Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings going into this weekend's race, and is trying to bounce back from an electrical problem that forced him to the garage last Sunday.
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings going into this weekend's race, and is trying to bounce back from an electrical problem that forced him to the garage last Sunday. Edwards spoke about what his team needs to do to get back into contention after Thursday's practice.
"Our Aflac Ford Fusion was pretty decent in qualifying trim. Bob and I were talking about what happened the last time we were here and we actually qualified a back-up car with no laps on it, so we're way ahead of ourselves in that respect. Last week was very frustrating. I feel like our team has performed at a very high level for a few months now and then last week all four of us had trouble, so it was a very frustrating week. All we can do is run these next six races as hard as we can and be the team that we know we can be and, hopefully, we'll come out in a better position that we are right now."
HOW MUCH PSYCHOLOGICAL COMPETITION GOES ON IN THE CHASE AND DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO STUFF LIKE THAT? "There's a lot of psychology that goes into racing, but all of that goes out the window once the race starts. If you're fast, you're fast. Being confident and being focused is easy to do when you are running well and things are going well. The tough part, I think, is when you're in a position like we're in right now. We just came off of a week where we felt like we got kicked in the stomach and we've got to keep digging and keep going hard, and I think those are the tough times. It would sure be nice to go out and lead the most laps and win this race and get rolling, but we'll see where we stand when the race starts, I guess."
WHO DO YOU FEAR ON RESTARTS WHEN THEY'RE LINED UP NEXT TO YOU AT A SHORT TRACK LIKE MARTINSVILLE? "Martinsville is so tough, especially with the double-file restarts. It's kind of a chaotic moment when you go down into turn one and it really depends who is over-aggressive, who bumps who, how things shake out. We saw Denny Hamlin surge through the field. That was a spectacular run from 11th or something on those last few restarts to win that last race. I learned a lot by watching Denny and how he did that, but I don't know if there's one particular guy. I think it depends on whose car is good, who is hungry at that time and who can really capitalize on other people's mistakes. If everybody runs like they should, it's really hard to pass people two-wide at Martinsville already. It's when people are over-aggressive that you can take advantage. Hopefully, we can do that. Matt almost won the thing the last time we were there, so I feel like we can run well enough, we just have to make the right calls."
DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON THE TV RATINGS AND DO YOU WATCH THE RACE BROADCASTS AFTERWARDS? "I don't watch the broadcast of the race until sometimes a year later when we're coming back again. I do talk to a lot of folks and I know that my job is to go out and drive the race car the best I can and give my team and my sponsors and myself the best effort that I can put forth. I believe that everyone on the race track is doing a really good job of that this year. I think you've seen really great racing, a ton of emotion, you've seen guys just laying it all on the line and, for whatever reason, our television ratings have not been as good as they could be. I don't know the answer to that. I don't know the reason, but I'd say all we can do is try to embrace all the new technology that we can and try to explain the sport the best we can through the television broadcasts. Aside from that, I don't really have any suggestions for them. I think I'd be speaking out of place."
DO YOU HAVE RESPECT FOR WHAT BRAD KESELOWSKI HAS DONE IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES? "Yeah, I think Brad has done a really good job of just maintaining and doing his best. He's gone over the line with me a couple of times and we've gone round and round about it, but still we can walk up to each other and shake hands and go have a good race. I think that says a lot about him as a person, so I feel that we've raced really well with one another since Gateway and that's good. If he wins that championship, which it looks like he's going to, then those guys have earned it. They've done a really good job on the race track and anytime that I've had any issue with him, I've addressed it. You guys have seen all of that and we have not had any real troubles other than those."
DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM IS STILL IN THIS THING? "Hell yes we're still in it. I go out here and race as hard as I can and if we've got a mathematical chance of being in it, then we do have a chance. We don't quit. That's not what we do. I talked to my crew. I talked to PK (Pierre Kuettel) in the window of the car when he was putting up my window net a minute ago and his words were, 'We don't quit until Homestead is over.' And that's the way we do it. Now, that doesn't make it any easier or anything, I just think that's the way you have to approach it. If I gave up with six races to go, I think that would be pretty foolish."
TALLADEGA IS LOOMING. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT FROM A POINTS STANDPOINT? "I was a little nervous about Talladega while we were up there real close to the point lead, but now I'm really excited about Talladega. I think that race, you could see a huge swing there. If we could go win the thing or run in the top three and a couple of guys could be caught up in wrecks, the chase could look a lot different. That's Talladega and anything can happen. Man, I have a love-hate relationship with that place, but I am looking forward to it now and I hope that we can come out of there good."
SHOULD THERE BE RACES LIKE TALLADEGA? "Points should not be awarded at Talladega. In a fair competition they shouldn't be because it's so random. It's just a treacherous race. Now, since there are points awarded, it adds a whole other level of stress to the race. You drive around and if you're doing really well in the points, every lap your heart is pounding and you're just trying to predict any wrecks that might happen and the best way to avoid them. I guess in a guy's position like myself, the reasons that I don't like it when I'm running well in the points are the same reasons that I look forward to it now."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE IN THE MIDDLE OF A WRECK THERE? "As a driver, you're sitting in your race car just like you guys are sitting in this room right here and you're all packed together and you're going 200 miles an hour and one person makes a terrible move and spins out or something happens and all of a sudden this side of the room, everybody's eyes get wide and you're stabbing the brakes, you're looking in the mirror, you're listening to your spotter, you're trying to drive through this smoke and the worst is when you think you've made it through and then there's some car that hit the wall and it catches you in the right rear, catches you in the left rear and then all hell breaks loose and your day is over. Then you go into damage control and you have to go through all of those emotions of denial like, 'OK, my car is not hurt that bad,' to 'OK, well it's hurt bad, but the other guys' is too and maybe we can beat him out of the pits,' and then finally you get everything put together and you're out there rolling around with this car that's all taped together and smashed up and you're just thinking, 'Man, what could I have done to avoid this?' It's such an emotional rollercoaster throughout the day and it's just not fun when it goes like that. That's the best way I can describe it."
ARE YOU COMFORTABLE REPRESENTING COMPANIES LIKE AVON THAT MAY NOT BE THE MOST MASCULINE TYPE OF PROGRAMS? "It's truly an honor for them to approach me and to even begin to talk about it. There are guys in other sports that have been able to do these fragrance deals and make them work really well. It is a little different and it was definitely a different photo shoot. You guys have seen some of the marketing materials and it's a different way of presenting myself to my fans, but, to me, it's fun. It's doing something different and when I go out I wear cologne and I like it. I figured it was a pretty natural fit. I'm comfortable doing a lot of different things. To me, I like doing different things. I like doing stuff that's new and I like trying new things. This was something that throughout the whole process it was something I hadn't really ever thought of doing and it was interesting. There were parts where I thought, 'Boy, that's a little bit of a racy photo,' but it really came together well and I'm proud that I did it. The Harlequin thing, I still have people come up to me and they're like, 'Well, I was reading this book, Carl,' and that was one too that when we first talked about it I thought, 'Wow, that's outside the box,' and it's turned into something that I'm really glad I did. It was fun."
SOME OF THE GUYS AHEAD OF YOU IN POINTS MAY BE MORE CONSERVATIVE, ESPECIALLY ON SOME OF THOSE RESTARTS. CAN YOU BE MORE AGGRESSIVE NOW IN CIRCUMSTANCES LIKE THAT? "That's a great point. I hadn't thought of it that way exactly on the restarts, but you're right. It's just like we talked about at the beginning of this chase, steadily guys have taken themselves out. We took ourselves out of the hunt for the lead, at least for the moment, last week. Greg Biffle might have done the same with their engine failure. Kyle Busch had his trouble, so now you're getting down to a smaller group of guys who have more and more pressure on them, and I think those guys are more likely to give than other guys. So on restarts and things, that's definitely part of the psychology of being in the race car. That could play well into a guy like myself's hands."
WHAT WOULD YOU NOT DO AS FAR AS REPRESENTING A SPONSOR? "I've turned down a couple, but, in general, I felt like Avon was an amazing company to partner with. This was not a difficult decision or anything. I was excited about this one. I don't know. We all know Stroker Ace dressing in the chicken suit and doing all that stuff. There are lines you have to draw, but I've not approached that line."
YOU'RE A HEALTH FOOD GUY. WHERE WOULD YOU DRAW THE LINE? "For instance, there are some consumable items that I've said I'd rather not participate with. No disrespect to any of those companies. They've got a business and that's what they do, but I'm very fortunate that I get to endorse products that I believe in and a good example is Kellogg's Company. When we first talked to them, they came and gave me a whole presentation about what they do with marketing towards children and the way they evaluate if a food is too sugary to market in children's programming and things like that, and I was really impressed with that. So that made that decision easy. Some of the drinks like Vitamin Water, for example, only uses real sugar. There's not the corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, so that made it a fit for me. I do take all of that into account and, so far, I've been very fortunate to not have to endorse something that I personally wouldn't use. I love Stroker Ace. That's a real good one."
-source: ford racing