CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion
IS THERE ONE THING THAT MAKES YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THIS YEAR? "I don't think there's one thing. That's what makes me optimistic is it's not like we had one trick or one thing we did at the end of the year that was better. It's a number of things - it's the engine and the pit crew and the cars and the attitude around the shop. The management - Robbie Reiser - all of those things, I feel, have made us faster, so those are the things I'm excited about. I hope it works out."
IS MOMENTUM HARDER TO RETRIEVE THAN ACHIEVE? "I don't know. This sport is so strange. Going into the final two races of the season, I didn't expect to win them. I hoped to win them, but to finish the season like we did - so strong. I mean, sitting on poles and winning races, winning in the Nationwide Series, it's like all of a sudden everything went well. It could go the other way, but I'm hoping it doesn't."
WHERE ARE YOU IN TERMS OF YOUR CONTRACT SITUATION WITH ROUSH FENWAY? "The thing I'm going to do is to do whatever is best for me to go win the most championships I can win. That's what I want to do and I would like to get it done as quickly and privately as we can so that we can go focus on racing because that's the best thing. There's no benefit to having a long, drawn out, messy process. We just need to march through it and figure out what we're gonna do."
IS IT MORE MESSY FOR YOU SINCE YOU HANDLE THESE THINGS BY YOURSELF? "I'm fortunate to be able to do all this stuff myself. I've worked with people that are easy to work with and my commitment to myself and my team is to just focus on the racing and whatever steps we have to do for contracts and stuff, I'll do that away from the race track - literally and figuratively - I'll make sure that I just focus on making my car as fast as it can be."
ARE YOU FREE TO TALK TO OTHER TEAMS AT THIS POINT? "I'm free to do whatever I'd like to do. I'd rather not talk about the specifics of my contract."
DOES GOING TO A DIFFERENT TEAM APPEAL TO YOU? "I have had a great relationship with Jack Roush and I just want to do whatever is most likely to let me go win championships. That's what I'd like to do and the dream would be to do that at Roush in the 99 car with Aflac on board. That would be the dream, but we just have to sit down and go through everything and see where everybody is at."
THREE YEARS AGO YOUR DEAL SET THE NEW STANDARD. DO YOU EXPECT IT TO BE DIFFERENT THIS TIME WITH THE ECONOMY THE WAY IT IS? "I don't know. I haven't looked at it and really analyzed it and had the in-depth conversations that I would have to have to understand exactly where everything is, but times are changing and things are changing in the world - especially our United States business world. I'm assuming that the next deal that I make will be different in a number of ways. Some of them may be really good. I have some ideas and some people around me have some ideas that could make this next sponsorship negotiation a lot of fun for me and the sponsors. We have just a lot of different ideas. We'll have to hash them out and talk about them, but, like I said from the beginning, I have a whole year left to race here. I'm not in any rush, and I definitely don't want to use you guys and have this out in the media. I feel like the right thing to do is to make your business deal in a normal manner and not through the media. That's my opinion."
ARE THE FIRST TWO OR THREE MONTHS CRITICAL ON DETERMING WHAT YOU DO? "I think it is, but I'm a little wiser than that now. I understand that this sport goes in waves. Let me give you an example, Robbie Reiser running our shop. That is a huge positive thing for Roush Fenway. I think that's gonna be good for myself or Ricky Stenhouse or Trevor Bayne, all the guys coming up. Those are the kind of things that I'm really focused on. What are we doing to be the best team that we can be for the long term? I think Steve Newmark being on board is huge, but we haven't really sat down and talked about it and I haven't gone out and looked at the greater market to see what it looks like. I guess I ought to get on that pretty quick (laughing), but I really and truly am just focused on winning here. The funny thing about racing is when you win a bunch and everything is going really well, it all kind of works out. So I'm really trying to focus on that."
DOES A DEAL NEED TO BE MADE IN A PARTNERSHIP WITH A SPONSOR? "I don't know. All I can really officially say is I have a great relationship with everybody at Roush and my first goal would be to race that 99 car with Jack and for Aflac. That would be the dream deal, but I'll just have to go and look, just like I did the last time, I have to look at everything and say, 'What's the best thing for performance?' That's what this boils down to because you want to perform well."
HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU THAT YOU CAN START 2011 LIKE YOU ENDED 2010? "I'm confident, I'm real optimistic, but I'm also realistic. In 2005 we finished the season very strongly and had a poor 2006. In 2008 we did the same thing with 2009, so I don't want to get too far out there, but if you look at the way things have gone for us, we won three races in the chase. Greg won Kansas and we won Phoenix and Homestead. I feel like we can win at Daytona. We've got a team that works well together. I feel like we can win at Phoenix. I feel like we can win at Vegas. If I start going down the list of tracks, I'm very excited about it, but I don't want to get over-confident or jinx myself of get lazy. I want to stay hungry and go out here and try to win."
HAVE YOU LEARNED ANYTHING FROM THOSE PREVIOUS UPS AND DOWNS? "I learned a lot of things, but I didn't really do anything differently. It's just the way this sport works. I think our team learned that you can't rest on anything. I wouldn't say we were complacent or anything like that, but we might have been a little bit unrealistic about where we stood. I think that 70-race losing streak is recent enough and it's painful enough that we haven't lifted yet. We're wide open. We're going forward as if we hadn't won those last two races, so I guess that's the thing that we learned is to just keep digging."
HOW HARD IS IT TO GO THROUGH A WINLESS STREAK LIKE THAT? "It's mentally tough, it's really tough. The thing that makes it easy is when you have team and someone like Bob Osborne and Jack Roush that, at least to me, they never wavered in their faith in me. They always said they believed in me and they knew I was doing everything for them, but it's one of those things where everyone looks at themselves and says, 'Hey, am I doing the best job I can do?' It just felt so good to win at Phoenix, and then to go the next week and win at Homestead, I cannot explain how good that felt. It's like, not only did we end our streak, but we made a statement that we're back and we're fast. That was good."
WAS IT A COINCIDENCE YOU WON TWO STRAIGHT? "I don't know. It's kind of strange. I felt like we had been building up and getting faster, but the win at Phoenix - but let me put it to you this way. The win before Phoenix, it took 70 races to win again. To go win at Phoenix and then win seven days later win at Homestead, that's awesome. That was a really good feeling. I didn't want the season to end. I'm real excited about going racing."
DOES THE NOSE CHANGE HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE GAINS YOU MADE LAST YEAR? "I don't think the nose will do anything but give us more grip. That's a good thing. Right now, we're on top of our simulation stuff and our wind tunnel stuff well enough that any changes we'll be in a good spot to make the most of it."
FOX IS GOING TO PUT MORE EMPHASIS ON THE DAREDEVIL ASPECT OF DRIVING. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "Racing is what it is. We go out and race and things happen. Whatever Fox has got to do is what they have to do. I don't really have an opinion on it."
HOW MUCH IS DANGER A PART OF THE FAN APPEAL? "One of the neat things about racing to me is that there is an element of risk and danger. That's what made it exciting to go to the race track. As a fan when I used to go and watch, that's what separated me from the guy driving. I don't know if I was prepared to take that risk. There is a lot of excitement because of that, but I think the educated fan and the true race fan understands that's part of it. That's not why they're watching it, but they understand that's part of the sport and that's what makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck when you see something really wild happen. I think as long as it's done tastefully - showing that side of the sport and putting an emphasis on it is OK as long as it's not exploited."
WHEN DID YOU NOT KNOW YOU COULD BE THAT GUY? "When I was going to the races with my dad as a little kid. I was like, 'That's really, really neat, but that looks really, really scary too.' So the first time I drove a race car it surprised me. The speed, the power and the noise - that first time I drove it took me a little while after that to think about it and go out there and really race. It was about a six-month gap between the first time I stepped in a race car to when I really started racing. During that time, I thought a lot about that feeling of, 'Holy smokes. This is pretty serious.' That's fun. I think that's part of what we're all trying to do is master that - that little bit of anxiety or fear. That's a neat part of the sport."
WOULD YOU TRADE BEING IN THE CHASE FOR WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 AND BRICKYARD LIKE JAMIE DID LAST YEAR? "I see Jamie as a guy who is really confident in himself. He's been through a lot and he's shown everyone that he's a true racer and a guy that can win. I think whatever he tells you is the truth. For me, personally, I want to win a championship more than anything. That is my mission. I know what it feels like to win races. I don't know what it's like to win the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard 400, but I want to go win championships. If I had to choose right now between the Daytona 500 or making the chase, it's definitely making the chase. But if I knew I wasn't gonna win the championship, then, hell yes, I'd take the Daytona 500. I'd take the Daytona 500 over second-place in the championship. I'll do that. For sure. I've finished second. That's wonderful. You get to go sit down and watch Jimmie Johnson talk some more (laughing). The 500 would be big."
-source: ford racing