NASCAR Media Conference
October 12, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to this week's NASCAR teleconference in advance of this week's race. We are pleased to have as our guest, Carl Edwards. He drives the No. 99 Aflac Ford. Carl is seventh in the current NASCAR Spring Cup standings, as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup hits week five with Saturday night's Bank of America 500.
Carl, you're 162 points out of first, six races to go, so I guess it's pretty much time to start a rally, correct?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it's definitely time to start a rally. We went into California just we felt -- we felt that that was going to be the race that put us up there, you know, to the lead, or close to it. And we had trouble with a part and a distributor, which is something that I don't think he I've ever had before. I don't think I've ever had that particular part take me out of a race.
Now we have got six races left to, you know, to go run the way we know we can run, and if we can maybe reel off a couple of wins and have some top fives and Jimmie can have a little bit of trouble, then, you know, I think can could still be anyone's race.
That one race really swung things a long ways in the wrong direction for us.
Q. Wanted to ask you, are you having fun with your second job, post-race, hanging out with the crew at ESPN?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I'm having a lot of fun -- this is not funny guess, it's more fun when we finish each race in March with the point lead, that was a lot easier. But I learned a little bit, you know, through doing that, and in a way, I think sitting up thereafter the race and looking at the points and the lap tracker information and getting an overview of that race from that perspective immediately after it's over I think gives me a little leg up there. I really enjoy doing it. And I look forward to doing it for the rest of the year.
Q. Here in the halfway point of the Chase coming up this week, is it good for your crew guys to settle in at home in Charlotte for a week or so before they get back out on the road?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it is good. I guess we have only had four Chase races, and to me it feels -- the last four races feel as long as the first 26 of the season.
So, you know, and actually I spoke for a lot of people in the garage in saying that the pressure and the intensity level of the competition right now is higher than it's ever been, and so you know, to be able to have a race close to home, to have a lot of guys be able to bring their families out and sleeping in their own beds at night, I think that's a well-needed break.
Q. Quick question, I know you're involved in the Silver Crown as a driver and team owner, do you have any thoughts on Shane Hmiel's crash, and the series itself and the fact that that's a pretty good comeback story that seems like it's been at least delayed for a while.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, Shane and I spent a lot of time together when I first came down to North Carolina. He is one of the nicest, you know, most decent people that I've met in this sport and he's a very good guy.
My partner that owns our Silver Crown team with me, Chris Santucci, called me from the racetrack, sent me a text and told me what had happened and we talked immediately after Shane's accident. And you know, I think I speak for everyone in the garage; we are all thinking about Shane, and hoping that he comes out of this just fine.
You know, it's hard -- knowing Shane, it's hard to imagine him in any sort of physical pain. The guy is just an upbeat, outgoing guy, and we just hope that he's doing well.
As far as the series, as you said, Silver Crown series, if that series wasn't around, I wouldn't be where I'm at now. That series helped me and a lot of other drivers, and I just -- it's one of the greatest series on earth, and I'm proud to be part of it. As an owner, I think this is a tragic event, and hopefully it has a happy ending.
Q. When you look at the beginning of the Chase, Jimmie left Loudon 92 points behind Denny Hamlin but it only took him two races to make up 100 points on Denny. Is there any reason why in two races you can't make up that same 100 points on Jimmie and be right back in the hunt like you were in California?
CARL EDWARDS: There's no reason why it can't happen, other than Jimmie Johnson and those guys just seem to have an ability to overcome or to not own have to deal with the bad luck that a lot of other teams have to deal with.
I think we saw this week end that the mathematical possibilities that can happen. Our team went from where we were, I think we were 53 points out to 162 points out, and one week, at a track that really should have been kind of a gimmie for us. We run very well at California.
You know, statistically or mathematically, anyone could be leading the Chase in three races. So we just have to keep that in mind and going forward. And racing is -- racing is a lot -- it's a very, very humbling sport. You can do everything right and you can have things not go your way. But the only way to make sure you have success is to do everything right and hope for the best.
Q. Looking at the races ahead, I know you said that at least this week's race in Charlotte was going to be a struggle for you, but outside of that, is there any one of these tracks where you say, okay, this is maybe our best opportunity to make up some more of those points?
CARL EDWARDS: Charlotte is an unknown. I don't know about -- I just don't know what's going to happen. We have been on and off there. But you know, if you look at Texas is one that, I mean, you're familiar with how we have run there. It's been spectacular.
So I look forward to that one. Homestead, championship weekend, that's been great for Roush Fenway racing and even Phoenix and Talladega, I feel like I've learned a lot at those places. Matt Kenseth almost won Martinsville in the spring. I feel that our team can do it. The problem is when they pull that green flag and everyone goes four-wide down at the corner and goes 200 miles an hour, and you just don't know what's doing to happen.
It's just an amazing sport and I'm just going to do my best and hope it works out.
Q. Next week, are you going to be able to ride your bike there?
CARL EDWARDS: No, I can't ride my bike there. All of the guys that usually ride with me, they are all confused, they want to ride their bikes but I can't go with them, so I don't know what they are going to do. I don't know if they are going to ride or not.
But I'll go to Martinsville, Bob and I talked about this yesterday, Bob is my crew chief on the Cup side, I think we are going to qualify, stay in Martinsville, practice on Saturday morning, and I believe the schedule works so that I can just fly over to Gateway and get in the car. I'm assuming Erik Darnell will probably be the guy to set the car up. He's done a great job for me in the past and I'll just fly in, race and leave, which will be so different, because the St. Louis race weekend usually is a pretty neat, long weekend for me.
Q. What would it mean to you to win the last race there, quote, unquote?
CARL EDWARDS: Oh, man, that track is -- that track is really special to me. I can't believe it's not going to be on the schedule next year. That breaks my heart.
To win the last race there -- I guess in my mind I still haven't accepted it's the last race. I hope that they can work something out in the future and that we can race there more often, but if that is indeed the last race, it will be a very special one to win. It's already special that I got a trophy there from earlier this year. Each one of my wins there has been really special to me because it's so close to home, you know.
Q. You've mentioned Jimmie Johnson and his team, and the success they are having. You guys, not your team, but the others, his competitors, do you scratch your head sometimes and say, how do they do this? Not you in particular, but do you study what they are doing in races and pit stops and everything, to see what the keys are to their success?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, and it's not just one thing that they do. They just have an ability to do well at everything within a sport. They qualify well. They have good pit stops. They make good strategic calls from the box. Jimmie does a very good job driving, and I think that the most amazing thing about it is that they have just been able to do it over such a long time period.
You know, in 2008, our team scored more points, won more races, went head-to-head with Jimmie and we lost the championship by just a little bit to him, but I felt then, I felt that, okay, I understand the level that he is at and we can beat him. The problem is, is that we went into 2009 and our team was not able to perform at that level, and his was, again.
It's not just how they perform, because we all perform very well, sometimes. It's the fact that they are able to do it over a five- or six-year time span; that's spectacular.
Q. I know nobody gives up, but when do we reach a point of Jimmie Johnson -- we get a lot of e-mails from fans who are well past that point; what about the drivers who keep having to look up at this guy standing up on top of the points there? Do you just at some point kind of throw your hands up and say, what do we do?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question, Mike. I know personally, I'll never throw any hands up. That's just not the way I'm built. But it is amazing. When I sat there in the banquet last year, or at the pre-banquet stuff, I didn't actually go to the banquet; when I sat there, we did the roast and you know, I got to see all these things. I couldn't believe that they have won four in a row. It's just pretty amazing.
If I put myself in his position, I think, man, what would that feel like to run that well, and be that dominant over this amount of time. I guess in a selfish way, it motivates me to do everything I can to be in that position.
So I don't look at it as, you know, this -- I don't look at it as Jimmie is holding me down or holding us down. I look at it as he is showing us what can be done. You know, just we have to go do it. It's right there. It's right there and it's in our grasp, for all of us. We all have the potential ability to do it. We just -- for me, he's motivating. And I'm telling you, it's not mathematically impossible; winning this championship, for any of us is right there.
Q. It's been nearly two years since you were last in victory lane in the Cup Series; do you put more pressure on yourself with each passing week, or do you try to maintain a business as usual approach or do you let the cards fall where they may?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that's a good question. Yeah definitely just a business as usual approach.
You know, it goes both ways in this sport. And what I'm saying is, if you've run really well recently, it really doesn't matter. Once you show up to the racetrack, you have to do it again. If you've run really poorly recently, it doesn't matter. Any week could be the start of the turnaround, and even though we haven't had a victory, we've had a stretch over the last few months, it's better points-wise, I think better than I've ever had in my career.
So as a team, we have turned the corner. Last week as anomaly; we had that parts failure. But we have been running very, very well. If we keep running like that, the wins will come. I'm at a point in my career where I've won enough races; I have confidence and I have enough, you know, perspective to realize that all we have to do is just make sure that everything is lined up, keep running well and those wins will come.
Q. About the post-race analysis, could you share with fans what is the most challenging about your work in the booth?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, the great thing is they only have me up there for about three minutes. So I don't get a lot of time to mess up.
A lot of you guys have done stuff like that, and the hardest part is to put aside your own views on everything, and then just try to give an objective perspective about it. For me when I watch a tape of a race or whatever, I have a lot of pre-conceived notions about what the car is doing or how the car might be set up or what a person might be thinking in a situation. And as a commentator, it's not your job to be able to give those opinions. You're just supposed to explain the best you can objectively what happens on the racetrack. It's just a little -- it's difficult, you know, but it's really fun.
Like I said earlier, I get an opportunity to look at the race immediately after the race, from the outside perspective, and that's something I haven't done a lot of in the past. So I think it helps me and my team.
Q. You probably work just as hard when you first broke into Cup coming up from the Sprint car stuff; can you compare your approach to driving that first year in Cup to this year?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it's funny, I think Max Jones is the first one who really, you know, told me, he said, listen, he said, "You think you've worked hard to this point. The work's just started." And that's true. I guess it's like that in anything. You don't ever reach a station in life and rest. Otherwise, you go backwards.
So for me, that first year was so crazy. That was the longest year of my life. It felt like ten years of normal, every day life, because we were testing all the time, there were so many new things, and I learned a lot.
Now, though, if I could go back and do that first year again, I think we would just dominate; we had such good cars, and I made so many dumb mistakes.
So I guess as far as a work perspective, I work just as hard now, but I think in a lot more efficient way. I understand what the battles are and where the speed on the racetrack is the a, and I'm more confident in doing it, so I guess I don't worry as much as I used to. That saves me a lot of time and energy.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Carl Edwards, we appreciate it very much, taking time out of your schedule to talk to the media today. Best of luck this week, and the rest of the Chase.
CARL EDWARDS: All right. I really appreciate it. Thanks everybody for calling in and we'll see you guys at the racetrack.
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