Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is 10th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. Edwards visited the Bristol Motor Speedway infield media center between practice sessions to talk about the start to his season...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is 10th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. Edwards visited the Bristol Motor Speedway infield media center between practice sessions to talk about the start to his season and other issues.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CUP AND BUSCH RACE? "I'll start with the Busch race. This Moisture Control Fusion is really fast. It's probably the best car I've ever had at Bristol. It's a lot of fun. We were really great yesterday and the Cup car was just the opposite. It was awful. We were about 47th on the sheet or something, but this morning practice went really well in the Office Depot car of tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to both races. I think they're gonna be a lot of fun. The car of tomorrow, for me, it's really hard to get it to turn in the center of the corner. The better and better we get, it's starting to feel a lot more like the Busch car and like the other cars did here, but I'm just having fun. It's a great place to come and drive and it makes you feel like a race car driver when you go around this place."
CAN YOU TRANSFER ANYTHING FROM THE BUSCH CAR TO THE CUP CAR? "I wish we could, but they're different enough that the front springs and stuff like that we can't really transfer. I told them that about halfway through practice. Bob Osborne, my Cup crew chief, was listening in on the Busch practice and I told him, 'This thing is really good. If there's anything we can do to make the other car feel like this one, we'll be set.' Bob was silent (laughter), but he got to work and it was a lot better this morning. I think it's gonna be alright tomorrow."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE LEADING THE BUSCH POINTS AND HAVE A GOOD CHANCE AT THE TITLE? "It's really exciting to be leading the Busch Series points. It's a very competitive series and it would be unbelievable for me as a driver to win the championship at that level, so that's what we're focused on right now. We've got a great team. PK (Pierre Kuettel) and the guys are doing a great job and it would just mean the world to me to win that championship. If we can do that, that would be good."
WHAT'S THE LATEST ON YOUR SPOTTER WHO HAD THE HEART ATTACK? "Bobby Hudson is doing really well and I appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers, that means a lot. When I went and saw Bobby the first time, he looked bad. Now he's calling me on the phone. He's been writing lists of things I need to be doing different and better to go faster. He's the same old Bobby, telling me all the things that we're doing wrong and trying to help out. He's a great guy and he's doing really well. He's been at the shop and he's up walking around. I think they gave him permission to drive his car, so he's been running all over town in Charlotte, so it's really awesome to see him doing well."
WHEN WILL HE BE BACK? "I don't know when he'll be back. I hope really soon. He's a huge help to our team. Jason Hedlesky is an unbelievable spotter. Jason is racing the ARCA race today so we've got Rich Woodlands helping us out, but Bobby is great so I hope he's back soon. I don't know when he can do the schedule, I just hope he has enough time with his family and can recover fully and enjoy life."
WHEN DO YOU THINK THE DIFFERENCES IN THIS CAR WILL REALLY SHOW UP? "I Dover will be the place where it really shows up. I think Dover is fast enough. I think that it's finicky enough to get the handling just right that that's where this car is gonna be really tough. Phoenix is flat enough and if you kind of force the car around enough Darlington is banked, but you can kind of throw the car around a little bit more at Darlington and change your line a lot. Dover is pretty simple, you've got to get right to the bottom and be glued to the line. I think that's gonna be the track where the aero stuff shows up and where a lot of teams are gonna struggle with handling."
WHO LOOKS FAST IN THE CAR HERE? "I think from when we showed up at testing Denny Hamlin looked really fast. I think he's gonna be probably the guy to beat. Kasey Kahne looked really good at the end of this last practice, but it's kind of changing. In each practice it's like there's somebody else that pops up that's fast, so I think people are kind of figuring it out. We picked up three-tenths or something from yesterday. We can run 16-flats now, where we were running 16.30's. It'll be interesting to see. There are a lot of guys working right now waiting for this second practice. I think at the end of this second practice it will be more of an indication of who is gonna be fast and I don't know who that will be yet."
DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE AS TO HOW THIS RACE WILL PLAY OUT TOMORROW? "From what I can tell, everybody is being extremely courteous and giving a little extra. The car is a little different, so even something as simple as the left side of the car sticks out a couple more inches from where your head sat in the car. Those little things are gonna make a difference here tomorrow, but everybody seems to be really courteous and taking it easy. I think everyone knows how much they have to lose if there's big wrecks, so I hope everybody sticks to that plan. My forecast is that the first 300 or 400 laps are gonna be really tame and everybody is gonna give a lot."
WHAT ABOUT THE FINAL 100? "I don't know about the final 100 (laughing). A lot of things change."
IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'VE GOT THINGS GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION THIS YEAR. "Yeah, this year has been going pretty well. We got caught up in a wreck at Daytona. It's like we had a link between the flagman and when we pitted at Vegas or wherever that was and went a couple of laps down but, other than that, we've had great runs. I think this is the first time we've been back in the top 10 in points for a long time and I feel like going forward it's just getting better and better. I'm pumped about it. We've got some new things going on back at the shop that are gonna be great this year -- some new equipment and things coming in for testing -- so, hopefully, it should just keep picking up."
WHAT IS THE KEY FOR YOU THIS YEAR? "The biggest thing, I think for me, that I'm realizing just in these few years is that I just want to keep the same group of guys. We've got a great group of guys right now. I don't want to take anything away from our team. If we can add to it, that's awesome, but I don't want to lose anybody else. I just want to grow with what we've got. We've got a great new engineer. Bob Osborne is a great crew chief. Jason Minor is doing a great job car chiefing. I just don't want to lose any of that. I just want to keep gaining ground. I think if we can do that, it should be awesome."
HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED SINCE LAST YEAR? "I've learned a lot from last season. It's tough on me, it's tough on the crew and my fans and everybody because we had such high expectations. It was very humbling. I think that, for me, I learned how to be a lot tougher competitor and to focus on things that I can do to make myself better and make the car better. I think I'm a lot better points racer. That's what we're trying to do here in the Busch Series and in the Cup Series this season and it's shown that on the bad days we don't panic and just get everything we can. Maybe a year or year-and-a-half ago I would have been flailing or grabbing for something that wasn't there."
DID YOU GRAPPLE MENTALLY LAST YEAR CONSIDERING HOW HARD IT IS TO GET TO THIS LEVEL? "I think that's why a lot of these guys are so tough physically and mentally because we all have tried so hard to get here. Everybody has a story and usually it's a struggle. That is something that's all relative. People say, 'Oh man, last year was awful. How did you deal with it?' It's like, 'Man, when I was really struggling to get here, that was pretty tough.' Last year, relatively, wasn't that bad so I think that those struggles early in my career really kind of helped me deal with this stuff. I stood alone with no hope of any success for a long time, so now I have a great team around me and I think we were 12th in points or something and that's not the end of the world."
-credit: ford racing