Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion, came to the infield media center Friday afternoon to discuss this weekend's race. HOW WAS PRACTICE? "It was pretty good. The Subway Fusion is fast. If we started out as a 12-inch sub, I...
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion, came to the infield media center Friday afternoon to discuss this weekend's race.
HOW WAS PRACTICE? "It was pretty good. The Subway Fusion is fast. If we started out as a 12-inch sub, I thought we were gonna be a six-incher there in that first wreck, but it's amazing how well the front end held up. Everybody chocked up and I smashed the left rear of the 77 car almost all the way up to his tire, and then Clint got in the back of me. It looked like everybody's cars made it out OK, so that was good. But this race is what it is. I can't tell a difference in the plates. The cars seem to run the same as they have and ours seems pretty good, so I'm looking forward to it as much as I can."
WILL THE SMALLER PLATES IMPACT WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN THE FIRST RACE? "I think the smaller plates will keep the pack together more. My incident with Brad in the spring was just two cars. That's all it took was two cars there, so in that respect, I believe that with the smaller plate, those two cars would have been going slower so maybe it would have been better. There would have been less chance of the car leaving the ground, so, in that respect, it's good. It would be so neat that instead of plates we could come here with a narrow tire that's really hard or spray water on the track or do something to make it so you had to lift off of the throttle and then the cars could get separated -- maybe they could run in smaller packs. That would be a lot of fun, but, as it is right now, we're stuck in the one big pack. The smaller plate is only gonna magnify that or amplify the chance for that."
ARE YOU LOOKING AT ANY CHANGES FOR NEXT YEAR? "We can always improve, but, right now, if we can get everything -- if there are eight variables that make you fast, if we get all eight of those at once, that's it, that's the trick. We've been slowly getting different things better. Our pit crew is better. Our parts longevity is better, but our cars are not quite as fast -- our setups are not as fast -- so that's what we're working on right now. We know we have great cars, great engines, great people, we just have to turn all the screws and put the right springs in the thing and make it better that way, so that's what we're working on. On the Nationwide side, we did make a crew chief change, which I hope is going to make our whole Nationwide operation better, and the thinking behind doing it now is, 'Hey, we've had the best year on record, think, for ourselves in the Nationwide Series.' Dan has done a great job. We're seeing if he can make that 6 team, with the younger drivers, better and see if Mike Kelley can come over here and lend something to our team to make it better. But the thinking of doing it now is that you get to try it. There's no better test session than the real world and there's a lot of teams in position to do that."
DO YOU SEE TEAM OWNERS WILLING TO MAKE CHANGES SOONER NOW THAN IN THE PAST? "I think that in general, as a society, we're less patient with everything. That holds true right here with this sport and the coverage that all of you guys provide. Everyone gets right to the bottom of everything very quickly. You can't pull the wool over anybody's eyes. If things aren't working, everybody knows it and then the next question is, 'What are you gonna do to change it?' I've been in this sport for a very short period of time, but even in that short time it seems to be getting more and more cut-throat and that's tough."
HAVE YOU SEEN BLAKE BOBBITT YET THIS WEEK? "No, I haven't seen Blake Bobbitt yet. I'll see and meet her on Sunday and it will be cool just to get to talk to her. We've texted a little bit. She sent me some photos so I at least knew what she looked like. If I see her somewhere I can say, 'Hey,' and it'll be cool to meet her. I don't have anything planned just yet, but I already know if I can win this race that trophy is going to her for sure. That would be the best thing to give her."
CAN YOU RATE YOURSELF AS A RESTRICTOR PLATE DRIVER? "I was feeling like a 10 last year about this time, but then I realized I had some more stuff to learn after that wreck, and after paying a little bit more attention. My first time here, I'll never forget, in practice I hit the wall in turn two and I swore that someone ran into me or something. I told Bob and he said, 'Dude, you hit that all by yourself,' and I watched a replay and, sure enough, I did. So I had a lot to learn about the way the air works and the way the car would work at these big places, and I feel like now I'm pretty good. I feel like I understand everything that's going on and when I make a move or something -- whether or not I'm going forward -- I think a couple steps ahead and how the rules and the line and all that stuff is working out. So I would say that I'm an eight right now. That's about what I feel. If I could win one of them, I'd feel pretty good."
IF THE PLATE IS SMALLER AND KEEPS YOU GUYS IN A PACK, DOESN'T IT MAGNIFY THE SITUATION FOR A BIG WRECK? "Yes, it does. If we were unrestricted here and we were going so fast we could trim the cars out and try to lift in the corner, we would probably have less wrecks, but, boy, the ones that we'd have would be big. It's these two curves that you kind of have to figure out where the sweet spot is and if we were going 60 miles an hour out there, we'd wreck a lot but it wouldn't be bad. The only answer is to flatten the banking out or make the track slippery for it to become a race where we don't have to worry about restrictor plates, but as long as we have the track in this configuration, we'll just have to do what we can to make it as safe as possible, I guess."
FOUR RACES LEFT. IS YOUR DRIVING MOTIVATION TO WIN A RACE AND FINISH IN THE TOP 10? "Yeah, that's why you guys saw me hit the fence in Martinsville. I just was driving like an idiot and trying to make something happen. That's what we've got to do right now. If I accept a 10th-place finish, that's OK, but we've got to go for it and try to get everything we can. I axle-hopped the rear axle trying to apply the brakes a little too hard at Martinsville, but that's the kind of racing we've got to go do without hitting the wall, but we've got to go out and try more stuff. Bob had actually talked about that last week because we made a conscious decision to go out and just go for it and have a little fun and try to learn something."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BLOCKING AT RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS AND WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO POLICE THAT? "That's the only way to keep someone behind you sometimes. If you look at the blocks that have happened at the end of the race and how it's turned out for the guy blocking, that's kind of self-policing in a way. It's really easy to get turned around blocking. The guy in front has a responsibility to make sure he doesn't swipe across the guy's hood, and the guy behind, I believe, has a slight responsibility to give the guy a little bit of room and let him try to defend his position. But I'd hate for NASCAR to have to make a judgment cal to say, 'Hey, they blocked once,' or 'They blocked twice.' I don't think we need that. I think we can do it ourselves as drivers."
-credit: ford racing