NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Pep Boys Auto 500
Topics: Pep Boys Auto 500
October 26, 2008
KERRY THARP: Carl Edwards wins the 2008 Pep Boys Auto 500 here at Atlanta Motor Speedway, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford, with crew chief Bob Osborne and team owner Jack Roush.
Carl, your thoughts about the race out there today. Obviously you knew you had a good car coming in. You really handled that racetrack extremely well.
CARL EDWARDS: Man, it was a lot of fun. This racetrack is a blast. I hope they never repave it, mess with it. It's really fun to drive on. You can spin the tires halfway down each straightaway. Made it driving like on a dry slick dirt track. It was a lot of fun. Bob did a great job.
Middle of the race we weren't as fast as we were at the beginning and the end, which I guess if you got to pick a spot in the race not to be fast, that would be it. Bob did a great job at the end. It all worked out. Just awesome. It's been a great couple days for me. I can't thank Jack enough for the opportunity. This is amazing.
KERRY THARP: Bob, your thoughts about some of the calls you had to make out on the pit box tonight.
BOB OSBORNE: We got behind relative to the racetrack and relative to some of the competitors. I think some of that had to do with some of the calls I made went a little bit too far on some of my adjustments, had to back pedal a little bit, go in a different direction late in the race to try to get caught back up.
KERRY THARP: Jack, your thoughts about the performance of the 99 team here today.
JACK ROUSH: They did really, really, really well obviously. To watch Bob and Carl work the car, work the racetrack, work the race, and a 500-mile race is an amazing thing to watch unfold. They've got the chemistry you need to have between a driver and a crew chief to be able to sort all those things out. They worked their way through it.
I knew that Bob was good, that the car was good early on. I knew they had lost their way or the competitors had gotten better in the middle. I was really, really relieved at the end when they made their last adjustment or Bob made his last adjustment and he got it where it needed to be.
The one thing I wanted to say is that days like this, for teams like ours that have the success we've had, we want to go back and think about 2008, think about our championship run, what it meant. Unfortunately I'm afraid it will come down to thinking about the broken engine parts, the ignition and the other frustrations we've had.
But it would be my suggestion as NASCAR looks at how to make this thing more exciting, if we had an opportunity, every team had an opportunity, to throw out one race and be able to just count nine of the 10, that means you could have a Mulligan and you could be able to come back from it.
Anyway, we're going to remember this night. It was a wonderful evening to be in Atlanta here. We had soldiers from the 75th regiment, third brigade, Army Rangers, that came back from Iraq. One of their soldiers Patrick Rudd died over there. He was a friend of a friend. The racetrack extended an invitation to 200 of the soldiers to come out and join us today. It was a wonderful thing the racetrack did.
Anyway, I'm dedicating my part of the victory to Sergeant Patrick Rudd that lost his life in Iraq. He and his regiment of Rangers are one of the reasons we can have events like this with relative safety with all of the other things going on in the world.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for the winning team.
Q. Carl, you began the race with Jimmie Johnson. Apparently much to your surprise you ended it with him behind you. Did you lose track of him in between? Did you have any idea where he was?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I looked up there on the scoreboard, saw he was running seventh, eighth, ninth, somewhere in there most of the second half of the race. When Dave said, What do you think about Jimmie finishing second, I thought he was joking. I truly didn't know until I looked at the scoreboard that Jimmie had made that back up. I got to see some video. They put on some tires and went for it. That's pretty amazing.
He's a heck of a competitor, just like I've said before. He's the first guy to come and congratulate when you win, in a way that just makes him harder to beat. He's just one of those guys that does it right.
We've got to hope that he has something happen like the things that we've had happen, lose a couple hundred points, and we just have to be able to capitalize because I believe that the way they're running, it's going to be really tough to beat them.
We can do it. I mean, we just have to go win. If we do everything we can, that's all we can do.
Q. Carl, you took the lead 10 laps or so before the final. How difficult was it for you to stay patient? You said in the middle of the race you didn't have the speed like in the beginning. Was there maybe a moment when you were under panic?
CARL EDWARDS: No, I didn't panic or anything. Definitely got a little frustrated there in the middle of the race. Like Bob said, we kind of adjusted ourselves away from being as fast as we were at the beginning. But, you know, you just got to keep working, you know, keep digging, never give up. That applies to every part of our race team. We try to always focus on what we have to do no matter what the circumstance. It worked out today. But definitely in the middle of the race I didn't believe we were going to win the thing.
The pass for the lead there, that was on the restart. All day everybody had been having trouble spinning the tires. Denny spun his tires a little bit. I spun mine. Then he spun them some more. I got to his bumper. All I could think about was the guys passing all of us. I pushed on his rear bumper a little bit. Then he went to block the inside and spun the tires again, I guess, or something. I think that was a smart move on his part to go to the inside. That's where I was planning on going. That opened the door to the top. I thought, Well, I'll try it. But I was really nervous the guys behind me were going to get to the bottom and get by us. But it worked out. The last adjustment Bob made made the car real fast on the top.
Q. Carl, when you got the lead and pulled away, obviously the clean air was the deal all day.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah.
Q. But you managed to get the lead. When you got up there, did you think, Now it's up to me not to make the same kind of mistake Denny made?
CARL EDWARDS: Oh, yeah. Bob came on the radio, on that last restart, he said, I think I saw what just happened with you and Denny. He said something like, Be careful, it's your turn now (laughter). I thought, Man, you know, it's so hard on those restarts. It's really difficult. You get put in the lead there, and a lot of times you're a sitting duck because all the hair on the back of your neck's standing up and everything in your brain is screaming stand on the gas, stand on the gas. It's really difficult not to spin the tires. Early in the race I did it a couple times real bad.
So, yeah, that was interesting. But once we got the lead, yeah, it was just don't mess up, you know, focus, hit your marks. The car was really fast.
Q. What was going through your mind on that pit stop when you collided with the 88?
CARL EDWARDS: First of all, I didn't know until somebody told me. I thought I hit the 2 car. There's so much going on there. I didn't know exactly what happened. Bob cleared me one out. I was stuck behind Jimmie a little bit. I got around Jimmie and the rear-end slid out an extra foot or whatever. I hit somebody's car there. I guess it was Dale.
I don't know if they were two- or three-wide or what was going on there, but there just wasn't a lot of room. I tried to keep it as tight as I could. You know, I've seen a lot of good races go bad on pit road, and that made me a little bit nervous when we got into them, those guys there. It just looked like a mess. I haven't seen a replay yet. Felt like a mess.
Q. Carl, can you tell us about the good luck necklace that you got from the kid at the Children's Hospital.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it was really cool. I still got it on, this necklace here. Dalton, really cool kid. We went to the Aflac Cancer Center at the Children's Hospital in downtown Atlanta. I mean, I'm sure, as everybody knows, there's a lot of people that give a lot in this sport. I didn't realize how much Aflac does for all these kids. They don't turn one kid away. They treat everyone regardless of whether they can pay or not. They treat a lot of children. And they cure 70% of the kids that come in there with cancer so they can go on and live regular lives and succeed at whatever they want to do.
Dalton was really cool. We went to the hospital, David Gilliland and myself. We had a really good time. At the end, Dalton said, Hey, I got this courage necklace. I get beads every time I come to the hospital and visit or do something or surgery or something like that. He said, I want you to wear it. I think it will be good luck on Sunday. He definitely said he wants it back after this race, which is too bad, because I think it worked.
Q. Bob, I don't want to put you on the spot. Did you not have it in your heart to tell Carl that Jimmie was second?
BOB OSBORNE: Honestly I didn't realize he was second either until I got to Victory Circle. I figured the 11 had finished second. I did see he got to third, but I didn't realize he made it to second till I was walking back there.
Q. Bob, is it an easy for Chad and Jimmie to take four tires there when they're running eighth with 10, 11 laps to go? Does that decision change or is it made easier knowing they had a 150-point cushion on you guys and can take a chance for a few spots?
BOB OSBORNE: For sure, the point cushion allows them to do some things that ordinarily we wouldn't do as crew chiefs. But they really didn't have anything to lose. If no one came in front of 'em, they were the first ones to come, they had a pretty good feeling that some of the cars behind 'em would come, too. But with a single-file restart, four tires go a long way obviously.
Q. Carl, you have seven wins. Obviously a great season. If you don't win the championship, will you still be pleased with this season or will you be really disappointed that you didn't get everything you wanted?
CARL EDWARDS: I mean, here's the deal. We go out and do the best we can. If we win 10 races and the championship, that's going to be a spectacular season. That's what we're focusing on doing right now.
I don't know. We'll just have to see what happens. But one thing I've learned in this sport, it's really hard to come to grips with, you don't always get the result you want. You just have to perform the best you can. If you do that, the result doesn't matter. You can lay your head down at night and feel okay. I guess we'll see after Homestead. I hope that's not what happens.
Q. Could you talk about when you were coming off pit road with the 48, just what happened in that incident? Did you think it was dirty pool or fair game or circumstances on pit road?
CARL EDWARDS: Bob had a better look at it. A lot of people brought that up. I don't know if they were making something about that in the coverage of the race. Jimmie's job is not to make it easy on us. You know what I mean? If he was behind us on pit road, I might leave mine hanging out a little farther than normal. I thought he put it far enough in the box. I didn't think he was purposely making it hard on us. But they're not supposed to make it easy on us. I didn't have any trouble with that. No hard feelings about that from me.
Q. Carl, so far no driver has been able to sweep races at a track this year. You have the chance to do that at Texas next week. I understand you're doing some flight training tomorrow.
CARL EDWARDS: What am I doing tomorrow?
Q. Flight training.
CARL EDWARDS: Flight training. No, I got this aerobatic plane. I've been doing some flight training. I don't have any scheduled for tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm just going to fly. I don't know if I'm going to learn much. But we're going to have a good time with it.
Jack has me kind of screwed up with airplanes. It's fun. Sure as hell is expensive. But it's fun. We have a good time.
JACK ROUSH: A driver being somewhat in debt for a passion or another, it's not a bad thing. Racehorses, airplanes...
CARL EDWARDS: I got this airplane. It's an Extra 300. Something I'm excited about doing this week, going and flying that thing. It's got the smoke system. It will do loops and barrel rolls. My girlfriend actually went with me the other day. Hung on it for most of the day.
JACK ROUSH: Fiancée.
CARL EDWARDS: She's my fiancée. That's crazy. Sorry, Kate. I'm terrible. She'll forgive me.
Texas is going to be fun. I like racing there. It's a lot like this place. It's fast. It's fun. I'm sure Bob will have a great setup. He does a really good job at these tracks. I feel like he can almost read my mind as far as what I want. There wouldn't be much better place to double up than Texas. That's a really great race. Very important at this point in the season to run well there.
Q. Carl, Jimmie Johnson talked about how he didn't think the tires were very much improved from the March race to this race now. You talked about how much you love the track, being like a dirt track. Two different perspectives. Do you think the tires improved at all?
CARL EDWARDS: I was glad they didn't screw them up. I thought they were perfect in the spring. That's just the way I feel. I know a lot of people don't feel that way. But maybe it's because I got these guys sitting next to me, we've got such great racecars.
But I enjoy when you got to push the pedals a lot, move the steering wheel a lot. It puts it back in the driver's hands. It's really like a 500-mile Saturday night dirt track race. You're driving the whole time. That's fun.
JACK ROUSH: From Bob and I's point of view, when you have a tire that's so good for a racetrack that you can run it, you can abuse it and run it for a full fuel run, not have any consequence of not having your setup right, it really doesn't give you much to work with. The tire they had here, if you get off a little bit, if you overheat one tire, you're going to have a consequence of really having a car slow down. That really lets the crew chiefs for the setup and the driver that gives their best input have the best chance.
We like to race the tires. We'd like for the tires not to be perfect. They were good tires even though they fell off quite a bit.
Q. Carl, if before the Chase someone told you you'd be 183 points back with three to go, do you think there would be any thought you'd be second in the standings?
CARL EDWARDS: Are we second right now?
KERRY THARP: Yes.
CARL EDWARDS: I didn't know. No, I mean, listen, guys, anything can happen. If there's one thing this season has shown me and all of us I guess here is that every time you think you got figured out who is going to be the guy to beat, you know, I think it can turned on its head quickly.
I'm telling you, as long as we're within 130 points going to Homestead or whatever, we're still going there to win the championship and it can happen.
It would have been hard for me to believe that there would be one guy that had that big of a lead right now. But if I had to pick a guy, I'd say it's Jimmie Johnson. Those guys are really consistent. They do their jobs. But they can have the same luck that we've had, that's for sure.
Q. I've got to believe Jack was serious when he talked about a Mulligan in the Chase. Taking yourselves away from your team, what you've encountered, Bob and Carl, do you believe the Chase should include the ability to throw one race out? Do you seriously believe that would be a good idea?
CARL EDWARDS: You got to be careful because next year we might have a 183-point lead. I think it depends. It would be good right now for sure (smiling). Maybe throw out two, that would be great.
JACK ROUSH: I raced for 20 years, 20 some years, before I started with NASCAR stock car racing back in '88. I raced in a couple of series and had great championship runs with programs where they did throw out one or two races. They didn't have a 10-race deal at the end of the season, but throughout the year. What that really meant was that until you'd used up your Mulligan, you raced as hard as you could go every lap. If you didn't have a Mulligan, then you have to be somewhat more cautious. It's more exciting if you're able to go as hard as you can until you realize that it will really hurt you.
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good point. It might make the racing -- there will be guys -- you can take bigger risks if you haven't used your Mulligan. I think that's part of what the Chase format has brought about, knowing that you've got 26 races. I know for us it was really fun about four to go before the Chase started, we knew we were in. I just drove as hard as I could. We tried a bunch of stuff. It made it a lot of fun.
BOB OSBORNE: I don't see why not. I don't think NASCAR wants to see their championship won by this many points, for sure. I don't want to see it won by this many points. I don't think anybody wants to see it won by this many points. If they come up with a format that can adjust and make the Chase even that much more competitive, that would be wonderful.
Q. Carl, all the good things that happened today, is there some discouragement in the fact you came in here 199 points and you only gained 16 points?
CARL EDWARDS: Really there isn't. We came here and did what we had to do. We won the race. Man, that's all we can do. I'd be a fool to go home and be discouraged by that. You've got to build on that, move on, and hopefully win at the next three of them.
Just amazement at how well Chad, Jimmie and those guys rebounded. I was telling somebody out there, I don't know how many times I've been riding along third or fourth on a restart, there's the 48 a lap down on the inside line. I think, Man, their day's ruined. By the end of the race, somehow they make it back up there. I think we can all learn from that.
Q. You've been extremely strong on these intermediate tracks. What do you credit your strong performance at these tracks with?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question. I think it's a lot of things. These guys sitting next to me. The guys at the shop building the engines. Robbie Reiser. All of my teammates sharing information. I think that these tracks tax every aspect of your team. You have to have good pit stops, good engine, good aero package, good communication with the crew chief. Then for me driving it, they feel a lot like a half-mile dirt track or something like that, the way the momentum works, all that. I really just enjoy the feel of these places. Right off the bat we had really good cars in 2004, 2005 at these places. I really like 'em.
Q. The last three winners here of this race went on to win the next week in Texas. Assess your chances of keeping that streak going.
CARL EDWARDS: Man, I didn't realize that. I guess we did that in 2005. The tracks are a lot alike. I'm hoping that all the things we've been doing with Ford and all their support, the things we've been doing behind the scenes to kind of make sure that our data and everything matches up and we can run well at these tracks, I hope that it carries over.
Things change so fast. Really week to week it seems like early in the season Jimmie and those guys weren't that fast at these places, then they figured something out. I just hope that it does carry over. That would be very cool.
Q. As much as you love this racetrack, would you consider having them widen pit road?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question. I don't know if it's because of the size of pit road or just things are coming down to crunch time and people are getting every inch they can.
I think pit road seems to be wide enough. Honestly, they can do whatever they want with pit road; just don't touch the racetrack, it's perfect.
Q. Carl, you're not only chasing the Sprint Cup title but you're chasing the Nationwide Series title as well. How hard is it to focus on both right now?
CARL EDWARDS: I'm very fortunate to be driving both. We got fast Ford Fusions every week in both of 'em. In a way I think that it's a nice little escape from each of them. The run yesterday at Memphis was just a blast. I had a really good time. Kind of allowed me to relax a little bit. I think in a way that feeling of accomplishing something on Saturday can sometimes transfer over, had a little spring in my step today.
I don't think they take away at all. I think they kind of help one another.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations.
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