MARCH 4, 2005 AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ Practice for Sunday's inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race in Mexico City began today, and Roush Racing rookie Carl Edwards paced the field in the first of two practice sessions. Edwards posted the...
MARCH 4, 2005 AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ
Practice for Sunday's inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race in Mexico City began today, and Roush Racing rookie Carl Edwards paced the field in the first of two practice sessions. Edwards posted the fastest time in the morning session (88.379 sec., 102.567 mph), while Mexico City native Michel Jourdain, Jr., posted the fifth fastest time of the session (89.173 sec., 101.654 mph). Both drivers shared their initial thoughts of the 2.518-mile road course in stock-car competition.
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.--10--Telcel Ford Taurus
HOW WAS YOUR FIRST PRACTICE SESSION IN A STOCK CAR AROUND THIS TRACK? "It was good. I'm having fun. We are running pretty good so far. They are giving us so much practice time, so we're trying to be smart because we only have so many tires."
DID ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU OUT THERE WITH THE WAY THESE CARS HANDLE? "It's very slippery. I am surprised with the car because they do not brake at all. I've been on this track in a million different cars and here you just brake so early on and the cars are so tight, so for me it's an adaptation and I'm trying to get used to it."
HOW MUCH ARE YOU ABLE TO APPLY FROM YOUR CHAMP CAR EXPERIENCE HERE? "Nothing at all. Actually, in a way everywhere it's new. Now that I'm here on a road course in a stock car, I have to start relearning a lot of different things. I have to forget a lot of the things that are natural. You wake up and you stand up, and you don't think about it. I look at it like that, but it's OK and we'll see how we do in the race."
IS IT DIFFICULT ADAPTING FROM A SEQUENTIAL GEARBOX TO THE H-SHAPED PATTERN IN A STOCK CAR? "I feel very comfortable. I feel a lot more natural here and the times show it. I think I am pretty competitive right now with the gears, so for me shifting is not that bad."
WITH NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE HERE IN A STOCK CAR, HOW MUCH FEEDBACK ARE YOU ABLE TO GIVE YOUR CREW TO MAKE THE RIGHT ADJUSTMENTS? "I'm trying to put it as simple as possible. It's still so new and I don't know the cars and I don't know what some of the changes do. I'm trying to just be as simple as possible and explain the basics because there is still a lot more time we need. I don't know if we have a car to put on pole or not. Even here, but like at Fontana we had a better car than where we qualified. I cannot come in and say, 'Let's do this and this and this.' There are a couple of problems and we can make a car better if we need, but I've just improved so much. Even here today in my first day on a road course in a car like this, I'm trying to go little by little so I don't get lost and they don't get lost."
YOU ARE A RESIDENT OF MEXICO CITY AND ARE USED TO THE HIGH ALTITUDE, BUT DO YOU THINK SOME OF THE DRIVERS MIGHT EXPERIENCE A HIGH LEVEL OF FATIGUE DURING THE RACE? "They'd have to be in really bad shape to get fatigued. I don't think so myself, but I'm used to it. For me, being here is like anybody being at sea level. I don't think it will be a problem because you have power steering and not a lot of braking. I think they'll be all right."
CARL EDWARDS--60--Charter Communications Ford Taurus
YOU POSTED THE QUICKEST TIME IN THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSION. "That was a true lap. The car is good. It's just fun; I'm having a blast and it's fun to drive. This is like riding your dirt bike through the woods. You just have to give and take, and it's fun."
DID YOU GET TO SEE THE TRACK AT ALL YESTERDAY? "One of the guys that races in the Corona Series helped me out a little bit yesterday. We drove around in a truck and he showed me some stuff. I'm grateful for that, but I'm mostly just kind of winging it."
DID NASCAR DISTRIBUTE A DVD TO THE DRIVERS PRIOR TO THIS WEEKEND? "It was a video, like somebody in the passenger seat in a rental car going around the race track. It helped a little bit and it gave me something to think about."
WHAT IS YOUR PRIOR ROAD RACING EXPERIENCE? "I've done four road races in the Baby Grand stock car series in 2002."
DOES THAT COMPARE AT ALL TO THIS? "Not really. I feel like we're running pretty well and I'm happy with the car. Boris Said helped me a lot at VIR (Virginia International Raceway) and I think that's what helped me the most. I don't want to talk about how fast we are too much because we have to go race. The biggest thing for me is to try not to overcook it into the corners. On an oval, you only slow down a little bit and you carry a bunch of speed through the corners. Here, I find myself braking really hard and then releasing the brakes and thinking that I'm going to go flying into the corner, but I have to really slow down and that's tough."
WHAT IS THE KEY TO TURING A FAST LAP HERE? "I'm not going to tell my secrets (laughing). It's not the brakes, for sure. The harder you're on the brakes the slower you go. I think the biggest thing is just having a balanced car and running the line that's the fastest. I ran two laps to me that felt the same and they were a second different. The car didn't change in those two laps. This is an art form. The guys that do this and do it well are amazing."
WITH SOME OF THE EXPERIENCED ROAD RACERS HERE THIS WEEKEND, DO YOU FEEL THAT IT'S THE ROAD RACERS VERSUS THE NON-ROAD RACERS THIS WEEKEND? "I was thinking about that while we were sitting out there in the race car getting ready to go out on the track, and I thought, 'Man, how nice would it be not to race against these road race guys?' But, that's what's kind of cool about it, too; it makes everyone step up their game and it says a lot about the drivers in the Busch Series that guys like Boris Said, Ron Fellows and Adrian Fernandez and all these guys can come in and we can still kind of keep up. I know that's a tall order since we haven't raced yet, but at least in practice we're holding our own."
HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN MEXICO BEEN SO FAR? "I love this. I was looking forward to this just as much as anything this season, just as much as the Daytona 500. It's really neat to see another culture, and this is the adventure part of racing. That was one of the cool things growing up, you'd load up your trailer and go to some dirt track that you've never been to and this is the ultimate going-somewhere-you've-never-been-to. This is fun."
WHAT WAS BORIS ABLE TO TEACH YOU? "He helped me a lot on how to drive one of these stock cars on a road course and how to use the brake and how to let it coast into the corners; good standard procedures to use every lap."
HAVE YOU TALKED WITH BORIS TODAY? "I haven't, but we went to dinner last night, though, and I wore him out last night at dinner. Jack (Roush) doesn't know it, but he bought Boris dinner. It was cool. I bet he won't talk to me tonight, though."
HOW DIFFICULT ARE SOME OF THE CORNERS ON THE TRACK? "I took it real easy on one lap and then I thought I was really going to attack this thing and I almost put it in the fence. For me, this is a 200-mile race and it going to be hot and it's going to be survival. The first 150 miles is getting track position and taking it easy, and by that time I think I'll have a good feeling for how hard I can go."
GIVEN THE FACT MEXICO CITY IS AT A HIGHER ALTITUDE THAN YOU'RE USED TO, DO YOU THINK FATIGUE WILL BE A PROBLEM IN THE RACE? "That's something I thought a lot about. The fact is we operate off of oxygen and there's less of it right here. It has to affect the drivers somehow. I think it will depend on how a guy's race car, how it's handling and how nervous he is and whether or not he can relax. I know for me that if I relax I don't ever get really worn out. It's when I get really nervous and going real hard that you can really wear yourself out, so it's something I'm thinking about."