Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, moved back into the top 12 after last week's fifth-place finish at Richmond. Edwards, who sits 11th in the standings, spoke about racing at Darlington this weekend. HOW WAS PRACTICE? ...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, moved back into the top 12 after last week's fifth-place finish at Richmond. Edwards, who sits 11th in the standings, spoke about racing at Darlington this weekend.
HOW WAS PRACTICE? "Our Aflac Fusion is pretty slow right now, but we're working hard on it. We were trying some new stuff, but, luckily, we've got another hour-and-a-half to work with it. Our Nationwide car is spectacular, so I'm pretty excited about that tonight. Considering how last week went in practice, we were about 42nd or something on the sheet the whole practice and Bob really got things turned around and we had our best run ever at Richmond, so I've got a lot of faith and got my fingers crossed that Bob will turn this thing around for the next practice and we'll be really fast tomorrow night. I love racing here. Last week was such a good run. It felt good. We passed a ton of cars and we were strong on pit road and strong on restarts and got a top five. I just couldn't be happier about coming here to Darlington. This is one of the most fun race tracks we run."
HOW TOUGH IS DARLINGTON ON YOU PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY? "Today is pretty tough. This is one of those days where running that Nationwide Series doesn't seem like the wisest thing because you're back and forth and it's ninety-something degrees out. But that's what I train for. My trainers at Carmichael Training Systems take care of me and make sure I'm ready for these days. The fact this is gonna be a race under the lights tomorrow night will make it a lot easier. If we were starting this thing at noon tomorrow, this would be a marathon. It would be a display of who is the fittest because when it's this hot out and you're muscling a car around here at this race track, it takes a lot out of you."
DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS HERE. WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE? "I have no clue. Fortunately, it's 500 miles so we'll have a lot of practice early on. Hopefully, people will give a lot in the beginning. Bob and I were talking that the last race here I ran into the fence in turn one on lap 12 - a bunch of people got together racing really hard - so I think it'll crescendo the whole race. Hopefully, we can still keep it all together at the end. I have no clue where I'd want to be. It'll be a dogfight down in turn one if there's a restart with 10 to go and everybody's got four tires. That will be crazy."
WILL YOU TAKE FOUR OR TWO? "I don't know. We'll have to see how the day goes. I don't know if we'll stop for four or two. That's a tough call."
YOU'RE ON THE EDGE OF THE TOP 12 IN POINTS. ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT THAT? "I don't think there's a comfortable position right now. With 16 races left, you could see one car swing 300 points no problem, and most likely swing backwards not forwards, but with 16 race to go we've got to be better. The reason we're in the position we're in with the points is we had the bad race at Atlanta and then that wreck at Texas. Otherwise, I think we'd be up there with Matt and Greg, which they're in a lot better spot than I am, so, hopefully, we can just go the next 16 races. But, unless you're 200 points inside of 13th or something, it's not comfortable at all."
HOW DO YOU THINK THE ROUSH FENWAY CARS ARE RUNNING? THE TWO LAPS YOU LED LAST WEEK WERE THE FIRST LAPS YOU'VE LED ALL YEAR. CAN YOU CONTEND FOR WINS AND WHAT'S UP WITH FORD BECAUSE THEY'RE WINLESS AS WELL? "It is pretty wild. Someone brought that up that those were the first laps we led. That's not good. We've got to be better than that. If you look at last week, we ran fifth and I think the next Ford was 12th or 13th, so if Bob and I hadn't hit what we hit on, that would have been another pretty bad run for us. What we're trying to do is have everybody go out there with something, take the best thing, and then everybody go to that and move on, so we've been working really well as a team. To me, Ford as a company is doing better than any other manufacturer right now. They're in a really great position. We met with Ford last week and I have a sticker on my phone that says, 'Ford 596.' They've got 595 wins and they believe, and we believe, that if we can just get one win and get that 596th win, then we'll get on a roll, but we've just got to find that magic. Last week was the closest I'd been. When they dropped the green flag, we passed something like 20 cars the first two runs and we've got to run like that every week. I would say we're better, but it's still gonna take some work."
DO YOU THINK IT'S UNBELIEVABLE FORD IS WINLESS IN ALL THREE SERIES? "I didn't realize we were winless in all three series. Yeah, that is pretty unbelievable, but that's good that it's an unbelievable stat because it shows you how good Ford has been. This sport is cyclical and we talk about that a lot. I truly believe we've seen the bottom of it for our teams. I think we're doing better. If you look at Phoenix, Richmond, Bristol, Texas - we've run better and better. Compared to a year ago, we're way better, so, hopefully, it's good."
IS THE DARLINGTON TRACK GETTING BACK TO WHERE IT WAS BEFORE THE REPAVING? "It's a little bit closer. When I first got out there in the Nationwide car I was pretty excited because I could tell it was just a little rougher and a little grayer. It's going to take a couple of years to get as good as it was, but I look forward to it. If they could come out here and just rough it up, do whatever they can, maybe it'll rain a little extra this year or something. The quicker we can get back to that, I think the better. That's one of the neatest things about this race track. They tell me that what the asphalt is made out of will age really well, so I guess that's a long version of 'we're on our way to that, but not quite there yet.'"
WHAT TRAITS DO YOU NEED TO WIN A TITLE? "There are certain things you have to have and we're working on them. We addressed some things with our Aflac team. Number 1 is the pit stops. You have to have good pit stops. It's too hard to pass and we've done that. We've got great pit stops. The next thing we have to have is really well-balanced race cars. We've been working on that and I think the other thing you have to have that we still struggle with is we have to qualify better. Whether that's me or the car or engineering or whatever, we've got to get better starting positions. If you look at the guys that run really well, it sure benefits them every week to qualify up front. So we definitely look at it like there are things you can work on individually that, as a whole, make us good."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DOVER? "It's fitting that Darlington and Dover are close to one another because they give me the highest sensation of speed driving into the corner. I know we're going faster at some other tracks, but turn one here and both ends - turns one and three at Dover - that's what race car driving is all about. It feels fast when you sail the race car down in there and I really enjoy both of these places. These are two weeks I'm really looking forward to."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MOM BEING HERE FOR MOTHER'S DAY? "It's really cool to have mom and Kate and Anne - all of them here. My mom is just unbelievable. She's supported me and been my best friend. She's just been really cool and always been behind me, so it means a lot to have her here. I'm really excited about having Kate here. It's her first Mother's Day as a mom. I still really haven't gone shopping yet, but I'm gonna work on something. Maybe tomorrow morning we'll do something nice, but it's cool. To be able to have all the guys out there with their moms for the race, that's always really cool. They all like talking to one another, but my mom has helped me a lot."
CAN YOU TELL US WHERE YOU RANK DARLINGTON ON THE LIST OF RACES? "Walking over here I ran into David Pearson and to see the success that he's had here, and his talent and ability as a race car driver and what this place did for him, the history of it and with it being a 500-mile race, I think it's one of the toughest tracks we go to. I think any driver will tell you that if you can win here, there's a lot of pride in that. I know there would be for me. We've run very well. Some of my biggest disappointments have been troubles here, but it would be huge to win here. Bristol is a big one. Daytona is a big one. For me, Kansas, but this one is right up there."
-source: ford racing