This Week in Ford Racing February 4, 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Carl Edwards has been given the chance of a lifetime. The 23-year-old Columbia, Mo., native was signed to drive for Roush Racing in the upcoming Craftsman Truck Series season ...
This Week in Ford Racing
February 4, 2003
NASCAR Craftsman Truck
Carl Edwards has been given the chance of a lifetime. The 23-year-old Columbia, Mo., native was signed to drive for Roush Racing in the upcoming Craftsman Truck Series season yesterday, less than two weeks before the season opener in Daytona. Edwards, who competed in seven Craftsman Truck Series events in 2002 for Mittler Bros. Racing, will compete for Roush Racing full-time in the unsponsored No. 99 Ford F-150 as a teammate to Jon Wood. Edwards, who will also compete in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year program, spoke about the opportunity to drive for Roush Racing and obstacles he has had to overcome to get to this point in his career.
CARL EDWARDS-99-Roush Racing Ford F-150:
HOW DID THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRIVE FOR ROUSH RACING PRESENT ITSELF TO YOU? "Like everyone, I've read about Roush and the way they do the development program since I was racing locally in Missouri, and I always thought it sounded really awesome. I met Max Jones this past summer and he showed me around everyone seemed really nice and it seemed like a great program. They had a lot of things going on then and they didn't have an opening, they didn't have anything that I could just jump into, so I just went along this winter and planned on running for Mike Mittler (owner, No. 63 Mittler Bros. F-150) for the full season. It looked like sponsorship was really holding us up there. Mike is an amazing guy, he's worked really hard, but money is almost impossible to come by now and he was really stressing as to whether we could run the whole season. Then the call form Roush came on Friday and they asked if I would be interested in running the whole season for them. It just fit. I thought that there wouldn't be any better opportunity than this to go run for a team of this caliber."
DID YOU HAVE A CONTRACT WITH THE MITTLER BROS. RACING? "No, Mike and I had an agreement and it was essentially an open-door policy that we had. He had Jamie McMurray before - not to compare myself to Jamie McMurray - but Mike told me from the beginning that he was going to do his best to put the best equipment he could underneath me, and in return I was going to tell him as we went along if any opportunities for me came up. I got the call on Friday and went straight up to Mike's office and told him what was going on and he stuck out his hand and said, 'It was nice to know you.' He said that I'd be a fool not to take it and he was glad he could help. That was huge for Mike to be able to do that. I really look up to him and I learned a lot from him last year."
YOU SIGNED THE CONTRACT TO DRIVE FOR ROUSH YESTERDAY AND THE SEASON-OPENING EVENT IS IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO GET UP TO SPEED WITH THE PROGRAM IN SUCH A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME? "I lead a pretty simple life; all I think about is racing. Mike Mittler has really shown me in the first seven races how far hard work can really get you. The way I look at it is here is a chance for me to step into this vehicle that's high quality, and I'm more excited than nervous. I think that if Doug Richert (crew chief) and I can get along, this will be great. He seems like a wonderful guy; I talked to him for the first time yesterday. Leading up top this, I'm nervous, but I'm more excited just to get this opportunity. I was lucky enough to test at Daytona in January so I think I have a better idea of what to expect. Before that test, I had only seen that place on a computer game, so that test helped a lot. The truck we're taking is the one that Jon (Wood) tested so we already know it's a good piece and we only need to tweak on it when we get down there next week. I'm just excited about the opportunity and know we can be successful with hard work, and I'm willing to put in endless hours."
MOST OF YOUR EARLY RACE EXPERIENCE WAS IN THE SILVER CROWN DIVISION. HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START RACING THOSE TYPES OF CARS? "I don't know when it struck me, but there was a point that I just decided that racing was the number one thing, that everything else in my life essentially took a back seat. We've had some interesting things happen since I made that decision. Most of all, it's just been a big struggle. We've always tried to bite off a little more than we could chew, like with a Silver Crown car. Ken Schrader and my dad are cousins. I've known Kenny my whole life and we bought a Silver Crown car directly against his orders. He said that's ridiculous and don't do that. He said that nobody could drive a Sliver Crown car, which is run on pavement, straight out of Dirt Modified. That made it really hard to convince my mom to help lend me the money when she's been told by a top-level racer not to do it. But, we got the car and it's a neat story. We went up to a little track in Missouri to practice, which was kinda death defying in itself. I had the car set up all wrong, but then we got there and the guy at the track said there was a little bit of snow on the track. He said you might want to bring some snow shovels because there's just a little bit of snow on the track. And so, we got there and shoveled snow for at least two hours, three or four of us, before we could run the car around. It's always been like that. We've always had to borrow a truck, a trailer or fuel or tires. I'm just so fortunate now because we've never had the resources to do this properly."
YOU'VE PAID YOUR DUES TO GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO DRIVE FOR AN ORGANIZATION LIKE ROUSH. TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AT INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK IN 2000. "In 2000, I got a ride to IRP with Gene Beach, the guy I ended up buying up the Silver Crown car from. Gene helped me a lot. We bought the car for a bottom dollar price with no extras, but he helped us get the team going. I rode to IRP with him just to go to the Silver Crown race to try and beg someone to let me drive something. He gave me a ride there in his truck. My dad dropped me off at an exit on the interstate and Gene picked me up. Well, we got out there and I met up with Tim Kohuth that night and said if I wanted to stick around for the truck race that I could sleep on his hotel room floor and come to the race. I thought that was awesome and I was going to do that for sure. We went to the truck race the next day and there were 10,000 people there and I figured someone had to be going back to St. Louis and I'd meet someone that would drive me back towards home. I started talking to people before the race start and nobody was going back that way that night. I had school the next morning and had to be back the next day and I started stressing out that nobody in the pits was going that way. I had to take a paper plate and wrote 'need a ride to St. Louis' and stood by the front gate of the race track. I thought someone would pick me up and it was awful watching all of those cars drive by. Finally, one of my buddies that I knew from back home drove by, and said, 'Carl?' It was Tom Frasier, a guy we race with, and he gave me ride out to the interstate and I hitchhiked home. That was pretty interesting. It was so wild watching the end of that race there on the road course of IRP, walking out there with that sign and thinking I'd never get to race there. It seemed so far away from getting to race there, but then we went back there last year and raced with Mike and it was just a whole different world. I've been on the outside, scraping my way to get in and it makes me appreciate being able to drive at these events."
"It's kinda scary because Mike's stuff runs really, really well. If people knew how much money Mike doesn't have and how well his equipment runs, that guy is a genius. If he had the money that some of these other teams have, I would not expect anything less than championships out of him. It's amazing because we spent last year looking at the 50 truck and using them to make our program better, and we ended running right up there with them, so it was a big confidence booster. I'm hoping that the better equipment raises the level of our performance that much more. Mike gets more out of less than anybody that I've seen."
WHAT BECOMES THE MAIN GOAL FOR YOU THIS SEASON, WINNING A RACE, A POLE OR THE ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR AWARD? "I'm a pretty realistic person. I've grown up watching Jack Roush dominate in all forms of racing, so I've thought of them as able to win everything. To come in here and expect anything less than to be a race winner, I think is selling yourself short. I hope that we can win a race. I really want to get the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year award, but I'm really realistic as well. I need to get laps. Most of these tracks are going to be new to me; they're definitely going to be new in the trucks. I'm just excited to run all of these races; I think we'll just be fine."
ARE YOU WORKING ON YOUR COLLEGE DEGREE STILL? "I've got two semesters left at the University of Missouri in Columbia. It was really hard for me to do school and racing because I was funding school and funding racing, and that was impossible. I had a good scholarship that I passed up to go racing last year. I enjoy school a lot and look forward to finishing."
WHAT TYPE OF DEGREE ARE YOU IN THE PROCESS OF OBTAINING? "I'm just going to get a degree in General Studies. I was an engineering student for about a year, and it was really difficult to do that and race at the same time. I just ended up going into a general studies program. I really enjoy anthropology, psychology and sociology."
YOU HAD AN INTERESTING JOB LAST YEAR. "I'm a substitute school teacher. That's what I did last year to help pay for some bills. I really enjoy kids. I hated school growing up and sat there in class looking out the window, so it's neat to go back to school and make it fun for the kids. I know I always enjoyed it when someone would come in and try to change things up. I've learned that teachers are the most underpaid people on the planet. That's the hardest job in the world. I substitute kindergarten through 12th grade back home in Columbia, and I don't get to do it enough. I really enjoy it. It's so funny because the kids are amazing. It makes me more nervous to stand up in front of all of those kids than I am to race. They keep you on your toes, and there's always that one paying me back for my all of my bad actions when I was their age; that one kid that is impossible. It's just so much fun, and being a substitute is so much easier than being a full-time teacher because you just walk in for one day."