It was announced yesterday that Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, would make his NEXTEL Cup Series debut next weekend in Michigan piloting the No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus vacated by Jeff Burton. Edwards, who has five career Craftsman...
It was announced yesterday that Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, would make his NEXTEL Cup Series debut next weekend in Michigan piloting the No. 99 Roush Racing Taurus vacated by Jeff Burton. Edwards, who has five career Craftsman Truck Series victories, including wins this season at Daytona International Speedway and Kansas Speedway, spoke about the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Roush Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle, both whom are former truck series competitors.
CARL EDWARDS -99-Superchips Ford F-150
WHO INFORMED YOU THAT DECISION WAS MADE TO PUT YOU IN THE NO. 99 CUP CAR, AND WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL REACTION?
"To be honest with you, I had to call Geoff Smith (president, Roush Racing) back just to make sure he said it was starting next week in Michigan. It hasn't really set in that I'm about to make my Cup debut, and until we go to the shop and until we go testing and actually get to the race track, it's almost surreal; I don't know what to think of it. Geoff Smith called me early in the week to give me the news. He tells me he makes the bad calls, too, but so far all of his phone calls to me have been great calls. Whenever my phone rings and it's Geoff Smith, I always equate him calling me to great things."
WITH THE NEXTEL CUP SEASON ALREADY PAST THE HALFWAY POINT, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR?
"My hopes are that I catch on to the nuances of that vehicle and work well with Bob Osborne (crew chief) and the crew and try to catch on to what it is that makes those cars go well, and finish all of the laps and qualify for all of the races and learn. I think it's going to be very difficult, but that's what makes it so fun. I think I have a lot to learn and I'm pretty excited to learn. As a race car driver, I think I have a lot to learn, period. I have a feeling that inadequacies show up more in situations where you're driving against guys at the Cup level, but I also feel that you have a chance to learn a lot quicker just because the level of competition pushes you. I'm hoping that I can learn fast enough not to look too bad, and eventually catch on quick enough that we go ahead and run real well towards the end of the season."
THIS IS JUST YOUR SECOND FULL SEASON OF COMPETITION IN THE TRUCK SERIES. DO YOU EXPECT TO BE TREATED ANY DIFFERENTLY ON THE TRACK BY THE NEXTEL CUP VETERANS NEXT WEEKEND AT MICHIGAN?
"Probably, but that's the way it goes. Don't tell anybody, but I've only been racing a pavement car for three years, so I've got a lot to learn. But, hey, as a driver I've caught on and feel like I've got to where I can drive these trucks pretty well, and I feel comfortable driving them and hope that I get to feel the same way in a Cup car."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO ANY OF ROUSH RACING'S NEXTEL CUP DRIVERS AFTER THE ANNOUNCEMENT?
"I haven't talked to any of them yet, but I guarantee you that I'll be leaning on them. To me that's one of the good things about the situation. It's not like it's a single-car team that doesn't have any notes. They were running pretty well lately, the 99 team, and having guys that are running so good right now like Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth, that's going to be the most valuable thing to me."
DO YOU THINK YOU WILL RELY ON ONE TEAMMATE'S INPUT MORE THAN THE OTHERS?
"I don't know. They've all been really nice to me. I don't really look at any one of them more than the others, and don't see my driving style exactly like any one in particular." IS YOUR PRIORITY STILL WITH THE TRUCK SERIES?
"The priority is still winning the truck series championship. There are some conflicts and the truck comes first, and the biggest thing is winning the championship for Superchips and that's priority number one. I just want to take it step by step and see what happens. I'm going to go with the flow and see what happens. I'm just going to do my very best. Everybody had their first start in a big league event like this at some point, and I'll just try to get some experience and hopefully it won't be too painful."
DO YOU FEEL THIS IS A TRYOUT FOR NEXT YEAR AND A POSSIBLE FULL-TIME RIDE IN THE NO. 99 CUP CAR?
"I think it's a tryout. I need to do as well as I can to secure a sponsor and then hopefully have the option of running a Cup car full time next year. That's the mission right now. Otherwise, we still have our options in truck and Busch series, but I plan on making this work."