NASCAR Teleconference Transcript October 28, 2008 An interview with: CARL EDWARDS HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR teleconference in advance of Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. That's race 8...
NASCAR Teleconference Transcript
October 28, 2008
An interview with:
HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this week's NASCAR teleconference in advance of Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. That's race 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Three races to go. Jimmie Johnson leads second place Carl Edwards by 183 points. Today we're pleased to have Carl, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford as our teleconference guest.
Carl, you're coming off a win this past week at Atlanta. You won the season's previous Texas event back in April. This week looks like a good chance for you to maybe knock some more points off Jimmie's lead, which, obviously, you know you need to do. What is the outlook going into Texas this weekend?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I mean, you're exactly right, herb. We hope we have a really fast car at Texas. We've had great, great race cars there in the past. The spring was a great win for us. Yeah, we just have to go there.
Like I said, the last couple of weeks, we have to go out and try to win all of these races, which we do normally. But at this point it's pretty much all or nothing. We just go out to win. If we can catch Jimmie on a day where he has some trouble or something happens, we have to be there getting the most amount of points we can so that we can capitalize on that.
But I love Texas. Someone said the last three years that we've won in Atlanta, we've won in Texas, so hopefully we can keep that going.
Q: Also wanted to mention you're second in the NASCAR Nationwide Series points. You're cutting into Clint Bowyer's lead pretty substantially, I believe, 116 down this week. Each week are you realistically thinking about the chances of winning both titles? How do you approach that when you're running so well in those series?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that is the goal at the beginning of the season. That is the ultimate, you know, goal the last I guess four years or three years or four years that we've been doing this that I've been running both series.
It would just be a huge, huge accomplishment. You know, last week was a spectacular race for us. Everything went our way at Memphis in the Nationwide Series. And it's the first time in a long time we've picked up a bunch of points on Clint, so that was definitely a pleasant surprise.
We didn't expect to go there and be able to close that many points on him. But I feel like if we do our jobs and we keep running like we're running, you know, then we're putting ourselves in the best position to, like I said, capitalize if Clint or Jimmie has any trouble.
Q: Kind of doing a Halloween thing for the week. If you're leading Texas with three laps remaining and you look up in the rear view mirror, what four or five drivers scare you the most and why?
CARL EDWARDS: Now wait a second. Exactly what was the question? What four or five drivers do what?
Q: You look in the rear view mirror and you're leading with three laps to go. What four or five drivers scare you the most in your rear view mirror?
CARL EDWARDS: Scare me the most? At this point, Jimmie's the last guy I want to see in my mirror with the few laps to go. So that would be the number one scary guy.
You know, just the regular folks. The guys we're racing with in points, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, you know, Kevin Harvick. The guys that we're racing against for these points positions. You know, at this point in the year, those are the scary guys you don't want to see in your mirror because you know that every position you get on those guys is going to be something good for you to be in.
Q: Is there anybody that you see in your rear view mirror that you get scared about that? Anybody that's quite that intimidating?
CARL EDWARDS: Man, I don't know. It's tough, but I don't think there's one guy you can say that about. It changes week to week because the sport's so competitive. So, you know, I don't know.
I just have to stick with Jimmie. He's the guy. You watch how he ran that last run at the end of the race last week I'm sure he's just going for the win. So if I'm leading, he's the one that I probably don't want to see in my mirror, that's for sure.
Q: Any drivers scare you to be around on the track?
CARL EDWARDS: No, really nobody's -- you know, we've got a really good group of guys. I haven't been around somebody for a while that's scared me. You know, we all make mistakes and do things that aren't good, you know.
Talladega's a good example of that was a place where I was just worried about idiots and I was one of them that day. So I don't have anything to say about somebody being scared.
Q: I wondered if you had some thoughts on the attendance of some of these recent races? It's clear on television, a lot of people have cited the economy and gas prices and everything. But have you noticed it and thought about it much?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, I have. I've looked up to Atlanta and it was one of the things I thought was important at the end of the race. I thanked the fans that came.
You know, I don't know the exact statistics on how far the average fan drives to go see a race. But I know that every fan that gets in their car and takes their family and their camper and spends their money and comes to the races, every one of us as participants in the sport appreciate that.
You can't get around the fact that right now is tough times. You know, it just makes every fan, makes everybody more grateful for the fan that's do decide to come spend their entertainment dollars and their shrinking discretionary income on auto racing.
So, yeah, I think as long as we keep giving them the racing that we've been giving them, and we keep doing all the things that we're doing on the racetrack to make it exciting, we'll have fans. And, hopefully, we'll get through this this time and it won't cost the sport anything that we can't rebound from.
Q: Now that you've had almost a full season to assess it, has running the four Nationwide Series in your estimation helped your effort this year?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that's a good question. You know, right off the bat when I first started running both of them in 2005, I was certain it had helped me. I mean, it was 100% beneficial for Sundays.
As I've gone along, it's not been a benefit for the same reasons. You know, now it's different. It was that I was getting experience racing on the racetrack, racing around these guys.
Now I feel like I have enough experience with that stuff that the benefit for me is just the competitive outlet on Saturdays. Getting the opportunity to go compete and have a good time with my guys on the Nationwide side, which we really have a great group and they're a lot of fun.
This weekend in particular, winning that race at Memphis, I mean, I believe it put a little spring in my step and made Sunday go better. You know I mean if you wake up on Sunday morning with a smile from Saturday, it just seems like your day can't be worse because of that. So I think it's still a benefit, but now it's more that it's just fun, you know.
Q: If things end up the way they are now and you end up second in both series, do you think you'll feel more a sense of pride in terms of what you've been able to accomplish and frustration of having come so close?
CARL EDWARDS: I'm not even going to answer that, because it is not -- we've got three weeks, three races in each series. And you know, I'll know -- I'll let you know how I feel after it's done, you know. If we win, we win. If we don't, we don't. But, you know, right now my focus is going out here and doing the best we can to win.
Q: You've got the opportunity to do the race of champions coming up in a month and a half or so. Have you had a chance to, you know, to meet some of the guys you're going to be racing with to acclaim yourself with some of the international guys?
CARL EDWARDS: Thanks for asking about that, man. It's really going to be fun. The race of champions, the way I understand it, it is one of the most fun events that a driver could do. You getting to over to London. We're going to race at Wembley Stadium in rally-type cars.
Supposedly they'll try to set it up so I can race against Michael Shoemaker at least once, which will be fun. That will be a blast. I'm supposed to get in contact with Mark Webber here in the next day or two. And he's going to give me some tips and talk to me about what to expect.
But you know, for me, it's an honor to go over there and represent the United States with Travis Pastrana, who has really done well over there. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, both those guys have told me how great their experience was over there, and how much fun they've had. I can't wait.
I've never been to Europe. So I've got a whole group of people going and we're going to go over there and just have a good time. I think it's going to be really fun.
Q: You had never met Mike Schumacher and those guys that you're going to compete against?
CARL EDWARDS: No, I haven't. I'm just really excited to see something new. A different culture, some of the history over there. Going to spend a couple extra days and go look around.
I mean, I'm pumped. I'm going there to race. I think that from what I've heard, it's pretty tough. It's really close competition, and they prepare the cars as closely as they can. You know, as close to one another as they can. I've seen a couple of clips of the racing, it looks pretty neat.
Q: As busy as you've been with stock cars throughout most of your life, did you ever get the time to be an international racing geek to watch the F1 races, and to watch the mile stuff like that?
CARL EDWARDS: I watched a little of the F1 stuff when it's on in the motor home or the hauler whatever. But I'd say my true respect for Formula 1, and that style of racing, you know, came with guys like Juan Montoya coming over and seeing how spectacular he was and is on road courses, and, you know, how quickly he adapted to the stock cars.
He always wondered how good some of those guys were. And now I know they're spectacular. So I know I'm not going over there -- I guess what I'm saying is I'm expecting to go over there and learn a lot from these guys. Hopefully not embarrass myself or our country. I hope we can do well.
Q: Just going back a little bit again to the run in both series. I was just wondering, physically has it ever been a thing where it's taken a toll just running both? Jumping around to different cities on the weekend?
CARL EDWARDS: It's something I thought would be really tough at the beginning. In a way, this past weekend it couldn't have been simpler. Going back and forth from Sonoma to Milwaukee, you maybe miss just a little bit of sleep. I have on that trip.
But other than that, you know, this weekend, for example, Bobby East, he practiced and qualified the City Fusion over there in Memphis in the Nationwide car. All I had to do is show up and jump in and race. So that weekend is actually less, you know -- less grueling than going back and forth and practicing all day Friday. You know, the result was still good.
So the tough parts are not really -- the split weekends like here in Texas where I'll be going back and forth from garage to garage on Friday, those are the ones that take a little bit out of you. But really the racing on Saturday is a short enough race, and it's fun enough. You've got enough time to rest before Sunday that it doesn't take much out of you for Sunday.
Q: I understand you and Gary Pinkel are good friends. I wondered if you followed him in football this year and any thoughts on what they've been doing?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, Gary Pinkel and I have become fairly close. He's got a pretty tough schedule, and so do I. So we end up texting each other back and forth all the time. But I've been following him. He's an inspiring guy. He's an amazing person and a really great competitor.
You know, I've been watching him and pretty excited about how last weekend went. The Texas game was not that great. But I really think that they have opportunities to, you know, really, really shine later here in the season. I hope we get to go to a game or two.
Q: I was calling to first congratulate you on your win this weekend, that was great to see. But with the fourth qualifying session rained out last weekend at Atlanta, do you think there should be a Top 12 in The Chase ought to do its own qualifying so that they can at least give you a chance so that you can have a good pit selection?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a pretty good question. I don't know what they could do to change qualifying rounds. There's a lot of things that local racetracks do to incentivize qualifying. I don't know how you can really change it around for the weather. The weather's just, I think has the ability to mess things up all together.
But one thing I always thought was neat, would be neat is if you qualified for points and then inverted the field or something like that according to on your qualifying speed. So you still have a big incentive to qualify well. But you have to start the fastest guys in the back.
The only frustrating part about having qualifying running in the Chase, is that all of the Chase guys get to start right up there in front. Everybody gets a good pit stop selection, and you don't get the opportunity to -- you know get an advantage on someone.
But I don't know how you fix it for the rain. There are a lot of things that can be done to make qualifying more interesting.
Continued in part 2