Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Michigan International Speedway in 2004 and finished 10th. Since then, he has posted two Cup wins at the track and hopes to make a possible third...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Michigan International Speedway in 2004 and finished 10th. Since then, he has posted two Cup wins at the track and hopes to make a possible third even more memorable as race day falls on his birthday.
WHY HAS ROUSH FENWAY HAD SO MUCH SUCCESS AT MIS? "I feel like this track takes every part of your team and taxes you. You have to have really good strategy, you have to have a great car and a big engine. The aero package has got to be spot on, and I feel like at Roush Fenway we've done a good job of having that whole package a lot of times. There's extra incentive to win here. It's right up the road from Ford for us, so we work really hard at this race and I think that's why we run well here. And it's a great race track. It's just fun to drive on. For me, it suits my style a lot."
SUNDAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY AND COULD BE YOUR 50TH WIN, PLUS IT'S YOUR ANNIVERSARY OF YOUR FIRST CUP START. IS THERE ANY ADDED PRESSURE FOR YOU? "I wouldn't say there's any pressure, but it has the potential to be a different day and a really good day. I guess it was six years ago that I made my first Cup start here. When they said, 'Gentlemen, start your engines,' that was a really, really big deal to me - to be sitting in that race car knowing I'm getting to race in the Cup Series, that was a huge day. It's a very special weekend for that and I'll think about that when I'm in the car, but it would be a cool win to win on my birthday."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CARS IN YOUR FLEET? DO YOU HAVE FAVORITE CARS? "A long time ago Bob quit telling me which car we were bringing to the race track because in my mind I thought certain cars were better than others and it seemed like as soon as I didn't know which car I was in, they all ran pretty much the same. So, for me and my team, I feel like all of our cars are good and I have faith in Bob. If he says, 'Hey, we're bringing this car and that's the best car for us to bring.' You've got to remember, it might not always be the best car to bring, but for the next three races in your plan it is the best car, so, as a driver, I've just had to let go of that control and let Bob have that control. For me, it's worked really well, but there have been times like Pocono for example. We had a new car for Indy and it was great. I was like, 'Alright, we're gonna take that to Pocono, right?' And he said, 'No, we're gonna take another one. Don't worry, we've got another plan for that car. Don't worry.' And, man, it's hard not to argue with him because once you get that good car you like, it's hard to let go."
DO YOU EXPECT ANY TOP BRASS FROM FORD TO COME OUT THIS WEEKEND AND IS THERE ANY EXTRA PRESSURE? "I'm proud to drive for Ford for a number of reasons, and I feel like we've got two wins in the Nationwide Series, we've run very well in the Cup Series lately. Greg won the race at Pocono, and I feel like the pressure is not as intense as it was a couple months ago to get a win for Ford. Now, I'm excited and feel like there's an opportunity to win for Ford and make those guys proud and give them the results that they deserve. To be standing in Victory Lane on Sunday would be very huge, and having the Ford guys here would be a big part of that."
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE JACK'S COMMITMENT THROUGH ALL OF THIS AND HOW MUCH DOES EVERYBODY ELSE WORK HARDER TO MAKE HIM PROUD? "I don't know if anybody here has ever worked for Jack, but I don't know the right words. He is as committed as anyone I've ever seen to what he's doing. He understands every part of the business and has his hand in it just enough to lead everyone. Throughout this, I have a whole new level of respect for his commitment. I've talked to him on the phone three or four times, and in the last couple of weeks I've gone and visited him and, literally, we talked about his injuries and his predicament was maybe three percent of the conversation. The rest of it is how we've got to go out and win these races and what he can do to help. For a guy sitting in a hospital with everything that he's gone through, for him to just be focused on the same things and to stay on task and not waver, that's amazing. That tells me a lot about Jack Roush. Sometimes people's circumstances change and you can see where their real focus lies, but Jack has not changed. He's gung-ho. That makes me feel a little bit more confident in our team to see that and realize how entrenched he is in this."
THINGS HAVE IMPROVED A LOT OF FORD SINCE THE LAST TIME HERE. DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME FOR THE CHASE? "It's wild how much things have changed in a short amount of time. I don't want to jinx it, but it feels like it's headed in the right direction. We're fast. We've got four races until the chase and if we can perform at the level we've performed the last four races, we can make the chase and if we can get any better, we can win the championship. Two or three months ago, I was hopeful we'd be in this position, but I did not think we would be, so it feels good. It's been a fun ride the last month or so."
YOUR AVERAGE FINISH IS 4.6 THE LAST FIVE RACES. WHAT HAS BEEN THE DIFFERENCE? "If you can pick up one tenth of a second, you run fifth sometimes, so I feel like we've just found that one-tenth that we've been looking for. If we can find one more, it would be on then."
CONSIDERING THE PROGRESS AT RFR AND LOOKING AT BRISTOL, WHERE YOU, MATT AND GREG WERE FOURTH, FIFTH AND SIXTH, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEXT RACE THERE? "That was a good race for us. The thing about Bristol though is that there's something about that race track. If you take back what you won with. We won two night races in a row a couple years ago. If you take what you won with and you go run it again, it's not good enough. I guess we can have that to fall back on, but we're gonna go there with what we've been doing lately and hope that it works. That race is kind of the wildcard. We've got to run well and we've got to have a little bit of luck there. We're not solidly in the chase - all three of us. We're still kind of in that no-man's land where anything can happen, so we'll have that in our back pockets, but we'll go there with what's been working the last month."
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE LIKELIHOOD A DRIVER IN 9TH-10TH-11TH-12TH COULD WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "If you start ninth, 10th, 11th or somewhere in there and you could definitely win the championship. I don't know what the average finish is for everyone the last five races. I didn't know ours was 4.6, but I'm assuming if you could run like that for 10 races in the chase, you could probably win the championship. That's the thing about our sport right now, it's so competitive. This chase, there's no guarantee. Whoever is 13th or 14th right now could win the championship. They could dominate it. It changes so fast. Things happen so quickly in this sport and advantages are gained and lost, but someone could definitely win the championship that's not up there in front right now."
-source: ford racing