Homestead: Edwards - Ford Friday interview

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is in second place, 141 points behind the leader, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings heading into this weekend's season finale'. Edwards also is in second place in the Nationwide...

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is in second place, 141 points behind the leader, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings heading into this weekend's season finale'. Edwards also is in second place in the Nationwide Series standings.

ON WHAT HE NEEDS TO DO THIS WEEKEND. "We just have to go out here and be aggressive and do what we've been doing, try to win both of these races and hope for the best, hope that the luck all balances out. If, potentially, Jimmie were to have some sort of trouble and have a bad day, we just have to be there to take advantage of it. That aside, if we can't win this thing, we have to finish second, so we're just going out here to race."

YESTERDAY, JIMMIE JOHNSON SAID THAT HE HAD LOSE A CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE HE WAS PREPARED TO WIN ONE. WHAT HAVE LEARNED THROUGH THIS YEAR'S EXPERIENCE? AND WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY GOING FORWARD TO WIN A TITLE? "That's a good question. Whether or not we win it, either way, I have learned a couple of things about where to put the effort, where to be cautious, not to underestimate your opponents -- all of these things I kind of already knew, this kind of galvanizes those things. It makes me realize, 'Hey, we have to really fine-tune the way we compete.' So, I have learned some things I think will help, regardless of what happens. I can't wait for next season and the season after that. I think we've got a team now that can compete at a very high level." YOU'RE EITHER GOING TO HAVE TO WIN OR LEAD THE MOST LAPS ON SUNDAY, NO MATTER WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON DOES. WILL YOU KNOW AFTER PRACTICE TODAY THAT YOU'LL HAVE A CAR TO DO THAT? "We'll probably know after practice tomorrow. But, still, then so much can change. Bob Osborne has this ability to make the car a lot better after Saturday's practice sometimes, for Sunday, anyway. So, we really probably won't know until about halfway through the race when the conditions chamge a little bit, and kind of know what you've got for the long haul. At that point, we'll know."

AT ANY POINT DURING THE CHASE DID YOU CONSIDER STEPPING OUT OF THE NATIONWIDE CAR? OR, BECAUSE YOU WERE BATTLEING FOR BOTH CHAMPIONSHIPS REASON ENOUGH NOT TO? "I never thought about stepping out of it. That Nationwide Series gives me a great place to go away from the Cup side on Saturdays in a real fun series to race in, and for me, that championship is a big one, too. No, I never thought about giving up the Nationwide thing. I've enjoyed it, and I think it's helped me."

WITH TODAY'S PENDING ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE TESTING BAN IN 2009, INCLUDING PRESEASON AT DAYTONA, COUPLED WITH THE ECONOMY, WHO WELL POSITIONED IS YOUR TEAM TO HANDLE THAT AND KEEP GETTING BETTER? "I believe as far as the economy is concerned, we're doing well, as well as we could be. Geoff Smith and all of those guys have worked really hard to make sure we've got everything in place, and that we make our sponsors' and marketing partners' dollars, we give them a good value. I believe we're okay there. As far as the testing is concerned, I think it's a great move by NASCAR. I think that gives a little bit of relief to the teams, as far as expenses, and the team owners. That's a good thing. It'll make it a little easier on all the guys. I believe competitively, it's just like Jeff [Burton] was saying earlier, as long as everyone operated under the same rules, you're going to have nearly the same competition, whether you can test every day of the year or not test at all. So I don't think the fans will see any difference. I think it just possibly can make it less expensive for the owners, which is good."

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TOMORROW IN THE NATIONWIDE RACE? "I think tomorrow is going to be a real exciting race. Clint [Bowyer] and I, just like Jimmie and I, get along real well. We've got a great, competitive rivalry. He roots for the Jayhawks, I root for the Mizzou Tigers. And, on the race track, we always seem to be pretty close, we've had some good races. So, we've got to go out and just do the same thing we've been doing. It's been going really well. We've been winning races, we've been closing points. I think at one point we thought we were too far to catch him, and now it's very realistic. If we were to go win the thing, I think if he finished seventh or eighth, we'd win a championship. So, I see it being a good race on Saturday."

IF YOU COME OUT OF THIS WEEKEND WITHOUT A CHAMPIONSHIP, HOW DO YOU STAY UPBEAT ABOUT YOUR SEASON? WILL YOU BE DISAPPOINTED, OR DOES EVERYTHING ELSE OVER-RULE THAT? "I'll just put it this way: No matter what happens on Sunday, no matter how the championship results end up, we've won a number of races I didn't know if I'd win in my career, this year. The Nationwide Series has been great; we've won six races there. And, I'm 29 years old and I've got I think the greatest crew chief in the garage, the greatest guys working on the cars, and the potential for the next few years to be really tough on the race track. So, I look at this year, regardless of the result, as a year that we've really put ourselves in a positions and reassured ourselves that we could compete for championships."

THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF PAST CHAMPIONS AROUND THIS WEEKEND. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THEM, EITHER SINCE MEETING THEM OR WATCHING THEIR CAREERS? "We're all race-car drivers, but it's wild to consider some of these guys as my peers more than heroes that I looked up to. It's wild to think that almost every week, I get to race against Mark Martin, I got to race against Rusty Wallace. So, it is strange to think that, hopefully, some day, whether it's Sunday or a year from Sunday or whatever -- hopefully, Sunday -- I can be on that list of champions that maybe there's kids out there that's racing around, thinking, 'Maybe someday I'll get to race with Carl Edwards.' That's crazy. That's a big shift in thinking, a big paradigm shift, of how you look at the world and your career. It's crazy."

-credit: ford racing

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Drivers Rusty Wallace , Carl Edwards , Mark Martin