Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He spoke with members of the media about returning to the track before practice. ARE YOU PLEASED WITH...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He spoke with members of the media about returning to the track before practice.
ARE YOU PLEASED WITH THE WAY THE FIRST TWO RACES HAVE GONE? "We've really had Daytona and one race. Daytona, we were running really well. I felt like we were gonna be in the top four or five with the way our car kept going to the front, but we just got caught in that wreck, but that's Daytona. I was proud that we finished 18th. I was really happy with getting back up there because when that all broke loose I thought, 'Man, we're gonna be about 40th.' And then last week with the way practice went it was terrible and for us to finish seventh I thought we did a good job. Finishing in front of Jimmie, that made me feel a little better about it, that he could have the same trouble considering how well he ran there the last race. So really I feel not happy with our performance at California. I'm really not happy with it, but the fact that Greg was probably the fastest car and Matt was the second-fastest, I know that our whole team is gonna be fine. It's still so early, but, yeah, it feels like two races and we haven't won one -- with the way we were going at the end of the season that feels like an eternity, but I think we're gonna be OK."
YOU WON HERE LAST YEAR AND THEN HAD THE PROBLEM WITH THE CAR. CAN YOU GO BACK THROUGH THAT? "The deal is that no matter what everyone says you've got to know in your heart what really happened and the truth and as long as you know the truth, you're fine. It still was difficult to hear everyone's commentary that they thought we were purposely cheating. We came here to test last year and we were the fastest car by far. In practice we were fast. In the race we were the fastest car, and if we were gonna cheat, we would have made it a little more discreet. I mean, that oil tank cover was blown off up in the race car. The cool part about it was even with that 100-point penalty, we still scored more points than anyone the whole season and I was really proud of that. If we wouldn't have won another race after that, that would have been tough. When we won that next race at Texas that felt good just to win another one and move on. That kind of silenced all that. When I heard that happened it was a little bit deflating because I knew what was gonna be said, but there's nothing you can do about that."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT DREW BLICKENSDERFER AND WHY HAS HE BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL WITH THE 17? "Drew is a really, really cool guy for a number of reasons. He's a real nice person. He's probably one of the most competitive people I've ever been around. He's a lot like Bob Osborne in that respect. He wants to win more than anything and he's got street smarts. He's real savvy on a lot of subjects, not just the race car but with people and motivating people and things like that. I think that Drew's success is no accident. He's going to be successful. Right now he's batting 1.000, which is amazing, and hopefully he can keep it up. He's a really good guy and I'm proud to call him a friend."
WE'VE SEEN SOME UNCHARACTERISTIC MISTAKES BY DRIVERS, BUT YOU HAVEN'T HAD ANYTHING LIKE THAT HAPPEN YET. WHY DOES THAT HAPPEN? "Well, we haven't been racing long enough for me to make those mistake. I'm sure I'll make them. I'll never forget at Dover I drove right by my pit stall leading the race a couple years ago on that first pit stop. I drove right by it and I thought, 'Wow, that's genius.' It's just easy to do. You're out there racing and the season is just getting started and there are a lot of new things going on. Who knows if people have changed pit signs or they've changed the color of their uniforms. I know it's been difficult for me to look down the pits and see a black box. I can see Tony Stewart's real easily, but getting used to seeing the black box and things like that, it's probably just those little cobwebs and things like that. We all do that stuff. I don't know the exact reasons, but it's easy to do is what I'm saying."
IT'S EARLY BUT WE SEE SOME DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN THE TOP 12 AND SOME YOU WOULDN'T EXPECT OUTSIDE THE TOP 12. CAN YOU MAKE JUDGEMENTS ABOUT THESE TEAMS OR IS IT TOO EARLY? "I think it's too early. I think this race, we've got kind of a strange start to the season. Daytona is what it is. Everybody knows the points there aren't representative of the season probably. California is a good indicator, but these next two tracks are gonna be the best ones. Vegas and Atlanta, I think, are gonna apply to whole season more. I think after those two races and then we've got the week off after Bristol. I think after Martinsville you'll be able to say, alright, maybe three-quarters of the top 12 will stay this way, but I think right now it's too early just because of chance at Daytona and California is kind of not the perfect representation of the season. It's that two-mile track that is a little different."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT THE TRACK HAS DONE TO THIS RACE TRACK? "I haven't gone out and looked at it, but in my opinion, wherever you can put those SAFER barriers you've got to put them. I've seen some of those rescue vehicle escape areas, kind of where the wall bends -- those areas at some tracks -- I think we saw, I can't remember who it was, but someone crashed at Kentucky a couple years ago and it was a horrendous crash. You could almost hit 70 or 80 degrees into one of those and I think those have to have SAFER barriers and it looks like they've done that. It just means a lot. I know it costs a lot of money and it's great for them to have stepped up and done that. I hope they're doing it at all the tracks, whether they're ISC or SMI tracks."
DID THE INCIDENT HERE LAST YEAR WITH THE OIL TANK LID CHANGE HOW YOU THINK ABOUT OTHERS WHO HAVE ISSUES LIKE THAT? "I learned that a lot earlier than a year ago. I raced at my local dirt track and this one guy named Jeff Wagner would beat us every night. He beat everybody. It was my first year there and I was the guy who ran like 15th every week or 10th on a good night and everyone just always knew he had traction control and knew he was cheating and it was common knowledge. We all thought, 'That's why we're getting beat,' and consequently he kept beating us because we didn't work harder. The year after that we got a new car and I think I won 11 or 13 races or something and now all of a sudden I was cheating and everybody knew we were cheating. And I realized right then that Jeff Wagner had just been doing a better job because I knew we weren't cheating and I realize that's common in racing. If you can't beat them, you've got to point your finger at them. So I've tried to hang onto that and not do it as much as I can, but we all fall into it."
DO YOU BREAK THE SEASON DOWN IN SEGMENTS OF WHERE YOU WANT TO BE IN POINTS? "We all know that we just have to be in the top 12 with 10 races to go. Bob and I talked about it. Yeah, we won a lot of races last year and that was great, but we didn't win the championship. We know what it feels like to win races, we just want to win the championship, so, to me, whatever puts us in the best position to do that. If we're 12th at Richmond and we've got a shot at it and we can still go win the championship, as long as we can still do it, then that's no worse than being first going into it. I guess what I'm saying is I have a couple goals. Number one, just make the chase. Number two, to win the championship and I don't really care how many races we win doing it as long as we can achieve those goals."
-credit: ford racing