Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, enters the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 73 points behind Chase leader Denny Hamlin. In 28 starts this season, Edwards has accumulated seven ...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, enters the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 73 points behind Chase leader Denny Hamlin. In 28 starts this season, Edwards has accumulated seven top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. Edwards is making his seventh Cup start at Kansas Speedway with two top-five and four top-10 finishes to his credit. A native of and currently resident of Columbia, Missouri, Edwards considers Kansas Speedway his home track in the Sprint Cup Series. He talked about coming home, maintaining Chase position and why he wants to win at Kansas more than at Daytona or Indy.
WELCOME HOME CARL. "Thanks, I am glad to be here. Our car is very fast too, so I am having fun so far. We have two races this weekend, so two opportunities to get a trophy here at Kansas. It is good to be here racing and good to be on the streak we are on. We are running really well and gaining points and that is what it is about."
YOU ARE 73 POINTS OUT OF THE LEAD RIGHT NOW WITH A FEW MORE TRACKS LEFT OBVIOUSLY. IS THERE ANYTHING COME UP THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT WILL BENEFIT YOU? "Yeah, we've got seven races left. Is that right? We have run two, so we have eight left? How many races have we run? Two right? Hey, this is only the beginning (laughter). It feels like it has been six or eight races though. Those races go very slowly. I feel like we are just getting into the tracks that we have a chance to run well at. Kansas, California, Texas and Homestead I am excited about them all. I am a little iffy about Charlotte. Martinsville and Talladega anything can happen at those places. We need to capitalize on these tracks we have run well at. The Chase is, I think, stacked in our favor. Hopefully we can capitalize."
HOW DIFFERENT DOES IT FEEL COMING TO KANSAS THIS YEAR THAN LAST YEAR? "I feel that last year we were just barely hanging on. Last year we weren't performing as well as we wanted to be. This year, I feel the last few months we have really hit our stride. It feels a lot better. The proof is in the finish. We need to go out and do well. I woke up in my bed at my house this morning and drove to the race track. That is pretty neat. I don't get to do that at any other Cup track. That is really special. I have already seen a couple people I haven't seen in awhile. It just feels good. It is a good place for me to come and race."
LAST WEEK THERE WAS A DRIVER CALLING OUT ANOTHER DRIVER. DO YOU FEEL THERE IS SOME KIND OF UNWRITTEN RULE THAT YOU DON'T THROW ANOTHER TEAM UNDER THE BUS, ESPECIALLY CONCERNING TALKING ABOUT ANOTHER TEAM CHEATING? "I don't think so. I don't think there are any rules. I think it is whatever works for you I guess. The way I try to conduct my business and do my thing is that it is always better for me to just focus on what is going on with my car and my team. If there is something you can't avoid, then go ahead and address it. I don't think there are any rules though. I think there is a lot of posturing with the media in the garage and I think the best thing is to just sit back and be entertained by it. It doesn't seem to benefit me to engage in it."
THE NEW FR9 IS OBVIOUSLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE. BIFFLE TALKED ABOUT BACK END OF THE CAR IMPROVEMENTS. WHICH HAS BENEFITED YOU MOST? "We talk a lot about cars and we engineer things and do all this stuff, but that engine, you know when you are racing, you can't beat some horsepower. It helps you all the time. Qualifying, practice, on and off pit road, all of those things. Having a strong engine is good. I think the engine has been a huge part and has been something that, even myself, has been overlooked a little bit. When I think of the things that have made us faster, I don't think of that engine, but man it is good to step on that pedal and have it go."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE MARGIN FOR ERROR HAS REALLY NARROWED THIS YEAR IN THESE CHASE RACES? "Yeah, it really has. If you look at the top five or top-10 there seems to be a lot of those chasers running up there in these races. I think we will slowly see guys weed themselves out of that top group. They are going to make mistakes or have trouble. The key is to run well enough to stay up there with them but not make those mistakes. We are two races in and like I said earlier, it feels like we have raced a lot. There is a lot of stress and a lot of hard racing. There is no telling what the points will look like in seven or eight races. If you make mistakes, for instance me racing with Denny (Hamlin) for third at New Hampshire, I slipped up and spun Denny out and cost both of us a chance at the win. You can't make those mistakes. It is so hard to balance how hard to drive because of how well everyone is running. When you are running 10th and see seven of the guys in the Chase in front of you, it is demoralizing. Those guys are fast."
ARE THERE EXTRA PRESSURES COMING HOME TO RACE? "There is a little extra pressure. It isn't really pressure though, it is more desire. I think you guys saw that a couple years ago racing with Jimmie (Johnson) driving it in there and using the fence. I never thought of that as a reasonable thing to do until that moment. The idea of being able to win here was big. For drivers that race around this area and local dirt tracks and stuff, this place is very special and a win here would be huge."
DOES IT SURPRISE YOU CONSIDERING THE ECONOMIC SITUATION WE ARE IN THAT THE PLACE CONTINUES TO BE SUPPORTED SO WELL BY THE FANS? "I am very grateful for the fans that we have. The economy is tougher than it has been in awhile and all of us have felt that. Standing in Richmond, the last race before the Chase, we are standing there on September 11th and the stands were packed and F-22's are flying over and fireworks and the National Anthem is being sung; it gave me chills. As tough as things are, we have a sport that is delivering a good product to the fans. A lot of fans are still enjoying it and I think that is good and I am proud to be a part of it."
CAN YOU PREVIEW CALIFORNIA, A TRACK THAT IS TYPICALLY GOOD FOR YOU ROUSH FENWAY? "California is fun. It is so different out there. It is always interesting to go there. We have a bunch of stuff going on around the racing. To race on that race track takes the whole team, just like Michigan does. You have to have huge horsepower and the aero package has to be good. It drives like a big dirt track. You can run at the bottom or up around the top. On a two-mile race track, that is a pretty big deal to drive down the corner and slide to the top of the race track. It is a finesse track and a fast track and it changes a lot throughout the race. I really enjoy it. People have knocked it for getting strung out, but it is two miles long. 43 cars don't look that grouped together spread around a two mile track. For me it has always been really fun to drive."
TWO YEARS AGO SHOWED US HOW MUCH WINNING REALLY WINS TO YOU. HOW BADLY ARE YOU JONESING FOR A WIN? "I really want to win a race. Winning races is why we all started racing. To go drive fast and have the trophy. That is the fun part. I've won a bunch of races and the way I explain it is that I know what that feels like. To me, if there was a giant risk to win this race this weekend that I could take that might cost us the championship, I would have to go for the championship, at least right now. At this point in my career I want that championship trophy and see what that feels like. If I felt we weren't in a position to win it, I would probably go take some pretty big risks. I feel like we are in a position to do it, so right now I am focused on that."
HAVE YOU PLAYED OUT IN YOUR HEAD WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO WIN HERE? "Yeah, it would be as big as any race on the circuit. If I had to pick a race to win, this would be the one I would pick, over the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard 400. It would be that special to me. I am not saying that because I am sitting here, that is the truth."
DID YOU NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT THE TRACK THIS YEAR IN PRACTICE AND WHAT KIND OF RACE WILL WE SEE ON SUNDAY? "The track is a little different and the tires are different so right off the bat our setup was out to lunch. We picked up a second though in practice, which was huge for us. I think running the Nationwide race will help because I think it is the same tire. We will see how it goes in that race and I will learn a little bit. There are some bumps and the track has some character to it. It looks like the surface has aged a little bit. All of those things are good for the fans and good for the racing."
THIS MIGHT BE A SENSITIVE SUBJECT FOR YOU, BUT GATEWAY CLOSING DOWN, CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS ON IT CLOSING AND WHAT THAT TRACK MEANT TO YOU? "Some of the neatest moments I have had in racing are at Gateway. I just don't understand why that race track can't sustain itself with the good racing it has had there. Spectacular finishes there in the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series. Some of them were too spectacular. I think all of us like driving there. It has unique characteristics and is a fun track. It is like Memphis or Pike's Peak. Those tracks are so much fun, I have a hard time understanding the business side of why it can't work. We get to go there one more time and have one more shot at it. I would love to win another race there. I think we have three or four wins there. They are all like wins here. It feels good to win that close to home. It feels like going to your local track for a big show and all the pressure is on the line and you win it. That is pretty cool."
WOULD YOU PICK YOURSELF OR TONY STEWART TO WIN HERE? "Tony has run really well here, but we have run really well too. I don't think you can really look at past statistics. I think you have to look at what we have done lately and I think we are in a better position than those guys are. The only difference is they don't have as much to lose right now. Tony can take bigger gambles on fuel mileage and on the race car. I feel like our run at Chicago and Atlanta, I guess he beat us at Atlanta, but I think we are pretty matched up. Hopefully we would come out on top, which would be good."
-source: ford racing