULE? "If we're running as well as we think we can and we're in contention for the championship in the Busch Series and to be in the chase in the Cup Series and it gets to that point we're not gonna change a thing. We're just gonna keep going. I think changing anything at that point, I'd rather just keep doing what we're doing. We're just gonna go for it in both of them no matter what."