Carl Edwards held a Q&A session Friday at Martinsville Speedway in advance of Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500. CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK THIS WEEKEND? "So far we've started out pretty well. Our ...
Carl Edwards held a Q&A session Friday at Martinsville Speedway in advance of Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK THIS WEEKEND? "So far we've started out pretty well. Our qualifying practice was decent. I think that we have a good shot at qualifying well and getting a good starting position. We've yet to see how we're gonna run in race trim, but the last time we were here we ran pretty well. Matt Kenseth ran really well. I thought he had a chance to win the race, so we're going off of our best car from the last race with some improvements, so hopefully we can have a good run."
YOU STARTED YOUR CUP CAREER WITH 17 RACES LEFT IN THE SEASON. HOW HARD IS IT TO START IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON WITH A NEW TEAM? "For me, I can only speak from my experience, but we had to weigh whether or not I should just run the seven races to try and retain my rookie status, or if we should just go for it and try to build for the 2005 season. We decided that the more time we could get with me in the car, working with Bob and working with the guys, that that would be the best thing. If you're talking about right now, yeah, if you have to change teams right now, right now would probably be a difficult time to do it, but if you're preparing for next season there's no better time than as soon as you can start working together. With the way the season is structured, what's gone on this week might turn out to be the best case for everyone involved performance-wise for next year. To be clear, I know nothing about the details of what's going on. All I know is Kasey is in the 83 and he's not in the 9. That's truly the extent of what I know about the deal."
DAVID RAGAN AND DREW HAVE CLICKED ON THE 6 CAR. ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TO FIGHT FOR HIM AFTER THE YEAR IS OVER? "Yeah, they're great on the chart here. They beat us at Charlotte. They've really stepped it up. That's great for David Ragan, but we're gonna have to sit down at the end of the year and decide where Drew is gonna go. It's really up to Drew, but I would take him in a heartbeat, but it depends upon his analysis of what's going on with that team and what him and David determines the best. If it's the best for Drew to stay there, then I guess he'll stay there. But, yeah, I was a little nervous about that when we moved Drew that I wouldn't get him back and I guess if I don't, that's a sign that the best case is happening."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOUR SIDE IS PLAYING CATCHUP IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES BECAUSE RESULTS WITH THE NEW CAR HAVE NOT BEEN AS GOOD AS YOUR OPPOSITION? "Yeah, definitely. Charlotte was a huge struggle. I'm not sure when the last time was we raced that hard for 13th or wherever we finished, but that's pretty frustrating. The reason I can have hope is that I believe our engine program will be better for next year, if we're able to institute the FR9, to run it and develop it. That's all I can hope for. I know how good our guys are. I feel very confident that my abilities to run those Nationwide cars and I feel like, yes, we are playing catch up. If we can catch them, that would be great, but we've got to do it. But I think the engine will be a big deal. I think if we can get a little help there, it'll be good. If not, it's gonna be a tough season and we'll have to use everything we can, but there's still a lot of time between now and then. A lot can happen."
HOW MUCH HAS RPM HELPED ROUSH FENWAY AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT THEY SURVIVE AS A TEAM? "Like I said, I don't know the details of the relationship entirely. I don't know exactly where all the money goes and things like that, but for me personally, for Bob and for our team, when we sit down in our competition meetings and are able to use things not only the drivers say but the crew chiefs and their strategies and things they've learned over the years, it's been hugely helpful to me. I feel like it's a big help. I feel like if they were to go away or that relationship were to dissolve that it would be bad for our Aflac team's performance. So I think we need to do everything we can from the performance side to keep them going. That is my opinion. That doesn't take into account the business side of it."
HAD YOU WORKED WITH AJ ALLMENDINGER BEFORE HE CAME TO RPM? "No, but my trainer, they worked with him a little bit, so I knew of AJ. I knew of his talent and then I worked with a guy who was like his team manager or something at one of the road courses we went to, so I was aware of him and had some knowledge of AJ. We see him running really well now and people that are close to him have been telling me for a couple years now how massively talented he is and if he figures this out how good he's gonna be and it shows now. He's able to run up front all the time, but I didn't work with him first-hand before this. There was a road course we went to, it's like a guy who coached him or worked on his team helped me and I can't remember if AJ and I talked or not, but I remember that gentleman helped me and I think it was when we went to Montreal for the first time."
HOW DO YOU RECONCILE WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO? "It's just pretty amazing. I guess there are a lot of other words for it, but it's amazing. They've just been able to perform at a level, we've been at that level and have performed at that level before, but we haven't been able to perform at that level for five years. To be able to constantly perform at that level is the thing that's pretty spectacular to me. We've just got to go beat them. We've got to figure out how to do it better than them, but, right now they're able to perform better on the race track better than anyone else over a long period of time. It's pretty spectacular."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THE SPORT NEEDS A DIFFERENT CHAMPION? "It's a sport, so the best man wins. That's how it goes. If Jimmie is the fastest and he wins, that's okay. It's a sport. What is the other option? What do we do? We go out, we have the rules set, we all race under the same rules, we race at the race track and when it's over, whoever wins, wins. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. People are always gonna resent a certain level of success. I respect Jimmie for what he's done, more importantly I respect him as a person. He's a decent guy to compete with. I really enjoy racing against him. Win, lose or draw he comes over and shakes your hand afterwards. You get beat by a guy like that because he did better than you that day, that's just the way it is."
DO TEAMS RACE DIFFERENTLY NOW AS OPPOSED TO IN PREVIOUS YEARS WHEN IT WAS A SEASON-LONG POINT SYSTEM? "Yeah. I like to think that. I like to think, 'Boy, I really won the championship in 2008,' but I didn't. I scored more points, but they didn't make the chase format after the last race was completed. The chase format was the whole season, so you can't really go back with hindsight and say, 'Would it have worked out this other way,' because we would have been racing under a different format. So, yes, I believe that teams race a little bit differently because they know what we're doing here. It's like boxing. If you know you've got 12 rounds, you might box a little bit differently the first few. I think that it's hard to say that. As much as I'd like to say that, considering we all have the same rules and we all know what they are before the season starts, I don't think that's completely fair to say. It's an arguable point, I guess."
DO YOU PREPARE FOR THE LAST 10 RACES DIFFERENTLY? "I think if you're good enough you can do that. If you're struggling, you're just hanging on and running everything as hard as you can for the first 26, but I think there are teams that once they realize they're fast enough at the beginning of the year, they might do some things that short-term might not be the best, but at the end they're better. I think that is possible."
EVERY YEAR THE 48 DOES WAY BETTER IN THE CHASE THAN THE REGULAR SEASON. "That might be evidence of their superiority. Maybe they're the only team that is capable to run well enough to be confidently in the chase and then change gears and be a little more aggressive at the end. I don't know. I would say that if our cars were as fast as they were in 2008 every year, I would say that there would be some interesting things we could do strategically, we could afford to do some things that maybe we couldn't do if we were just hanging on to make sure we're in the chase. It's all speculation, I don't know what really goes on in their shop, but the proof is in the results there. They're just able to do it."
DO YOU SEE ANYTHING WITHIN ROUSH FENWAY'S SYSTEM THAT SHOULD BE CHANGED? "I've won 16 races at Roush and I have a ton of respect for Jack and Robbie and the way they do things, and I've never driven for anyone else, so I don't have anything to compare it to. It is interesting to me that Jamie has had the level of success he's had this season considering how much he struggled at Roush. I don't know if that's specific to Jamie and how he interacted with the people there, or the circumstances he was in, I don't know. But it is interesting and it's almost shocking in a way how people can move in this sport and go somewhere different and perform completely differently. I don't know what that is."
CHILDRESS MADE CHANGES WITH MANAGEMENT AND THINGS HAVE GOTTEN BETTER. "I know from my limited experience I have about four employees and it's very difficult to manage that, so I don't know how guys like Jack Roush or Richard Childress or Chip or any of those guys do it to begin with and then to do it well seems very difficult. But the other thing is I don't know if that's the difference between running really well or not. There was a stretch a couple weeks back 10-12 races where our 99 team scored more points than anybody in the sport. Right then I said, 'Okay, we're doing everything perfectly. We're on top right now. We're actually performing better than anyone else.' That comes and goes and our management didn't change. I just don't know. That's a tough part about the sport, but it's spectacular what Jamie has been able to do this year and it definitely makes me look and my crew chief and everyone over at Roush look and say, 'Hey, are we missing something? If Jamie is able to go run this well with some different circumstances, maybe there's room for improvement with our team.' I think we just have to talk to Jamie about that, if he'd tell me. I don't know if he would (smiling)."
HOW IMPORTANT IS TO YOU TO POSSIBLY WIN THE LAST RACE AT GATEWAY? "Gateway would be spectacular to win tomorrow. The races that we've won there have all been really special to me. The one in the spring was a little more exciting than I would have liked, but it was special nonetheless. To be able to win the last race, like I said last week, I'm still in denial. I don't think that will be the last race there. I hope we can work something out and run there again because it's close to home. That track has provided some really, really great racing. In the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series it's been, I think, one of the most exciting tracks we go to. Whatever is going on with trying to get fans there it's not working, so hopefully someone can come in there and understand how to fix that and maybe in the future we'll race there again. But that will be a bittersweet race tomorrow no matter how it turns out."
-source: ford racing