Edwards on Atlanta: This is the type track we need

Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion –
THOUGHTS ON ATLANTA? “We could not be at a better race track. This track is as good as it gets. Driving practice out there was a blast. I love this place for a number of reasons, but, right now, this is the type of track we need. We need a place where you can hang the car out. Fresh tires will be faster than old tires. There will be a lot of passing. There’s definitely three to four and maybe even five grooves out there, so it’s good. I’m having fun so far. It seems like we have a pretty good car. Subway is on board this weekend. It’s Subway’s 47th birthday. I’ll commit to some sandwiches if you guys need some sandwiches. We got a win at Watkins Glen with the Subway car, so that was a big day for us and we’re hoping that we can go out and make something happen. I got to see the lead there for a little while last week. That was fun. I got to hang on and restart in the lead a couple times. I ran out of fuel, but at least we got to be up there racing for it and that was a good time.”

COULD WE SEE THAT WIDE-OPEN CARL EDWARDS WE’VE SEEN IN THE PAST HERE AT ATLANTA AND KANSAS? “I am all the time. I’m sorry you haven’t noticed that lately.”

MIGHT IT BE MORE BLATANT OR OBVIOUS? “You always set these questions up so that I have to just agree with some portion of your question ,that there are two different ways that I drive, but I’m not gonna agree with that. First of all, at this track, you are right, this track is one where you can drive the car sideways, you can take chances, you can burn the tires off for three laps and make it look good and get yourself in a position to do something spectacular. It’s not like fresh pavement where everybody is stuck to one groove. This is a track where, even though I hate to agree with you in any way (laughing), I could go out there and you could maybe bend that car around the corner a little harder and make something happen if you want to. I’m ready for that. That’s what I meant when I said I’m glad to be here – a track where you can do that, where you can try a little harder and make something happen.”

HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIRES? “To try to explain this to you guys, I don’t know how many of you guys have driven race cars, but when you start the first lap, you pull out of the pits, you drive through turns three and four in practice and it feels great, it feels like you’ve got 2000 pounds of downforce. The car has all this grip. You get into turn one and two it feels really good, but almost by the time you get back to three and four again to come to the checkered flag you can start to feel the tires get slicker and every lap you run it’s like you lose an inch of tire, the tire gets narrower and slicker and that’s what it feels like until finally you’re running around with literally no grip. You’ll see guys in there with their hands just slinging that steering wheel around trying to keep the car going in the right direction because it’s sliding all over the place. The only way you can really save your tires is to go slower, and then if you go slower, somebody will invariably blow right by you and then you have to deal with passing them later, so it’s a real balancing act and it’s hard to do. I think there are some schools of thought that say you should just go as hard as you can on the tire the whole time and that will make it stay good, and some people think you should go easy. It’s hard to say. I’ve had some good runs where we were great at the end here, and I’ve had some green flag runs where we’ve been a second off the fastest guys. I haven’t put it together. I don’t really know exactly what is the best way to do it.”

THIS SPORT IS PERSONALITY DRIVEN. YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR LIFE, BUT NOT YOUR FAMILY. HOW DO YOU DRAW THE LINE ON WHAT YOU TALK ABOUT PUBLICLY? “Here’s the way I look at my job. My job is to do a couple things. My job is to go out there and be the best race car driver I can be, number one. I’ve got to be as fast as I can be in that race car because without that, there’s really no reason for Jack to have me in the car or for sponsors to be on board or for fans to where my t-shirts and things like that. Second, I’ve got to be honest with you guys and try to explain to you what’s going on so that you can deliver it to the fans and everyone, and, really, beyond that, that’s my job. What’s strange for me as a person is that eight, nine years ago I was just walking around here handing out business cards trying to get people to hire me to do this, and I guess what I’m saying is I feel like I’ve lived two completely different lives and I’ve realized along the way that this second life with fame and success has some down sides to it, too. So what I try to do personally is I try to maintain as normal a life as I can away from this and then when I’m here I try to give it my best. That’s kind of how I deal with it.”

MARK MARTIN SAID TRYING TO MAKE THE CHASE IS THE HARDEST THING HE’S EVER HAD TO DO. WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE FOR YOU THE LAST FEW WEEKS TRYING TO GET IN? “I haven’t watched the number very much. You guys probably noticed that when I ran the thing out of fuel at Bristol only a few points out of 10th. That was pretty dumb, but I haven’t been paying attention to the numbers. I’ve been subscribing to the idea that I should just go out and try my hardest to win and get in on a win. That’s what I’ve been doing. I haven’t been paying too much attention to the numbers. I tell you what, I did look at the calendar today, I was sitting there with Randy (Fuller) and we were going over the calendar and it was like nine or 10 days Richmond is gonna be done and we’re either gonna be in or out. That made my heart rate go up just a little bit when we realized, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do this. We’ve got to make it happen.’ But I have been doing this long enough now, I feel like I have a better perspective and I feel that I can accept whatever happens, but I’m pretty confident we’re gonna make it and I haven’t really started to think about how I would feel if we don’t. I hope I can deal with it in a good manner, if I have to, but we feel like we can win this week. We feel like we can win next week. I feel like we’re close enough in points that we could do it, and, if we don’t for some reason, I know why. There are a bunch of points laying out there this season that we let go that luck got us on. That’s probably about as deep as I’ve thought about it, and I just hope it works out.”

WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE TOP REASON YOU’RE IN THIS SITUATION? “There are a couple reasons we’re in this position in points. One of them is not the fact that we finished second last year in the championship, truly. We’re adults. We’re good competitors and we’ve finished second before. I’ve had disappointment. We started the season on the pole at the Daytona 500 and thought we were never gonna look back. As we went through the season there are two things that happened that I think really set us behind. Number one, terrible luck. Think of qualifying at Michigan the first time we went there, the bolt came off the secondary for fuel injection for the butterflies. I mean, it seems like things like that have happened to us. We got in that wreck at Bristol. We had the sparkplug wire come off at Indy running fourth, I think. We’ve had all these things that happened during the year combined with, I believe, Bob and his situation – him not being able to really perform at the highest level that he has over the last few years – I think all of that kind of added up to just mediocre performance combined with terrible luck and we’re 100-and-something points out of the lead. I truly believe after racing with Matt and Greg as long as I have, and seeing what goes on in the shop, that we should be as fast as those guys. I feel like we’re all at the same level on average driving-wise and I feel like at the shop we all share enough stuff that we should have been better performance-wise and it’s been a lack of performance and bad luck, truly. I don’t wake up every morning and go, ‘Man, I can’t believe we didn’t win that championship last year.’

“I don’t think anybody on the team is thinking about that. We go every week and do our best. I really think it’s a combination (bad luck and performance). If you look at last year, we performed just a little better – we performed like Matt and Greg have been performing all year. We just performed that much better and we had just spectacular luck. I mean, there were races that things went our way and cautions came when we needed them and it was really good. That elevated us to a high level for a long time. This year at Pocono we qualified second and I’m thinking, ‘This is awesome.’ We drive down in the first corner and Denny just clobbered the left rear of the car, so all day we’re fighting from the back. It just seems like every race has been kind of a struggle that way. That’s really what I believe to be the issues. I don’t think there’s a big personality issue within the team, no big conflicts or anything. I think that’s what it is.”

WHAT KIND OF WILD CARD RACE IS TALLADEGA? “Talladega is just crazy. It’s not one you want to go into having to get a good points day at – it’s not one that everybody circles on their schedule and goes, ‘I can’t wait.’ Especially the guys who have a bunch to lose, so that’s been a really tough race for me a couple of times because of how difficult it is and how much I have been through there and our team has been through with wrecked race cars and all sorts of issues. It’s one that it would be really nice to win a race there. It would be real special, but it’s real tough.”

IS THERE ONE PLACE YOU LOST POINTS THAT YOU KIND OF KICK YOURSELF OVER? I RECALL RICHMOND IMMEDIATELY. “No, not really. I feel if I had to do Richmond all over again, I would have done it the exact same way. Obviously, I wouldn’t knowing what I know now, but to re-visit that one more time – they told us we were in the lead, I thought I was leading the race and I started it as early as I could to make up for the disadvantage I had being on the outside, and NASCAR penalized me because, in fact, I wasn’t leading the race, so I don’t know what a guy is supposed to do in that position, other than to know who in the hell is leading the race. That was a big problem (laughing). From all of that you learn. I’ve seen enough in this sport to know that we could go out and win these next two races and everything could be great, I could be on top of the world, we could go in the Chase and we could blow up the engine the first two races and it could be over. So it really didn’t matter that we were in the Chase. Or, we could not make the Chase, we could go run the next 10 races, learn a ton of things and practice a bunch of stuff and come win the championship next year and it wouldn’t have happened next year if we didn’t miss it. I try to just wring every little good thing I can out of anything that happens and that’s the way I’ve gotten ahead in this game and the way I try to approach everything. So I’ll just do all I can, but, truly, unless you guys ask, I don’t sit around and lament those races and worry about them. It’s just the way it is.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT QUALIFYING HERE AT ATLANTA? “It’s a fast lap, it really is, and you mentally have to prepare for this lap because your tires are so bad the second lap. I can’t tell you how many times, I watched a qualifying video from last year and I was like, ‘Man, I missed turn one.’ I mean, I just drove in and missed where I wanted to be on the race track. We got a couple good qualifying practice laps in and I feel pretty good about it, but the track is gonna be about a half-a-second to seven-tenths of a second faster. Jimmie had a great line one time when he said something like your commitment level has to meet the level of grip you’re gonna have, so it’s really difficult to drive down into turn one and decide when to lift off the throttle because you just don’t know how much grip you’re gonna have. It’s a really satisfying race to qualify well at.”

HOW MORE DISTINCTIVE IS THIS TRACK SINCE IT HAS SOME AGE TO IT? “If the Lord were to take me from this Earth right now, there would be a place in heaven that would look a lot like this race track. I mean, it is awesome. It’s as good as it gets. If there was a way to repave tracks just like this, this is how they should pave all of them. It’s so awesome, you guys. I mean, you drive down in the corner and it’s awesome. We’re gonna wear out steering boxes. We’re slinging the cars sideways. It’s just fun and then the tires fall off and the times slow down, and there are gonna be guys coming and going. There is gonna be somebody on the last pit stop who takes tires and passes 20 cars in five laps. That stuff is fun, so I just hope whatever they do they can maintain this pavement and not have to repave it, and, if they do, please pave it just like it is.”

Source: Ford Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Carl Edwards
Teams Roush Fenway Racing
Article type Interview
Tags atlanta, chase, edwards, ford, rousch