This Week in Ford Racing May 11, 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to action this week following a three-week hiatus, but points-leader Carl Edwards hasn't rested on his laurels in that time.
This Week in Ford Racing
May 11, 2004
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to action this week following a three-week hiatus, but points-leader Carl Edwards hasn't rested on his laurels in that time. Edwards has kept busy with an extensive testing schedule and used last weekend to get acquainted with Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. Edwards ran a Legends race at the track leading up to this week's inaugural truck series race at the .44-mile speedway, the shortest track on the 25-race schedule, and spoke about his experience.
CARL EDWARDS -99-Superchips Ford F-150
YOU WERE ABLE TO GET A SNEAK PEEK AT MANSFIELD MOTORSPORTS SPEEDWAY LAST WEEKEND. WHAT DID YOU RACE? "I just went down there and the track was nice enough to organize a Legends car for me to drive, and it was just an awesome experience. Everybody was really nice. A guy crashed in front of me in hot laps, so I crashed the car and tore up the right front enough that I had to drive another car in the heat race and the feature. I qualified second and won the heat race, and we had a little problem with the steering in the feature so I had to pull in, but the track was awesome. I got a lot of laps in practice and I think it will help. It helps me to get an idea of what we're in for the trucks. This is a competitive series and anything I can to do make me better or faster, I feel like it's stuff I've got to do."
LEADING THE POINT STANDINGS, WERE YOU LOOKING TO TRY TO GET SOME EXTRA TRACK TIME HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND'S EVENT? "I don't know if that really affects it much. Our mission from the beginning of the season is to win the championship, and it's a race-by-race process. This year I think it's going to be more competitive than last year, so anything I can do like that is going to help towards the championship."
IS THE TRACK SIMILAR TO ANY OF THE OTHER TRACKS ON THE CIRCUIT? "I think it kind of feels like South Boston (Va.) a little bit, but I can't really relate it to very much. It's sort of like Tucson (Ariz.) or Irwindale (Calif.). It's really nice. The track is super-smooth and the banking is a variable-degree banking that has really smooth transitions. You can't even see the seams in the asphalt, so the facility is spectacular. When I heard we were going to Mansfield, Ohio, this year I really didn't know what to expect, and then to come to the race track and see how nice the racing surface is is a great surprise."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE AN ADVANTAGE OVER THE REST OF THE COMPETITION HAVING RACED AT THE SPEEDWAY PRIOR TO THIS WEEKEND'S INAUGURAL EVENT? "I don't think so. The fact that I was running a different type of vehicle might cut my learning curve a little, but to me it feels like I have a good hour head start. I would say that I'm an hour ahead of where I would have been if I hadn't gone. The guys are so good and some of these guys have raced on so many short tracks like this that they're going to catch me really quick as far as that learning curve. If it were to rain or something, if it were to rain that test day out I think I would have a pretty big advantage."
YOU HAVE HELD THE POINTS LEAD FOR NEARLY TWO MONTHS OVER THE COURSE OF THE SEASON, BUT THE TRUCK SERIES IS ONLY THREE EVENTS INTO THE 25-RACE SCHEDULE. "It's really easy to hold on to the lead when you're not racing against these guys. It's a neat feeling and it's a good feeling to say, 'Hey, we're leading the points.' But, I'm also very aware that it's only 22 points and we have 22 races left. As a racer, I go into each race and I break the season down into separate races, and every race is like its own battle for me and I feel like we're going into Mansfield with just a little bit of an advantage with the points. I enjoy it."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU HAVE A BULLS-EYE ON YOUR BACK SINCE YOU'RE LEADING THE POINT STANDINGS? "I don't think so. I think it's so early in the season that there are other variables that everyone is focused on. This is our second short-track race, so everyone is going to be really on their game after Martinsville. Everybody got a chance to feel out their short-track stuff. I know we're going to be better because we learned a lot at Martinsville. I think everyone is probably just like we are, focused on their own program. I don't think we've shown enough dominance yet to get that bull's-eye. Hopefully we will before long, but right now we can come out of Mansfield in any order in points."
DO YOU LIKE THE FEELING OF BEING CHASED BY EVERYONE ELSE? "I did notice at Martinsville when Travis (Kvapil) and I were racing against each other, we ran pretty hard together for a long time. It was a little different knowing we were one and two in points and we're running side by side. That's a feeling that I haven't had since we did really well in the points at our local dirt track."