Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Fusion, is looking to bounce back in 2007 after missing the chase for the championship last year. Edwards spoke about the season ahead during NASCAR Media Day earlier this week. CARL...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Fusion, is looking to bounce back in 2007 after missing the chase for the championship last year. Edwards spoke about the season ahead during NASCAR Media Day earlier this week.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE LAST YEAR? "It's just the way it turned out. In '05 when the car was perfect and it handled really well, we were super-fast. And then last year, for whatever reason, when the car was perfect and handled really well, we were usually running about third, so it was just a little bit different. I think we've kind of addressed some of the spots where we didn't move forward in '06 and we've addressed those now for '07. Our car was pretty good at the Vegas test and I feel pretty good about it, but the toughest thing for us was just the luck. The Poconos -- both of those we had terrible luck -- at both Daytonas, just terrible luck. Right there is 350 points or something just in those four races and the year before it seemed like some of those things would work out on the good side of that. That was really the tough part for me."
DID YOU THINK EVERY YEAR WOULD BE LIKE '05? "No, I think a lot of other people think like that, but I've been racing for a while and I understand how it goes. There are times when things go great and you can't do anything wrong and there are times when you just can't get anything right. I guess the biggest thing and the thing that really helped me the most about having that year is it really made me look at what makes a day go good or bad and to realize the things I can do to control it and then how not to let it get you down because it is frustrating. The bottom line is you can only do what you can do. You can only focus on the things you can control and that's it." WHAT'S IT GOING TO BE LIKE WITHOUT MARK MARTIN? "To me, Mark is a real friend. I think a lot of people would say that about him because he's such a nice guy. Hopefully, nothing will change between Mark and I. We still talk and get along and everything. It'll be harder at Roush because anytime you lose a person from an organization that's that great it's tough."
DID THE CREW CHIEF CHANGES HAVE ANY EFFECT ON YOU? "It's not so much the crew chief having an effect on me, it's just the whole structure of the team and all that stuff. It's hard for all the guys, I think. Anytime a new guy comes in -- specifically, Wally Brown had never been a crew chief. He had never done the job and got called in to do it and he wasn't prepared, just like we all weren't prepared so that made it a little bit tough, but I thought he did a good job. It's just hard. The crew chief does so much more than just talk to the driver on race day. He has to organize the whole team and that's tough."
HAVE YOU DONE ANY DIRT RACING LATELY? "I haven't driven a dirt car for a little while, but I think I'm gonna do a little bit this year. My brother is racing a dirt late model up at I-80 Speedway in Omaha. I got to race with him last year and I'll probably race it a little bit."
YOUR BROTHER IS PRETTY GOOD? "Yeah, he's been doing really well. He tested for Jack at Rockingham in a truck and he was pretty fast, but he does it all himself. He does all his sponsorship stuff and all his maintenance, and tows the race car to the race track, but if he ever wants to kind of really go at it real hard the opportunity is there, so we'll see what happens."
THE ROUSH CARS HAVE STEADILY IMPROVED AT THE PLATE TRACKS. HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING INTO THIS RACE? "Honestly, our test didn't go as well as we thought it was going to. We built a new car that was supposed to be a little bit better than the car we raced last year as far as drag numbers and it went slower. Our slow car was our fast car and our fast car was really, really slow, so Bob changed a bunch of stuff. We're coming back and didn't get to test the car we're gonna race just because he changed some stuff. It could be pretty good, but Daytona is one of those races where we are erring towards having a car that handles a little better and hopefully it'll be a real hot and slick day, but if it's not, we'll just tuck in the draft and try to make the best of it."
DO YOU HAVE TO BE MORE CAREFUL WITH A CAR THAT ISN'T FAST BUT HANDLES WELL? "Everybody always says if the car is real slow in qualifying that it'll run great in the draft. Well, any car will run great in the draft. It'll keep up, but to be able to go out there and really jockey for position, and to get a run on somebody, pull up beside them and complete the pass, it has to be as fast as theirs almost always. I think there's a fine line. I think that you see the cars that handle better, that really pays off late in a run. When everybody has fresh tires it's just a free-for-all, but late in the run when they start to string out, that's when it really starts to pay off. It really depends. It depends on how the race goes. For some reason, there's guys who are always up front at those races and they usually have the fast cars that handle pretty decently."
THERE'S A KNACK FOR RUNNING THESE RACES ISN'T THERE? "Yes. It does appear random and that anybody can win the race, but there are variables that are small and it's hard to figure out. Sometimes it can be just as much as that one guy behind you deciding, 'Oh, I'll go with him,' when you pull out and then the whole line follows you and it makes you look like a genius. If that one guy doesn't pull out, you're done."
IS IT HARDER FOR YOUNGER DRIVERS? "Like I was saying earlier, just in a tire run it changes so much. It goes from being horsepower and drag for the first 20 laps to being a little bit of handling and where you decide to run on the race track and how you keep your momentum up. I think when you watch guys like Tony or Dale or Jimmie or Jeff Gordon, they have a really, really good grasp. They've got it perfected. I mean, they can always end up making the best of their day and that's pretty cool."
WHAT'S THE MINDSET AT ROUSH RACING FOR THIS YEAR? "In '05 I feel like Roush was the team to beat on the track. It's just little things. When the whole field is separated by a half-second, it doesn't take much to go from good to great or great to no good. At that point, we had everything going really well and won 15 or so races, and then it was a case of other people figuring things out -- particularly the Childress cars stepped up. Last year was not a terrible year, it was mediocre. Matt Kenseth made the most of it, but the rest of us kind of had a little trouble. All we can do is go into this season and try to address the things that we feel like we were short on and we've done that. Hopefully it'll pay off, but you never know."
WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN DRAFTING? "I feel like I'm about 75 percent there. I learned some things last year that made it to where I could end up in the front more than in the past. I just learned a couple of little things. Hopefully, the more I do it, the more I'll learn. This year at Daytona I'm gonna run the Truck, Busch car and the Cup car, so hopefully that will help a little bit just to get in the swing of it. It is tough. It's tougher than it appears."
WHAT'S THE TOUGHEST THING TO FIGURE OUT? "The biggest thing is just to kind of get used to the pattern when they drop the green between pit stops to see kind of how it progresses and which line works better and what moves are OK to make and when it's time just to sit. I'd say the one fault that I had and I see other guys do is that when you first come in anytime you get a run you're like, 'Oh, I'm gonna pass this guy,' and it ends up that it's not the best move a lot of times. It's like gambling. Sometimes the more you gamble, sometimes the more you lose. If you just kind of sit there and wait usually it works out."
YOU TALKED ABOUT FOCUSING MORE THIS YEAR. "I think, to me, it's just a mindset. You've got to enjoy what you do. Everybody hopes that in their life that they can figure out a way just to kind of enjoy their day in general. I guess what I was trying to say earlier in the season was that I caught myself lately getting upset about just stupid little things and letting that kind of bother you. That's the only thing. There's not too much psychology there other than to just realize in general that it's better to look at things in a little bit of a positive light, and I think everybody has that choice. That's all I was saying is that lately I've been kind of trying to just remember exactly how fortunate I am to be doing what I'm doing and getting joy out of the process."
HOW WOULD IT BE TO DO THAT BACKFLIP AFTER THE 500? "That would be unbelievable. I've been focusing real hard on it and thinking about it and trying to prepare the best I can. I can't imagine winning the Daytona 500. That's one of the greatest things about the position I'm in right now and I realize when I ran that first 500 it's like when they dropped the green, you have a chance to win the Daytona 500. How many people even get that chance? So that's the way I'm looking at it is I've got a chance to go do it and all I've got to do is just do everything right and have some luck and it could happen."
WHAT ABOUT QUALIFYING FOR YOU HERE? "Qualifying is, I don't know, this sounds terrible to say but I don't think our Office Depot Ford -- we didn't bring a car down here that's just like a rocket ship in qualifying trim. So what we're gonna do is really focus on racing in like we did last year in the qualifiers. We ran second to Elliott last year and I think we started on the third row then, so that was good for us. We're really focused on how the car races because I think there would have to be some crazy meteorological conditions or something for us to qualify on the pole, but you never know."
-credit: ford racing