Preseason Thunder: Ford - Edwards interview

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, capped off a successful rookie campaign in 2003 that included three wins, Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year honors and a top-10 finish in the final point standings. Now in his second season with Roush ...

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford F-150, capped off a successful rookie campaign in 2003 that included three wins, Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year honors and a top-10 finish in the final point standings. Now in his second season with Roush Racing, Edwards has his sights set on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Roush Racing competitor Greg Biffle, who captured Ford's last truck series title in 2000. Edwards spoke about the upcoming season and the experience he gained last season.

CARL EDWARDS -99-Superchips Ford F-150

"Last year coming here to Daytona was just amazing. It was really a whirlwind. Jack Roush called me 10 days before that and I came here and met my crew and started driving. It was pretty wild. I ended up not realizing how loose my truck was until it was too late. Kenny Schrader came down and told me after my crash, he said, 'I thought you were going toy wreck five laps before you wrecked.' I wish he would have told me. I told somebody that I could have gotten that message in five laps. It was a big learning experience, but we were leading so that was good and I think that helped with my job security for that down month before Darlington. I think coming back here under the lights will be awesome. We have Superchips on board for the full season, and that takes a little pressure off me as a drover. We've got a great team and I've got a year of experience under my belt, so I feel a little more comfortable with the aerodynamic tendencies of the truck. I think we have a really good program and I don't think it can be any more exciting than opening the season under the lights at Daytona."

HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT DOING A BACK FLIP IN VICTORY LANE AT DAYTONA? "I can't imagine how amazing that would feel. I haven't really thought about it too much and I'm not going to. We're shooting for that, and if it happens, I can't describe it, but it would be a dream come true."

IS THE COMPETITION GOING TO BE TOUGHER THIS YEAR WITH A NUMBER OF PAST CHAMPIONS RETURNING TO THE SERIES? "That's something a lot of folks have been talking about. Jon Wood and I had breakfast this morning and we sat there and talked about the number of talented guys and teams that are going to be in this series competing. I think the fans are really going to be the ones to benefit from that if NASCAR achieves the parity that they're looking to have with the trucks and the equipment. Then I think the top team level is just going to be that much more even or level. I think that the drivers are going to be the ones that set the teams apart. Last year coming in, everyone was a big name to me. Really there is no difference, but I just guess I understand now a little better actually how talented these guys are because it's amazing as a driver to be out there running around, and it's just unbelievable how talented some of these guys are. All of them are really great drivers."

ARE THERE DIFFERENT DRIVING TACTICS INVOLVED WITH RACING AT DAYTONA COMPARED TO THE OTHER TRACKS ON THE SCHEDULE? "That's one thing that I plan on doing is watching the race a bunch of times before we get back here and race, last year's race on video. There ewer definitely some tactics. It's so different than any racing I've done as a driver coming up through the ranks on the short tracks of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series. This draft on a two-and-a-half mile track just brings out a totally different style of racing. It's something you can definitely learn from guys, like Winston Cup guys and Rick Crawford, who really have it mastered. It's something I've really studied."

HAVE YOU SET ANY GOALS FOR THIS SEASON? "We had a team meeting the other day in the shop and we've got Superchips and this new Ford F-150, and Jon Wood and I both have a year together and all of the teams are able to work really well together. When we sat down and had this meeting, we said last year we planned on having two trucks in the top 10 and getting some wins and that's what we did, so this year we plan on winning the championship out of the shop and that's our goal."

IS WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP A REALISTIC GOAL FOR YOU IN YOUR SECOND SEASON OF COMPETITION IN THE SERIES? "Absolutely, that's my goal. That was my goal last year, but it wasn't quite realistic because of the lack of experience, but I feel like going back to these tracks for the second time for some of them and the third or fourth time for others, I think I will bring a lot to the table as a driver there. Also, learning that edge and how not to ask too much of the equipment like I did so many times last year where I would get frustrated halfway into a race because we weren't the fastest truck, and I made some mistakes in that situation last year that I won't make this year. Those things add up and I really think we'll be in contention without any fluke problems or huge mistakes on my part."

"I can't quite describe to you guys how seriously I take this and how much effort I put in. I will feel letdown if I didn't do my very best and try my hardest in every way to be the best driver I can be. I feel with a little bit of experience, anything less than championship hopes is out of the question."

DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-SEASON BETS WITH YOUR TEAMMATE JON WOOD? "There have been no bets, at least none that we have talked about between each other. There is a very, very friendly rivalry in the shop. I finished second to Jon Wood in both of his wins last year and I'm telling you those are two of the most painful post-race situations that I have ever been in. You want to win so bad, and the way I look at back it is that we beat everyone on those two days. I beat everyone except for my teammate and that says a lot about our shop and the guys in the shop. We do have a great rivalry between us and I think that stems from everything being so outwardly appearing the same. We have the same resources, we are close to the same age and experience level, so you get that."

YOU EXPERIENCED YOUR FAIR SHARE OF GROWING PAINS LAST YEAR AS A ROOKIE. WHAT WOULD YOU SHARE WITH THE ROOKIES ENTERING THE SERIES THIS YEAR? "That's a good question. I think that I'm the guy that gets to hold the rookie meeting and describe the tracks to them later this year so that's going to be really exciting. The biggest thing that I would tell them is just don't put too much pressure on yourself to where you make mistakes. There were a couple of times last year - the incident where I finished second to Jimmy Spencer a new Hampshire- where for some reason I logically thought that bouncing the truck off wall was an option. Any time that you truck contacts the wall or another truck you've made a mistake and it took me a long time to realize that. I just though that was acceptable for some reason. Those kinds of things - just don't get over your head, don't put too much pressure on yourself and let the truck do the work; that's one of the hardest things for a driver to learn, a driver like myself."

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Greg Biffle , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Carl Edwards , Jack Roush