Atlanta II: Winning team interview, part 2

Continued from part 1 WAS IT A TRACK POSITION RACE? EDWARDS: "He's asking how much of a role track position played in the race today and I believe you're right. Track position was pretty big here. I noticed that early on. There was one...

Continued from part 1

WAS IT A TRACK POSITION RACE?

EDWARDS: "He's asking how much of a role track position played in the race today and I believe you're right. Track position was pretty big here. I noticed that early on. There was one point where we kind of got shuffled back on a restart, but, really, it was only a track position type of race for maybe the first 10 or 12 laps of tire run and after that you could move around so much that you could make your car work, you could pass people.

"But what happens is everybody is so fast when they drop the green with new tires that everybody just nails it to the bottom, wide-open, and it's really hard to pass somebody in that situation. It's fast like a Charlotte was for a whole tire run, but the tires fall off more here. Track position would have been key in a short run, but on a long run it wasn't that big of a deal."

SOME GUYS WERE ABLE TO GET AWAY A BIT EARLY.

EDWARDS: "I did think about that because Dale Jr., he did, he got away. When he was leading, he could get away, and we did the same thing. When we were leading it was easy to get away from the guys behind us. It could be because of clean air. It could be because the guys are back there racing one another.

"The speeds are so high that if you get side-by-side with somebody you have to slow down so much because you lose side force and down force and the optimum line. I don't know. That's a good question. I'll take track position any day. I was really happy for our qualifying effort because of that, but, overall, on a long run I feel like we could have passed people."

WHAT DID YOU SAY TO CARL WHEN HE WAS CHASING JUNIOR.

OSBORNE: "This race track has a unique characteristic of wearing tires out extremely fast and the only reason why we tried to coach him not to push the car and pass the 8 car is so that the tire life would be there, so on a longer run - if that came about - he would still be able to be quick and not destroy a tire in the process."

HOW DO YOU RATE THE CHASE NOW?

OSBORNE: "It's more of a track by track basis for the next three races. There will be situations where we just ride and there will be situation where we push hard and go for the pass, but it just depends on the situation and the race track that we're at at the moment."

DID YOU LET MATT PASS YOU LATE IN THE RACE?

EDWARDS: "I didn't allow him to pass me. I think he thought I did, which is awesome, but Matt got by me and I saw his finger sticking out. I was like, 'Why is he giving me the finger?' I kind of moved over a little bit and I could see his knuckles and he was giving me the pointer finger like, 'OK, just give me a minute.' I was thinking, 'OK, now I see what's going on. He wants to lead a lap.' And then he was very gracious and I got up beside him and he didn't fight me too hard. I think we had a better car than Matt after about five or six laps, but he was real fast on the get-go, so he could have held us up and made it harder, but that was very nice of him and I was glad to let him lead a lap. But he thinks I let him lead a lap and that's what's really important.

"Anyway, Mark Martin and I talked about it earlier before the race. I mean, my teammates have done so much for me that I really think trying to help them in a position when I can help them is the right thing to do. I'm not saying I always will, but they're yelling at me to quit talking so I'm gonna stop."

DO YOU SEE MORE ENGINEERS AS CREW CHIEFS IN THE FUTURE?

ROUSH: "I'm gonna start off and say, 'Bless their hearts,' but there was a point in time when some of these crew chiefs couldn't read and that was a long time ago. They were very successful - some of them were very successful - but it's different now. And there are people that will tell you that demons abide in these cars, but when you look at the science of it, they probably don't. It's probably just something that you don't understand.

"For a crew chief to be able to lead a team and lead a driver, you can't get lost in mania, you can't get lost in conjecture, you can't get lost in rumor. You've got to take things apart and decide what you know to be true and what confuses you and deal with things analytically that are confusing. Bob's in a position to do that based on his education.

"Most of the guys, even without an engineering degree, can do that but Bob and Matt Borland and Ray Evernham - and the guys that have been crew chiefs in recent times that did have a mechanical engineering degree as it were - I believe are setting the trend for the future. They're certainly establishing a very high mark for the guys that would not have the formal education to take apart the problems for things that they do not understand. The great thing about Bob. Bob was a student of all the history and all the things that have happened to these race cars based on an imperfect world, so he understood the way things worked in the real world and he also understood how to take it apart and get into a book and analyze some data and reach a conclusion that made sense.

"So I think it's gonna be harder for the guys that don't have a formal, technical education to be able to deal with the things that come up as quickly as the ones who do have. I'm just proud that Bob is here and that I can hold him up to the other guys and say, 'Look, either consult with Bob about your issues or use Bob as an example in the way that he deals with his problems."

THOUGHTS ON THE 97 APPEARING TO BE OUT OF IT.

ROUSH:

"It's unfortunate. Jimmy and the team and Crown Royal and Newell Rubbermaid and Sharpie and all the other folks that stand behind it have made the same kind of sweat equity investment in that program as it did last year and by all appearance it's not gonna be able to enjoy the ultimate success of being able to win a championship. But Roush Racing - the 97 and before that the 17, and for that matter all five of our teams this year - have had more good fortune than the average of our contemporaries. I knew we were gonna have to give some of that back and I feared that we'd have to give enough of it back that we would not be in the top 10 with more than one or two of our cars.

"Fortunately, we were able to carry that, so that meant to me that I got more than my share of good luck in the 26 races that preceded the chase. Of course, now we're giving some more of it back. We've had some things that have struck here and there. If you look at the way this is gonna shake out, the points starting the chase were so close for all 10 competitors in there and the performance of the cars are so close that the issue is being really resolved by who has trouble. Who breaks a part. Who gets involved in the wreck. Like Kurt's first wreck wasn't his fault.

"So it's unfortunate that this business evens itself out, but the good side of it is that it does even itself out and if it's going bad for you for a while and you're doing the right things, the chances are it'll be better for you later. So we're getting what we deserve right now, which is not an ideal situation as far as the things that happen to our cars that we can't control - that are outside the preparations we're able to make - but in terms of what the teams have done and what the drivers have done - to a man - they've done a great job and they're all champions and they deserve any good result that happens."

HAS CARL PROVED TO YOU THAT THE SKY IS THE LIMIT?

ROUSH: "I wouldn't bet against Carl Edwards. If anybody that's got any money that they're going to Las Vegas with or whatever. I bet heavily with the investments that I make as well as my sponsors, but we think that Carl can be as good in this business as anybody that's been. The sky is the limit. We made a conscious decision not to waste this year by preserving the rookie status to make the best preparation we could.

"Once Jeff Burton made his decision not to go forward with us in 2005, then we said, 'OK, we'll use the rest of 2004 to get Carl as ready as he can be,' with the dream being that we could make him a championship contender. Did I think that would happen? No, not really. But did I hope it would happen? You bet. I was up on the balls of my feet cheering for him and cheering for Bob and chucking everything in there that I had that could make a difference and, wow, here we stand."

DID YOU SEE DEBRIS ON THE TRACK THAT BROUGHT OUT THE CAUTION ON LAP 284?

EDWARDS: "I don't know. Personally, I did not see the debris, but if they said there was debris."

OSBORNE: "The TV coverage showed debris on the race track. They were zoomed in. You couldn't tell where it was at on the race track, but there was a piece of debris. It looked like a piece of metal to me looking at TV, but that's all I could tell you."

WHEN MIGHT YOU FEEL THE PRESSURE OF THIS CHASE?

EDWARDS: "I don't feel any pressure. To be honest with you, everything in my life for the last three years has been icing on the cake and that's the truth. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I really do. I'm borderline neurotic sometimes about certain things, but I do not feel pressure from other people - from anything outside. There just isn't any pressure. I do this because I really love racing and I want to win this championship.

"I think, if anything, I might be having just a little bit too much fun. Jack agrees with that, but, no, I don't feel any pressure. We're having a good time. Nobody expects us to be here. Nobody expects us to win the championship. We're gonna go give it our best and see what happens."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Ray Evernham , Carl Edwards , Mark Martin