Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, came into the Homestead-Miami Speedway infield media center for a press conference to discuss the 2009 season and other topics. "This is it. This is our last shot to get a win this season,...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, came into the Homestead-Miami Speedway infield media center for a press conference to discuss the 2009 season and other topics.
"This is it. This is our last shot to get a win this season, so we couldn't come to a better race track. Roush Fenway does really well here. Our Fords run well. Last year was a good race in the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series. Hopefully, we can have a good run. I want to be in that top 10 really badly, so we've got to make up 44 points on Kasey. I had a dream last night that it all worked out, but then I woke up this morning and realized we still have to go do it. Hopefully, that's the case and we can get in that top 10, but we've been running well on the mile-and-a-halfs, so I'm pretty excited about being here for the final race."
WHAT IS THE FORECAST FOR 2010? "It's tough to forecast. You can say the 48 team is gonna be strong probably. If I look at last season, a year ago I was sitting here looking forward to this season thinking, 'Alright, we're gonna go win nine or 10 races. We're gonna dominate the championship. That's the plan.' That's still the plan for next year, it's just that things come and go so easily. It's very tough to make a plan for your results. I know for our performance we're gonna do everything we can this winter. I think it was a big wake-up call for me and our team that you could become uncompetitive so easily and we're just gonna work hard. I don't know what's gonna happen next year. I hope we get back on track."
HOW HAVE YOU AND BOB KEPT FROM BEATING EACH OTHER UP THIS YEAR? "Bob and I respect one another and I think it would be foolish to let our relationship go south because of our on-track results. Bob still works as hard as he ever has, maybe even harder. I'm driving as hard as I ever have and probably a little smarter than I ever have. I think we both understand that. The last thing I want to do or Bob wants to do is make knee-jerk changes because, on the whole, our Roush Fenway cars -- we've all kind of struggled. Our performances have all been depressed, so it's not like we're running worse than our teammates. We've just got to stay the course and whenever I start arguing with Bob or nit-picking what he does or how he does it, I just think back to last season when he couldn't make a wrong decision, and I've just got to have faith that we'll come through this."
SHOULD ALL 12 CHASE DRIVERS BE AT THE BANQUET OR JUST 10? "I think having 10 is plenty, but it matters to me because I've got the greatest sponsor in the sport. Aflac does so much. They're so wonderful. My fans support me. I want to be there, even if it's just to stand up there on that stage and thank them. I have a lot of pride in that. That's that. I just really want to be there."
WHY IS IT WHEN A TEAM FALLS BEHIND IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO CATCH UP DURING THE SEASON? "That's a really good question. If that's true, which I'm not sure, but it feels that way. It probably has to do with the fact that you work so hard just to get to the next race and you have to be short-term thinking throughout the season. The only time that you really get to step back and look at everything on the macro scale is at the end of the season, so that's probably why you see that. I do feel that we have -- our team in particular because I'm closest to our team -- but I feel like we've picked up on the mile-and-a-halfs. We were OK at the beginning, terrible in the middle of the season, and then lately, if you look at how Matt Kenseth's results have been, we've picked up. So I feel like we've gained a little bit. Jeff Burton sure ran well last week, so I think we're seeing glimpses of it, but it probably results from if you have six or eight or 10 bad weeks, you're so far down in the points and everybody is so used to you running bad, even if you have a glimmer of hope, it just doesn't show up and you don't remember it, but it does seem that way. I'm not sure about all the reasons, but that's my idea."
DO YOU VIEW THIS SEASON SIMILARLY TO 2006, AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BEAT THE 48? "Yeah, it is interesting how for us it has been cyclical. For the 48 it hasn't been. We have to figure out what we can do to keep our performance on a high level. It's really amazing. I wouldn't have the respect for what the 48 team has done if I wasn't going through this over the last four years and understanding how tough it is, so I don't know if I can convey how amazing that is to me. I don't know if it's something mechanically on the cars -- a way of doing things there -- or if it's a way of managing people. I don't know where exactly their advantage lies. It could be both of those places, but I'd say that that's the team you want to emulate and figure out what they're doing, but I don't know the answer. I don't know what they're doing, but whatever it is it's good."
HOW DO YOU THINK THE BANQUET WILL BE IN VEGAS? "I don't know all the details, but, right off the bat, I'd say it's a great move. For people that want to come -- fans or my friends and family members, assuming I'm there -- but the drivers and teams and all the sponsors, Vegas is a fun place to go. It's a lot simpler to go there. There are a lot of things to do there, and I feel that it's a great move. It's wonderful. New York is neat. It's fun to go there for a number of reasons, but Vegas, that's a great move by NASCAR."
IS THERE ANY SENSE THAT THIS DOWN SEASON FOR ROUSH FENWAY HAS TO DO WITH A LACK OF TESTING? "When this new car came out, we didn't test. I think the number someone told us was that Hendrick cars had tested 26 times or something before we went to the track for the first time to test. So right there we were behind and it showed on the race track. At this point, though, I feel and believe that we're all testing about the same amount, so I don't know that that's really the issue. Once I felt like we caught up and we were competitive, I don't think from that point the testing differences were that big. I know Jack has talked a lot about wanting to test at the tracks we race at on Thursdays before we get to the track, I'm just not sure that there's any difference if we all test or none of us test, other than the cost and the time expenditure. I think it's better to not test, personally, but I'm not the engineer trying to come up with setups. So, I guess the short version of that is I don't think it's the testing."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO RACE SMARTER, AND DO YOU FEEL THERE'S A GENERAL ATTITUDE AMONG DRIVERS TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE MORE THAN THERE USED TO BE? "I don't feel like there's a general attitude to stay out of trouble more than we used to. I believe from what I see on the race track we're racing harder because it's more difficult to pass, and because it's more competitive. I think that competition is still right there. It's tough out there on the race track, and fun too. But, yeah, I look at our season and I saw something the other day that said the highlight was we had the most spectacular 24th-place finish in the history of the sport, which I thought that was pretty funny. But the thing I'm proud of this season is that once we realized and I realized that we were not the same team, and we did not have the same performance as we did last season, we buckled down and got the best we could out of our finishes and we made the chase, which, at that time, was a huge accomplishment. I believe, in my mind, that's the way I've been smarter. I wasn't in denial going out here and wrecking my car or making terrible choices because I wanted something that wasn't available -- I wanted a finish that wasn't gonna happen. I feel like I accepted the facts and did the best with them, and that's what I'm most proud of is putting ourselves in that position. Performance-wise, I think that is where I did a little better job than I've done in the past and learned something. So next season, if we have a car that can win, and I can still think like that, we'll score a lot of points."
WHAT IS THE FEELING FOR YOU GOING INTO THIS RACE? "I was just thinking about that riding over here. I have mixed emotions about it. We've had a long season and everything, but I don't want it to be over. I want to go have some more opportunities to win and get it back on track so I can look back and say, 'Hey, see that wasn't so bad.' But at the same time I'm really excited about getting this season done and starting next season and having a fresh start, and getting back on track and saying, 'Alright we can do this.' So I guess I'm just kind of middle of the road here -- on the fence of whether I'm happy that this is the end of the season or not. But this race I think you'll see some very aggressive racing out there. I think everyone wants to end this season on a high note. I raced a little more aggressively at Phoenix and had a little more fun with it, and that's how I'm gonna approach this race -- just go for it and that'll be good. The racing will be fun."
-credit: ford racing