Continued from part 1 Carl Edwards YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT THE INTENSITY OF THE CUP SERIES AS COMPARED TO THE TRUCKS. AS HARD AS THEY RACE IN THE TRUCK SERIES, THAT MUST REALLY SAY SOMETHING FOR THE INTENSITY LEVEL OF THE CUP SERIES. "Yeah, it's...
Continued from part 1
YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT THE INTENSITY OF THE CUP SERIES AS COMPARED TO THE TRUCKS. AS HARD AS THEY RACE IN THE TRUCK SERIES, THAT MUST REALLY SAY SOMETHING FOR THE INTENSITY LEVEL OF THE CUP SERIES.
"Yeah, it's something, to be honest with you, that I wasn't really prepared for it as well as I thought I was. When they dropped the green flag at that race at Michigan, and those guys took off, I mean, it was like, 'Whoa, did I miss something?' It's a four or five hundred-mile race and these guys are racing this hard from the beginning. It is tough. It is different from the truck series in that the field, there's less of a spread from the slowest guy to the fastest guy. The competition is closer, so sometimes you don't see maybe the same amount of passing or whatever going on in the Cup races, but I'm telling you, it's very intense. You can't slip up or those guys will get you."
YOU STILL HAVE A REALISTIC SHOT AT CATCHING THE TWO DRIVERS AHEAD OF YOU IN THE TRUCK SERIES STANDINGS, DON'T YOU?
"Oh, yeah. I feel really good about. I don't know how many points we were behind a month ago, but it was more than it is right now, and we almost closed it up. If we didn't have that engine failure at Vegas, I think we'd be almost tied for the points lead right now. So, I feel great about it, I mean, anything can happen."
WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY WAS FIRST PRESENTED TO YOU, I KNOW THERE WAS NO WAY TO SAY NO, BUT WAS THERE SOME THOUGHT THAT YOU WERE SO CLOSE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE TRUCK SERIES THAT YOU MIGHT HURT YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP OPPORTUNITIES BY JUST WEARING YOURSELF OUT IN THE STRETCH RUN?
"That's a good question. I look at it a little bit differently, though. As a person, I feel like it would take a lot more than one or two races a weekend to wear me out physically. It's a little bit more stressful running in the Cup series, just because there's more at stake and we don't have a sponsor right now, so in that respect it's a little more stressful. But, purely from a racing standpoint, I don't think there's a better thing that could've happened than to get the opportunity to run in the Cup series, and if you ask my crew chief, Kevin Starland, in the truck series, he tells me that it's like a whole different driver driving his truck. I feel more confident in the truck. I feel like I'm more patient. And I feel like most of that's come from running those Cup races."
WHAT IS IT BY RACING IN THE CUP SERIES THAT MAKES YOU A DIFFERENT DRIVER IN THE TRUCK SERIES?
"I think, number one, deep down I really don't want to cause anybody any trouble in those Cup races, I don't want to be the guy that causes the wreck and takes somebody out of a hard-fought championship battle. And then also, purely from the driving standpoint, it's just closer, the competition is closer over there in the Cup series, so you have to drive so much harder and for so much longer of a time period during a given race that when I get in the truck it feels like a sprint race. It's very short, there's more of a difference between the trucks that are set up really well and the trucks that aren't, and you can slip up a little bit in the truck races and not lose so much ground. So, I get back in the truck and, number one, it feels like home because I've raced 'em for so long so it feels a little more comfortable, and it's like I can just kind of take a deep breath and relax a little more because it's just not as intense."
YOU ARE A GUY THAT PEOPLE CAN POINT TO THAT IF YOUR DREAM HARD ENOUGH AND WORK HARD ENOUGH THAN YOUR DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.
"Yeah. I'm telling you, I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Literally, two or three years ago, I didn't have a dime to my name and I was living at my mom's house, working on our dirt car in the garage. I had never driven a new race car until I drove for Jack Roush. I'm more proud of that anything. It wasn't a sad time in my life, it was the most fun thing I could've ever done. But, realistically, I never thought, not in a million years, that I would be on the same teleconference call with Jimmie Johnson in 2004 as I sit here today. It's definitely a testament. There's a lot of really good racers out there, and the bottom line is that they should never give up if they want to do it."
THE CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES RACING HAS BEEN FREQUENTLY DESCRIBED AS THE MOST EXCITING NASCAR RACING. YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT. ALSO, AFTER HEARING YOU SAY THAT THE COMPETITION IN THE CUP SERIES IS SO MUCH MORE INTENSE, DO YOU SEE THAT AS A DISCREPANCY?
"I think there's a couple of things that make the Craftsman Truck Series races so appealing. One of them is that they're pretty short races, so they're relatively easy to pay attention to for the whole race. It's kind of a novelty item. I mean, we're racing pickup trucks, which is pretty exciting. And there's a history of some pretty serious bumping and banging and stuff. But, at the same time, the NEXTEL Cup racing, it's been around for so long, there's so much history with it. The races are true marathons. It's more of a test of man and machine for endurance and stamina, and for that reason it's really exciting to me. Part of that challenge is really neat for me. It's kind of that standard debate, you know, is short-track racing or Saturday night racing as good as the racing you see on TV? I think it's all racing. I think there's enough space for all of it. I know as a fan, I watched both of them. I watched the truck series and I watched the Cup series and I got a lot of enjoyment from both."
YOU SEEM COMFORTABLE WITH THE TRANSITION.
"It's a lot of fun. I just really enjoy racing, and I race as many different types of vehicles as I can. I'm going this evening to get fitted up in a seat for a dirt Late Model that I might be do a little bit of running in this weekend near the Kansas Speedway. I just love racing. That's why I started doing it. I don't really mind what the vehicles look like or what the name of them is, I just like to race."
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHASE FOR THE NEXTEL CUP, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE INTENSITY LEVEL. YOU HAVE THREE TEAMMATES RUNNING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.
"As a race-car driver, when you're out there racing, especially towards the end of the race, it's pretty easy to become self-centered, and sometimes it's pretty beneficial, you know, you want to the best you can to get every position you can. And, you don't necessarily think about the other guy too often. But in this situation, this is something different than what I'm used to or what I'd ever thought about. If towards the end of the race here in these last 10 races, I'm racing really, really hard for a position and the guy I happen to be racing with is Mark Martin or Matt Kenseth or Kurt Busch, or even a guy like Ryan Newman, or just someone who's got so much on the line, as a person I feel like it's kind of my obligation to show them a little bit more respect and give them a little bit more room, and that's something that it's taken me just a little while to become conscious of, but I'm definitely conscious of it now."
WITH THE COST OF SPONSORSHIPS GOING UP ALL THE TIME, DO YOU THINK PARTIAL SPONSORSHIPS MIGHT BE THE WAY OF THE FUTURE?
"I can see the benefit of partial sponsorships, just because of it's less of an investment for a marketing partner. But, when you look at the sponsors that I feel are very successful in motorsports, and NASCAR, in particular, I feel like DuPont and Home Depot and these sponsors that you really equate them to the driver and they seem like they're one. I think you only get that true feeling from a long-term sponsor, and when the sponsor can build all that equity into a driver and a team, so, to me, I think that's really the best-case scenario."
HOW MUCH DID YOU RACE AGAINST JAMIE MCMURRAY WHEN YOU WERE IN MISSOURI?
"I don't think I've ever raced against Jamie McMurray, other than in the truck series and the NEXTEL Cup Series."
YOU TALKED ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF RACING IN THE BUSCH SERIES. YOUR TEAMMATE GREG BIFFLE IS RUNNING BOTH SERIES THIS SEASON. WILL YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE TRUCK SERIES ASSIST YOU IN RUNNING BOTH THE BUSCH AND CUP SERIES?
"I'm really looking forward to it. But I tell you what, running these truck races, it's definitely shown me the reality of there's a lot of travel and scheduling demands for a guy like Greg Biffle. It seems easy when you hear about it, or in passing, you say, hey, he makes the Busch race here on Saturday and the Cup race here on Sunday, but those races take a lot out of a person, and now that I've done just a little bit of it, I have a lot more respect for Greg Biffle and what he's doing, running both full schedules. He'd be the first person I'd go and talk to before we really set up a plan for next year, before we went out and did something like both of them fulltime, I'd talk to Greg Biffle first."
HOW DO YOU PREPARE THIS LATE IN THE SEASON FOR RACING IN TWO SERIES, ESPECIALLY WITH IT BEING SO DRAINING?
"The thing that I've been most conscious about is just getting enough sleep. There's so many exciting things going on, it's easy to stay up all night talking on the phone with people, or going to events and doing stuff. So, I just tried to make sure that I get a bunch of rest. I can't imagine, you hear these Cup guys running these races while they're sick or something, that would be very tough. So, I try to keep the immune system working well by getting plenty of sleep. But as far as working out, that's something that I've always tried to do. My whole Superchips truck crew has been really great this year. Every morning we go work out at the shop, lift weights and stuff. I think that's something that's helped me a little bit, even if it's just for confidence, feeling that I've prepared the best, and I like that feeling."
HOW WILL YOU BE ABLE TO TRANSFER THE NOTES FROM YOUR WIN AT KANSAS IN THE TRUCK SERIES EARLIER THIS SUMMER TO THE CUP RACE? AGAIN, THERE HAVEN'T BEEN TOO MANY CUP RACES AT KANSAS.
"In the truck race there that we won, I ran into the wall pretty hard on the first lap. I think that might've actually helped us. But I don't plan on trying that. If anything, it's just the confidence from doing that well there, and maybe the shame factor. I don't want to look bad in front of that many people I know, because it feels like when I go to Kansas I personally know half of the crowd. So, that's a big motivating factor, seeing that many people up there that I know. I want to perform well in front of them. I hadn't thought of the fact that they haven't had very many Cup races there. That will definitely play into my hands, just because there'll be less of a difference between my experience level and theirs, because that's something that's evidenced every week. These guys have been to these tracks in Cup cars so many times that going to tracks like this or going to the new Homestead Speedway, tracks that are new to everyone, that's a helpful thing."