Edwards spoke about what the win means for the rest of the season, and how it impacts the 99 team this weekend in California.
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion, is fresh off a victory last weekend at Bristol, and now is in position to change strategy, having all but locked himself into the 2014 Chase. Edwards spoke about what the win means for the rest of the season, and how it impacts the 99 team this weekend in California.
DO YOU CARE ABOUT POINTS AT ALL NOW? “Of course. Mathematically we aren’t in the Chase. If 26 guys win races then the points are going to be pretty important. We are aware of that. We aren’t going to go crazy right now. We are going to kind of see how things go for the next month or so and then once we really feel like we are locked in – the easiest way to lock ourselves in is to win this weekend, then we will be good. Once we are in that position, it will be completely pressure free which will be really nice. This is the first time I have been in the media center in awhile, that is another perk of winning; I get to talk to you guys. I am glad to be back.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE AERO PACKAGE FOR THIS TRACK? “I was looking at that radar display they have at the end of the front straightaway – 207 mph at the end of the front straightaway means there is an immense amount of aerodynamic influence on the race car. I would say it is probably equal with the tires influence on getting the car around the track. It is hugely important here. I would have to say after following Matt Kenseth around with his salvaged vehicle or whatever he had last week that I don’t think aero was a big factor at Bristol. Here it is huge. I am not picking on his car particularly, it is just that the rear end was tore up badly and he was still fast. You can’t do that here. Aero is a big deal at California.”
LAST YEAR WE HAD THE INCIDENT WITH JOEY LOGANO AND TONY STEWART WHERE HE RAN DOWN TO BLOCK ON THE BOTTOM. WHAT IS THE ETIQUETTE THERE? “Well, on the last restart I don’t think I have ever thought of the word etiquette in relation to that. I don’t know if there is much. Now especially. They ought to charge more for the seats down in turn one. Here, they drop the green flag and if one guy stumbles or shows a sign of weakness and there is a lane, the track is like 85 feet wide plus a little apron and grass, there is a lot of room to run here. I don’t know that there will be any etiquette and there will probably be people mad afterwards. It is going to be interesting.”
SHOULD SOME OF THESE RACES BE SHORTER? “Hell no. No. Longer is better. We were talking about that today and my opinion is that is is supposed to be a test of man and machine. People pay good money for the tickets and ought to make an afternoon out of it. To me, I don’t know, I guess some people might be jaded that come to the race track every week and only think about going home but for me racing, to finish a 500 miler somewhere that is special. That is what NASCAR is about to me. It is supposed to take a whole afternoon.”
WHAT DOES THIS WIN LAST WEEK DO FOR YOU MOMENTUM WISE AND HOW MUCH DOES IT LIFT THE TEAM? IS THERE MUCH CARRY-OVER HERE? “I don’t think there is a lot of carry-over from Bristol. It is funny because we talked about that in the negative sense after practice. We were so bad in practice. We just figured it doesn’t matter because it isn’t a sign of how bad our team is and then we went and won the race. I guess we can’t turn around and say it is a sign that we turned things around. We know Bristol is a stand-alone, very unique race track and we don’t think there is much carry-over. It is huge from a team perspective that we were able to bring great cars there and all our Fords ran so well. It is a morale booster but it won’t make our cars faster here in California. Our California package has to stand on its own.”
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS WILL BE IN TEXAS THIS YEAR? “We were pretty good at Texas. Hopefully we will be good there again. Texas is a fun place to run well. Everything is a big deal there and it is a lot of fun. I really like going there. That track is going to be an indicator of how well you run at a lot of the 1.5 miles like Chicago, Homestead and obviously the second Texas race. That is a good track to run well at.”
WE’VE SEEN KNOCKOUT QUALIFYING A FEW TIMES NOW. ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT TALLADEGA AND WHAT THAT WILL BE LIKE? “Oh man, no. That is going to be crazy. I don’t know. Fortunately your qualifying spot at Talladega is probably the least important of the year because anything can happen there. We will actually probably tear up some cars and that is something we want to try to avoid. I remember a couple times we know qualifying would be rained out so practice time was important and it basically became a knockout qualifying session and it was insane. It was actually a lot of fun because you had to work with people and at the last minute everyone would scatter and try to beat everybody. It was a lot of fun.”
ARE THE SETUPS A LOT DIFFERENT AND DRIVING DIFFERENT WITH THE NEW RIDE HEIGHT STUFF? HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL AFFECT FONTANA? “Mine does drive a little bit differently. I think that is a function of the bumps. I will say, I think that is a good thing. As terrible as it feels to drive I think it gives me a lot of room for Jimmy Fennig to adjust on it and for me to go run different lines. I think you will see people migrating all over. The harder they are to drive and more touchy they are it puts it more in the drivers hands which is good. It is very complicated and I’ve had to have things explained to me a couple times already because of the way the front geometry works.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHERE YOU GUYS SIT RIGHT NOW WITH YOUR EQUIPMENT NOW THAT YOU’VE HIT EVERYTHING BUT A ROAD COURSE? “I think we are optimistic but also realize we were not fast at Vegas and everybody at Roush Fenway is taking that very seriously. Last week was nice and Robbie Reiser pointed out that we have to enjoy these wins, even though we have this project on the side to get better at the 1.5 mile tracks, we do appreciate how well we ran at Bristol. To answer your question, we feel like we still need to be better and this track is going to be a good place for us to start and work on things tomorrow and Sunday to be better at these big race tracks.”
HOW MUCH WILL TEMPERATURE CHANGES AFFECT YOUR CAR. THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT COOLER TEMPS FOR THE RACE. “Weather here is always a big factor. The only thing that kind of negates that is the tires falling off so much and you get such a big swing in speed throughout the tire run that at some point you will overlap where you were with the weather and other conditions. It all matters and if the weather changes, even if it changed dramatically from when we practice to race, you can still use because of the way the tires fall off a lot of your practice information because of that.”
“I am not sure exactly what those guys were doing, but at this track, this is the first track we have gone to that the tires will really fall off from the first round of knockout qualifying to the second. You want to know what your car will do with the cooler tires. I think you might have seen guys doing that. Go make a run on stickers, come in and cool them off and then go back and run them trying to represent how the tires will be in the second round of knockout qualifying. We didn’t get a chance to do that. If we make the first round, I am not sure how our car will handle the second round. We probably should have been doing that but we ran out of town.”
HOW DOES THIS NEW QUALIFYING SYSTEM CHANGE YOUR EARLY WEEK MEETINGS? “We have been working more on our race cars. We haven’t worked as much as we probably should from a strategy perspective, at least in the meetings I am included on. It hasn’t changed for us but I guarantee you as the Chase approaches and things get pressure packed and it becomes extremely important that there will be a lot of strategy discussed. And we are at these tracks for the first time, so we are feeling it out and taking data.”
FOUR RACES IN, AT WHAT POINT DO DRIVERS START GETTING ON EACH OTHERS NERVES AND HOW DOES THAT PLAY OUT ON THE TRACK? ARE WE TO THE POINT OF NOT GETTING BREAKS CUT AT CERTAIN POINTS? “For me it has been really good. In fact, last week I was really grateful for the way that guys raced me toward the end of the race. Kurt (Busch) was racing two-wide with someone and moved down a lane so I could go three-wide on the outside – stuff like that I thought that was really nice. I guess we are all still getting along really well from my perspective. We are bound to screw that up but right now it is going great.”