NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona
January 12, 2012
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: Carl Edwards is going to wrap up today's test day number one. He's driving the No.99 Fastenal Ford for Roush‑Fenway Racing. Carl, of course, came within a whisker of winning last year's championship.
Carl, talk about coming here to Daytona, a whole new mindset I'm sure on your part. What would it mean for you to win the Daytona 500?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, it would be huge. That would be an understatement. That is an understatement. Last year we were so close following Trevor across the start‑finish line. I learned a lot. I feel like our restrictor plate program is better. I feel that Greg and I have grown together to be able to do well at these races. I mean, it's the Daytona 500, and I'm very, very excited about it.
You know, the past month or so we've been running all over, doing all sorts of different things, and it's been fun, and there's been one common thing that I've found is everywhere we go people are pumped about this season. I don't know if you guys are feeling that, too, and noticing that. We were in New York the other day, filming stuff at a bunch of different places, and people were genuinely excited about the season. It's really, really neat to be a part of this right now.
But I wonder, I've been a little bit out of touch. What's going on? What's the big news today? Anything happening?
Q. You did so well after the race and in LasVegas. Was there ever a point that you mourned or your heart was broken or anything like that?
CARL EDWARDS: That cool‑down lap after the race was not fun. But I mean, I was open with you guys and told you how I felt about it. I haven't sat and really‑‑ I haven't thought about it much beyond, hey, what could we have done differently, what did we learn, what could we have done differently, and one of the neatest meetings, we sat there with Robby and Jack and Bob, and Jack brought in each driver and crew chief and said, hey, let's talk about the previous year and what we're going to do and do you have any ideas. And right off the bat, Jack's a competitor, what could we have done different. I'm sitting there thinking, maybe there's something‑‑ and Bob said without hesitation, said, If we ran it over again I'd do the exact same thing. He said, We did the right things and we did the best we could, and if we do that every time, we'll be fine.
I looked at Bob, and I thought, Man I'm glad you're my crew chief. That reminded me when I go back in my mind and think of specifically those last few races, I'm personally proud of the way all of us performed. You know, the pit crew at Homestead, they were on their game. They were the best pit crew on pit road that day. If we would have had another caution I feel like we would have beat everybody off of pit road. They were dying for a caution. If the rain would have come, if we would have had four tires. I mean, any‑‑ we put ourselves in a position to win, and Tony and those guys just‑‑ they just did a better job, gambled more than we did and won. That's racing.
So I guess your question is did I really mourn it. You know, I truly wish I would have won it, but I mean, I understand what happened and how it happened, and I'm just glad that I've got chances. I'm glad I get to race this year and next year and go fight for it again.
Q. You sort of just addressed it about Bob and his good attitude and outlook, but did he really struggle at all? He looked devastated when he didn't go to LasVegas.
CARL EDWARDS: Well, he didn't go to LasVegas not because he was upset. He was working. After the race I could tell he was upset, just as I was and everybody was. But I mean, that's it, that's the‑‑ if we weren't upset about it, if it wasn't something that made you just want to‑‑ or that frustrated you, then you're probably not in the right sport. But I believe, I'd like to believe that we're wise enough to not let that get the best of us, to just go out and perform and do the best we can. That's competition. That's life. You've just got to keep on going and do the best you can.
Honestly I really wish we could talk about this year. I mean, I showed up‑‑ let me put it this way: After the whole off‑season, we parked the airplane over at the airport, and I felt like I was excited. I'm excited for the season to start. I feel more like true‑‑ I feel more true confidence than I've had in a long time, I feel that we're doing well for the right reasons, we've got everything lined up, and I don't think that would be any different if we would have won or lost. This season is going to be what it is, and I feel like we're going to be good.
Good question. I just‑‑ it's weird.
Q. Kind of a follow‑up, you've always been someone who is intent on trying to find out what you could do‑‑ what you could have done differently or done better. I remember after winning the 500 you talked about going to see Trevor that night and asking if there was anything you could do different. You just said how Bob said‑‑ would have done the same exact thing. Is that an acceptable answer for you? Can you accept that answer, that you would have done the same exact thing?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it is. What we didn't want to do is we didn't want to give up the championship. We didn't want to do something and take ourselves out of it. We wanted to put ourselves in the best position we could and force Tony and Darian and those guys to rise to the occasion and to really beat us. We weren't going to hand it to them, and we didn't. But they rose to a level that we thought was pretty improbable.
I mean, in my mind, whether it's right or wrong, I think that if we performed the way we did each year, I think we'd win about eight or nine out of ten championships. So the mission for us is to perform that way, to not run around like idiots and say what did we do wrong, we need to change everything. We need to go out and perform that way.
So yeah, from Bob, that's an acceptable answer to me. If it wasn't, it wouldn't matter to Bob. He's going to do what he thinks best.
Q. It seems like a lot of years, recently whoever finishes second in the championship one year drops off the map the next. Do you think about that and how do you guard against it?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I think I'm one of the ones that kind of started that deal in 2008 and 2009. We've lived that. It's really painful. I hope that that kind of takes us out of that‑‑ keeps us from repeating that statistic. I hope that the experience that we had before in 2009 will keep us from doing it again.
But this sport is tough. Your success last year does not guarantee you anything right now. That's just the way this sport is. We've made the mistake of resting on our laurels and saying we're good, let's focus on a couple little things. But you can't do that, you've got to keep looking at every little thing.
Q. Can you talk about today? What happened out there? How do you like the car? How does it feel? Do you think these rules are going to work?
CARL EDWARDS: I didn't get to run in a two‑car draft, so I'm not sure. What did you guys think about it? What did everybody say?
KERRY THARP: We'll probably find out more tomorrow.
CARL EDWARDS: Maybe we'll find out more tomorrow. I don't know what our plan is. I don't think we're going to do much of it. I think we're going to work on our car because we have this opportunity to be out there on single‑car runs, work on our Fastenal Ford by itself. And then if we do get to draft, I'll probably go work with Greg and we'll get together and kind of go through our standard practice stuff together, and then that'll be kind of a separate thing from the car.
But Bob wants to get the car stuff done first, which is probably smart, considering the car might not be exactly the same if Greg and I get out there and mess around too much. I think we've got a good plan.
Q. As a follow‑up, Darby and Pemberton were in here and they're going to ask everybody to get out there to run a pack. Are you going to accept the invitation tomorrow?
CARL EDWARDS: I might watch that. That would be fun to watch. No, it would be fun to go do. It's really up to Bob and how that fits into our plan and whether or not he's comfortable doing it. We're racers. That would be the most fun thing we could go do. But it could be expensive.
Q. It didn't sound optional.
CARL EDWARDS: Oh, all right. Which car is Darby going to drive? I'm just kidding. It'll be fun. I mean, the track is smooth, the cars are safe, and it seems like there's tons of grip. If we go run like that, we'll go do it. As a driver you want to go do that. It is truly a matter of whether Jack and Bob will let me go do that.
Q. I'm sure Randy has updated you that you're due in Charlotte next weekend for the Fan Fest. Has he informed you of that?
CARL EDWARDS: I didn't know that. Am I due? Am I going to be there?
Q. In all seriousness, NASCAR is trying to rev back up the old Winston Preview.
CARL EDWARDS: I'll be there for that.
Q. Just your thoughts on having 50 drivers from all the series in one location, the Charlotte Convention Center. I know you've got fan obligations tonight, but that should be a pretty cool deal.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I don't know the entire history of that, but I know fans throughout the years who said they wished that we did that. If that's what the fans want, then that's what we need to do, and it'll be fun. We'll go have fun with it. There's some other stuff we're going to do around that, I can't remember. We're going to do the All‑Star commercial, pretty neat one that sounds like it's going to be fun, so that'll be a fun day, and I look forward to it.
Q. You were talking about that true confidence that you feel more than ever, and that makes sense obviously given the way you ran last year and the way Matt ran last year. It was a good year for Roush. It was a little bit of a tumultuous off‑season with Roush having to go from four to three cars in the organization. Does that give you any pause?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, I think it makes all of us realize that we've got to just do the best we can all the time, not just on the racetrack but we've got to be the best we can with our sponsors and our teams and the fans and do everything we can to make the business of this sport work. I think that you guys have experienced it in this room, we've all experienced it. When it really comes down to it, you have to‑‑ you can't take anything for granted. That's what that's reminding me of, seeing all the changes that have gone on in this sport over this off‑season, it's reminded me‑‑ those changes have reminded me that I'm very fortunate to be in the position I'm in. I need to do the best I can for not just my 99 team but our Roush‑Fenway team, for Ford, for the sport in general to try to have these opportunities, for me and for the next guy that's coming along.
I think all of us realize that, and yeah, it's sad at any time to see someone lose their job or be laid off. I mean, nobody enjoys that.
Q. (No microphone.)
CARL EDWARDS: No, I don't think it would‑‑ yeah, as far as our performance, we have amazing support from Ford, from the Fenway Sports Group, from all of our sponsors, and most importantly I think from Jack Roush and Robby Reiser. Those guys have made sure that any changes we've made have not let us suffer any performance setbacks. Jack and Robby are very smart racers, and they've both raced with nothing. They've both had to prioritize for a large portion of their careers, and I would say that if it were a game of racing with the least amount of resources, those would be the guys you'd want.
I feel good about that. Robby and I talked about it a little bit. He feels confident, Jack feels confident, and from a resources side, I don't think we've lost anything, engineering, all of our simulation programs, the support from Ford, all of that stuff stayed almost intact, or grown actually. Some of it has grown.
Q. You looked really natural hosting the Kelly show, looked great.
CARL EDWARDS: That's because they told me you cannot screw it up. They told me the worse you screw it up, the better it'll be. They said say whatever you want, which was pretty great advice.
Q. Do you want to do more of that, especially in the future, and were there any amusing things that happened that day around the set that we didn't see on camera?
CARL EDWARDS: Kelly is really funny. When the camera shuts off she's just the same except for a little more vulgar. She's really funny. She goes into stand‑up comedy mode as soon as the camera shuts off and she grabs the microphone for the crowd, and it's really funny. I just stood back and laughed with everyone else. That was really fun. I like doing different things like having opportunities to do something that's a little bit outside my comfort zone, and that was definitely right there. That was a very interesting experience. It is truly the fastest hour of my life. When they said it was done, I would have sworn that it was 15 to 20 minutes that we just spent, and it was an hour. That was pretty interesting.
I would like to do more stuff like that, specifically things I haven't done, things that are different and fun like that, and challenging. To be honest with you, I've never been more nervous about a TV appearance in my life. I had so many people tell me, I mean, tons of people, they're like, Hey, I'm going to be watching tomorrow. I mean, people that I had no clue watched the show. I'm not going to name any names. But they're like, We'll be watching, don't mess it up. So there was a lot of people.
Q. NASCAR is going with a bigger plate in the morning and they're closing the grille by one inch on each side and making the pressure release valve 25 from 30. How do you expect that to change the car?
CARL EDWARDS: Why did they say they're doing that?
Q. I don't know, it was in the meeting.
CARL EDWARDS: When did they decide that?
Q. (No microphone.)
CARL EDWARDS: So they want the cars to be‑‑ they want them to be faster? Hmm. So they close the grille up, they lower the pressure five pounds, and they gave us a bigger plate? This is going to be wild.
At the end of the day, NASCAR walks a fine line of‑‑ I believe they do, of making the cars hard enough to drive that they're not in a giant dangerous pack and that people aren't super aggressive with them. So they've got to make them hard enough to drive that we drive down the corner and we aren't quite sure what's going to happen with the car. You know, it slides, and then they don't want to make it so hard that the race is‑‑ one guy runs away from the field and it's not exciting for the fans, because let's face it, the fans come to Daytona to see an exciting, crazy race, a pack of cars or two cars teamed up, and that's what fans‑‑ it seems like to me that's what fans come to see.
In my opinion, one of the neatest races I've ever been in as a driver here was one where I guess everybody thought Goodyear got the tire wrong. I thought they got it just right because it was so slippery, you'd drive in the corner and have to lift and slide the car, and it was like driving a big two‑and‑a‑half‑mile dirt track. It was a blast. But I guess it was really boring to watch.
I'm all for higher speeds, less grip, make the cars harder to drive. That's fine with me.
KERRY THARP: Carl, thanks a lot. Appreciate you being in here, and good luck the rest of the week.
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