CARL EDWARDS No. 99-Superchips Ford F-150 THIS IS THE FIRST RACE AT ATLANTA FOR THE TRUCK SERIES, AND THIS IS THE FIRST RACE IN NEARLY A MONTH. HOW DO YOU STAY SHARP AND HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A NEW TRACK? "I've been going just about crazy; I...
No. 99-Superchips Ford F-150
THIS IS THE FIRST RACE AT ATLANTA FOR THE TRUCK SERIES, AND THIS IS THE FIRST RACE IN NEARLY A MONTH. HOW DO YOU STAY SHARP AND HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A NEW TRACK?
"I've been going just about crazy; I really like racing. What I've been doing, we took the crew guys and we've done some go-kart racing and I've been playing a lot on my computer, running the Atlanta race track on my PC just trying to be as best prepared as I can be. Plus, my crew chief (Kevin Starland), he runs a pretty tight ship here so we work out every morning and just try to do the best we can. It is tough; you want to be racing every weekend. It's hard to have that month off."
DO YOU FIND THAT THE ADDITIONAL TIME YOU HAVE TO PREPARE FOR THE RACE TRACK IS BENEFICIAL?
"I think it helps me as a driver to be better prepared, but on the other hand, physically, speaking about working out or cardio training and those skills you use as a driver, it's definitely better to be racing so the more track time I get it helps me with that. On that side of it, it's a bad thing; I'd like to be racing every weekend."
DO YOU SOMETIMES FIND YOURSELF SITTING IN THE RACE TRUCK AT THE SHOP JUST PRETENDING THAT YOU ARE RACING JUST TO STAY SHARP?
"I do a lot of goofy things. I've got these folks building me a shifter kart so that I can just go out and run that thing, and hopefully just wear it out and get some seat time. Every once in a while I'll sit in the truck, but not very often. I spend most of the time sitting in this little chair I made in my apartment playing my computer game, and it's almost like a little cockpit, and that thing tricks my brain sometimes. It's really good practice and it keeps me sharp, I think."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GO SO LONG AND BE NUMBER ONE IN POINTS, YET YOU'VE ONLY RACED ONE TIME?
"That's a good feeling. Last year we had to wait this month out after a pretty big mistake on my part and I crashed the truck and we were something like 26th in points, so this is a lot easier month in that respect. Having that points lead is awesome."
YOU MENTIONED THE COMPUTER SIMULATIONS EARLIER, BUT ONCE YOU GET TO THE TRACK DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU WILL FOLLOW ANY OF THE VETERANS AROUND THE TRACK, OR WILL THERE BE NO ADVANTAGE TO HAVING RACED THERE IN THE PAST?
"I think it will matter a lot. I think that laps around a race track are good no matter what you're driving, so, yeah, that's definitely a tactic that helped me a lot last year is following the veterans, guys that have raced there before. I also have the luxury, Jon Wood and I have five NEXTEL Cup teammates at Roush Racing and to go to guys like Greg Biffle, who is awesome there in Busch cars and stuff, or a guy like Kurt Busch, who is always really fast. Those guys can really shed a lot of light on how to get around that race track in general."
IS JACK ROUSH GOING TO LET YOU RUN ANY USAC RACES THIS YEAR?
"Yeah, I had a talk with him about that just the other day, and I'm definitely going to run IRP and maybe some more. That will be in the Silver Crown Series, and that's one of my goals in my career is to win at least one Silver Crown race and hopefully a bunch more."
YOU HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO TEST AT ATLANTA. HOW MUCH OF A LEG UP DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT MIGHT GIVE YOU ON THE FIELD?
"I think it will be a really big advantage. I tested that Busch car and we ran a lot of laps. They flat wore me out there in a two-day test. It got to where I felt very comfortable running that car around the race track. I'm hoping a bunch of that transfers over. There's some little things I picked up and I really think that's going to help."
WHAT STRUCK YOU MOST ABOUT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY - THE SPEED, THE DRIVABILITY OF THE RACE TRACK?
"A couple of little things were really interesting as far as the way the track - the banking and the radius of the outside wall - how things are a little bit different; it's really a unique track. Also, the grip level at the top of the track. You can run really high on the track and still turn really fast laps, so those are two things that really stuck out. But, yeah, the speed is really high as well."
TALK ABOUT YOUR STUDENT TEACHING EXPERIENCE AND THE TIMEFRAME SINCE THAT PERIOD.
"I graduated high school in 1997 and went straight to the University of Missouri, and my first year was as an engineering student and then I really got interested in anthropology and sociology and also took some psychology classes. So my degree right now, I focused on humanistic studies and I haven't finished my degree, I still have a year left. After a certain number of hours at the university they let me substitute teach and that just seemed like a pretty natural job for a race-car driver. You could kind of make your own hours and it was really a lot of fun, so I did that in 2001 and 2002. That was really fun. I would wake up in the morning they would call me and say, 'Hey, do you want to teach this fourth-grade class at this elementary school? Be there in an hour.' And, that was really fun. I really enjoyed that and it was a great experience, a life experience."
IS IT ALMOST SURREAL TO GO FROM SUBSTITUTE TEACHING A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO TO VICTORY LANE AT DAYTONA?
"I really feel very fortunate. I've had some great people help me out and people always say I seem so happy or 'aw, shucks' about everything, but I'm telling you, to be in the Craftsman Truck Series and to be winning races like the one at Daytona, that was a goal that almost seemed unreachable, so to actually be achieving some of these goals is surreal; it's unbelievable."
DID YOU LEARN THE BACK FLIP FROM TYLER WALKER, THE WORLD OF OUTLAWS DRIVER?
"That's exactly how I picked up on the back flip thing. That's his back flip, and he's making a great career for himself and I'm sure you'll be seeing him do it some day in a Craftsman Truck Series race or a Busch race. He's a World of Outlaws driver, and I can't remember where I was, but I saw him do a flip after winning a race and I thought, 'Man, that is the coolest thing that I've ever seen.' So, I started doing it at the local dirt track, and then we got that first win at Kentucky and I thought, 'Man, it's now or never,' so I did one. But, the credit goes to Tyler. He's the first race car driver I've seen do that."
DID YOU PRACTICE AHEAD OF TIME IN CASE YOU FAILED?
"On the note of failure, I'm always a little bit nervous that I will fall down, but I figure, 'Hey, if I'm going to have to fall down, it would be great to do it in Victory Lane.'"
DID YOU EVER CONSIDER A DIRT TRACK CAREER AT ONE POINT?
"I hadn't run on pavement until 2001. I had never driven a car on pavement, so to me, I have heroes in the dirt racing world and that's just an awesome, awesome way to make a living to run a dirt late model or a World of Outlaws car or something like that. I'm going to run some USAC races and stuff this year; I really look up to those guys and I think it's awesome what they do."
YOU HAVE A RELATIVE THAT WORKS IN THE JOURNALISM DEPARTMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, SO HOW OFTEN ARE YOU ASKED BY YOUR MOTHER WHEN YOU'RE COMING HOME TO GET YOUR DEGREE?
"It's my stepdad that's a journalism professor, but it's something that's really important to me. I didn't really value education, just like I'm sure most kids, and I'd do anything I could to get away from school and now I realize how important it is. It was just a tool for me; it helped to understand how to find information and how to go about completing a task. She doesn't bug me as much as Jack Roush bugs me. He wants me to get that degree."
TALK ABOUT WINNING THE ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR AWARD LAST YEAR.
"That was really neat. That was our goal setting out in 2003, to win rookie of the year and to win a race, and we achieved both of those goals. It was really neat. To me, as a fan, it was always who won the championship and who got rookie of the year, so it was really cool to be on that list and to be the guy that went home with that trophy."
TALK ABOUT YOUR NO-HOLDS-BARRED APPROACH TO RACING?
"I just try to give 100 percent, and a couple of time last year I went too far, but I did make a decision when I started racing for Jack Roush, I thought this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I thought if I've got to err to one side I'd rather be more aggressive and try too hard than not try hard enough and have to live with that. I try a little bit too hard sometimes, and it's only because I really want to win more than anything in the world, and I can't live with myself if I don't give 100 percent."
YOU'RE A RISING STAR IN THE TRUCK SERIES. CAN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR RIVALS?
"Jon Wood, he's my teammate, so I'm a little biased, but that guy's good and he's really going to be strong this year. Travis Kvapil, he's going to have a great year, he's shown what he can do. And then there's always the veterans like Bobby Hamilton and Ted Musgrave, and these guys that are unbelievable racers; Dennis Setzer on the short tracks. We've got such a huge pool of talent from so many different areas, it's a fun series."