Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is in fifth place in the points heading into this weekend's race at New Hampshire. Edwards has two top-three finishes in his last six starts at the track. "Last weekend was good, we got our...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is in fifth place in the points heading into this weekend's race at New Hampshire. Edwards has two top-three finishes in his last six starts at the track.
"Last weekend was good, we got our first win in the Nationwide Series, and then we come back to a track that's just like Milwaukee in a lot of ways, so that will be good there, and then on the Cup side, just try to earn more points and cushion that lead over 13th place. That's the mission right now, just march forward. Hopefully, we can do that this weekend."
ON NOT YET WINNING IN 2008. "I feel like we could've won, maybe should've won at Texas, and we had a little trouble at Talledega, we were a couple of hundred yards from winning. Martinsville, had an extremely fast car. So, I'm not too worried about that fact that we haven't won, because I feel like we've performed well enough to have won two or three different races. The real reason that we probably haven't run is just what you're saying, we're were just so good at a lot tracks last year, you kind of sit and you wait to see what kind of happens, and then people get ahead of you and then you work a little harder and it seems like lately the 16 has been a lot faster -- he's been real fast at a lot of the tracks. I think we could've won Pocono, we just had to be extra-cautious. Michigan was really good for the Roush cars. If we were running 20th, it would hurt real bad, but right now I feel like we're right there doing what we need to do, and the wins will come. I've been through this deal where you can't screw it up and it just seems like it's easy to win, they just fall in your lap. And I've been through it where you have the fastest car and you just can't get a win, but you just have to keep going and it all balances out. So, no, it doesn't hurt, but I can't wait. It's going to feel good when we win."
HOW DID IT FEEL TO GET THAT BACKFLIP IN LAST WEEK? "It was good. The greatest part about last week in the Nationwide Series was just being able to drive by Kyle, because they've been so good, just being able to pass him on the race track, win the race, because we were fastest car. That was good. I'm glad we won it that way."
HOW HAVE YOU LEARNED TO DEAL WITH HEIGHTENED EXPECTATIONS? "What happened in '06, with huge expectations after '05, and we just didn't have a stellar year at all in '06, and I learned right there that hey, this is a tough sport. You can't rest on anything you've done. You have to keep going and working. Last year, at the beginning of the year, we set out to win 10 races and the championship. That was our goal amongst myself and my crew chief. We won nine and finished second, so we were close. This year, the goal is simply to win the championship. So, whatever happens, happens. I guess expectation is what it is. Nobody has higher expectations than I do, on myself. That's how it's always been."
HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU WITH WHAT'S GOING ON WITH CHEVROLET AND DODGE, IN REGARDS TO FUNDING? AND, WHAT ABOUT FORD'S FUTURE? DO YOU SEE FORD STAYING INVOLVED IN TRUCKS AND NATIONWIDE NEXT YEAR? "That's a really good question. I don't understand, exactly, how all the money works with Ford, but I'll go out on a limb here and take a guess: I think Ford has structured their program so that they can be better prepared to support NASCAR in the long run. The way I see it, they structured their whole business so that they would be in better shape than they could be, and it's turned out really well. So, right now, I'm very, very proud to be driving a Ford. They've done the best job for not only their customers, but our country as a whole.
"I guess it can't be good for the sport anytime any money is leaving, so that's not good, and I hope that whatever happens with those GM teams and those Dodge teams, that they're able to stay healthy and keep the people employed that they have employed and be here at the race track and be competitive. But, man, I don't know how it's going to work. I don't know if one manufacturer pulls out, I don't know how the marketing structure changes to where if it makes it better or worse for other manufacturers to be in. I just don't know."
CAN YOU PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE HOW TOUGH AND CLOSE THE COMPETITION IS RIGHT NOW? "I was reading the local paper this morning, I was looking at the schedule, and it's like, 'Okay, we're going to real good here, that one's a crapshoot, be good here.' Everybody's going down the list and saying, 'What can we do over these next 10 races to be in the Chase?' The simple fact is anything can happen in that Chase, and you have to be in it, and that's the race right now, that's all that matters. So, ultra-competitive. It couldn't be more competitive, which makes it really fun, but you've just got to dig deep and work hard."
HOW HARD? "It's very hard. Kasey Kahne won that race last week, Clint Bowyer's running well, Juan Montoya, David Reutimann -- there's a lot of guys that are just close that could rally -- like Matt Kenseth did last year -- just rally. For every one of those guys that gets in the top 12, somebody has to leave. It could be because you run poorly. It could be because you get wrecked or have a flat tire or any of these things. You have to be the ultimate points racer, I think right, unless you're up there where Tony's at. You've got to really be smart."
YOU'RE TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER THE PONY CAR ERA, BUT THERE'S SOME TALK NATIONWIDE CARS SWITCHING TO THOSE TYPES. SPEAKING FOR YOUR GENERATION, TO SEE CAMAROS AND MUSTANGS AND CHALLENGERS RACE, DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT A LITTLE EXTRA EXCITEMENT TO THAT SERIES? "I have a Ford Mustang, I had a Ford Mustang that I bought all torn up and put a clutch in it and painted it. I love the Mustang brand, and I used to love racing some Camaros on the street -- you know, I wasn't supposed to -- we had a good time with that, and I think there's a lot of the car guys and girls out there that would like that. The more important thing is to, I think, is make this sport relevant to the average person out there who wants a quality vehicle and they want good fuel mileage, and I think that's where Ford's at right now, I don't know about the other manufacturers, but the message that I try to deliver to the fans is that This is a Ford Fusion -- everybody knows that it's a different car, but the Ford Fusion drives great and gets great fuel mileage. And I think if they do that with the Mustang or a Fusion -- it doesn't really matter to me. I don't know. I don't know what they're marketing plans are other than that."
WITH ONLY 10 MORE CHANCES TO GET BONUS POINTS, IS IT COMFORTING, IN A WAY, THAT THE LEADERS IN WINS ONLY HAS THREE. OR, IS IT WORRISOME THAT YOU'RE 30 POINTS BEHIND AND YOU ONLY HAVE 10 MORE OPPORTUNITIES? " That's a good question. If I knew that I was in the Chase and if I was leading the points right now, I'd be worried about that, but those 30 points, that's the furthest thing from mind right now. I mean, we could out and win a couple and even that up and get it real close, but the key right now is not losing those 100 points you can lose in a wreck or having some sort of trouble. But, that'll come into play. Last year, it could've made a difference."
ON THE RACES LEADING UP TO THE CHASE. "In 2005, that last race at Richmond took a year off of my life. That was stressful. And then in 2007, I think, we were close to making it.
"We gathered enough points and then we blew the engine at Richmond and if we hadn't gathered all those points leading up to that, we'd have been in trouble. But, it worked out still. It is part of it. You've got to go out there and get all the points you can. It's a little bit different way to race."
WHAT DO LIKE MOST ABOUT RACING IN THE NORTHEAST? "This place is fun. The neatest thing around here I like, I've got this little Polaris Razor and they've got snowmobile trails round, so -- this is my second one, we tore the first one up terribly here, then we had a blast. It's a beautiful place to come, and it seems like the people here are cool. Live Free or Die is pretty cool to see on a license plate. So, I enjoy this place, I enjoy the folks, and it's real cool to be up the road from Fenway Park. We get to go there quite a bit, so that's pretty neat."
THIS TRACK HAS PRODUCED EIGHT DIFFERENT WINNERS IN THE LAST EIGHT RACES. "Because this track is straightforward -- it's very smooth, it's a perfect oval, it's a very, very technical race track -- so, I've come here and had the fastest car, we had that Red Sox car that one year and it was just outstanding, I've come here and couldn't run 20th to save my life, so it's based how well your crew chief gets that car perfect and how precise you can be as a driver. I think one of the reasons you see all the different winners is because it's almost a strategy race. It's a tough track to pass on. If a guy gets out front you can go a little faster than if you're fifth or sixth. So, yeah, we come into this one -- if we unload and my car's fast right off that bat, it's going to be great. If it's not, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. It's a very technical race track."
-credit: ford racing