Homestead: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: I don't know whether you're an optimist or pessimist, but as you look ahead to the winner, obviously you're going to come into next season as one of the favorites along with Jimmie and a couple of other guys, are you ...

Continued from part 1

Q: I don't know whether you're an optimist or pessimist, but as you look ahead to the winner, obviously you're going to come into next season as one of the favorites along with Jimmie and a couple of other guys, are you going to think more over the winter about the things that didn't go right this year or the things that did go right?

CARL EDWARDS: Definitely the things that did go right. The thing about this sport is you make decisions in the heat of the battle, and this is the decision you've made. You've got to move on and learn from them. I'm really proud of what we've done this season.

Yeah, we were close, but, you know, it is what it is. Next season we get to start fresh and apply the things we've learned and keep doing what we've been doing. I'd say in that respect, I'm definitely an optimist.

Q: Following up on that, we seem to be obsessed with rivalries and pushing people into rivalries in this sport. But clearly starting next season, a lot will be framed of you trying to deny Jimmie a fourth championship of the way you guys ran with him trying to win the fourth championship. As the season starts next year, you will be one of the two focuses. Do you relish that role as being one of the guys?

CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I hope I am. I hope Jimmie will make some (indiscernible) next season, I'll be glad to be the guy that denies him that chance. I don't know if it really matters what's written or what's said. I learned this season that so many things got built up, and everybody thought things were going one way and now they go another way. It just evaded everyone, exactly what was going to happen. Hopefully we can live up to the expectation that not only we have, but our fans and sponsors have.

Q: You say it kind of matter of factually, finishing second to both of these championships. But some people could argue that was a major feat. As hard, perhaps, as winning one or the other to second in the competition. And if you could speak a little more about that. It's a huge accomplishment.

CARL EDWARDS: Thanks, I appreciate that. It feels good. But, you know, it is neat to be able to race both of them. It's very enjoyable. I really appreciate Jack giving me the opportunity to do it. And the guys that he's put with me. I know that Drew right now, Drew Blickensderfer, he already told me, looked at me square in the eye and said, man, we are going to be better next year. We are going to go out to win every single race.

So I know he's got the killer mindset right now. I'm sure Bob feels the exact same way, and I do, too.

So, yeah, it's a good year.  Second in both is an accomplishment.  It's
great.  But, we hope we can do a little better next season.

JACK ROUSH: The thing that's there about the two championships, they're not at the same place. And all the trips that Carl's made back and forth across the country, and of course David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and a number of others did the same thing. But those trips, that's a young man's game to be able to travel all night and get in the race car that you haven't been in in some cases and drive it to great effect and trust what people have done when you weren't there.

It's amazing. As a young man, I don't think I could have done what they're doing, and I suspect that most couldn't.

CARL EDWARDS: You're being too nice. You'd do it with us right now.

JACK ROUSH: I'd do a lot of things right now that I couldn't have done when I was younger, and when I was younger, I couldn't do what you do.

Q: Jack, you touched on how hard it is to win a championship now with the parts and luck and the Chase format and what have you. I know you weren't racing here in the '70s, but can you offer some thoughts on how much harder it is now than when Cale did it?

JACK ROUSH: When I started in 1988, it was 90 percent art, this whole business was, and it was 5 percent science, and somewhere in between was the crew chief's luck. But now the guys, Bob and all the crew chiefs, have got to come to the racetrack with a really good plan. There is not enough test time to run all the things through the car that could be relevant, and the drivers have got to believe in that.

I know I was talking to Rusty Wallace over the weekend. We were together at a little engagement. And he was saying, you know, how much he liked picking the spring. That would be the wrong thing. The driver cannot pick the spring for his car. He's got to tell the crew, and let the crew tell the engineer, and let the engineer talk to the computer about what the car's doing, and what effect it would have. Then they have to believe in that and go forward with it.

I know if we looked at the progress of all of our teams this year, they've not all been at the best of their they haven't done to the best of their ability a lot of time. A lot of that had to do with the fact that they didn't believe in the information that the engineers were telling them about what was going to be right and wrong.

But it's a real tough thing. Particularly with Matt and with Greg, and with Jeff Gordon and all the senior guys that have been used to having art be the bigger factor to determining what they'd run. Now they have to step back and let somebody else tell me what's good for me and believe in it enough to go to drive it off turn 1 with great speed.

Q: Next season, obviously, you're not going to have cars on track doing testing. Does that play into your organization's strengths? Does that worry you? How do you feel that affects the competitive balance with respect to your team specifically?

JACK ROUSH: My big interest is trying to let all the anxiety that goes into our broader economy, and not really impact the business of entertaining folks and NASCAR stock car racing here. I'm a proponent of the racetracks reducing the ticket prices if they have to to fill up the stands, so that the sponsors and everybody that supports the thing can get their value for having the maximum number of people impressed or exposed to what we do.

To have the challenge that they have the automobile manufacturers and seeing to it not one of the manufacturers drop out and the teams they're associated with are not forced to be as competitive as they were. So I'm in support of not having for the broader reasons, not having the testing program, not having the testing program that we've discussed and was almost agreed upon if everybody will agree, if all the teams will agree, we won't go to the skid pads. We won't go to Pikes Peak, we won't go to the other places we could go outside of NASCAR's supervision. I don't want to do that either.

I want to make the racing as affordable as we can be for the sponsors and as interesting as it can be for the fans. The fact is, nobody that's there in the top 35 needs to have the number of tests that we had last year, and we can go on a diet not having it next year.

Q: I think the big story here is the fuel mileage again. And Jack said that you're the guy who can take it deeper in the corner and roll through the middle and not use as much gas. Can you talk about that? You have a hybrid under the hood or something maybe doing that? Or are you just one of those guys when you drive your regular car you have that egg between your foot and the gas pedal?

CARL EDWARDS: First, I think it's the hybrid did pace the field, and the hybrid did win with the Ford Fusion fuel mileage. I thought that was needed. I used to have this little junk car that I drove around and would take a lot of trips to Charlotte, and I could make it on one stop if I was really, really good with the pedal. So I used to drive this car for 12 hours and you could go the first six and the second six without stopping. And it would be about 10 or 20 miles short if you drove it like you wanted. So I did a lot of those trips. I don't know if that makes the difference. I think it's just how I drive.

I can tell you one thing, Bob was telling me to go slower than I was going, and I just knew Matt was going to make it. So I was really nervous Matt was going to make it and he was going to be in front of me. So I was going faster than I should have.

When Matt ran out with three or four to go, I thought, man, I have screwed this up big time. This is bad. It made me nervous, and I'm glad we made it though. I don't know what that's about, Bob, exactly. But glad we get good fuel mileage.

Q: Can you talk about winning the last race for Office Depot?

CARL EDWARDS: Office Depot came on board when really they didn't have me and what I was going to do and what we were going to do with the 99 team. There was no guarantee we were going to go out and run as well as we did. They came on board.

It was great to be a representative for them. They do a lot in the communities. They've given away I believe over a million backpacks while I've been on board with them. They've included me in that and I've been able to hand those backpacks to the organization and the kids.

We went down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Some people have been devastated
by a hurricane down there.  We gave a school    I don't remember exactly how
much it was    I think it was $100,000 worth of stuff.  Overall, I've been
proud to be with Office Depot.  Reasons for that I've been proud.

It's a little bittersweet to win the final race with them that we're in. But I think this is a great way to end it. I'm excited they're staying in the sport. I think Tony will do a good job for them. It's neat. It will be neat to race against that Office Depot car next year. That will be good.

Q: On Monday there will be a lot of various team members losing members of teams. There's a lot of sadness in the garage, losses happening. Of you, Jack, they've said in tough financial times you're one of the best. But when you look over the garage, the question is: Do you think these guys will come back and the pay scale will go down, and they'll come back and be paid less? Has it got too expensive? What are your thoughts looking ahead?

JACK ROUSH: The real risk is race teams folding. As long as we've got, you know, 48 or 50 entries for the Cup series for 43 spots, there's lots of jobs out there.

In our case, we haven't had a lot of extra people. We've got a model for how we run our teams and build our cars and it is fairly frugal. We don't have a reduction plan for any of our programs that have got the same activity level as we did last year. But there has been some economies of the Car of Tomorrow.

If you looked at where we were a year ago, we were running two different kinds of cars. So that required a staffing increase for most of the teams that enabled or justified a reduction on that account. Most of our reduction was in the area of car building, and that's already behind us as far as Roush Fenway is concerned.

At this point we've only got two Truck teams planned with sponsorship with 2009. We've had an adjustment there. There may be a little more to that. Some of the road crew next week.

But by and large, I'm happy to say that 99 or 95 percent of our staff is in place and is not subject to dislocation. But the bigger concern I've got is that we keep the racing affordable, the race teams affordable for the sponsors, and we're able to keep these other race teams in business. That's where the jeopardy is for job loss.

THE MODERATOR: Appreciate it. The 99 had a super season. Thank you very much.

CARL EDWARDS: And thank all you guys. I know it's been a long year for everybody. I'm wearing my beads, too. I don't know if you guys noticed that. I have to give them back.

But thank you guys for delivering the sport to all these people out here and sticking with this schedule with us. I appreciate it, guys. See you in New York.

-credit: nascar

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Clint Bowyer , David Ragan