CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion HOW DIFFERENT IS IT TO TRY AND RACE INTO THE CHALLENGE? "It's different because the last two years we've been in the all-star race and hopefully we'll get in again this year. It's just like...
CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion
HOW DIFFERENT IS IT TO TRY AND RACE INTO THE CHALLENGE? "It's different because the last two years we've been in the all-star race and hopefully we'll get in again this year. It's just like running the "B" Feature somewhere and you've got to go to get in the show, so we'll hopefully be in it."
LOOKING TOWARD THE 600. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO PREPARE FOR IT AS A DRIVER AND WHAT DOES THE TEAM DO TO MAKE THE CAR LAST? "The 600 is grueling on the car and it's really tough on engines. I don't know that they really do too much differently, but I know as a driver that the biggest thing about the 600 is just to remember how long it is. After 500 miles there's another 100 left and that's a long race. I've noticed in the last couple of years that if your car is real bad at the beginning, just don't panic. You can come back from almost anything and be fighting for the win at the end of 600 miles."
ARE THE LAST 100 MILES TOUGH TO PREPARE FOR? "For me, personally, I've got a great trainer and I train all the time. I love the longer races. If we raced 1,000 miles a week that would be great for me. You can tell, though, especially if you're having a bad night. If you're real, real loose and your car won't handle right, it's physically very tough. If you have any leaks in the car, carbon monoxide or whatever, that makes it tough, but that's just another variable. I think it's fun to compete like that."
HOW DOES THE BUSCH RACE FACTOR IN? "The Busch race adds to it a little bit, but I've got great guys and great people that make it real easy on me race day, so I can rest up."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FORMAT CHANGES TO THE ALL-STAR RACE? "I have no clue what the all-star format is. I think the Open format is two 20-lap races and that's all I'm worried about right now. Anything that makes it more exciting, though. This race is about anything that makes it exciting for the fans and if they've got a way to make it exciting, that's what they need to do."
THE TRACK IS SLICK NOW. IS IT DIFFERENT FROM YEARS PAST? "The track feels slippery -- like it's aged a little bit -- and that's good. With the hard tires and everything that makes it real slippery, so it's just one of those things that as the track ages and we get the tires just right, we'll all get used to it but, right now, it's different everytime we come."
HOW DO YOU CHANGES THINGS TO COMPETE WITH HENDRICK? "The only thing you can do when somebody is beating you is to try to figure out how they're beating you and fix it. That's all you can do, so what we're trying to do at Roush Fenway Racing is to engineer the best we can and prepare for the long term with this car of tomorrow."
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN ATMOSPHERE FOR THESE TWO WEEKS IN CHARLOTTE THAN IN DAYTONA? "It's a pretty cool two weeks here. Everybody's family comes down and visits and it's kind of got the feel that you're racing in your backyard. During testing a lot of crew guys and their wives and kids would come out to the track and you get to see people at the race track that usually don't get to come, so in that respect it's a lot of fun. Once they drop the green flag it feels just the same as any other race, but I can drive home tonight and go sleep in my bed or eat dinner with my buddy. It doesn't feel like I'm on the road and that's pretty cool."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO ADJUST TO BEING A TEAM LEADER AND HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING LIKE DENNY HAMLIN DID THIS PAST WEEK? WHERE IS THAT LINE FOR A YOUNG DRIVER? "I've been racing a Cup car for three years now and when I first started I obviously didn't know enough to really make any decisions, and now as I go along and learn more there are times when I feel really strongly about something and I feel like it's OK to speak up and say something about it.
"But I think this sport is so dynamic and so difficult, and there are so many people with so many specialties, that I think it's in my best interest and the team's best interest to be very cautious about what I speak up about because it's very simple to speak up and say something in the heat of battle. Everybody notices what the drivers say and it's easy to say something where you maybe spoke before you knew the whole story. There are guys like Mark Martin, who could walk into a meeting at Roush Racing, who has been there for 18-20 years, and he could say exactly what he thought needed to be fixed. He had the seniority and the experience to do that, but I feel like for me personally, I'm in kind of a transition. I'm nowhere near where Mark Martin is at, so I'm still cautious."
BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO SPEAK UP AS A TEAM LEADER, RIGHT? "Right, but speaking up usually has to follow some research. You want to make sure you're figuring out what the real problem is. I know that I've walked in Monday morning really mad about something and I knew I knew the answers, and I walked in there and realized, 'Wow, I wasn't right.' If I would have gone off the hook, and I have, I've been mad at the wrong person or upset at a situation for the wrong reason, and you just have to be tough. I read that this morning about Denny and I thought the same thing, 'Wow, that's a big deal for him to do that,' but Denny's a smart guy. He doesn't say a lot of things like that, so he must have just felt real strongly about that."
HOW DID YOU RECTIFY THOSE SITUATIONS WHERE YOU GOT MAD AT SOMEBODY? "You just kind of apologize and back-pedal a little bit, and make sure they know that you were wrong. It happens all the time. It's a really high pressure sport and, like I said, it's so dynamic and there are so many different things going on. It's so easy to say, 'The motor blew up because of this or we had a slow pit stop because of this,' and a lot of times you have to take the time to look a little deeper. I'm not saying that in Denny's situation he wasn't perfectly right, but you have to be cautious."
SOMEBODY SAID THAT WHEN YOU'RE IN THIS SPORT YOU DON'T HAVE TIME TO BE ANYTHING BUT HONEST. "Right, but you don't have time to be wrong either."
WHEN YOU THINK OF THE SEASON ARE YOU THINKING 26 RACES AND THEN 10 OR THE WHOLE SEASON OR JUST WINNING RACES? "At the beginning of the season all I think about is the 26 races. That's the first season and then after that it's like a whole separate season -- literally."
WHAT DID IT MEAN TO THE TEAM TO GO TO THE PIT CREW CHALLENGE THE OTHER NIGHT? "It was really neat to be there and be able to come. I think Sprint counted it as an appearance for me, so it was like two birds with one stone, but I would have been there anyway. The first year I went I didn't realize how big of a deal it was and I was like 50-50. I was like, 'Well, I guess I'll go,' and once I went and saw how big of an event it is and how much my guys put into it, I'll never miss it. As long as I can be there I'll be there."
DO YOU THINK THE CREW GUYS RECOGNIZE WHICH DRIVERS SHOW UP? "I don't know. I hope they do. I hope my guys do, but I wouldn't knock any of the drivers for not being there. The schedule is so tough and if somebody had a vacation planned or time to spend with their family, trust me, any of the drivers who weren't there weren't off just sitting around playing video games at home. They were probably spending time with somebody they've neglected more than their crew."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE OPEN? "I've been fortunate because we've been in the race the last two years, but this is gonna be fun. I was kind of dreading it a little bit, thinking this would be kind of a downer week because we're not in the show already, but after I've been in the car and talked to Clint Bowyer and some of the other guys in the race, I think it's really gonna be fun."
HOW HOT WILL IT GET IF YOU'RE FIFTH WITH A COUPLE OF LAPS TO GO? "If I'm fifth and we've got a car that can do it, it's gonna be fun the last couple of laps. You just never know until the end what you've got. Hopefully, it will turn into a battle with four or five guys going for spots. It doesn't do you any good if you make the show and you have a wrecked car though, so it's gonna be interesting."
-credit: ford racing