Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus, will be making his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut tomorrow afternoon. He tested at Kentucky earlier this week, which marked the first time he had ever been behind the wheel of a Cup...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus, will be making his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut tomorrow afternoon. He tested at Kentucky earlier this week, which marked the first time he had ever been behind the wheel of a Cup car. Edwards held a Q&A session Saturday morning before practice to discuss how his career has changed in the last seven days.
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT TOMORROW? "I'm really excited, obviously, at the opportunity but, heck, I'm nervous. This is my first start and it's gonna be a fast race. I found out last Tuesday that this was potentially going to happen - I guess two Tuesdays ago - and then last Tuesday was my first time ever in a Cup car when we tested at Kentucky. We got on the track yesterday a little bit, but I'm pretty anxious to get out there and learn more."
THE GREEN LANTERN IS ON YOUR CAR THIS WEEK. CAN YOU BE A SUPERHERO ON THE TRACK? "I don't know about that, but, I tell you what, the Green Lantern is a bad dude. I found that out. It's really neat to be involved. Brendan Gaughan came over and he said, 'I can't believe you've got a special paint scheme your first race.' So it's really neat to be involved with that. If we finish the race and don't make anyone mad and learn something, then I'll feel like a superhero."
HAS THIS SUNK IN YET? "I don't know. I haven't really done anything yet. Everyone wants to talk about it, but we haven't qualified and I haven't raced so I think it will take a race or two to feel like this is something realistic that's happening. As a competitor, I'm really curious to find out where we stand and all the things I need to learn, but I don't know if it's sunk in yet. It was sinking in the other day when we were at a Ford fan event and they let me go drive that new Ford GT. It was like, 'Wow, this is pretty serious,' but I don't know. It's amazing. I don't know what to think about it."
WHAT ADVICE DID BRENDAN GIVE YOU? "He gave me some good advice and it was along the same lines as what Jack and everyone else has told me and that's to just have faith in what you feel. It's not a whole new world, it's the same idea - go out there and get the car balanced, just like we did in the trucks. It was neat to talk to Brendan because he made it clear. He was like, 'If you feel it doing this, just say this is what it's doing. Don't get overwhelmed by all the peripheral stuff,' so that was helpful advice."
DID HE TELL YOU TO HAVE FUN? "Brendan never has to tell anyone to have fun. That guy is an example walking around of how to enjoy yourself, but, yeah, that's the other side of it too, to enjoy it. Jack always jokes around and tells me that we're not here to have fun and then he cracks a smile. I'm always the guys saying, 'Man, I had a blast. Jack, I really enjoyed it.' He's like, 'That's OK Carl, but that's not what we're here for.' So, hopefully we'll have a good time."
HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE SCHEDULE FOR POSSIBLE CONFLICTS WITH THE TRUCK? "Yeah, we looked at it a little bit last night. Talladega we have a conflict, Charlotte and Dover, and I don't know exactly how it'll work. It will take a little bit of effort to be able to run the Truck and the Cup car at those events and it will probably depend on our performance at the time, if they want to put that effort in. Personally, I would really like to drive at Dover and Charlotte for sure. I love both of those race tracks."
IS IT AN ADVANTAGE OR DISADVANTAGE TO DOING THIS NOW? "I think it's an advantage for me personally because waiting all winter and going testing and having all the hype, I think, would be a little bit more pressure. I think in this situation particularly I have the ability to just go out here and kind of be under the radar just a little bit and get some experience so I'll be prepared for Daytona better. That would be a little bit overwhelming, so I like this situation better."
WHY DO THIS NOW AND SACRIFICE YOUR ROOKIE STATUS? "I think it was just one of those situations where the car is sitting there and the team is in place. I'm not exactly sure what's gonna happen next year, but I hope that we run the full season next year and getting these races in right now, I think, will help us performance-wise next year."
YEAH, BUT WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES BEHIND THIS THRUST? "I don't know that there's anything other than just 11 or 14 races will be more experience than seven. The way I look at it as a driver is that I have to sit in the seat and race at these race tracks next year, hopefully, and we go to most of them twice, so the one race we get in this year will help for two races next year. So each one is worth two races and, as a driver and competitor, I think that will be very valuable next year. That's probably where that comes from and nobody has told me if we're running seven or 11 or eight or whatever. I think the more we run, the better off we'll be and I feel like Jack and Geoff feel that way also."
AS FAR AS THE TRUCK SERIES, CAN YOU RUN DOWN BOBBY AND DENNIS? "That's something we're working really hard on. We're going to do some testing at Memphis and we're trying to get a little bit more help from Ford so that we can have a test team. The Chevrolets have the 47 team. The Toyotas obviously do a lot of testing. We've been fortunate enough to have great equipment from Roush Racing and enough help from Ford to run well in the Truck Series, but, at this point, at Roush Racing the Truck Series is a developmental series, whereas at Bobby Hamilton Racing they go out there and their only mission is to win that Truck Series championship. I think the Truck Series is moving ahead so fast in that respect as far as Chevrolet wants that championship and Toyota obviously want it and Dodge is doing the same thing with Bobby Hamilton, so we're trying to work with Ford and get that focus over there on our side. Once we get that and develop a couple things and work a little bit at it, we'll be awesome."
HOW MUCH TRUST DO YOU PUT IN JACK AS FAR AS YOUR CAREER PATH? "If I thought it wasn't a good idea, I'd say so. But I do feel like if we focus hard enough and I can learn enough and pick this up fast enough this year, I feel like we have a legitimate shot at running for a championship next year. That's what everyone on the team, deep down that's the goal. That's saying a lot considering I've never raced one of these, but deep down that's what I think anything that will prepare us better for that is better than kind of holding back and going for that short-term goal, which would be rookie of the year. I don't know that it will hurt my career or help it. I don't know."
DID YOU EVER PUSH TO DRIVE A CUP CAR BEFORE TUESDAY? "They all know I would like to drive race cars everyday. When the engine deal first came about, I went and did an engine test with the Yates-Roush thing. They needed somebody to do a longevity test and we did it in a Busch car at Atlanta, so that was really the closest thing to a Cup test that I've gotten so far. It wasn't planned. I think if there was a forecast like, 'Hey, we're gonna drive a Cup car in a year,' I'm sure they would have lined up a number of tests and we would have prepared for it better. But I think this kind of caught everyone by surprise. If it didn't, they're doing a good job of acting like it did because nobody ever mentioned it to me. So I don't know that we ever had a plan."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR CREW CHIEF NOW ON THE CUP LEVEL? "I think Bob Osborne, my current crew chief right now, actually we stayed up until like 11:30 last night just talking and trying to get to know each other. He had to get up at five and I didn't have to get up until seven, so it was worse for him (laughing). I think he is the model crew chief right now. The guy has an engineering degree. He was the head of engineers at Roush Racing and, really, neither of us has much experience in our roles right now, but I'm hoping we can grow and it'll work out perfectly. I think if we both progress and neither one of us holds the other one up, it's gonna be an awesome relationship. The guy is a genius. We get along very well. It's amazing. That's one thing that I was a little concerned about. You never know if you're gonna gel with someone or mesh with him, but, so far, over the last week he's been awesome. We've already looked at each other a couple of times and known what we're thinking and that doesn't happen very often."