Carl Edwards is battling to secure a spot in the Top 12 for the annual Chase for the Sprint Cup. He held a Q&A sessions Friday afternoon before practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the ...
Carl Edwards is battling to secure a spot in the Top 12 for the annual Chase for the Sprint Cup. He held a Q&A sessions Friday afternoon before practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion
WHY DOES THE WINNER OF THIS RACE SEEM TO YIELD THE EVENTUAL CHAMPION? "That's a really good question. What is it, something like seven of the last 11? This track is very unique. It's different than any track we race at and it truly takes a strong team in every aspect to win here. Pit road is very important. Qualifying is important. Horsepower. Downforce. The driver's skill. It's just a track that takes really everything, so maybe that's why it seems to forecast the champion with its winners, but it's just a statistic at the end. That's the only thing. You never know, it could go the next 10 years and not go that way, but I would say that this track tests your team in every way."
IS THIS TRACK DIFFICULT FROM A TECHNICAL STANDPOINT? "Yes, it's a very difficult track technically. I've come here and thought, 'Boy, this is easy.' The car drives great. We've led laps and I've been really competitive, and I've come here and had cars that were just really difficult for me to run well. The engineers have a huge say in how the performance is on the race track, and then from a driver's perspective, even when things are good it's still a very technical race track."
IS IT JUST HOW THE CORNERS ARE SET UP? "Right. As a driver, assuming your car is great and that's not an issue, you're still driving in these corners over 200 miles per hour and they look really sharp. It does not look like it's gonna work out when you enter and you have to hit your marks perfectly here to put a good lap in. They talk about turn two at Pocono, the tunnel turn, well we've got four of those here and they're all tough."
WILL YOU KNOW BY THE END OF THE DAY ABOUT WHAT THE TIRE WILL GIVE YOU IN RACE CONDITION? "Yeah, I think by the end of the day we'll know how much Goodyear's work has paid off, and I think it's gonna be good. It will definitely be better than we had last year and that's good. I was amazed when I came out here with the resources they put into this and I think they should be commended for that."
YOU WERE SECOND LAST YEAR. HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DOES THAT GIVE YOU THIS YEAR? "Last year we were good. I felt like it just came down to Jimmie and I and whichever one of us got in front was gonna be the winner and he got me. Somehow he got in front of me. I don't remember how he did it, but that was, to be completely candid, that was at a time when I felt like we were overall more competitive as a team. Now we've been working up towards that some. I'm really hopeful that we're that competitive here again, and I'll be really pleased if we are, but right now we're in a stage where we're kind of building back that momentum to try to be as fast as those Hendrick cars are right now. It gave me a glimpse of what it would be like. I was like 30 or 40 feet from winning the Brickyard 400. I'm definitely ready to start that race again this year."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN HERE? "My wife and I when we landed we were just talking about how similar this area is to Missouri and Columbia where I grew up, but just being a Midwestern guy -- this is it. This area is the historic beginning of auto racing in America -- open-wheel, NASCAR, stock cars, dirt racing -- they have everything here and this is the premier race track, so it would be huge to win here. But I don't think it really matters if you're from Missouri or Bogota, Columbia, it just doesn't matter. I think this is a special place."
LOOP DATA HAS YOU IN THE TOP 5 AT THIS TRACK. WHAT'S THE KEY? "We definitely need to work on our qualifying here. I was looking at the weather today and there's a 50 percent chance of rain tomorrow, so what do you do? Do you work on your race package for the next two hours and sacrifice qualifying? Or do you work on qualifying? I don't know what we're gonna do yet, but we've historically worked harder on our race package and towards the end of the race here, the qualifying hasn't really been a detriment to us, other than our pit stall selection. If we work on race trim, I hope it rains tomorrow, but you just never know."
HOW WILL DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS WORK HERE? "There's no telling what's gonna happen with that. I hadn't thought about that today until you asked. That's gonna be crazy. With everything that's on the line right now -- with everyone positioned in or out of the chase or hanging on, and with everything that comes with a good finish in the Brickyard 400, if we have 20 to go and a double-file restart, it's gonna be insane. The fans will get their money's worth, but it will be stressful for us."
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ANYONE TO HAVE A GUT FEELING ABOUT THIS PLACE LIKE TONY DOES? "I can't speak for Tony, but, for me, I think the places that are truly special in that respect are Kansas and Gateway, just because in the same fashion you mentioned about Tony, I used to drive my little clunkers back and forth by those places doing other business and just kind of glance over and think, 'Man, that would be cool.' So I would have to say that it's probably more special for him than anyone else. Things like that stick with you from when you're a child."
DO YOU FEEL THERE'S SOMETHING TO PROVE THIS YEAR WITH WHAT HAPPENED A YEAR AGO? "Last year, I thought once I realized what was going on with the tires and how the race was gonna play out, I felt like we definitely owed the fans -- and I think everyone agrees with that -- and the effort that's been put forth this year is really that's what it's based on. We want to put on a good show for the fans, so, hopefully, this year makes up for it. Hopefully, the tires hold up and we have exciting racing because that's what it's about is giving those fans what they pay for."
DOES NASCAR NEED TO RACE HERE? "Personally, I think it's important to race here. This is one of the race tracks in the world. I watched the Indy 500 and it wasn't closer racing than we have anywhere else. It wasn't more spectacular in any fashion, other than it is the Indianapolis 500. That's what makes it what it is, so, to me, racing is what racing is. Sometimes you're gonna have races that come down to the wire and sometimes you're not. This place is two-and-a-half miles and it's tough to keep everybody in a bunch, but I think the racing here is as good in stock cars as it is anything else and I'm personally glad we race here."
WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE NEXT 7 RACES? "My strategy for the next seven races going into the chase is to get as many points as we can. We've got to be able to afford a disaster at Richmond. We've got to have enough points to blow up the engine on lap one of that race and still make the chase because that's what can happen. A couple of years ago we had that leading the race and blew the engine, so I'm getting all the points I can."
ARE BONUS POINTS IMPORTANT -- FOR WINNING? "Yeah. We're race car drivers. If I can win, you saw at Talladega, we race hard if it looks like we can win, but I definitely don't want to wreck the car or cost myself a bunch of points doing something silly or too risky. Not right now."
HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR SEASON? "I'm definitely a little frustrated with the way we've run this season and the results we've had, but it's tough. If you look at some of the teams that are struggling and the peaks and valleys of how this sport goes, I feel like we're beyond the worst part of our performance. I feel like 10 or 12 races ago we were going, 'Wait, what happened?' I feel like we're on an upswing. My pit crew has been improving hugely, which was much needed, but my plan is -- best-case scenario -- is that we can run really well here the next seven races and peak and be real competitive with 10 to go. I think we're on that track. We'll find out, but even our worst day as a group at Chicago, there was a point in that race where I felt like our 99 team might have a car to win. I felt like we were OK, so if we get better, we'll be real good."
WHAT DO YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF IN SEASONS THAT ARE FRUSTRATING? "I think all of us learn all of the time, at least we're doing ourselves a favor if we do, and I think the time when I learned the most about expectation and disappointment and how to deal with those things was the 2006 season. We'd won, I think, four races in 2005 and went into 2006 with high, high hopes and in the back of my mind I thought, 'Maybe I'm being a little unrealistic,' but I really set myself up like we were gonna dominate and we didn't win a race. We didn't make the chase, and then we came back in 2007 and ran really well and then 2008 was obviously great, and I realized, 'Wow, there are going to be times where you struggle,' and I realized I can't let happiness be dictated by the results. I just have to perform the best I can and really and truly learn the meaning of, 'If you try your hardest and you do your best, you can't lose,' and that's tough because so much of this is based on the result. Everything is always forward and upward, and so you have a time when things are not going forward or going backwards, I personally have to stop myself from thinking, 'OK, this is terrible. I'm panicking.' I have to just focus on doing the best that I can and when I do that, all of a sudden, look at 2008. I wasn't doing anything different in 2008 than I'm doing now, we were just winning races it seemed like every other week, so you just have to hang on and ride the wave while you can."
WHAT MAKES THIS TRACK HARD? "A couple of things make racing at Indy difficult. Number one, the groove where you want to race is very narrow. You get this short, punctuating corners. There isn't a lot of time to be in a corner working on somebody. The speeds are so high that if you do get close enough to someone in this first corner and you can't complete a pass, you're kind of in their wake and their turbulence and you can't complete it in the next corner, so you really have to time where you're gonna make your move so you can commit fully and get a pass made. A lot of times at this track you'll catch a guy and you'll initiate a pass or some way to overtake him and then you can't get it done and you have to fall back and think about it and do it again. It's a real technical race track in that way and that's what makes it tough."
-credit: ford racing