Edwards visits media on new Chase format

NASCAR announced a couple of changes for the Chase for the Nextel Cup at a press conference this afternoon in Concord, NC, as part of the Lowe's Motor Speedway Media Tour. Carl Edwards, who was testing his Busch car at Daytona International ...

NASCAR announced a couple of changes for the Chase for the Nextel Cup at a press conference this afternoon in Concord, NC, as part of the Lowe's Motor Speedway Media Tour. Carl Edwards, who was testing his Busch car at Daytona International Speedway, happened to be in the media center and watched the announcement on television. He gave his thoughts about the changes afterwards.

CARL EDWARDS--60--Scotts Ford Fusion

THOUGHTS ON THE CHANGES JUST ANNOUNCED. "Off the top of my head, I think it obviously will do some things they want it to do. It will reward people that win the races. I think that if they truly want the people who win the most races, if they want that to be reflected in the final points rundown, then this is a step towards that. Obviously, Kasey Kahne would have been leading the points going into the Chase, so for that they gain ground there. The one thing that I see that will probably, I will say will eventually be addressed, I kinda expected them to say something about it there or to do something with these changes was just the fact that a bad day hurt you so badly in the points. A good day or a great day, they made the discrepancy between a great day and a good day, they made the difference between that a little bit bigger by giving more points to the winner. But, a bad day is still such a hit in the points. To address that, they have two more cars in the Chase, so you could have more bad days and still make it. I think those are the kind of changes that would been very welcomed by our Office Depot team last year, considering that we had some real bad days. It would have been that much easier to get in the chase by having 12 cars. Heck, the year before it would have been great for us because we won four races and we would have welcomed those 40 points. I think we lost the championship by 35 or something like that. Tony probably won some Chase races, too, but he may not have won some Chase races in 2005. I don't know. I'm not saying that we would have won the championship under this format, I'm just saying that there are positives and negatives."

WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE IN THE CHASE HAVING THEIR OWN SYSTEM? "Boy, that's just one more degree of complexity there. I don't know."

INAUDIBLE QUESTION. "Well, yeah, but what happens is because there are so many variables in this sport, if I go out, and let's just say for some reason I run over a piece of debris and cut my tire, and that just happens to me five times in a season, that has no bearing on our preparation, our speed, our ability to win and things like that, and it still has such huge, detrimental effect to our season as a whole. For that reason, I think just the general idea of the Chase format is awesome. Out of the first 26 races, at least, it kinda gives you a little bit of a cushion for things like that to happen. That's the only reason why I think that those bad days are so painful. If you took the Chase drivers who made it last season and took all of their finishes of 35th or worse, a lot of them probably weren't their fault or their doing."

NASCAR SAID THEY BOUNCED THIS AROUND. DID THEY GO TO YOU OR ANYBODY AT ROUSH FOR INPUT? "I don't know. I don't remember if they had. If they did, I wouldn't have expected them to. I'm new enough at this and I haven't won a championship in NASCAR's upper divisions, so I really don't feel like I'm in a position to say how it should be or shouldn't be. I'm sure they talked to some drivers and team owners. But my consensus, I would have just said, 'Really, honestly, whatever you guys think.'"

YOU WEREN'T ASKED DIRECTLY? "Nobody asked me. I don't feel bad is what I'm saying."

IS THIS RECOGNITION BY NASCAR THAT THERE ARE AT LEAST 12 CHAMPIONSHIP-CALIBER TEAMS? "Sure, yeah. I don't think anybody would disagree. The 16 team, the 20, our team was pretty good in the Chase, Kurt Busch, all of those guys are fast and they can win a championship. Some of them have proven that. Either way it can go, it's a slippery slope. You could say, 'OK, the points are reset with 10 laps to go at Homestead, and whoever wins the race wins the championship.' You could go that far. I think what they're doing, they're trying to achieve that balance that Brian (France) is talking about where every race counts, but it's a little more exciting at the end. Yeah, there are 20 teams that can win the championship for sure, maybe 25 that could do it, and I think this gives more folks the chance to catch their breath with 10 to go. As a fan, my first year in Nextel Cup when I wasn't in the points, when they came up with the Chase, I thought, 'Well, that could either be good or bad.' I was really indifferent, but as a fan watching it, I was like, 'That's pretty cool.' I can see from a complete outside perspective, anything they can do to shake it up and reward guys for wins and make it more dramatic, that makes it fun to watch."

IF YOU'RE THE POINTS LEADER AFTER RICHMOND, BUT START FIFTH IN THE POINTS AT LOUDON, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FEEL? "Well, I guess if somebody goes out and wins 10 races and I don't win any, that would mean that they would have a 100-point lead on me starting the chase. Right? That could happen, right? Somebody could win 10 out of 26, but wreck five or six times. Really, my first reaction was, 'Well, they won 10 races.' That's pretty good. I think this is a good way, I think it's honestly a good way to reward those race wins and not be too over the top. If I were Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth, and Kasey Kahne was leading the points when we started over, it'd kind of be like, 'We should have won more races.' But, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, they were the best at gathering points last season. They gathered the most points up to race 26 and they gathered the most points from there on. They were the best point gatherers. I think it would have worked out for them either way. I don't know. I can see both sides of it.

"I think 12 is still a small enough number. Considering that's still only a fraction of the number of teams that are good enough to win the championship. We could all admit here, if there were only 12 teams last year that were good enough to win the championship then this would have been like, 'It really doesn't matter now.' But, I'll guarantee you that the fight for 12th will be intense. We were 13th. I think Kurt Busch was 14th. Greg Biffle was 12th. I feel like all three of those are good teams. But, yeah, it will take a little bit of that pressure off. That's a lot of pressure. That's the most nervous race of my life was still probably Richmond two years ago trying to make it in."

DO YOU THINK IT WILL CHANGE YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO EVERY RACE? "Let's say it's three races to go until the Chase and we were second in points and everything looked great, like there's no way we can finish worse than 12th in the points. I'll guarantee you we'll go harder for those wins because now all you're racing for is 10-point bonuses to start the playoffs with. It could change it that way. There may be a few guys that have the luxury of really, really going for wins. But, you'll be hard-pressed to find anybody in the garage who isn't going for wins."

BRIAN FRANCE MENTIONED THAT HE DOESN'T LIKE THE FACT THAT WHEN A DRIVER FINISHES EIGHTH THAT HE STATES HOW PROUD HE IS TO FINISH EIGHTH. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? "I don't know. I don't know what he exactly means by that. I think what he's trying to say is that he wants everybody fighting harder for wins. I think this all stems from, the whole deal was the season that Ryan Newman won however many races he won, and Matt Kenseth won one and won the championship. It was just that that consistency was rewarded. At that point it looked like all you had to do was finish 10th every week and you could be the champion and that would be great. I think he wants to stay away from that. This kind of stuff will get you there. It will reward who wins. Nobody is truly happy to finish eighth. Sometimes it is better than finishing ninth."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards