NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Ford 400
Topics: Ford 400
November 16, 2008
THE MODERATOR: If I could have your attention please. We're going to roll into our championship team for the 2008 Miami Ford 400 at Miami Homestead Speedway, the Ford driven by Carl Edwards, crew chief Bob Osborne, and owned by Jack Roush. Congratulations to the 99.
Carl Edwards finishes second in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup series standings. This is his ninth victory. Third best. His third victory in the Chase. And here at Homestead, Miami, Jack Roush's teams have won five straight races at this racetrack. Six overall.
Carl, you've concluded an outstanding season. You're up here last night, obviously. Your thoughts about today's race, and as you look back, maybe a few thoughts about the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season for you?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, I'm sure glad we won today's race, because it will make it a little bit easier to deal with the off-season and coming so close to the championship.
You know, we ran really well this season. Something I wanted to make sure my guys understood is they did their jobs. They did a great job. It was, you know -- there's two races where we lost points. One was my mistake, and one was a complete, you know, coincidence or freak accident or whatever with the ignition system.
So my guys performed well enough to win a championship this season. And considering how well Jimmie performed, I don't think that's a small feat.
So tonight was a lot of fun. I'm glad that we won the race, so that we can go into the off-season knowing that we won more races than anyone else in this series. I think that's a big accomplishment. Especially, considering how well Jimmie and Kyle both ran all season. So that feels good. And knowing how well we ran it gives me a lot of confidence for next season.
So a good weekend. Second in both series is not first, but it's definitely not something to be ashamed of. I'm proud of what we did this year.
THE MODERATOR: Bob Osborne, crew chief this year. This team really came together. Your thoughts about how this 99 team came together?
BOB OSBORNE: Well, I was very happy to see, actually, how well they came together. We started out with a lot of new guys at the beginning of the season, so it took a little while.
You know, the last thing that always comes together, sometimes is that pit crew. The boys put their best effort forward, and took it upon themselves to get good enough to be able to compete on Pit Road with the topnotch teams. I believe they did that quite well in the second half of the season, and it shows.
A lot of that has to do with everyone getting to know each other and understanding everyone's traits and things like that, so you're comfortable around them at all times. Not just in working situations, but, you know, that personal relationship matters a lot too. Unfortunately, in our business because we spend so much time together.
THE MODERATOR: Jack Roush, you've won five straight races at this racetrack. Completely dominated it. Six overall. Just had a great season with that 99 team. Your thoughts?
JACK ROUSH: Well, it's good to win in front of the home crowd. This is Ford championship weekend. I was out in one of the pavilions today and had the best time that I think I've ever had at an appearance at one of these events. And all the people come down. They're anxious to celebrate not only NASCAR, but particularly here the history, of Ford Motor Company.
It's a great credit to the engineering support they've given us. This has become less of an art and more of a science in terms of the way these cars are run. For somebody like Bob -- for Carl to rely on Bob, and Bob to rely on the information he's getting from Ford and for me to have the confidence to carry back to my partner to invest in all of that is really something.
But this team really came together. I didn't see what the finishing order was of all of our cars. But Robbie Reiser and the guys back at the shop have done a great job this year organizing the build programs, and organizing the test program, and organizing the pit crews and everything to realize their potential.
We're a promote-from-within company more than any other NASCAR organization I'm aware of. We hire more junior folks and give them their first shot, and then advance them as they're able to take more responsibility, and that's one of the reasons sometimes that our pit crews are a little slower to develop as we'd like them to. It's the fact that we've got an average of people with a little less experience as they're looking for a foothold and trying to get involved in the sport.
But Ford did a great job. I was wrong again tonight. I apologize to Bob. I went down there and I was sure he was going to get what he deserved in Texas, he was going to run Carl out of gas. But he didn't do that. And then Carl, I don't know if we were -- Bob and I were hearing things we imagined or not. But I distinctly heard him say, okay, after he slowed down he was coming to Pit Road. And I thought that it wasn't running. And sure enough, he drove by Pit Road and made one more lap and managed to stay in front of the 29, and there it was. He was able to close the deal.
But it was amazing that Doug Yates and the guys have been able to find the fuel economy in the engines. Ford Fusion is one of the mileage leaders for the Ford Motor Company with its four-cylinder engine in the full-size car class. To be able to get that kind of fuel mileage and have people be able to talk about that is wonderful. I'm real proud of it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You're going to hear when you get home a lot about the Hendrick dynasty. Have you closed the gap, guys, for next year?
CARL EDWARDS: I think that, you know, I mean, we won more races than Jimmie, and we ran with him, you know, when he won. I personally feel like we've closed a big gap this season. I felt like we ran very well at the road courses at Martinsville, at some of the tracks that we haven't sometimes been able to keep up with them. So, yeah, hopefully.
You know, I know they'll enjoy this championship, but I'm sure they knew we were here, you know what I'm saying? That's good.
JACK ROUSH: One of the things that's most satisfying to me is the fact that with the guys, with all their preparation and the way they interacted before with the crew chiefs and car chiefs, if you look at the way our entire group of cars runs, it's better than most of the multi-team organizations in the garage.
To be able to have Jamie show the promise he's had, and David Ragan to do what he's done, and led a bunch of laps. He didn't manage to win this year, he won last year. But I surely thought he would have a shot at it there except for the fuel mileage on Carl's car being better, Matt might have won tonight.
That's what Carl thought was going to happen as he talked to me about it. He thought Matt was going to be able to go and he was going to be able to go. But he wasn't going to be able to catch him. Then he ran out of gas, and he thought Matt ran out of gas, and he thought Carl might run out of gas, too.
But we've had a really great exchange of information between the guys. You know, I think the crew chiefs all approve of one another, and the drivers all approve of one another. They like one another. They're friends. To be part of that is just a great joy for me.
Q. 23 laps in, he's already asking where the 48 car was. How do you just, you know, say okay, Carl, we've got a long way to go here? Just hang tight?
BOB OSBORNE: Basically, that's it. That's about what I told him. I just said he's in such-and-such spot, don't worry about that. Focus on what we had to do at the time. And I'll keep you updated as things change for us.
That's basically where we left it. He never asked again. He might have asked one more time under caution or something, but for the most part, didn't really ask, and I just update him when I had the chance to focus on where the 48 was.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I was going down the front straight way, and you're driving down the road and you see when a bird barely misses your car. This bird almost came in the window net. I thought to myself, if that bird would have come through the gap in the window net and hit me in the chest, I don't know what I would have done.
So that surprised me. Got my attention (laughing). Yeah, it wasn't a duck. It wasn't a duck. Yeah, we don't eat duck. We treat ducks nice around here (smiling).
Q. Two victories. You've got two victories this weekend. Will you celebrate after this? Or is this go home and puke?
BOB OSBORNE: I'm going to do all the celebrating, I can tell you that.
CARL EDWARDS: He'll probably celebrate for me. We're going to fly home. It will just -- it's nice knowing that we had such a big gap to close coming in here; the only way that I knew we could be satisfied is if we did what we did tonight and we could feel like we gave it our best effort.
So I don't know if it's cause for celebration as much as just, you know, feeling good about what we did.
Q. You sort of touched on this about 100 percent. Knowing that you guys gave all you gave, you won three of the last four races, after your problem, there are teams in this Chase this year, there have been teams that started in the Chase throughout the history of the Chase that have had a problem and folded up like cheap lawn furniture. You guys had two bad weeks and won three of the last four races. That's the kind of thing you're talking about, the 100 percent, bouncing back from that?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it's one of the toughest things to do is just keep your head up, do the best you can, and take what you can get. That's why I'm so excited about the years to come. I feel like this team can really -- they can do it, you know. Regardless of the odds or whatever. It would have been real easy for all the guys to get lax and not pay attention to the detail they do at the shop and for Bob to not take the gambles or spend the times that he spends on the race cars.
So, yeah, it's cool to be with a group of guys like that.
These two guys sitting next to me, they're as tough and determined as anyone. It's cool to be part of it.
Q. Jack, as an owner, you know how tough it is to win a title. Rick has won 8 of the last 14. How impressive is that to you? What does it take to be at that level for that long?
JACK ROUSH: I won one out of the first 18. I remember that. That was my record. And I had been -- particularly, I had been to Daytona for about eight times with my road race cars before I went to Daytona with a stock car. Every time I had been there I had always won. In fact, the road racing we'd done, we won for 14 years, we won 48 percent of the races we entered, and virtually all of the championships that were in front of us.
So it really came as a real dose of a shot of cold water, a dose of reality to figure out how hard it is to do this. Rick has built a strong organization. He's got a great balance between his marketing and his engineering, his identification of and development of able drivers like Jimmie and Jeff Gordon.
You know, he's certainly set a high bar there for us. I don't know if anybody with as -- with the nature of this new car, I don't know that any owner will win as many races in the near term as he's won in the recent past.
I just focus on next year. I know as I look at next year, we started off the year with a testing deficit with the Car of Tomorrow. We got that fixed toward the end of the year. We finished the year on a real high note, having won here, and felt like we had a chance to make a run for it next year.
I don't have a major concern toward next year in terms of either trying to fix a technical problem or trying to fix a team problem. Teams are functioning well, technical side is great. I just hope we can maintain our pace and our position on all of those things. Maybe next year somebody else will have the two ignition boxes that fail.
Carl talked about his ignition box problem. We had two ignition boxes that had never been in a race car before, that you expect to be as reliable as shotgun shells that you put in your gun in hunting season, and both ignition boxes failed at the same time on the same lap on the racetrack. You don't get any unluckier than that. When that's going against you, you can't recover in a ten-race steal.
We had a wreck at Talladega, but to have a second thing happen that you couldn't have stopped or couldn't have predicted, I just hope we can do as well as we can picking our parts next year. We hope Doug and the guys will do a good job with the engine, that they'll be as good as they were this year.
We're just going to try to keep it going.
Q. I don't know whether you're an optimist or pessimist, but as you look ahead to the winner, obviously you're going to come into next season as one of the favorites along with Jimmie and a couple of other guys, are you going to think more over the winter about the things that didn't go right this year or the things that did go right?
CARL EDWARDS: Definitely the things that did go right. The thing about this sport is you make decisions in the heat of the battle, and this is the decision you've made. You've got to move on and learn from them. I'm really proud of what we've done this season.
Yeah, we were close, but, you know, it is what it is. Next season we get to start fresh and apply the things we've learned and keep doing what we've been doing. I'd say in that respect, I'm definitely an optimist.
Q. Following up on that, we seem to be obsessed with rivalries and pushing people into rivalries in this sport. But clearly starting next season, a lot will be framed of you trying to deny Jimmie a fourth championship of the way you guys ran with him trying to win the fourth championship. As the season starts next year, you will be one of the two focuses. Do you relish that role as being one of the guys?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I hope I am. I hope Jimmie will make some (indiscernible) next season, I'll be glad to be the guy that denies him that chance. I don't know if it really matters what's written or what's said. I learned this season that so many things got built up, and everybody thought things were going one way and now they go another way. It just evaded everyone, exactly what was going to happen. Hopefully we can live up to the expectation that not only we have, but our fans and sponsors have.
Q. You say it kind of matter of factually, finishing second to both of these championships. But some people could argue that was a major feat. As hard, perhaps, as winning one or the other to second in the competition. And if you could speak a little more about that. It's a huge accomplishment.
CARL EDWARDS: Thanks, I appreciate that. It feels good. But, you know, it is neat to be able to race both of them. It's very enjoyable. I really appreciate Jack giving me the opportunity to do it. And the guys that he's put with me. I know that Drew -- right now, Drew Blickensderfer, he already told me, looked at me square in the eye and said, man, we are going to be better next year. We are going to go out to win every single race.
So I know he's got the killer mindset right now. I'm sure Bob feels the exact same way, and I do, too.
So, yeah, it's a good year. Second in both is an accomplishment. It's great. But, we hope we can do a little better next season.
JACK ROUSH: The thing that's there about the two championships, they're not at the same place. And all the trips that Carl's made back and forth across the country, and of course David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and a number of others did the same thing. But those trips, that's a young man's game to be able to travel all night and get in the race car that you haven't been in in some cases and drive it to great effect and trust what people have done when you weren't there.
It's amazing. As a young man, I don't think I could have done what they're doing, and I suspect that most couldn't.
CARL EDWARDS: You're being too nice. You'd do it with us right now.
JACK ROUSH: I'd do a lot of things right now that I couldn't have done when I was younger, and when I was younger, I couldn't do what you do.
Q. Jack, you touched on how hard it is to win a championship now with the parts and luck and the Chase format and what have you. I know you weren't racing here in the '70s, but can you offer some thoughts on how much harder it is now than when Cale did it?
JACK ROUSH: When I started in 1988, it was 90 percent art, this whole business was, and it was 5 percent science, and somewhere in between was the crew chief's luck. But now the guys, Bob and all the crew chiefs, have got to come to the racetrack with a really good plan. There is not enough test time to run all the things through the car that could be relevant, and the drivers have got to believe in that.
I know I was talking to Rusty Wallace over the weekend. We were together at a little engagement. And he was saying, you know, how much he liked picking the spring. That would be the wrong thing. The driver cannot pick the spring for his car. He's got to tell the crew, and let the crew tell the engineer, and let the engineer talk to the computer about what the car's doing, and what effect it would have. Then they have to believe in that and go forward with it.
I know if we looked at the progress of all of our teams this year, they've not all been at the best of their -- they haven't done to the best of their ability a lot of time. A lot of that had to do with the fact that they didn't believe in the information that the engineers were telling them about what was going to be right and wrong.
But it's a real tough thing. Particularly with Matt and with Greg, and with Jeff Gordon and all the senior guys that have been used to having art be the bigger factor to determining what they'd run. Now they have to step back and let somebody else tell me what's good for me and believe in it enough to go to drive it off turn 1 with great speed.
Q. Next season, obviously, you're not going to have cars on track doing testing. Does that play into your organization's strengths? Does that worry you? How do you feel that affects the competitive balance with respect to your team specifically?
JACK ROUSH: My big interest is trying to let all the anxiety that goes into our broader economy, and not really impact the business of entertaining folks and NASCAR stock car racing here. I'm a proponent of the racetracks reducing the ticket prices if they have to to fill up the stands, so that the sponsors and everybody that supports the thing can get their value for having the maximum number of people impressed or exposed to what we do.
To have the challenge that they have the automobile manufacturers and seeing to it not one of the manufacturers drop out and the teams they're associated with are not forced to be as competitive as they were. So I'm in support of not having for the broader reasons, not having the testing program, not having the testing program that we've discussed and was almost agreed upon if everybody will agree, if all the teams will agree, we won't go to the skid pads. We won't go to Pikes Peak, we won't go to the other places we could go outside of NASCAR's supervision. I don't want to do that either.
I want to make the racing as affordable as we can be for the sponsors and as interesting as it can be for the fans. The fact is, nobody that's there in the top 35 needs to have the number of tests that we had last year, and we can go on a diet not having it next year.
Q. I think the big story here is the fuel mileage again. And Jack said that you're the guy who can take it deeper in the corner and roll through the middle and not use as much gas. Can you talk about that? You have a hybrid under the hood or something maybe doing that? Or are you just one of those guys when you drive your regular car you have that egg between your foot and the gas pedal?
CARL EDWARDS: First, I think it's the hybrid did pace the field, and the hybrid did win with the Ford Fusion fuel mileage. I thought that was needed. I used to have this little junk car that I drove around and would take a lot of trips to Charlotte, and I could make it on one stop if I was really, really good with the pedal. So I used to drive this car for 12 hours and you could go the first six and the second six without stopping. And it would be about 10 or 20 miles short if you drove it like you wanted. So I did a lot of those trips. I don't know if that makes the difference. I think it's just how I drive.
I can tell you one thing, Bob was telling me to go slower than I was going, and I just knew Matt was going to make it. So I was really nervous Matt was going to make it and he was going to be in front of me. So I was going faster than I should have.
When Matt ran out with three or four to go, I thought, man, I have screwed this up big time. This is bad. It made me nervous, and I'm glad we made it though. I don't know what that's about, Bob, exactly. But glad we get good fuel mileage.
Q. Can you talk about winning the last race for Office Depot?
CARL EDWARDS: Office Depot came on board when really they didn't have me and what I was going to do and what we were going to do with the 99 team. There was no guarantee we were going to go out and run as well as we did. They came on board.
It was great to be a representative for them. They do a lot in the communities. They've given away I believe over a million backpacks while I've been on board with them. They've included me in that and I've been able to hand those backpacks to the organization and the kids.
We went down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Some people have been devastated by a hurricane down there. We gave a school -- I don't remember exactly how much it was -- I think it was $100,000 worth of stuff. Overall, I've been proud to be with Office Depot. Reasons for that I've been proud.
It's a little bittersweet to win the final race with them that we're in. But I think this is a great way to end it. I'm excited they're staying in the sport. I think Tony will do a good job for them. It's neat. It will be neat to race against that Office Depot car next year. That will be good.
Q. On Monday there will be a lot of various team members losing members of teams. There's a lot of sadness in the garage, losses happening. Of you, Jack, they've said in tough financial times you're one of the best. But when you look over the garage, the question is: Do you think these guys will come back and the pay scale will go down, and they'll come back and be paid less? Has it got too expensive? What are your thoughts looking ahead?
JACK ROUSH: The real risk is race teams folding. As long as we've got, you know, 48 or 50 entries for the Cup series for 43 spots, there's lots of jobs out there.
In our case, we haven't had a lot of extra people. We've got a model for how we run our teams and build our cars and it is fairly frugal. We don't have a reduction plan for any of our programs that have got the same activity level as we did last year. But there has been some economies of the Car of Tomorrow.
If you looked at where we were a year ago, we were running two different kinds of cars. So that required a staffing increase for most of the teams that enabled or justified a reduction on that account. Most of our reduction was in the area of car building, and that's already behind us as far as Roush Fenway is concerned.
At this point we've only got two Truck teams planned with sponsorship with 2009. We've had an adjustment there. There may be a little more to that. Some of the road crew next week.
But by and large, I'm happy to say that 99 or 95 percent of our staff is in place and is not subject to dislocation. But the bigger concern I've got is that we keep the racing affordable, the race teams affordable for the sponsors, and we're able to keep these other race teams in business. That's where the jeopardy is for job loss.
THE MODERATOR: Appreciate it. The 99 had a super season. Thank you very much.
CARL EDWARDS: And thank all you guys. I know it's been a long year for everybody. I'm wearing my beads, too. I don't know if you guys noticed that. I have to give them back.
But thank you guys for delivering the sport to all these people out here and sticking with this schedule with us. I appreciate it, guys. See you in New York.
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