An interview with: CARL EDWARDS DENISE MALOOF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teleconference ahead of Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. Our guest is Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford, who is...
An interview with:
DENISE MALOOF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teleconference ahead of Sunday's Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. Our guest is Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford, who is fourth in the series standings. And he's a former winner of this race in June 2005. Carl, welcome.
CARL EDWARDS: Hey, glad to be with you.
DENISE MALOOF: Good to have you. Pocono is kind of a unique layout. I know that it is one of the more difficult challenges on the schedule. Is it one of those tracks where you race the track, technically speaking?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, you do. It's -- it is one of the most challenging. It is a mentally challenging track just because it's a really long race. Like you said, you do race the race quite a bit.
You know, but it is different trying to pass cars there. It is difficult. You have to time everything just right so you don't cost yourself a lot of time. So, a very mentally taxing racetrack. It is a good challenge.
DENISE MALOOF: And very quickly, I know you are involved in a lot of promotions for your sponsors and you have a lot of fun with them. The one that's going on now is the Office Depot's fourth annual small business of NASCAR promotion. How's that going?
CARL EDWARDS: That's been a really fun one. We've had a lot of really neat people win it. And the idea is that Office Depot is supported by small businesses, you know, and their business couldn't exist without them. So this promotion is to take one of those small businesses at random through a selection process online and give them a small business makeover, $10,000 Office Depot makeover.
They will be the official small business of NASCAR for the duration of the season. And they will come to the race, have a fun time, get their picture taken and have their name on the race car and their logo and everything. So it is really a pretty cool promotion. And the last three winners have been -- have been very cool.
It is one of the exciting things we do with Office Depot throughout the year.
DENISE MALOOF: Sounds good. We'll now go to media questions for Carl.
Q: I want to ask you about Eldora. Now, who are some of the guys on dirt that are good that we might not expect or we might not, you know, assume would be guys to beat?
CARL EDWARDS: It's hard to say because you go into this thing -- I was just looking at the list of guys that are coming, and it just depends on how they get their cars set up and what the track's like.
Last year I don't think anybody expected Kyle Busch to run as well as he did. And I think a lot of people were nervous that -- you know, that Jeff wasn't going to run that well. But then those two guys ended up being the guys that I had to beat to win the thing.
So I don't think there's someone you can point at. Anything can happen. Bill Elliott could win the thing. He has been running a lot of dirt. Really a dirt race like that comes down to who gets their car perfect that night, you know?
Q: Question about the Pocono test you guys finished up last week. What kind of things did you go there anticipating that might be -- give you guys a problem and maybe that wasn't the case? On the flip side, what were some things that you thought might set up well for you and give you guys a little bit of problems and give you guys some things to think about going into this weekend?
CARL EDWARDS: I went into that Pocono test with a pretty open mind. I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't think this new car would run that well through the -- you know, through all the different types of corners. I just thought it would be a lot tougher to drive than it was. So I was pleased with how well the car has ran.
The one thing that I didn't expect and that I think everyone, you know, is going to work with all day at the race will be in the last corner, they paved a big strip around that corner. You know, everybody was trying -- you know, running on the new pavement, which was way up high, versus the low line where, you know, generally we run.
So I think that's going to be pretty fun to race on. I don't think anyone really knows how that is going to work out, whether we'll be able to pass up there or if -- you know, which line is going to be the fastest. That was the biggest thing that surprised me.
Q: I want to ask also about Eldora. Can you summarize what makes it so great for you guys? You know, race car drivers, even though you say this takes you back to your roots, there is no stress but, still, everybody is going crazy about wanting to win at Eldora. Where's that line and what's the feeling about it?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question. It is fun. I'm telling you, I'm so grateful I won it on my first try. I mean, truly a lot of guys can say, "Hey, we're going there to have a good time" or whatever. I'm truly going there to have a good time because we did it last year. If we win again this year, that will be spectacular.
But it is a thing that you do once a year. It's a one-off thing. It would be like, you know -- in a lot of ways, it is like Daytona 500 or the Brickyard 400 or a race that you only run once a year, you want to run well in. You really like to win because if something happens -- no matter what happens here tomorrow night, you got to wait a whole year to do it again. So that's part of what makes it special.
The other thing is just the curiosity. I mean, everyone wants to see who can, you know, run one of these late-models on dirt and who can do well. There are a lot of bragging rights there to say, "This is pure racing." Nobody really has an upper hand here, we just go here and see what happens. It is kind of like if we have a foot race or something. Everybody wants to win it because you can just say, "In that category, I can beat these guys."
Q: I'm looking down the road a little bit here to Infineon, which is coming only three weeks away. How do you prepare for a road course? And have you done anything different coming up to this Infineon than you have in the past?
CARL EDWARDS: I haven't done anything different than I have done in the past.
That's becoming one of my favorite racetracks. I really, really value the road courses on the schedule. That one is a lot of fun. I mean, it is an area that's beautiful. Everyone loves to go there. I mean, my mom and my assistant and my girlfriend and everybody wants to go just to have a vacation out there,
You know, on the racetrack, it is really neat because the driver makes such a huge difference. So for me in preparing for that race, you know, physically it is important. It is usually pretty warm. And then going over all of our notes from last year, you know, spending some time watching the tape, really focusing, you know, because the driver is such a big part of that race. But that's what makes it really fun.
So no huge change in preparation. I just hope we're as good as we were last year and get a little better fuel mileage and maybe we can win the thing.
Q: Carl, this year's race at Eldora, the money is going to the Kansas City version of the Victory Junction Camp. Kansas, kind of your neighborhood. Any extra feeling this year about going because of that?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that's a good question. I think that Victory Junction Gang Camp is one of the greatest things that we have in this country for kids. And the way I understand it is that they provide more health care to children during the times that their kids are there than anyone else.
And the idea that they're putting one of those close to my home, where I live in Columbia, I got to talk to Patty a little bit about it and I'm really excited about that.
To me, it is very special that Tony and everyone, you know, has decided that this race is to help that camp. I hope it's something I can be a part of a long time living in this area. I think it is amazing.
Q: Up here in Michigan, you have just been a great car here the last couple years. And we're about a week and a half out from the Father's Day race. If I can ask you about your father real quick, how instrumental has he been in your career and any life lessons or advice you carried from him?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, yeah, I got to hang out with my dad a little bit today, my dad and my little brother. I mean, you know, my dad's -- if it weren't for him, I definitely wouldn't be racing, that's for sure. He was my racing hero growing up. He was an unbelievable race car driver, and he still races a little bit. But, you know, just about the smartest person that I have ever met and really helped me to make sure that throughout my racing career, that I looked at things and been very objective and, you know, really solve problems and look at things pragmatically so that I was going the right direction all the time.
And I think that that mind-set of making the most of your time and making the most of your money and your opportunities, you know, that he instilled that in me for my racing career. And I'm super grateful for that.
He's got the trophy from the last Father's Day race we won there, and it would be really cool to go back there and get another one.
Q: Carl, can you talk a little bit about the relationship that your team and the other four teams have with the Ford Racing folks. Talked to some of the engineers on the Ford side, and they said a lot of the information they get to improve their production cars comes from things they learned at the track. Just how does that relationship work back and forth? How much support do you get from Ford Racing? And how critical is that in terms of your success?
CARL EDWARDS: It's been very critical. This year we've had a lot of help from Ford. That's helped a lot. I don't know how the money goes around. You know, I don't know what their monetary investment is, but I definitely know that, you know, from my standpoint, talking with their engineers and the people that are working to help our team, I think we've made a step forward with Ford and I'm excited about it.
And I feel like this next week when we go up there and do the really neat thing where we drive their new vehicles, they tell us how they've been -- you know, changed the designs and things they have been working on. And ten we actually get to, I'm sure to their disgust at some point, we get to go out and drive these cars around a test track. And it is one of the most fun things we do all year. It is hilarious.
We will be in a Ford Taurus with four wheels off the ground, sliding sideways, smoking the tires and stuff. And we get to wring them out pretty well. So we get to have a little bit of fun with their products. And definitely they have been helping us.
So I'm proud to be driving a Ford. I'm excited about their resurgence in the market.
Continued part 2