This Week in Ford Racing October 5, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series The last two months have been very hectic for Carl Edwards, who, since mid-August, has been driving both the No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus in...
This Week in Ford Racing
October 5, 2004
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
The last two months have been very hectic for Carl Edwards, who, since mid-August, has been driving both the No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the No. 99 Superchips Ford F-150 in the Craftsman Truck Series. Edwards, who is in third place in the truck series standings, will be making his eighth career Cup start this weekend at Kansas. Edwards was one of the guests on this week's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teleconference.
CARL EDWARDS , No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus and No. 99 Superchips Ford F-150
THANKS FOR JOINING THE TELECONFERENCE - ESPECIALLY SINCE YOU'RE TAKING SOME WELL-DESERVED TIME OFF.
"Thanks for having me on. I'm having a blast. I'm back home in Columbia, Missouri, today and just enjoying it a little bit."
COLUMBIA IS NOT TOO FAR FROM KANSAS SPEEDWAY, WHERE YOU WON EARLIER THIS YEAR IN THE TRUCK SERIES. YOU SHOULD HAVE A PRETTY HIGH LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE HEADING INTO THIS RACE - ESPECIALLY SINCE THERE'S ONLY BEEN THREE CUP RACES HELD AT THAT TRACK.
"That's one of the things that's going to help us a lot with our 99 Cup team. That win with the Superchips truck earlier this summer was one of the highlights of my career. They built this race track, and like you said, it's really close to my home in Columbia, and I'll never forget when they first started putting that whole thing together, and I thought, 'Man, that's just the neatest thing in the world.' But, it's kind of saddening a little bit because it was like here's a NEXTEL Cup Series race track this close to home, and I felt like I was a long ways from being in a position to get to race at that track. So, it was one of those things I'd drive by and see it and think, 'Wow, it'd be amazing to race there.' So, winning that race in the truck series this year, I think that helps the confidence a little bit, and we also had a great test there a couple of weeks ago. I feel really good about this race."
NO ONE CAN ARGUE WITH THE SUCCESS YOU'VE HAD IN THE CUP SERIES. WHAT'S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE, AND WHAT'S BEEN THE EASIEST PART OF THAT TRANSITION FROM THE TRUCK SERIES?
"It's been kind of both ways. We've had great days and we've had some ones that were pretty tough. I think the hardest thing about the move to the Cup series is just the level of intensity that those guys race with. If you make one little mistake, it's really hard to make that ground back up. I never looked at the races like I do now. When they drop the green flag to the checkered flag, every inch that you can advance yourself on the race track is very valuable. So, that's been pretty tough. It's been easy in the respect that I've got great teammates over there, and the information and all of the testing that they've done, it's all been able to help me so we go to the race track knowing that the car and the equipment is race-winning equipment, and all I have to do is develop my skills as a driver."
YOU HAVEN'T VISITED MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY SINCE IT HAS BEEN RE-PAVED?
"No, I have not. You guys said Jimmie Johnson is testing over there. That makes me a little nervous."
ARE YOU AWARE OF THE PENALTY THAT DALE EARNHARDT, JR., GOT FOLLOWING TALLADEGA?
"Yeah, I just heard about it from my P.R. person this morning."
ESPECIALLY DRIVING FOR A GUY LIKE JACK ROUSH, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN POUNDED INTO YOUR HEAD AS FAR AS AWARENESS, OR IS IT JUST A LESSON THAT YOU REALLY CAME HOME TO THIS WEEKEND?
"It's some thing that I've tried really hard, just like all the drivers, you know, I've tried really hard to be aware of just from the very beginning, even racing at the local level, and that's you always have a wide variety of people watching. It's just one of those situations where NASCAR, they have these rules, it's really hard in the heat of the moment to sometimes keep everything in perspective. It's something that we all hope that we don't slip up, and just as long as it's the same playing field for everybody, I guess it will be okay."
I REMEMBER YOUR HIGH ENTHUSIASM AT HOMESTEAD LAST YEAR. WHAT HAS THIS YEAR DONE FOR YOUR ENTHUSIASM?
"I don't think I could have any more enthusiasm. It's the neatest thing in the world. I get to drive race cars at the upper levels of the sport and I get to travel all over the country and race with the greatest racers in the world. It's just the most fun thing I could ever imagine doing. Every time we go to a race track, my crew chiefs always joke around with me, they say that I tell everyone that my favorite race track is the race track we're at every weekend. And that's the way I feel about it. I feel like I'm very fortunate to be doing what I'm doing. The enthusiasm that you see, that's how I feel about it."
HAS JACK ROUSH EVER APPROACHED YOU ABOUT A RIDE IN THE BUSCH SERIES?
"We've got a bunch of things in the works for next year. The main thing is we're trying to find a sponsor for that 99 car so it can run fulltime in the Cup series. We've got a couple sponsors for one race, at Charlotte, we're going to have Canteen Vending along with Kraft Foods, at Atlanta we're going to have World Financial Group, and what we're trying to do is get it so that we can go run for that championship in the Cup series next year. But, in combination with that, it's possible that I would run Busch races for Jack also, and it could be fulltime Busch ride. So, we've definitely talked about it, and it would be awesome to go run some Busch races or go run the whole season, whichever way it happens."
HOW MUCH HAVE YOU TALKED WITH KURT BUSCH, YOUR TEAMMATE, WHO ALSO JUMPED FROM THE TRUCKS UP TO THE CUP?
"I've talked with him a little bit. Both him and Greg Biffle have had a lot of experience in the trucks, and they've been really helpful. It's one of the real neat things about driving for Jack is that there's so many drivers I can go talk to, and it seems like they all have their strong points. There's not one track or one situation that I could go to that one of those guys hasn't been through. They've all been very helpful."
REGARDING SPONSORSHIP: HAS YOUR EARLY SUCCESS OPENED UP ANY DOORS THAT WERE PREVIOUSLY SHUT?
"I hope so. I don't spend too much time in the marketing department. I feel like my job is to do the best I can. I feel like if we have a little bit of good luck and we run as well as I think we can, I hope that someone out there feels like they would want to align themselves with us. I'd really enjoy representing someone for a full year next year."
WHAT IS THE ATMOSPHERE LIKE AT ROUSH RIGHT NOW WITH THREE DRIVERS COMPETING FOR THE CUP CHAMPIONSHIP? ALSO, WHAT ARE SOME OF KURT BUSCH'S STRONG POINTS AS A RACER?
"The atmosphere, overall, at Roush is really an exciting one. Everyone's really pumped about the chances of a Roush car winning this NEXTEL Cup championship this year. It couldn't be a better situation for me coming in. Everybody's on a huge upswing. Mark Martin's running great. Kurt Busch, obviously, is spectacular. Matt Kenseth is having another one of his great years. For me to come in, it really helps the most when we go testing, because I know, hey, these are the guys that are going to be right there at the front of the pack and here's all their data laid out in front of me, there setups, everything, all I have to do is go out to learn to do my job. So that's kind of the general feeling for me as I work with all these guys at Roush. As far Kurt's concerned, I mean, that guy's just unbelievable. He can drive a race car just unbelievably well. And the success he's been having lately is really neat to see. At our Kansas test last week he was in the garage stall right next to me, and he was someone I can just sit there and just talk to and relate to very well. We're about the same age, and we came into Roush Racing the same way. He's a great driver, and like I said, he's someone I can just go and talk to and get feedback from. He's a great guy to be leaning on right now, and he happens to be at the head of the field."
I'VE HEARD THAT HE IS REAL GOOD FOR GETTING A FEEL FOR THE CAR. HAS HE DISCUSSED THAT WITH YOU AT ALL?
"Yeah, it's really neat. I have the same kind of relationship with Jon Wood, my teammate in the truck series. I can walk over to the window of the car when they come in from a run at a test session or during race practice, and it's amazing to stick your head in the window and start talking to guy and realize, 'Man, he's feels the exact same things that I'm feeling out there on the race track,' and that's a really good feeling. Both of those guys are amazing. They can go in the car and tell you anything about the grip, if the race track is changing throughout the corner, the way the tires feel. It's neat to be around guys that are that proficient."
HOW HAVE THE DOUBLEHEADER WEEKEND GONE FOR YOU SO FAR? LAST WEEK YOU FLEW ACROSS THE COUNTRY, AND HOW BIG OF A CHALLENGE WILL NEXT WEEK BE WITH CHARLOTTE AND TEXAS?
"Man, I'm having the most fun I could possibly have. I look forward to those doubleheader weekends so much. It's just the neatest thing in the world. I think it's so neat because all I have to do is focus on racing. If I could just wake up in the morning, we have so much to do as far as traveling and racing and practice sessions, that there's really no time to think about anything else. If I could have it any way, that's the way I'd have it every day. It's really neat. I've enjoyed it a lot. I'm really grateful that Jack's letting me to do it because it's taken a lot of energy and a lot of money to get it to work. The one I'm really looking forward to is in a couple weeks, and that's where we're going to run Texas in the afternoon in the truck and then go straight to Charlotte. I'm really lucky we've got a guy as good as Dave Blaney, who's running the practice sessions and qualifying and helping me out. I can't wait for that one. It's going to be really neat."
YOU DON'T THINK IT WILL BE TOO LONG OF A DAY OR TOO MUCH MARGIN OF ERROR WITH THE WEATHER?
"The weather is something we can't control. The primary focus is to win that truck series championship for Superchips. That's the primary focus. And Dave Blaney will be there, and he's going to run Happy Hour in the car at Charlotte, I believe, and if something happens with the weather, I think that he will represent Canteen Vending and all our sponsors really well at Charlotte in the race. Man, I don't know. I'm hoping so badly that we run really well at Texas and everything works out and to show up right before the drop of the green flag and then have another good race at Charlotte. As a fan growing up, when guys would do the double-duty from Indianapolis to Charlotte, I just thought that was the neatest thing in the world, that drivers would race that much in one day. So, in a way, in kind of makes me feel like I've finally got to that point, where I'm getting to do some stuff like that, and it's really fun."
Continued in part 2