Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, held a press conferences in the Martinsville Speedway infield media center prior to qualifying today. "I was in practice and we struggled. I was actually over there talking to David Ragan. ...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, held a press conferences in the Martinsville Speedway infield media center prior to qualifying today.
"I was in practice and we struggled. I was actually over there talking to David Ragan. He was really fast and he's had some really good runs, so we're leaning on those guys a little bit. I have no clue what my car is gonna do in qualifying, so I'm just gonna go out there and go for it. Bob and I talked about it a little bit this week. We had a miserable race at Charlotte and we're at the point right now where we're just gonna go try new things and take risks, maybe take gambles that we wouldn't on strategy. I'm gonna drive maybe just a little harder if it looks like that's what needs to be done and that's how we're approaching all these races. We've got a little bit of time to try to make up some ground, so that's kind of our attitude right now is just go out here and try our hardest and get what we can."
HOW DO YOU RATTLE JIMMIE JOHNSON AND BEAT HIM? "Actually, I was wanting to go play a little Frisbee with him this afternoon (joking). I don't know what you do. The guy is doing a really good job. I'm not gonna wreck him and I don't think anyone else is. I think if that team deserves to win and they win, that's what it is. When it's my day to win and I deserve it, I hope that's what happens, but, right now, they're just unbelievable. The way those guys run, you'd spin the guy out and he would back in the wall and they'd fix it and he'd come back and win anyway. I don't know how you beat those guys other than just figure out how to emulate them and then beat them at their own game. They're very good and I know everyone, including myself, has a lot of respect for them."
ANYBODY OUTSIDE THE TOP 5 OR 6 GETTING HOT AND CONTENDING FOR THE TITLE? "I don't even know who is in the top five. I just saw Greg is seventh, so he's moving forward. I don't know. What Kasey said there, it's just math. If the 48 team were to have a series of bad races, which could be for any reason -- meteorite strike, something like that -- anything -- then something could change. But if you just go off of what's going on right now, it looks like the guys that are up front deserve to be up there, unless they falter -- a lot of them falter. It's gonna be very difficult for someone to come up there and overtake them, but that's not gonna keep up from trying. Kasey just left here. I'm sitting here thinking just like racers do, 'We can still win this thing if we just keep going.' The only way to surely fail is to give up, but I can't point to one person."
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD BE WILLING TO TRY? "There are things we would be willing to take bigger gambles. Sometimes those can pay off and sometimes they don't. The reason the guys don't take them up there is because if they don't pay off, it costs you so much. So if I were tied for the points lead right now, I would probably race a little bit differently than I'm gonna race because of my 10th-place points position. So you could see that come into play. That could be a factor. It's cut-throat out there right now. It's competitive. If people start taking it easy and people start being aggressive, there could be some things shaken up because of it."
DO YOU FEEL YOU AND BOB ARE STILL ON THE SAME PAGE AND OTHER FACTORS ARE AT WORK HERE? "I have to personally not get down because we're not performing at the level I know we can. I think it's just human nature you want to start finding the weaknesses and everything, but Bob and I's relationship is good and it's good because we respect one another as people. It's been successful and I think that's what keeps us going the same direction. We argue with one another when we're doing well and we argue with one another when we're doing badly, but, right now, I would say our relationship is as good as its ever been. I know from my side, and I think from his side, I realize that it's not our interaction that's keeping us from running well. But what is fleeting is on-track performance. For us it has come and gone and that's difficult. That's difficult on everybody."
HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THIS SPORT WITH OTHER SPORTS? "I think that it's important, trust me, everybody in the garage but that 48 team is thinking, 'How can we stop this guy.' So I think it's a reasonable question. That's what is so great about sport. The idea is it's the same rules for everyone, unlike the free market we have out here -- whatever it's called now -- it's supposed to be the same rules, the same playing field. That's what makes it interesting and that's what makes it fun and competitive. If Jimmie and those 48 guys can come out here and beat us and do what they've done the last three years, then they need to be respected for it. I think, in the end, they will be, but I think while it's happening people want to find fault in it or change the rules or do something like that. It's the same for everyone and it's like that in all racing. If you change the rules or do something, there's nothing saying those guys won't be as good at the new rules. I just look at them and go, 'How can I be as good as them and how can I beat them?'"
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE NEW ENGINE? "I don't know a lot about it. I just found out they were running at Talladega and I'm really curious to see how it goes. It's cool of them to do that and be the first ones out there to do it. I'll be watching closely and I'm sure after that race we'll go in-depth about what they felt. It's still a restrictor-plate race so it may or may not apply to the other tracks, so it's just a piece of equipment. We've got to look at how much it weighs, how much tape can we run, how much horsepower does it make, and then the durability of it, so I'm pretty excited to see how it goes."
CAN YOU REMEMBER A WORSE WEEKEND WITH BOB THAN CHARLOTTE? "I can't remember a weekend that was that bad. That was it. That was the low point of our performing on the race track and I guess what I learned about Bob through that is how self critical he is -- in a good way. I haven't heard him say one bad word about the car or the data that he receives to set it up or anything like that. After the race he said on the radio, 'Look guys, it was my mistake. Everybody did a good job. We'll be better next time.' That's the kind of guy he is. He's a stand-up guy, so that just reiterated that to me and it's good to have a guy like that -- a guy that can say, 'I'll do better.'"
WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO TRY THE NEW ENGINE BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR? "I think we can get the data we need. Right now, our engine is good. That's not the weak link, so I think we can get the data we need from those guys using it without taking any risk. If it looks like it's positive, that there are better things about it that we'd want to use, we would probably gamble and use it, I would think, especially if we are where we are now in the points at that point. If it looks better, like I said at the beginning, we'll go for it, but that's really Bob's decision and Jack's decision."
IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE RUNNING THAT ENGINE NEXT YEAR WHY NOT RUN IT NOW? "I think the reason is there are so many things that can happen. I'd really like to finish as best I can in the points. If it gets down to the last two races and there's no hope, there's no way and we can't fall out of the top 10, then we would try more risk, but still, no matter what testing they do, no matter what is said there's always that on-track dyno that has to be run on the track. For us, we're not willing to take the risk just yet, but I know what you're saying. The earlier we can run it, the more we're gonna learn."
WHAT MADE YOU CONTACT THE FAN THAT WAS HIT BY DEBRIS FROM YOUR TALLADEGA WRECK AND HAVE YOU TALKED TO THEM SINCE? "Yeah, we've been talking a little bit and I think she's gonna come out to the race. Hopefully, we'll be able to meet up, but that was crazy. I hope nothing like that happens again. That's the worst feeling I've had in racing. When I landed my airplane in Washington (DC) after that race, I was going to a Ford appearance, Randy, my PR guy, told me, 'Look, there were some people injured.' That was a really bad feeling. NASCAR raising the fences is good. Hopefully, they made the screens tighter -- the holes in the fence smaller -- and hopefully we don't have anything like that happen again. But her name is Blake Bobbitt. She's really nice and she's a pretty cool chick."
ANY TREPIDATION ON YOUR PART GOING BACK THERE? "That's a good question, but not really. I know it sounds silly, but I was thinking about Talladega and going back there and everything that can happen and that really wasn't part of my thinking until I saw a picture on NASCAR.com or something yesterday and I thought, 'Oh yeah, that was a pretty wild wreck.' To me, that's not the thing that's forefront in my mind going there, it's the strategy that I'm gonna use. I did learn something about the end of the race -- block once, I probably won't block twice, but, really, personally, I feel good about it. I think that wreck showed me you can have a pretty good wreck and walk away from it."
-credit: ford racing