Carl Edwards, No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is currently in the top 12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. He held a Q&A session after Friday's practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway. ARE DRIVERS ATHLETES? "Yeah, I think...
Carl Edwards, No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is currently in the top 12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. He held a Q&A session after Friday's practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway.
ARE DRIVERS ATHLETES? "Yeah, I think definitely we're athletes. The only way I can explain it is I thought I was really in good shape and I was tough and all that, and then I ran my first Craftsman Truck Series race and I couldn't believe how hot it was and how taxing it was. It's not like you're in the car lifting weights or doing something like that, but it's really tough, especially when you start to focus because of how hostile the environment is, so I'd say we're athletes. I don't know if any of us would do that well in a foot race or anything, but these guys are tough that's for sure."
IS THERE ANY DANGER OF THIS BEING A TWO-MAN CHASE WITH THE WAY YOU AND KYLE ARE WINNING RACES? "No, I don't think it's gonna be a two-man chase, honestly. I told somebody that last week. I hope it is. That would be nice to just have to try to beat one guy, but there are so many good guys. I'm standing here looking at Kevin Harvick and Tony and Dale Jr. and Matt and Greg -- everyone has the potential to run really well and you can't count any competitors out. We'll know with about three or four to go, that's the only time you're gonna know who's gonna be in this thing."
ARE FRESH TIRES AS IMPORTANT AS TRACK POSITION LATE IN THE RACE HERE? "I don't know how this is gonna work out. We'll find out tonight, but you can definitely race more places on the track right now. It's still really hard to pass because they did such a good job of making each lane about the same speed, so it's real tough. I don't know how that will play out, though -- fresh tires versus track position -- we'll learn tonight, I guess, how that will be."
SO LATE IN THE RACE WILL TIRES OR TRACK POSITION BE MORE IMPORTANT IF YOU HAVE TO PIT? "It's hard. You kind of get a sense for that during the race, so we'll just have to see how it goes, but I would imagine there will be a lot more staying out than there will be getting tires here."
HOW MANY RACES DO YOU THINK IT WILL TAKE TO WIN THE TITLE WHEN THE CHASE STARTS? "Really, it doesn't take a win in the chase to win the championship. If you can finish second every week, you're gonna win almost for sure just statistically, but people seem to be stepping it up. There is a lot of teams that are running really well, so, just like anything, it's gonna be defined by your bad days, but it'll probably take a better average finishing position to win this championship than before."
YOU COMPETE IN CUP AND NATIONWIDE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE GIBBS PENALTY? "I don't know the whole story, but Gibbs was penalized for what they did and that's good that NASCAR takes a strong stance. I don't know the whole story, but it seems like the points on that penalty were a lot, but that's the first time I can remember in a long time an actual pre-meditated, planned out scheme to cheat. I don't know, I guess that sets the precedent right there."
NASCAR LOVES A GOOD RIVALRY. ARE YOU AND KYLE HEADED IN THAT DIRECTION? "That would be cool. Rivalries are good. They're fun, but it's still too far out. We don't know exactly how this is all gonna go. Me, personally, my rival every week is the person that's in front of me. There's not enough time to focus on one guy because you've got to worry about everyone else, so we'll see what happens."
RIVALRIES USUALLY START WITH AN ON-TRACK INCIDENT. WOULD THAT RAMP IT UP IF YOU AND KYLE GOT INVOLVED IN SOMETHING? "I don't know. We'll see what happens. I hope it comes down to just me and one other guy. If it's Kyle, that's fine. He'll be my arch nemesis and I'll want to beat him more than anything in the world. If it's Matt Kenseth, it'll be Matt Kenseth and I going to the last race. I'm just kind of curious to see what will happen. I think, really, all I can do is just do the best I can."
HAS DAVID PEARSON TALKED TO YOU ABOUT HIS RIVALRIES? "David Pearson is pretty funny. We've never really talked about that, but we've talked about a few things. He definitely needs his own column or radio show or something like that because he gets straight to the point. It's pretty neat to ask him questions about stuff. He doesn't go for the p.c. answer, he goes for exactly how he feels and that's pretty cool to have somebody like that you can call."
DID HE CALL YOU AFTER LAST WEEK AND SAY HE'S THE BEST DRIVER OF ALL TIME BECAUSE HE BELIEVES IT. "I know he does. That's why it was fun to joke around about that, but he's a smart guy, that's for sure."
HOW HAS THIS NEW LAYOUT CHANGED THE RACING HERE? "There's more than one groove, so if you're faster than someone, you can try to pass him another way other than running into him and moving him out of the way or rooting him out of the way, so it is different. I think it still remains to be seen exactly how the racing is because I don't think there's a specific lane that's fast. I don't think it just kind of depends on your car, so, as a driver, to me, I like it now a little more than I did before because I have options. It's still Bristol, though. It's still awfully tight and awfully fast."
IS THIS RACE MORE MENTALLY OR PHYSICALLY EXHAUSTING? "This place is more exhausting, period, mentally and physically. It's really tough physically just because you're so tense the whole time and that's the first thing you get used to, and then mentally you're really working the whole time and things are happening really quick. It seems relatively quicker than any other track we go to, so I'd say both. It's both physically and mentally taxing."
WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN FOR SATURDAY? "Just getting caught up in something. We want to go out and, hopefully, keep the nose clean and I believe our car is fast enough to run really well, so as long as I don't make any mistakes, have lapses in judgment and we don't get caught up in something, I think we should be pretty good."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE OLYMPIC ATHLETES? "We were watching badminton players and that's unbelievable. Every sport that's being competed at the Olympics is cool to watch because they're just the best in the world at it. The track and field stuff is amazing. I got to watch the 100 and 200 and some hurdles and that's wild. Obviously, the swimming is something that I definitely cannot do, so I look up to all those folks and it's just neat to watch them perform."
SO YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE A KILLER BADMINTON PLAYER? "That would be pretty cool. Tom, my motorhome driver, says he's gonna put up a court. He's really excited about it because we played in school, but you play for a week or something and that's all the badminton we ever played. It wasn't like this. They're really good."
JEFF GORDON SAID YOU AND KYLE WERE THE ONES TO BEAT. HE'S IN A WINLESS STREAK NOW AND YOU'VE BEEN THERE AS WELL. HOW DO YOU FIGHT OUT OF SOMETHING LIKE THAT? "You just have to go perform the best you can every week. It's really frustrating when you're not winning. We all come here to win and especially when you've won a bunch, but I can guarantee you that Jeff Gordon has not forgotten how to drive. They've just had things go in a way such that they haven't been able to win, so I'm sure he'll come out of it. We can never count him out for a championship, so we'll see. He might just be kind of laying low and getting us all to kind of forget about him so he can sneak up on us. We've got to watch him."
WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING A CONTENDER NOW VERSUS BEFORE? "What's different now, for me, is I truly believe we're good enough to compete week-in and week-out and I feel like we can win at every race track we go to. In 2005 when we were in the chase everything was real new and there were a lot of unknowns, so now I feel like I'm a lot more on top of things. I understand the pace of everything and how it goes and I think that benefits me now."
-credit: ford racing vvv