Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings while still holding a commanding lead in the NASCAR Busch Series. Edwards held his weekly Q&A session after Cup practice...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings while still holding a commanding lead in the NASCAR Busch Series. Edwards held his weekly Q&A session after Cup practice Friday.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
HOW WAS PRACTICE ON THE NEW SURFACE? "Our Office Depot Fusion was really fast. We were struggling a little bit with the Scotts car over on the Busch side, but Bob Osborne and everybody did a really good job and the car seems pretty fast."
HOW WILL THE RACE CHANGE WITH THE NEW SURFACE AND THE WIDTH OF THE TRACK? "I got the chance to sit up there in turn three the other night and watch the end of the truck race and it looked to me like people are gonna be able to hang on on the outside and maybe even make some passes on the outside, where in the past, if you were running along in line and somebody moved you out of the way or you'd slip up, you would fall back. Now, it looks like there will be truly two or three grooves of racing."
DO YOU EXPECT LESS BUMPING AND BANGING HERE? "I don't know if you can take any of the bumping and banging out of Bristol. It's still a really small track and you're going really fast. I'm interested to see 200 or 300 laps in how all of the dynamics work out with passing and whether or not it separates the field more or keeps everybody close together. I can't tell what line is gonna be the fastest at the end of the race."
WHAT CHALLENGE DO YOU FACE WITH A SHORT WEEK? "The biggest challenge with the short week is for the guys. The truck drivers and guys at the shop turning things around and not getting to be at home with their families for very long. For us drivers it's pretty simple, we get on our planes. I was home Tuesday afternoon riding my bicycle in Missouri, but all of the guys had to go back and really work hard, so it's hard on them."
DO YOU LOOK AT THE COT CAR DIFFERENTLY NOW THAN 10 RACES AGO? "Yeah, the reality is we're gonna race this new car every race next year and we've got to get used to it. Now I don't look at it as just a novelty or a one-off thing. This is what we're focusing on and, as a driver, I'm starting to get used to it a little bit more and it's starting to feel more like a race car."
HOW HARD IS IT TO MAKE UP 165 POINTS IN THREE RACES FOR THE GUYS CURRENTLY OUT OF THE CHASE? "To make up 160 points or something like that in a few races is really hard, but this is auto racing and anything can happen. Bristol here is gonna be a real bottleneck race for guys who are close in the points. You could run first or second here just as well as you could have an accident that's not your fault and run 43rd, and there are 140 or 150 points difference there, so it'll be interesting to see how the points work out after this race."
YOU SEEM TO BE GOING ALL OUT AND TAKING CHANCES THE LAST FEW RACES. IS THAT THE CASE OR DO YOU STILL HAVE THE BIG PICTURE IN YOUR MIND? "I have the big picture in the back of my mind, but I don't know if I'm taking anymore chances, I just think the one I took at Watkins Glen was just more obvious. I think everyone is really hanging it out. Look at a guy like Kurt Busch. They're doing everything they can. I know all of the teams are feeling the pressure. Some guys are in a position where it's all or nothing now and other guys are right on the inside of it trying to not give up too much and we're kind of in-between. I feel like if we can just come out of here with a top 20 or 25 we're almost locked in the chase, so, really, the last couple of weeks we've been being a little more aggressive and I don't think that will change."
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO PREPARE FOR THE CHASE RACES THE LAST FEW WEEKS? "The last few weeks I personally haven't been looking at the chase yet. We've been so busy doing everything we can and there are still so many hurdles. This COT race here on the new surface at Bristol, that has occupied a lot of my thoughts and a lot of the team's effort. I know from a testing standpoint and all that we've been focusing on the chase, but I don't think I'll get into points racing and chase mode until after Richmond."
IS THE TRACK CHANGE DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT AS FAR AS THE SETUP GOES? "It's pretty interesting. Concrete race tracks are real touchy anyway as far as the setup. You're either on or off. If you're a little too loose, it feels real loose. You add that to the banking here at Bristol and it feels like a new race track to me. The old Bristol was so much different with the bumps and the way you drove it. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. It's kind of surreal to have the same shape. Everything looks the same, but it's just real smooth. It's wild."
ARE YOU ATTACHED TO THE 99 NUMBER? CAN YOU IMAGINE DRIVING ANYTHING ELSE? "It just gets down to people get used to certain things. You build a brand around certain numbers and sponsors and drivers. I think for anyone it's always a shock when something changes. I personally have never really thought about driving a car other than the 99 since I've been in it, but I think with anything, after people get used to a change -- it took me a long time to say Nextel Cup Series, but now it sounds normal. I think people get used to any change, but, yeah, you do get used to certain things."
-credit: ford racing