Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is in 11th place in the standings heading into this weekend's race at Phoenix. Edwards met with the media before Friday's qualifying session. HENDRICK HAS WON FIVE CONSECUTIVE RACES HERE.
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is in 11th place in the standings heading into this weekend's race at Phoenix. Edwards met with the media before Friday's qualifying session.
HENDRICK HAS WON FIVE CONSECUTIVE RACES HERE. HOW MUCH IS THAT TEAM A MEASURING STICK DURING PRACTIVE OF WHERE YOU NEED TO BE FOR THE WEEKEND? "That's a good question. We were watching the 48 and the 5, they were both in qualifying trim, and Bob [Osborne] and I watched them really close to see how we stacked up, and they're good, obviously. But, that's all you can do with practice, watch the guys that you think are going to be best prepared, and that's how you see where you stand."
AS IT STANDS RIGHT NOW, YOU ARE THE ONLY CUP REGULAR WHO WILL RUN A FULL SEASON NEXT YEAR IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES. DOES THATMAKE YOU THE PROHIBITIVE FAVORITE? DO YOU SEE A TREND TOWARD FEWER CUP DRIVERS RUNNING A FULL SEASON IN NATIONWIDE? "Is Brad Keselowski not doing it?"
NOT SURE. "I think he said that he was going to do it. I believe that's the only other guy, that I know of. You never know. You look at the way Mike Bliss is running right now, what Leffler has been able to do on and off this season, there's no telling what can happen. That's sort of what's kind of fun -- one of the things that's fun is running against new people, different people, as they're gaining experience. Hopefully, but I've learned that you can't rest over there. You've got to stay up on the game. That's why we're making the changes we're making now, to be the best we can for next year."
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIS CAREER, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SPONSORS. "It was tough. Personally, if it weren't for Jack Roush taking the risk of running me with blank, white vehicles, sponsorless vehicles, I definitely wouldn't be where I'm at. Mike Mittler, he spends all his time and all of his hard-earned money, with virtually no sponsorship, he got me in front of Jack, Then Jack put me in that 99 and told me, 'Hey, look, we don't have a sponsor, so either go or go back home,' but he did take the risk and gave me the races. If that would've been a five-race deal with Jack, I don't know if I would've made it. If he would've said, 'We have to get a sponsor and it's only three or four races,' and then in the Cup Series, Jack was able to run me for 2004, I think it was 17 races with virtually no sponsorship. I don't know if they could do that right now. But if Jack hadn't taken that risk, I definitely wouldn't be here."
GIVEN THE EXPECTATIONS COMING INTO THIS SEASON, HAS IT BEEN FRUSTRATING THAT YOU STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN A WIN AFTER WINNING NINE RACES IN '08? DOES WINNING BREED WINNING, AND NOT WINNING BREEDS NOT WINNING? "If winning bred winning, we'd have won plenty this year -- we were so good last season. It doesn't really work like that. You show up at the race track. And first of all you have to be fast enough to win. Otherwise, you can't really plan on winning. If you're fast enough to win, things have to go your way. If they go your way, you might win. But, so far this season we just haven't had a lot of races where we're fast enough to win -- at Texas in the spring, I felt like we were fast enough to win, we were leading coming to the final pit stop and we had trouble on pit road, and that was the bad luck part, and that cost us that win. Talladega, we were close to winning. That didn't work out. Martinsville, we were extremely fast and had trouble on pit road again. The difference between this season and last season is instead of one out of 10 races were fast enough to win as we are this season, last season I felt it was like eight out of 10 races we were fast enough to win. So, we just have to be better. And that's what we've been working on.
"Of course it's frustrating -- that's why we do this, to win, and it sure feels good to win, and it's frustrating not to. I personally can't let that frustration get in the way of our performance. That's what we've been working on as a team -- going forward, working hard, that's all we can do."
WOULD YOU HAVE BELIEVED THAT AFTER THE FIRST TWO RACES OF THE YEAR THAT ROUSH FENWAY WOULD'VE HAD STRUGGLED THIS MUCH THE REST OF THE YEAR? No. You guys probably all felt the same way I did: this is going to be great -- you guys might not have thought of it that way, but, Hey, Roush is going to be, this is our year. Matt won the 500, which that could've gone any way, but then to come out and win the next race. Vegas, we struggled there. At Texas we were very fast. We're right back where we were, we're going to win tons of races, it's going to be great. And then all of a sudden these other teams, a lot of them really picked up and figured out either A) what we were doing, or B) they figured out something new and they picked up and we were kind of left to scramble to get better. So, that was definitely a surprise. It just goes to show you that anything can happen. You can't rely on your past performances, you have to keep building and going forward. I think that's what -- it took a real shift in thinking to get back on track like that. Now we are, and I feel like we are gaining, but we've got to keep working like this throughout the winter."
HOW MUCH OF A GRIND HAS RUNNING THE NATIONWIDE SERIES BECOME FOR YOU? HOW MUCH LONGER DO YOU THINK YOU CAN DO IT? "I plan on doing it for the next two years. That's my plan right now. That could change, but I enjoy it. It seems like a grind when you're not running well. When I watch that 18 car just motor by those days aren't any fun, but Montreal was a blast, ORP was a blast, this race in the spring. That's why I do it, when we're running really well, racing hard, because really guys that in the time that I'm on the race track and especially the times I'm leading, that's the most enjoyable part of the job, and that's good. So as long as we're winning races and able to compete for the championship, I'd like to keep doing this. It doesn't seem like too much of a grind. On Friday, sometimes, there's a lot of running back and forth. If I could just show up for 30 minutes and then race on Saturday, then it would be the perfect situation. That is an idea I had for the Cup drivers, is that we should be allotted only a small bit of practice. I think that would help the series and it would save us some time."
HOW DO APPROACH OVERCOMING THE 48 TEAM WITH THE WAY THAT TEAM HAS PERFORMED THE LAST FOUR YEARS? DOES IT LOOK INSURMOUNTABLE IN A WAY? "It would if we didn't have last season when we won more races, scored more points, I felt like we beat those guys head to head a lot of times. A lot of weekends when we raced, I felt like we could beat them. But, even when they're not that fast, they're just like that team that won't go away. They don't ever lay down. When they're not great, they're good. They've never bad. And that's what I think makes them so tough. Yes, I know what you're saying, and all of the rest of us in our minds does their success make it tougher to go out and battle with them. I could see how it could, but I guess in a way, what we do is just look at them and try to emulate them, and say, 'Where are we getting beat by them? They out-qualified us by a little bit, they beat us a little bit on pit road, they're just a little faster on the race track. If we could do all of those things it could be us and them beating everybody else, but we have to race to that level. I guess the answer is no. I'm not demoralized yet. I feel like we can go out there and beat 'em next year just like we did last year, but we've got to go do it. We've really got to work hard. They've definitely raised the bar."
-credit: ford racing