Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, spoke to the media about his thoughts for the 2008 season during testing for next month's Daytona 500. CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR? ...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, spoke to the media about his thoughts for the 2008 season during testing for next month's Daytona 500.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
HOW HAS TESTING GONE SO FAR? "Testing has gone pretty well for our Office Depot Fusion. We've never been lightning fast down here. The drafting is fun. The cars slide around quite a bit. Ours stayed pretty free so it was fun to drive. The only problem we have right now is just being able to run on the tires. It seems like the tires are good and hard and, for some reason, they're blistering up a little bit. I think some people had some trouble there, so we're gonna keep our drafting runs to a minimum."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN THE 50TH DAYTONA 500? "That would be unreal. To win the Daytona 500, that would be just an unbelievable accomplishment to say the least. To be able to win the 50th and be that guy, that would mean a lot to me. The sport as we know it started here and 50 years after the first race, to win, would be great."
CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT THE TIRES? "I haven't had a chance to look over it very well with Bob, my crew chief yet, but it appears we're just getting some blistering on the right-front tire on our car. It looked like a couple of other cars had tires come apart. I think the 5 got in the wall and it looked like a tire blew on the 41, so we're gonna kind of hang back and see what happens. There's still enough time, hopefully, that we can get something in order for the next test session and some guys can try it out. We don't want to hurt our car, so we're gonna take it easy and see what happens tomorrow."
IS THE CAR THERE YET OR IS THERE STILL A LONG WAY TO GO? "Other than the tire thing that we just talked about, they actually drive pretty neat. It's pretty fun to drive around the race track in the draft. They move around a lot and they slide and stay loose and they're kind of a handful to drive, so, to me, that's fun. It makes it a setup and a driver's race. The most fun race I've ever had here at Daytona is when they had the super-hard tire that Goodyear brought and we ran it in the Busch race. I think Dale Jr. ran off with it and I was trying to chase him down from 100 yards back and people were slide-jobbing and doing all that stuff. That made it great race, so, hopefully, this car races like that, where we can kind of spread out and actually race. That'll be fun. It looks like it may be that way, so I'm excited about the prospect."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE DRAFTING OUT THERE TODAY? "It seemed like in the same way the cars worked at Talladega, I guess if two guys get hooked up nose-to-tail and they're really pushing one another, you can really take off and get out there. That's gonna be a factor if a couple of guys can knife up through the field. I believe that the handling is gonna be the number one thing, just like it is at Daytona. Handling is gonna mean more here than it did at Talladega when we ran these cars last year, so I think it's gonna be an exciting race. I'm looking forward to it. The only problem that is still the same problem that we had before, where you can't see through the car in front of you when you're real close, so it makes it real hard to anticipate any trouble that might happen. They talked about maybe putting a Lexan wicker on the wing, but they haven't done that yet, so maybe there's something they can still do. That would be great if we could see through the cars in front of us."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE DRAFTING? "It was really fun. Like I said earlier, it was real slippery. It's hot. The tires seem to give up a lot. The cars stay really loose. Before you'd go in the corner and they'd be a little bit loose sliding in and you'd get to the center and it would be a little tight. Now it's definitely not tight in the center. Mine is turning, so that's fun for me. I like having to drive the race car the whole way around the corner. That's pretty neat."
ARE THE TIRES A PROBLEM IN THE DRAFT ONLY AND THERE'S BEEN TALK ABOUT THE POWER BAND AND PERHAPS LOWERING A GEAR TO GIVE YOU MORE HORSEPOWER. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "As far as the tires, like I said before, I'd like to talk to a Goodyear engineer before I come up here and tell the story of the tires, but the way it appears is we've had trouble blistering our right-front tires. I believe every set we've put on, that's been the limiting factor -- in single-car runs and in the draft so I don't think it's a function of the draft. We have worked with the camber a little bit and gotten it better, but I think that's the number one issue right now. As far as the power band, the cars do pick up quite a bit in the draft, so I believe the gearing will be pretty crucial for the race -- to see what the pace of the race gets to and what gear to have in it is gonna be key."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT THE HOT TOPICS WERE DURING THE SAFETY MEETING? "The safety meeting, I like going to it because it's very informative. Today we talked about the Snell certification -- exactly how they certify these helmets and maybe some things to look for in helmets, so that we don't use a helmet that's not as safe as another. Like post impact, the way a helmet is effected. The way solvents effect the foam in the helmets. We talked a lot about the fit of helmets, how they're supposed to fit for the most protection. Also about the head rest heights. They showed us some videos of Ricky Rudd's injury that he sustained last year and maybe how we could build our head rests to be better and things like that, so it was definitely very informative. We also talked about, I think they call it hats off. Maybe that's a new name now, but the inflatable thing they put inside the helmet, so that if you have a possible neck injury, the EMTs can come up and blow that up -- unhook your helmet and raise the helmet off your head without putting any stress on your neck. I talked to my guys at Bell and they're gonna put those in all my helmets, so that's gonna be pretty neat."
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS? "I haven't made any yet. I don't know, I guess the number one thing is just apply everything I've learned and not get too excited about anything and just go out and do the best I can this year. I didn't make any specific resolutions. I haven't had time yet. I'll come up with something."
WHAT DID YOU DO DURING THE OFF SEASON? "I had these big plans. I was gonna go to some foreign country or something, but I went to training. At flight safety, I got some airplane training down in San Antonio and had a good time down there, and I got done with that and I was about spent so I vacationed in tropical Columbia, Missouri for a week-and-a-half or so. My buddy got me a hunting bow, so I did some bow hunting, which is mostly like watching deer in the woods. They never got close enough for me to feel confident, plus the arrows are real expensive, so I didn't want to just fling one way off in the woods. But we started an RC (remote control) car track in my hometown, which is pretty cool. We've had a few races there and it's been really neat, so mostly I just stayed around home and enjoyed time with my friends and my family."
DO PEOPLE RECOGNIZE YOU A LOT IN COLUMBIA? "The MU Tigers are pretty big in Columbia right now, but, yeah, it's pretty cool. I have a lot of fun at home. It's neat. Everybody is really cool to me there and I don't ever know if people recognize me. Everybody just kind of leaves me alone, so I can't really tell. People are really nice. I like it there. I still have a lot of the same friends I grew up with and do the same stuff, the same neighbors. My yard still looks worse than theirs, the whole deal, so we have fun."
DO YOU FEEL IT'S AN ADVANTAGE TO BE OUT OF CHARLOTTE OR IS IT HARD TO BE AWAY FROM THE SHOP? "It's a balance. There are times when I have to spend more time at the shop and more time around there, but there's a balance. A lot of times Bob and the guys don't want me to know what's going on because I try to manage or tell them stuff I shouldn't be involved in, so, to me, the plan this season is real simple -- just to go back home on Sunday nights and spend my Monday at home in Missouri every week. And then on Tuesday or Wednesday go to the shop and be there for at least a day a week and sometimes maybe two, but that seemed to work really well. I did that show, the Chase is On, the last 10 races of last season, so I went to the shop every Wednesday and that worked really well. It was a good balance of normal life and racing. You guys know how it is. It's like, it's weird when you step out of this and you're somewhere else where people don't really know that this goes on. That's valuable to me. I feel like some of my most productive times, the hardest I ever worked, the most I ever struggled was right there in that environment with those people. The people that are around me in Missouri know me for me and know what I'm trying to accomplish, so to have all those things still there and to just be able to leave, and instead of going down to Holt Summit, Missouri and racing a dirt car on the weekends, I go to Martinsville or Daytona or something like that. But I'm able to have that same mindset and, I think, be more productive personally."
ARE YOU SURPRISED HOW FAST THE TOYOTAS HAVE BEEN THE FIRST TWO DAYS AND IS IT TOO EARLY TO THINK ONE OF THEM MIGHT BE ABLE TO WIN THE RACE? "I'm not surprised at how fast the Toyotas are. I'm surprised at how relatively fast the Hendrick cars are. They seem pretty fast in single-car runs, but the trouble with testing right now is it's still so far from the race that you don't know kind of what everybody is doing. The true test will be on qualifying day. I do believe that the car of tomorrow will even up the field because handling and the driver will be more important here. I don't know if it's the tire or the car, but it does move around more -- it doesn't have as much grip -- so I think you'll see a different race here than you saw at Talladega."
WHAT RECHARGES YOUR BATTERY WHEN YOU'RE NOT RACING AND DO YOU DO BACKFLIPS WHEN YOU'RE NOT WINNING? "I try really hard not to do backflips unless I'm winning. If you're winning and you do a backflip and you hurt yourself, you're still a winner. If you're just goofing around, you're just an idiot. But I have Aflac now, so if something happens the duck takes over and I'm good. What recharges me and the thing I enjoyed off the race track the most last year was riding my bicycle to that race in St. Louis. I had two days and didn't go any faster than 15 miles an hour and got to ride by the Missouri River and that was pretty cool, so, for me, just being outdoors and being at home, that's what recharges me. That's really cool."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ALL THE OPEN-WHEEL GUYS IN THE SPORT THIS YEAR? "I think it's actually a great thing. To have F1 winners and champions driving and to be able to race against them is great. I think it's a global society that we live in right now, and to be able to have those guys here, I think, is good for the sport in that respect and I think it's also good because it allows us to compare ourselves to those guys when before there was no real way to do that, so I think that's good. I know initially there are gonna be guys out of rides because of it, but I think in the end the fans want to see the drivers that are most talented and if these open-wheel guys can do it, then they've earned their spot there. If they can't, those other guys will be back in rides soon enough. Right now, I think it's a good thing for the long run."
WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN FROM THOSE GUYS SO FAR? "Jacques Villeneuve, I can tell you one thing, he can sure drive a loose race car. I was following him today and he came off turn four sideways with the wheel turned to the right. He's a race car driver and, obviously, Juan Montoya is unbelievable. What Dario did at Memphis, running up front. I was pretty far back, but that was spectacular. I think these guys are extremely talented. I can personally tell you how hard it is. I grew up racing on ovals and then I ran the Truck Series for a few years and then got thrown into Nextel Cup, and I had all the experience I should have had to be able to go do it and it was still extremely difficult. So for these guys to come in and start from scratch -- Juan Montoya in particular -- for him to have performed and have the results that he's had is spectacular. I think they're very talented."
WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE FORD CAMP? WHAT CAN THOSE FANS LOOK FORWARD TO THIS YEAR? "I'm very excited to be driving a Ford Fusion this year. I think that what Max Jones started and what Robbie Reiser is taking over, I think, is gonna be great. I believe that the structures that we have in place and things that Ford is doing on the whole to kind of align all the Ford teams and make us more productive is gonna be great. I believe the way we're structuring our engineering department, the things that we did, are really gonna be great and they've already been great. We ran really well at the car of tomorrow races. We won two of them last year and we should have won a couple more. I felt like we were the fastest race car at some of those races and I believe that was an indicator that there are really good things to come from Ford Motor Company and from Roush Fenway for sure. I wouldn't have traded my race car at Bristol, Dover, Richmond or Phoenix. I wouldn't have traded it for any car in the field, so that's as good as you can ask for."
ARE THOSE NEW INITIATIVES? "Not new initiatives, but maybe a different focus -- focusing on different areas. It's been said 100 times and Jack admits that when the car of tomorrow came out, we were kind of in denial that that's what were gonna race and when everyone else went out, namely Hendrick went out and tested and did all these things, we sat back and said, 'We're just gonna wait and see what the rules are,' and that got us behind. We all remember how that felt, so we're trying to be proactive. That's gonna be good. We'll know after this test at California and Vegas, we'll see really where we stack up for the year."
-credit: ford racing