Darlington Raceway 500
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings for the third straight week. He spoke with reporters in the Darlington Raceway infield media center to discuss a variety of subjects.
YOU HAD YOUR SECOND CHILD THIS WEEK. CONGRATULATIONS. HOW IS IT GOING? “It’s going great. It was amazing. Kate is an amazing woman. We had a healthy young boy. His name is Michael Edwards and he’s doing great, so it’s just a great week. It was unreal. We had a lot of fun. Annie is really excited about her little brother. I don’t think she quite understands what is going on, but we’re all doing really well, so it’s good."
WHERE DOES DARLINGTON RANK ON YOUR DIFFICULTY SCALE AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT JEFF GORDON HAS FIVE MORE WINS HERE THAN ANY OTHER ACTIVE DRIVER? “This place is really difficult. I had a lot of help before my first trip here from Jeff Burton. He’s really good here and he helped me a lot with my first run here in the trucks. Bobby Hudson was spotting for me then and he’d watched a million races here. I’ve never gotten a win here, but we’ve run really well. We’ve run well in the trucks, in Nationwide and in the Cup Series. We’ve had at least one Cup race get away that I thought we could win. I feel like our Aflac Fusion is pretty good this weekend, but it is very difficult. I think Jeff’s success here says a lot about him as a driver and a lot about that team. He’s won seven races. That’s unreal. I ran the truck race here and we overheated the engine. We were running really well and overheated the engine, but the first Cup race I came to here I was just watching, hanging out. I watched the beginning of the race from turn three, in that building, watched a bunch of laps and then I decided I was gonna drive back to Charlotte. I got back to my apartment, drove all the way home. I had watched enough that I was ready to go home, drove all the way home, walked in and flipped on the radio and the race was still going. They were still out there grinding it out and it was like 90 degrees outside. It’s such a tough race. It’s a grueling race physically, so that says a lot about Jeff to be able to win all of those."
IS THERE ANY UPDATE ON YOUR CONTRACT STATUS FOR NEXT YEAR? “I don’t have any timetable, and, like I said at the beginning of the year, I don’t really like to talk about that stuff in the media. I’ve been fortunate to be able to take care of it behind closed doors, but it’s all going well. We’re just working on it."
HARVICK AND KYLE BOTH LIKE HAVING AS MANY WINS AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE THEY FEEL THEY CAN TAKE MORE CHANCES WITH SETUP S. AS THE POINT LEADER WOULD YOU RATHER BE WHERE YOU ARE NOW OR MORE WINS THIS YEAR? “I’d rather be where I’m at now. The wins are very important, though. I think just the fact that we have one win is great, two would be better. I think both of those guys are in a great position to make the chase because they’re both gonna be in the top 20 in points. It’s kind of interesting all the curves that go with that stuff. I think if you can have two wins, I believe you’ll be in the chase, so that’s a relief, I’m sure, for those guys. But having the points lead is nice, too. I think it builds a lot of confidence within the team. This is the longest we’ve led the points. We’ve been able to hang onto the points lead for quite a while now, so I’m enjoying it. If it does rain out qualifying, there’s an advantage there. I’d like to have the points lead and a bunch of wins. That would be the best, but we’re working on that."
YOU CAN SEE GRAY COMING BACK TO THE TRACK. DOES THAT MEAN GRIP IS GOING AWAY FROM THE TRACK? “I was pretty excited and anxious to see what it looked like. I was telling the guys that rode with me down to the race that this track was so different before they paved it, and I’m hoping it gets back to that. It seems like it has aged quite well, I think, over the last year. It took a lot of rubber about three-quarters of the way through the Nationwide practice and that changed the grip level a little bit. It seems like the tires are falling off a little bit, so I think it’s good. I think the track is going really well, and I think that’s good for the racing.”
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT IT’S LIKE BEING A NASCAR DRIVER AWAY FROM THE TRACK? “We run all over the place. There’s always something going on. I’ve been running the Nationwide Series full-time. I think this is the seventh year running both series full-time, so, for me, days like today without the rain are really busy. You’re in the car, it feels like for 12 or 15 hours – from 8:30 in the morning until whenever we finish the race at night, so those days are really busy. The one thing that I’ve noticed since I’ve been doing this is my off days are like Monday and Tuesday, so I end up having days off when nobody else does, so that’s kind of odd. But we work on the weekends essentially, and the guys in the shop are the ones that really work the hardest, the guys that work in the shop all week and then travel. There’s more than what you see on television, I guess, is the best way to put it. There’s a lot of work that goes into this and it seems like the more you work, the better you go so nobody lets up."
The one thing that I’ve noticed since I’ve been doing this is my off days are like Monday and Tuesday...
DOES YOUR BOY LOOK OR ACT LIKE YOU, AND HOW FRUSTRATING IS THE TRACK TO LEARN AT FIRST? “I don’t know him well enough. He’s only been around a couple of days, but he’s healthy and that’s the biggest thing. That’s one of the most stressful things that I hope I ever have to go through. It’s wild to anticipate how everything is gonna go, but I’m very fortunate. As far as this race track, it’s just wild. To drive down into turn one, if you had a heart rate monitor it’s like as you’re approaching turn one your heart rate just gets higher and higher and you think, ‘OK, we’ve got to get this right.’ And you drive down in that corner and it just launches you into the middle of this corner and, to me, I don’t know what other guys feel like, but my brain is screaming, ‘Step on the throttle, step on the throttle,’ and for some reason my foot just won’t do it quick enough because it’s so different from most tracks. You have to be on the throttle really, really running hard around the center of the corner and you build up all this steam and then the game is to see if you can thread that needle off of two and launch down that back straightaway, so it’s a very challenging race track. I feel like the pace of the race, mentally at least, changes a lot throughout the race. You get a lot more comfortable and understand how it’s working, but the first few laps out here are tough."
DOES THE ALL-STAR RACE HAVE A LEVEL OF INTENSITY YOU CAN FEEL AS A DRIVER? “Yeah, it’s really fun because it’s all about the win. It’s about winning a million dollars and getting the trophy. It’s a neat race. It feels like we should have more of those type of races because it is different and it truly is all or nothing. If you’re running around there in eighth place or whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s about winning. I have not been fortunate enough to run that well at that race. It seems like we’re always really bad there. We were watching some coverage from last year’s race before I came over here and we talked about it a little bit and they think we’re gonna be better this year, but it’s fun. That would be an unreal race to win. That would be cool."
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU FIND OUT WHAT WAS ACCEPTABLE TO SAY ON THE RADIO TO YOUR CREW? “I think everybody is different and everybody expresses their frustration in different ways. In the heat of the moment, at least for me, it’s easy to say things that you sometimes go, ‘Man, I shouldn’t have said that,’ but I think that’s just part of the sport and I don’t know if that will ever change. I think at the end of the day caring enough to be upset about something is part of competition."
DO CREW GUYS UNDERSTAND THAT FRUSTRATION? “I think we all do it differently. Just like all of us do there are people that deal with things in different ways, so I don’t think it’s the same scale for every person. I know just within my team there are guys that can say certain things to me and we can interact in a certain way that I couldn’t interact with another guy, so you just have to kind of measure that stuff based on who you’re dealing with.”
HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE LAST 5-10 RACES TO GO WITH DRIVERS OUTSIDE THE CHASE TRYING TO GET A WIN AND GRAB A WILD CARD SPOT? “That’s gonna be really interesting. I think that’s something we haven’t talked a lot about, but there will obviously be guys that aren’t gonna make it in the top 10 – there might be some wild pit strategies and really, really hard racing to get a win. It just depends on how it stacks up and what it looks like is gonna be needed. If there are eight guys or something that are all on equal ground, but if they got a win they would be in the chase, you’re gonna see some really hardcore racing out of those guys. I hope I’m in and I hope I don’t have to be one of those guys, but I think the fans are gonna benefit by that."
DID THE RAIN CREATE ANY ISSUES AS FAR AS GETTING A READ ON THINGS? “We’re gonna look good or not here based on whether or not it stops raining because Bob and the guys forecasted right when it was gonna rain. We got some race trim in, we got qualifying practice in, and if it continues to rain, then we might have messed up because we should have spent more time in race trim, but if we do get qualifying in, then I think we did the right thing. It’s really difficult to decide what to do because it’s not just about whether it rains, it’s how quick does it dry off, are we gonna get more race practice. It’s a tough call. I’m hoping that we get qualifying in, just so we can make use of all that practice we had."
DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A BETTER APPRECIATION OF WHAT YOUR CREW GUYS DO SINCE YOU USED TO WORK ON CARS, COMPARED TO GUYS WHO HAVE NEVER DONE THAT AND JUST DRIVE? “I can tell you honestly that it’s difficult sometimes to remember how much work goes into these cars because we show up, we get in the race car, we race them really hard and if you run into something, I don’t have to fix that. So sometimes it’s easy to forget how much work goes into these things. I’d say it could go either way. I know when I first came in, I probably was a little timid sometimes on the race track because I didn’t want to tear things up and I didn’t want to be too hard on the car. I was so used to thinking, ‘OK, don’t wear out the engine. It has to last all year. Don’t miss a shift. Don’t be hard on the tires’ because I didn’t want to buy new tires. I think it took a little while to where I could get the most out of the car, but I guess it could go the other way too and you could abuse the equipment a little bit because you don’t understand what goes into it. I don’t know if that’s really a factor in how fast a guys is. I think it could go either way. I don’t think the guys want you to be too easy on it, in a way. I really respect what goes into these race cars. The thing that’s hard to remember sometimes is that every single person is giving everything they’ve got. Everybody is doing their best job, so when things aren’t going well it’s so frustrating because you think, ‘Why can’t they make this car any faster?’ But everybody is doing the best they can. I think on our team we did a really good job of staying conscious of that through those 70 races we went without a win. We were right on the verge of people starting to point fingers at each other and we didn’t do it and that was pretty cool. I was really proud of everybody. I never heard a cross work about me driving and I did my best not to blame anyone. We just kept working and I think that’s really important."
WHEN WAS YOUR SON BORN? “He was born on Wednesday afternoon. He was eight pounds, six ounces. They’re doing really well. She’s a great mom and I hope she enjoys this Mother’s Day.”
-source: ford racing