CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT JIMMIE'S SUCCESS AND HIM GOING FOR FOUR STRAIGHT? "What he did and what he's done the last three years is really special. If it comes down to me and him again, I want to beat ...
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT JIMMIE'S SUCCESS AND HIM GOING FOR FOUR STRAIGHT? "What he did and what he's done the last three years is really special. If it comes down to me and him again, I want to beat him really badly. I want to win that championship. I want to know what it feels like. We just did a deal with ESPN and we talked about it. Winning nine races and having a great year and all that is fine, but I'd take a championship with no wins rather than another nine-win season because I really want to accomplish that goal."
YOU'VE BEEN TABBED THE FAVORITE TO WIN THE TITLE THIS YEAR. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? "It doesn't really put any pressure on me that people are picking me and picking us to win the championship. I always tell people in 2005 at the end of the season going into 2006 I saw a lot of people picked me and that sure didn't work out. I've kind of tried not to pay any attention to that. I put a lot of pressure on myself. Once I'm in that race car it's all or nothing, so hopefully that works out and this doesn't change anything I don't think."
COULD YOU LOOK BACK ON 2008 AS THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY? "I don't think so. I think 2008 was pretty good by any measure. The wins, I think we scored a lot of points. If we run like that every year, we're gonna win a lot of championships. We just have to perform at that level. The wreck at Talladega, anytime you go to Talladega you could wreck. I ended up participating in that one a little more than I wanted. The deal at Charlotte, that's just bad luck. Other than that, I think our races were really, really good."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO SEE SOMEONE LIKE JIMMIE WIN ALL THE TIME? "It's tough when someone runs as well as Jimmie did. It's tough to beat him. We showed that, but really I know, other than those two races, we did really, really well. We out-performed that team on the race track at a lot of race tracks. Not to take anything away from them because they did their jobs, but I know that if we replayed those last 10 races five times, we'd win our share of championships. So if we just perform at that level and hope that the luck goes our way a little bit, it could be really good."
HOW MUCH DOES IT STILL NAG AT YOU? "It doesn't gnaw at me. Maybe it should, but what's done is done. I did the best things I thought I could do. My crew guys made the best decisions they could make at the time and it worked out really well, there were just those couple of races that didn't go like we wanted them to. If Jimmie would have had a flat tire here or there, but it doesn't eat at me because that's how racing or the world works for that matter."
THERE SEEM TO BE THREE CLASSES OF CARS THIS YEAR. HOW WILL THAT AFFECT RACING? "I don't know. There are so many things happening at once. I'm not familiar with all the business models, but I guess there might be a bigger spread in resources, but, at the same time, we have this car of tomorrow and the parameters that you can work on have shrunk, too. I don't know if necessarily having less people will make you that much slower, or if having more will make you that much faster. I don't know. I think that, overall, in auto racing, especially in tough economic times, there are going to be teams that have more resources than others. I wish it wasn't like that. It's more fun when everybody has the same equipment to work with. Hopefully, it doesn't hurt the show and it could be even better because of it, but I don't know."
DOES IT WORRY YOU THAT THE FANS COULD LOOK AT YOU DRIVERS MAKING A LOT OF MONEY AND HAVE SOME SORT OF BACKLASH? "I'm not an expert on economics, but the way I see a free market working is people have to spend money for there to be a market and industry of any type. I saw one driver bought a new airplane and I read a bunch of negative comments about that. If people aren't buying things. If these teams aren't out here spending money on the things they are. If I'm not spending money on airplanes or farm equipment or vacations or whatever it is, then that's hurting someone else, too. Look, I've been broke. I know what that's like and I'm very, very fortunate to have a paycheck and to have the one I have, but that's what makes America so great is that there is opportunity. I think as long as that's there, people will understand that it's not a bad thing for people to be out spending money."
IS THERE SOMETHING EXTRA DRIVERS CAN DO TO HELP OUT THE FANS? "I thought about it quite a bit when we were here for the fanfest thing. I thought, 'Here we've got all the drivers at Daytona,' and I understand that NASCAR was kind of put in a box where they didn't want to not have the drivers come down, so the fans that expected to see us could expect to see us. But I thought, 'Boy, it sure would be better use of all of our time, and maybe more beneficial to the fans if each driver went to their respective markets -- maybe where they're from or near their home track or something -- and spent the same amount of time.' Maybe we could touch more fans and give them something more. Another thing I thought that might be more fitting this year is instead of going to New York and putting ourselves in tuxedos and eating $100 plate of food and all that stuff, why don't we just go somewhere in North Carolina -- like up there to Victory Junction Camp or something -- and clear a big field and have our awards banquet out on the back of a trailer with bands and invite the fans to camp out and do things like that -- maybe include them a little bit more. I think we could probably do some things like that to give back to where these fans feel like we should be -- give them something instead of separating ourselves. I'm not asking for more time expenditure on a driver's part or anyone's part, but maybe there's a way to say, 'Hey, we don't have to be up here. We can come hang out and have a good time and sit whoever is champion on a dunk tank seat for two hours and everybody gets their shot.' Something like that."
THAT'S DIFFERENT. "I think people would enjoy it. I think if you just said, 'Hey, we've got room for 5,000 or 10,000 people, bring your tent and come hang out. We're gonna have the award ceremony on stage and afterwards there will be a band.'"
IT'S SUCH A LONG SEASON. HOW DO YOU PACE YOURSELF? "You can't empty the bottle all at once. There are times for me personally, I can only speak for myself, where I have to say, 'Man, I'm just gonna have to let this one go and focus on next week.' It is really tough sometimes because we all grew up racing every lap and every race you give 100 percent. They're 20-lap races and you might have 18 of them in a year, but now I run 70 races a year and they're all 300 miles or more, so it is kind of wild. You have to pace yourself."
MATT DIDN'T WIN LAST YEAR. DO YOU STILL CONSIDER HIM A CONTENDER FOR THE TITLE? "I guarantee that Matt is still a championship contender. The thing that I saw last year with Matt is their effort to make the chase -- he was a couple hundred points out or something like that -- and they came on really strong. I think they scored more points in that eight or 10 races leading up to it than anyone else, so I know that they can do it. I know that Matt is just as good as he's always been -- or it seems to me that he is. He might have just had one of those years. I wouldn't count Matt out and that's the truth."
WILL HAVING DREW HELP? "I think having Drew there, and it's not like Drew replaced someone, it's having Drew come in and be an addition with Chip. I think from my perspective when Robbie left and thrust Chip into that position as crew chief, that's a huge step and there was a lot going on at the same time with the car of tomorrow and all these things. Hopefully, Drew will take a load off Chip, so Chip can do the things he does -- which there's nobody who can do them better in the sport. Chip's pretty smart."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THE SHOOTOUT? "Last time we were here, Kyle and I were battling and who knows whose race it was gonna be. It would be really cool to go out and win the Shootout. Even with what happened at Talladega, I think we've all learned how to work better together. We've been trying really hard at these plate races to try to put one of these cars in Victory Lane. We got Jamie there two years ago at Daytona and that would be really cool to start it out."
WOULD IT BE A STATEMENT FOR YOU AFTER TALLADEGA? "Listen, any plate race where I end up with a straight car and I'm not on the wrecker is great for me. This one will be fun. The Shootout, knowing that it's not a points race, that's just gonna be fun. The 500 is what really matters."
WHAT ABOUT THE NEW FORMAT? "For me, the old format was a real challenge because we don't work on qualifying that much. I thought it was a little bit ironic that I've been trying so hard to qualify. We got the pole at Bristol and I was pumped. I was in the Shootout. It was gonna be great, and the next week they announced that you didn't have to get the pole to get in the Shootout. I thought, 'Man, that was a little disappointing,' because I felt like it was such a accomplishment. I can understand the marketing reasons for it, but I like the old way better. That was pretty cool."
YOU DON'T LIKE CHANGE? "I don't know. I think anytime you change rules and change things around, it has the potential to kind of de-value things. Maybe that's just because I'm in it right now. Ten years from now if they change it back, everybody will feel like it's wrong then because everyone gets used to something, so I think it's tough. I don't really like changing rules much and changing things like that."
HOW WAS YOUR OFF-SEASON? "This off-season was just fun altogether. The Race of Champions in London was a blast. We went from there to Thailand and spent a week or so there and that was really fun. We bicycled a lot, but we rented a van and we drove from Bangkok down to this island -- that was about 500 miles -- and we saw some crazy things. Then from there we went back home and got married. That was definitely the highlight on January 3rd and since then I've just spent some time at home messing around Central Missouri."
WHAT KIND OF CRAZY THINGS DID YOU SEE? "In Thailand, the weather is really nice there and everyone rides these little scooters, like mopeds around. I would bet that if there are 100 vehicles in a parking lot, 80 of them are two-wheeled scooters. We saw a lot of people on scooters. We saw families on scooters, five people on a scooter. We saw people with scooters with sidecars with monkeys on them just going down the highway, which was wild. The thing that struck me the most is that everybody was smiling, everybody was happy. We didn't have any negative experiences there. It was really cool. It was a really neat thing."
-credit: ford racing