Atlanta II: Winning team interview, part 1

Edwards Pulls off Atlanta Sweep No. 99 Office Depot Taurus CARL EDWARDS: "The car was just unbelievable. We started the day out and we were just a little bit free and some other cars had their act together right from the beginning, most...

Edwards Pulls off Atlanta Sweep
No. 99 Office Depot Taurus

CARL EDWARDS: "The car was just unbelievable. We started the day out and we were just a little bit free and some other cars had their act together right from the beginning, most notably Dale Jr. He really set the bar really far up there, so we worked on our car a little bit. Bob was really conscious of the magnitude of our changes and he kept everything really simple and it just got better and better. There at the end I was having a blast. I can't believe we ended up winning the race. That's pretty cool to say the least. I just can't get over the fact that we've won three races so far this season. That means so much to me that I can't describe it."

THOUGHTS FROM THE PIT BOX.

BOB OSBORNE , Crew Chief: "It was pretty tense in my eyes. He's running the high line - the quote-unquote Darlington line - but he didn't scratch the car too bad. I was pretty nervous the whole race, really. I felt we had a pretty decent car, but Carl was right, Dale Earnhardt Jr. really set the pace. That was pretty impressive and we were trying to run him down early on and we couldn't. Carl can speak more on that than I can, but we definitely were trying to run him down and we couldn't, so he had the car to beat. But we worked on it slowly but surely and tried to move up through the field and it worked out for us."

TV MENTIONED SOME SORT OF TRICK UP YOUR SLEEVE.

EDWARDS: "No, I just had a trick that was working for me. I wasn't gonna tell anybody about it, so I'm still not gonna tell anybody about it. I was just trying to tell him, 'Don't worry. I'm taking it easy. We'll be all right.' I was trying to pace myself. I could kill the right-rear tire if we went real hard, so mostly I was just saving it and I wanted him to believe me so I said I had a trick."

IS THERE ENOUGH TIME FOR YOU OR OTHER GUYS TO MAKE A RUN AND CATCH TONY?

EDWARDS: "Absolutely we're making a run. That's what we're here doing today - just doing our very best. We had some bad runs. We ran poorly at New Hampshire and Martinsville, and I'm just not as good as I need to be at those tracks yet, so what we're gonna do is take advantage of these tracks that we are good at, and we have great cars for, and we're gonna do our best to make a run. If we can pick up 35 points for the next three races I think we'll still lose by two points, but something like that - 36 points we'll win it by a point. Anyway, that's what we're gonna try to do. We're gonna go out here and make a run for the championship. I did not expect to be able to pick up this many points today and anything can happen in racing, so we're not gonna quit until the last lap of the last race."

JACK ROUSH , Team Owner: "We sure hate that Kurt Busch had his problem early, except for that we could have maybe put all of them in there. We're really good at mile-and-a-half race tracks right now. The guys have got the cars worked out so that they don't hurt the tires. They manage to be able to run a tire run with them now and some of our contemporaries can't do that, and they have reasonable speed.

"The engines - Doug Yates and Robert Yates and all the guys working on the engines are doing a great job. The engines today were just awesome and, of course everybody that worked on the car and screwed things together so nothing fell off of them. We had good pit stops. The pit stops were great. I was talking to Sheri on the way in. For Carl this is three times he's been to Atlanta and he's qualified top 10 all three times and finished third and two firsts here. I think he's got this Atlanta thing figured out. Of course, Bob's not slowing down either. I'm really proud to be with them here. I looked at the setup they had before they started and they were taking a little more risk than they have in recent history, but Bob threaded the needle just fine and Carl kept it under him and here we sit."

DID YOU HAVE A DRIVELINE VIBRATION AND ARE YOU GOING TO DYE YOUR HAIR RED?

EDWARDS: "As far as the first question, I was just whispering in Bob's ear about the vibration. Jack thinks I'm possessed or have some sort of imagination about vibrations...

ROUSH: "People talk to their race cars and they go back and forth on that, but Carl hears some really strange things from his cars that the rest of us don't know much about."

EDWARDS: "At least it does it when it's fast only. It was just a vibration. We have something that happens every once in a while. It vibrates and it shakes pretty good. I've talked to other drivers and they say that's just how they shake, but I just have a hard time understanding why it does it sometimes and sometimes it doesn't."

ROUSH: "There was one time today, and I don't know how Bob coped with that, but he clicked the mike and said, 'Do you feel that?'"

EDWARDS: "I said, 'Do you hear it?' So, anyway, as far as my hair, I did say that I would dye my hair green if we won at Charlotte and I have not said anything after that, so I am keeping my hair the same as it is right now. I don't know. If you guys think it would look good red, but I don't know about red. I don't plan on it."

WHAT MAKES RIDING THE TOP SO COMFORTABLE FOR YOU?

EDWARDS: "That's my favorite place to run, so I just really enjoy it. It's a blast. I used to race at this track in Holt Summit, Missouri and the fast line - they had this little guard rail up in turn one - and the fast line used to be with the right-side tires up on the guard rail. We won two track championships there just driving it on the guard rail. I just like racing against the top of the race track. It's a lot of fun. I was worried that I would slip up and make a mistake, but the car was good enough that I didn't have to drive hard enough to be in danger. It was just fun. I just really like running the top. That's one of the greatest things about Atlanta."

DID YOU EVER THINK CARL WOULD BE THE DRIVER WITH MAYBE THE BEST SHOT FOR A THIRD STRAIGHT TITLE?

ROUSH: "Carl's been a real surprise. We had a strategy last year when we didn't restrict the number of races we ran to seven. We ran as many races as we could. I forgot how many it was, but that's the reason he's not a rookie this year even though it is his first full year. But for him to have led this team to three victories and to have the blue sky that he's got and the potential he's got is beyond my wildest imagination."

DID THE AIR PRESSURE RULE AFFECT YOU AT ALL?

OSBORNE: "Actually, it didn't. We baselined practice on Friday exactly how we finished the race here in the spring, so we started with the same setup and monitored how the air pressures made the car change and went from there."

ROUSH: "As far as Goodyear managing the tire and the risk to the tire with air-pressure, as long as they do that for everybody it's great. We certainly don't have a problem. At Charlotte, when the whole business came up of monitoring the pressure during the middle of the race, there was substantial variance in the tire pressure gauges that they were taking from team to team and, of course, we hadn't been encouraged to calibrate our tire-pressure gauges before the race started, so there was some variance in ours as well.

"The variance that we had from what they recommended was just a few tenths of a pound or a half a pound based on the fact that I believe that the gauges were off. It may be our gauges that were off, but the worst time that we've ever had in the big picture - the worst time in this business we've had with tires - is when we had Hoosier and Goodyear doing a tire war back in the late eighties or early nineties. That was just terrible. Happily, we're not doing that right now. We rely on Goodyear to give us a nice, safe tire and to encourage us to use it in such a way that it will keep us out of trouble with it.

"Having said that, there is a component of risk that the crew chiefs manage and the drivers manage that's part of our racing. If you go out and run these tires before they build the pressure and when the tires are cold, or even after the pressure comes up, if you run them as hard as you can on the first part of a tire run, you won't have enough tire left to finish a tire run. So the driver and the crew chief and the spotter together work as a team to manage the life in the tires so that they've got enough tire left to run a load of fuel out. To have that taken away from the racing would be something, I think, that would diminish the ability of the guys with the experience and with the keen judgement to really race to the top.

"Goodyear has done a nice job. NASCAR has done a nice job. If they want to mandate tire pressures, that's OK. They picked the tires and tell us what we'd run, that's just one more thing that they could do to keep everybody out of trouble, but, in the meantime, with whatever is left I'm anxious for my guys to take as much risk as they can without being foolhardy and, by and large, we do that."

WHERE IS YOUR CONFIDENCE WITH THREE TO GO?

EDWARDS: "I feel very good about these last three races. I think we've only raced one race at Texas - one Cup race. I damaged the car just a little bit. Earlier this season I think we would have had a good race at Texas and I got into a little bit of a hurry and damaged the front of the car and we ended up not running very well. Texas is kind of an unknown.

"I love Homestead. We ran great at Phoenix this year. We finished seventh and we had an awesome car, so I feel great about our chances coming up to these next few races. But anything can happen. We could run great or we could run awful, but we're gonna try our very best. There's still an opportunity to win a championship."

WHAT CAR ARE YOU TAKING TO TEXAS?

EDWARDS: "It's a good question. I would like to take the car we just ran. The guys have done a really awesome job of catering to what I've wanted to do and brought this car to Kansas, Charlotte and here, so I guess that would be a question for Bob."

OSBORNE: "I'm planning on taking the sister car to the one we just raced this weekend. It's a brand new car, built exactly like the one we've got here. It's not out of the ordinary for us to bring new cars to the race track sight unseen, so to speak."

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Kurt Busch , Robert Yates