Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, won back-to-back Bristol night races in 2007 and 2008. He comes into this weekend's race ranked sixth in the point standings and is riding a streak of six straight top-10 finishes. CAN YOU...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, won back-to-back Bristol night races in 2007 and 2008. He comes into this weekend's race ranked sixth in the point standings and is riding a streak of six straight top-10 finishes.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR NATIONWIDE PRACTICE AND THEN CUP PRACTICE? "We had a flat tire on the Nationwide car in practice, so we changed and put another set of tires on, so it was a little bit difficult for us to tell exactly where we stacked up, but it appears there are a couple of cars that are really fast. We got our Fastenal Fusion pretty good there at the end and pretty balanced, so we're just hoping that the sun going down and the track temps coming to us will help tonight, and then the Cup car, we're pretty far down on the sheet. We had a lot of trouble the first few laps out in practice, but I felt like towards the end we got a lot more competitive and at least now we've been on both sides of the fence of having a good balance, so I think we'll be able to come up with something decent there. It's a tough track. Everyone is very close and the track seems to be very line sensitive, so I think you'll see a lot of different grooves being utilized the next two nights."
THE ROUSH FENWAY PERFORMANCE HAS IMPROVED A GREAT DEAL. IS THERE ONE OR TWO AREAS THAT YOU WORKED ON? "We've been working on a lot of different stuff. I think the engine is a big help. That FR9 has helped us more than I thought it was going to, honestly. Our old engine was pretty good, but this one is pretty spectacular. Someone sent me a text the other day showing the points, and I didn't know we had scored so many points the last six races. It's only six races and it's in the middle of the season, but that's a championship caliber run right there, so if we can just keep this up and keep going forward, that will be good. I'm proud of my guys. You all know how much we've struggled and to have all of our cars - Greg's car, Matt's car, my car - for really all of them to be as fast as they've been, that feels good. I hope we can keep it going."
YOU'VE ONLY LED 6 LAPS ALL YEAR, BUT HAVE SCORED SO MANY POINTS THE LAST FEW WEEKS. IS THAT WEIRD TO YOU? "Here's the way I look at it and Tony, I think alluded to it. I don't know exactly what you guys were talking about when I walked in, but he talked about winning races versus winning the championship. In a way, I'm more proud of our performance these last six races than if we had a dominant car and we were out winning races but not scoring as many points. I say that because in 2008 we won more races than anybody else. I know what that feels like. I know how the car has to be, and for us to do what we're doing and potentially do what we could do this year, if we were to win the championship without winning any races, in a way, that shows you that you're making a lot out of maybe a car or situation that isn't a race-winning one. So, yes, we'd like to be faster. We always like to be faster, but I'm proud of us for running as well as we are, and I think that stat shows that even without a dominant car, we've been able to perform very well."
HAVE YOU HAD THE LUXURY TO EXPERIMENT WITH CARS AND SETUPS? "No, we don't feel like we've had any cushion. Right now, I feel really good about these next three races. I feel like we can try some things and do some stuff because of our points, but, up to this point, it's full-on, as fast as we can go, get the best finish we can. There's no experimentation going on as far as I know. We've been too much on the edge."
HOW HAS YOUR MINDSET CHANGED IN THIS SIX-RACE STRETCH, GOING FROM 12TH TO 6TH. AND DO YOU STILL GIVE AWAY TROPHIES AND GET DUPLICATES MADE? "A lot has changed. When you're running the way we're running now, to me, it's a lot different. It's a lot more relaxed. I came into this weekend and if we were 12th in the points right now, it would be a stressful weekend. For me, I get to come into this weekend a lot more relaxed. I think we're on the verge of breaking through and getting some wins, so I feel better about that, and then you have the trophies. I give away almost every trophy and it just depends on the situation. It kind of depends on the weekend or who I meet that weekend or what's going on in the world, and we usually get a duplicate made. My mom really likes to have the trophies at her house, so we usually get a duplicate made. Somehow, I don't really end up with those trophies, but it's really nice to be able to do that. And the coolest thing is now, at this point, I think I've won 49 NASCAR races. I don't know how many trophies I've given away, but people come up to me now that I haven't seen for a couple years and they're folks that I was able to give a trophy to and they tell me about where they've got it in the house and what people say about it and how much it means to them. For me, that's more fun than looking at it everyday."
IS YOUR STRATEGY GOING TO BE DIFFERENT TOMORROW NIGHT? "I probably should, but I don't know if I will. I just want to go race. To me, having a clean race is the best thing, and I think with the stuff I've been in trouble for this year, those incidents have gone about as bad as they could have gone - not as bad, they could always be worse - but of all the things that could happen, kind of the worst-case stuff happened, so I'm just gonna go race the same way I've always raced. Especially since we're running this well, I've got a little more to lose, so I might think twice. I can say whatever I want, but once I'm in the race car, I'm a pretty hard competitor."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON GOING TO CANADA NEXT WEEK TO DEFEND YOUR NATIONWIDE WIN, AND HAS ANY DECISION BEEN MADE ON NATIONWIDE FULL-TIME NEXT YEAR? "I love going to Canada. When we won that race last year, to be able to beat Ambrose like that with as good as he was with the rain and the wet track, and then the crowd went crazy and was singing some song I don't know, it was cool. I'm excited to go back there. And then I committed to my team and to Geoff Smith this week that I'm gonna run full-time in the Nationwide Series next year, so hopefully we'll be able to pull all the sponsorship pieces together. For me, that's a great team I've got over there. We've got a great shop and a bunch of people that work very hard. I kind of halfway committed to doing it a year ago, these two years, so NASCAR says that we can't race for driver's points, I still feel like I owe it to my guys and my sponsors and myself to follow through and do what I said I'd do."
DO YOU THINK IN THE CHASE THAT THERE WILL BE A DIFFERENT STORY TO COME OR WILL IT BE SOMETHING THAT HAS ALREADY APPEARED? It's really hard to tell. It seems like it used to be that someone would have a run for a long time, and now it's like you can only hang on to an advantage for maybe a month. I still think a guy like myself and Greg Biffle or even Matt, as well as we've been running - Greg in particular has been very fast and the speed has been there - he could win the championship. Jimmie could re-emerge like that always somehow are able to do and he could win five of the 10 races in the Chase. I don't know. I just hope that the wheel stops and comes around the right way for us. I hope it works out."
IS THE REAL CARL EDWARDS IN THE CAR OR OUTSIDE THE CAR? "It's really simple. I treat everyone the way they treat me. I'm not gonna let somebody take advantage of me. That's all there is to it. I don't think I've ever gone out and been the aggressor of a situation or a bully or anything like that, but I'm not gonna let somebody take advantage of me. You guys obviously have a lot of opinions about that, but the people who know me and know what I'm about, it makes pretty good sense to them, but, for some reason, I guess some people don't like that or don't understand it." ATLANTA IS UP NEXT AND WE'LL SEE THE REPLAY AGAIN OF THE INCIDENT WITH BRAD. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT STILL BEING A TOPIC? "I mean, it's a spectacular result so I assume we'll see that a lot for a long time. It's pretty amazing people give me all this credit that I knew exactly how to flip a car over at a track that a car has never flipped over like that before, so that's what I was talking about earlier. That turned into the worst-case scenario, or the most dramatic scenario, far from what I expected. It's funny, if you look at this sport objectively, if you look at what's going on sometimes in different situations, it's pretty amazing how this same situation with the same set of circumstances can get twisted in so many ways depending on who is involved or what people say about it. What I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna go race my car as hard as I can and be the best person I can be just like I've always done and if people don't understand that, that's their problem. I did what I did and I did it for a damn good reason. I stand up and take responsibility for my actions and I've always done that, so there's nothing to be ashamed of. It's just the way it went."
WITH JACK'S ACCIDENT, AS A PILOT, DOES THAT MAKE YOU WANT TO GO OUT AND SELL YOUR PLANE AND IF YOU EVER SURVIVED TWO PLANE CRASHES WOULD YOU AUTOMATICALLY GO STRAIGHT INTO THE PRIESTHOOD? "Jack's pretty amazing. I think that reminded all of us. We all fly on airplanes and Jack is a really good pilot. He has as many hours or more hours than a lot of the pilots that are flying around in these airliners that people ride in everyday, so it proved to me that it can happen to anyone and you've got to be very careful. But, no, I'm not gonna sell my airplane. My airplane is great. I like it, but it does make me think a little bit more. That's pretty wild. It is pretty amazing. He's an amazing guy. Today, he's in a super-good mood. He's doing well and Jack is just an amazing guy."
IS THERE ANY DILEMMA ABOUT RUNNING FULL-TIME IN NATIONWIDE NEXT YEAR? "I don't know that there is a dilemma. I committed to racing the Nationwide Series full-time before I had a sponsor for the Cup Series full-time. In 2005, the Nationwide Series was all I had and the Cup deal came together as the year went on. I look at it as NASCAR, by saying that we can't race for drivers points is really only hurting a couple teams - myself and Brad's team. I think we might be the only two guys who are planning on doing it again next year, anyway, so if it's good for the series, if it pacifies some complaints out there or whatever is going on and it only hurts two guys, then that's a pretty good deal for NASCAR. I don't know the real solution. I don't even know the real problem. In our situation if I were to say, 'Hey, I'm not running the Nationwide Series,' that might actually hurt the number of seats that Jack Roush has available for young guys. So I don't know that me not being in the series, from our team's perspective, I don't know what goes on outside of our team, but I think that would actually hurt our ability to field cars. That's the way it's been explained to me.
"In a way, it would be neat if the Nationwide Series ran at different places - like I-70 Speedway or South Boston, places like that - then it might keep guys like myself from having the opportunity to go run for a championship. But if I've got the opportunity to do it, and I've got a team owner that's willing, it's really hard not to do it."
WHAT IS YOUR INTERPRETATION OF DRIVER ETIQUETTE WHEN ISSUES HAPPEN ON THE TRACK? "Here's the other thing, I don't comment on all these other situations you guys always ask me because I'm not involved. I don't know what's gone on between those two (Newman and Logano). If I were in one of their places and I was involved in it, I would know what was going on and I'd have something to say about it, but I think it's pretty weak of guys to comment on other situations and just criticize because of who their friends with and who they've had past incidents with. That's what I see going on. It's kind of like a little game and it's kind of funny actually to watch, but in that situation I've raced with both of those guys. I've had good races with both of them and bad races with both of them, just like everyone else, and that's their deal. There are certain guys that drive differently than other, but I think, for me personally, I would call them deals, but I have understandings with each individual driver. I race Mark Martin differently than I might race someone else because Mark races me a certain way, so you just can't have this overall thing. You've got to deal with each individual the way they treat you, and I think that's the right way to do things. I think that leads to some confusion, like what you're talking about when people don't understand how you can let a certain guy get away with something and another guy will not stand for anything that he tries to do. That generally, I think, works the best. That's the fairest way if that makes sense."
-source: ford racing