This Week in Ford Racing July 15, 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck With yesterday's announcement by Roush Racing that the operation of its two-truck program with drivers Jon Wood and Carl Edwards would continue on a full-time basis for the...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 15, 2003
NASCAR Craftsman Truck
With yesterday's announcement by Roush Racing that the operation of its two-truck program with drivers Jon Wood and Carl Edwards would continue on a full-time basis for the remainder of the 2003 season, the focus for the two young drivers can now return to racing. The Roush 20-something tandem, the two most recent winners in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, have also restored Roush Racing's reputation as the winningest team in truck series history surpassing Ultra Motorsports with 30 total victories. Wood and Edwards shared their thoughts on the announcement that they would remain in the truck series and how their development as drivers is contingent upon their relationship as teammates.
NASCAR also announced today a 100-point penalty and $25,000 fine for a rules infraction by the No. 99 team discovered in post-race inspection following last week's win at Kentucky Speedway. Edwards commented on the penalty and what effect it will have on the team heading into this weekend's race at Gateway International Raceway.
CARL EDWARDS-99-Roush Racing Ford F-150:
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS IN REGARDS TO YESTERDAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT?
"That's what we wanted to hear, that we were just going to keep going like we're going. The first part of the year was a struggle to get everything in order, and this deal is working really well right now and I think Jack Roush and Geoff Smith realized that. To move us to another series or to split the two teams into different series would disrupt everything that we've established up to this point. Both teams are in the middle of the championship hunt, and more importantly, we're winning. It's the attention that we're getting by winning races that's going to get us sponsorship. The 50 team and the 99 team operate as one team, not two separate entities, and it would hurt both of us to do anything different than what we're doing now."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU THAT BOTH TEAMS KEEP OPERATING IN THE SAME SERIES?
"We're all human and it would be very easy to bicker and compete too much against each other. We just had a meeting in the shop and we feel like, and everybody on the team agrees, that we can accomplish more and have better results if we work together than by each other. To me, that's very important. I think that with Jon and I staying in the trucks, we will both do well. I think keeping us together is better than splitting us apart right now. We won that race at Kentucky Saturday night with information that came from John Monsam and Jon Wood. We used what they found in their practice session to help us. All it really does is double the length of all of your practice sessions. It allows us to go in one direction, and if it doesn't work, we can go over to them and see where they went. We have an open book policy with the two teams; they know what we're running and we know what they're running - from gears to springs and shocks. If you could go around the whole garage area and pick everybody's brain and get all of the information, you'd be unstoppable. Us being able to do that with each other is a definite advantage."
DO YOU FEEL THAT A WEIGHT HAS BEN LIFTED FROM YOUR SHOULDERS WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT YOU'LL BE RACING THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON?
"Like I said after our win Saturday night, our guys are amazing. Our mechanics and crew members have weathered this storm unbelievably. They haven't gone off looking for other jobs. They stayed true to us and that's both the 99 and 50 teams. I think the largest benefactor of this decision is the guys. Now they can go home and know that we're going to be racing all year in the same capacity that we are right now."
YOUR REMARKS IN VICTORY LANE ON SATURDAY WERE VERY HUMBLE. DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE NOT WORTHY OF THE SUCCESS YOU ARE EXPERIENCING?
"I try to remind myself all the time that I don't deserve any of the success that we're having. It's just a simple matter of good fortune. There are so many good race car drivers out there. I can go to Capital Speedway and Old Summit, and I did that a couple of months ago. I ran a dirt modified at my home track and ran eighth. There are good racers all over the country and I think it would be wrong to believe that I deserve to be where I'm at. I really feel that it's a combination of hard work and really good fortune."
YOU SEEMED TO TAKE A RISK LAST YEAR DRIVING FOR THE MITTLER BROTHERS, A TEAM THAT IS UNDER-FINANCED COMPARED TO THE BIGGER NAMES IN THE SPORT. DID YOU SEE THIS AS A RISK TO GET NOTICED BY A HIGHER-BUDGETED TEAM?
"The way I look at the last few years, what I truly believe is that you're never taking a chance as long as you align yourself with good people and people who are racing to win, to do the best that they can. To me, racing for Mike Mittler, that wasn't chance at all. It was a golden opportunity because I had been around Mike and I felt that for the money that he has, the resources that he has, he's doing as much as is humanly possible. I didn't see that as a risk at all. The only thing that's lacking at Mike Mittler's shop is money, but I figured if you can be around and align yourself with people who give their heart and soul to racing, as he does, it can only be a good thing. That wasn't a risk at all."
NASCAR ANNOUNCED A 100-POINT PENALTY THIS AFTERNOON FOR A RULES INFRACTION FOUND IN THE POST-RACE INSPECTION FOLLOWING YOUR WIN LAST WEEK IN KENTUCKY. WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON THE SEVERITY OF THE PENALTY?
"That was a spare motor that's been riding in the truck all year. I'm sure it was just a quality control issue. I was there for the tech inspection and it was a minor, minor misfit of a gauge on the motor. That's not anything other than a spare motor riding along in the truck. We would have run that motor at Daytona, Bakersfield, anywhere if we needed to. Let me tell you, neither Doug Richert, myself or anybody on that team would do anything to jeopardize our performance by knowingly running an illegal part."
FROM YOUR UNDERSTANDING, COULD THIS HAVE BEEN PERFORMANCE ENHANCING?
"I'm not a motor guy and that's what NASCAR determined. If it was a performance enhancement, it was not intended at all. It's just one of those cases that's there's so many rules and this team was put together so fast at the beginning of the year that something was overlooked. That infraction was not what won that race for us. That win was due to the setup on the truck and going there and testing; that's what got us to victory lane and that's what's going to get us there again."
WILL THE PENALTY TAKE AWAY ANY OF THE MOMENTUM THAT THIS TEAM HAS BUILT IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS?
"Not one bit. The guys are excited and we know why we won that race. Whatever comes out of it, it's not going to affect our morale at all. We know how hard we have to work and we're going to keep doing that. I don't think it's going be anything that bothers us."
JON WOOD-50-Bob Graham for President Ford F-150:
WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS IN REGARDS TO YESTERDAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT?
"The thing that makes me the happiest about the announcement is that now we can worry about racing instead of the politicking involved and all of the things that we as drivers should not have to worry about. Our performance lately has not been due to the fact that we haven't had a sponsor; it's because we have our stuff together. Now we can really focus on what we need to be doing and not worry about the sponsorship end of it at all."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU THAT YOU AND CARL REMAIN AS TEAMMATES IN THE SAME SERIES?
"It's important for our growth as race-car drivers to stay together right now because we work so well together and the crew chiefs work so well together. As much of a close-knit team as we are it would almost be the equivalent of him moving out of the house. He's beneficial to you in every way, not just on the track. You grow together and make each other better, and that's the way Carl and I work. You can compare the shop to a house. We work so well together that if you were to split us up it would be not as productive as it is right now.
THERE WAS A LOT SPECULATION LAST WEEK AS TO WHAT THE ANNOUNCEMENT WOULD BE THIS WEEK. WAS THAT A DISTRACTION TO YOU?
"That was kinda frustrating because we had a lot of pieces that needed to fit in place before we could move forward with our plans for the remainder of the year. I think they wanted to keep us surprised just to build up more attention and it worked. It was frustrating at times because you'd hear the rumor mill at work and I don't know how some of them get started, but when you hear your name attached to a rumor it does catch your attention. Hearing the rumors and not knowing the true answer made it a little tough the past week, but I'm glad it's behind us and they can start talking about someone else now."
WITH THE DECISION TO STAY IN THE TRUCK SERIES FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR, CAN YOU NOW FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"We're definitely in the championship hunt. We're 91 points out of the lead and about 50 out of second, so at the rate that we're closing, I think we were 150 points out two races ago. We're definitely performing the way we need to. We got out to kind of a rocky start with two bad finishes to start the year, but the rest have basically been top-10 or better."