NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ford 300
Topics: Ford 300
November 21, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're going to roll into our post-race press conference from the Ford 300. We're pleased to be joined up at the podium right now by Carl Edwards, our race runner-up. He drives the No. 60 Ortho Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing. Also finished second this season in the Nationwide Series points standings.
Joining him up at the podium right now is Jeff Burton, our third-place finisher today. He drives the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, and up on the podium right now is the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year. That is Justin Allgaier. He drives the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge for Penske Racing.
I'll start with Carl. Carl, you raced hard, certainly gave it all you could out there today. Your thoughts about how things went.
CARL EDWARDS: Well, it was close. You know, we tried really hard. I drove my heart out there at the end, and I just wasn't going to be able to catch him and pass him the right way. So we got second.
My guys worked really hard. The best thing is we had a good race car for the first time at a mile and a half in a long time. We had a car that could win, and that was a lot of fun. There was one point in the race where me and Kyle and Joey and Jeff were racing really hard. It was really fun. I mean, that was really fun to be a part of. I had a good time.
THE MODERATOR: Jeff Burton, third place out there tonight. Your car was running up front most of the afternoon and evening. Your thoughts about how things went?
JEFF BURTON: Yeah, obviously we're a little disappointed with third, but it was fun. Carl is right. Early in the race it got a little strung out, but it was okay because we were leading. But once the caution came Carl got real fast, and it was a race from then on, and I thought that was a lot of fun to be part of, and it's -- the cool thing is all those guys we were racing with you know you can race hard and everybody is going to treat each other with respect and race hard and run hard, which is what we're supposed to do, but treat each other with respect, and that's a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: And Justin, your thoughts about being the series Rookie of the Year. Congratulations, quite an accomplishment for yourself.
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Thank you very much. I want to thank Raybestos and NASCAR for allowing me the opportunity to do this, and especially Roger Penske and Penske Racing. Last year at this time I wasn't sure exactly what we were going to do; I thought we were going to run about ten races. And so to come out here with the Rookie of the Year means a lot.
To go back next year and do the same thing again with Verizon Wireless and be back in the 12 car, it's going to be a lot of fun next year. Hopefully we can our program a little bit better. They've done such a great job and they've worked so hard, we just feel like we're still missing a little bit, and I think part of that is probably myself, and there's things that we need to work on better. So I think once we get that accomplished, I think we'll be able to hopefully get up there with these guys and run a little bit more consistently.
There's been a couple races we've been able to run up front, but the majority of them we've just been trying to fight for that 5th through 10th place spot, and tonight we didn't even do that.
But it's good to get it. I mean, it takes a lot of pressure off. That was one of our main goals going into the beginning of the season. That's what we set out to do, and we were able to accomplish that, especially with six or eight of us that signed up to run for the Rookie of the Year. It means a lot to me, and hopefully we can come back next year and run that much harder and be that much more competitive.
Q. Jeff, you're renowned as one of the cleanest drivers. Can you just address the intensity that causes somebody to spin somebody out on the track? Have you ever dumped anybody? And also, how bad does it make you feel, or do you even think that much about it?
JEFF BURTON: Are you asking me about Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski? Okay, I just wanted to make sure. I thought Denny did the right thing. When you constantly get spun out by the same car, there comes a time where you've got to put your foot down and not take it. The next time Keselowski thinks about spinning him out, he'll think about it.
It sucks when it gets that far. That's what's -- it should never get that far. You should be able to sit back and have a conversation. You're going to get -- people are going to get together and you're going to have times that you're mad, and you've really got to sit back and have a conversation and really think about it because we're prone to think people do it on purpose all the time, and I don't think that people normally do it on purpose; it does happen.
But when it continually happens with one guy, you can't take it. There comes a point where you just no longer can take it. And I've seen Carl have to put his foot down and I've seen me have to put my foot down; I've seen every driver in the garage at one point say, you know what, I'm not going to tolerate it anymore. And that's okay.
It's a self-policing sport. It's hard for NASCAR to get involved in it because it's hard for them to really know everything that went on. But if NASCAR can't make the call, then put it in our laps and we'll do it.
Q. Carl, on that last lap it looked like you got pretty close to him, but then it looked like the back end broke loose for you in one of the turns. Describe how close you were coming.
CARL EDWARDS: I was closing at a rate that was going to take about three more laps to really get him. So there in the last corner I just dove way down in there to see what that looked like, how close I could get. I mean, I couldn't get by him without probably touching him. So I didn't -- I just didn't have enough time.
But I thought it was pretty fun, though, trying to come -- we restarted eighth and got to race a little bit and made a good charge.
Q. For Carl, can you talk about the decision to pit there the last time?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, it was the decision not to pit the first time that really put us in that position, and Mike Kelly thought we were going to be faster, so he decided not to pit. Everyone else pitted. But the good thing we had there is we were the only ones with a set of tires left. So I think if it would have gone green we would have finished third, and as it was we got to put tires on and finish second.
If we would have pitted with these guys the first time, I don't know, we maybe would have been able to win. But I thought we still had a shot at winning. I thought we were going to win the race there on that last restart. But the 18 car was just too fast on those tires.
Q. Justin, can you talk about what the Rookie of the Year means to you in your career, still early at this point?
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Well, I mean, you only get to do this once. Maybe a different series or whatever, but you know, I think at the end of the day I've been able to accomplish some really cool things, and this definitely is right on the top of the list. You know, it means a lot. I mean, this sport is fun, and you know, these guys come over from the Cup side and I get to race with them and have a good time. And at the same time it's still a job. It's still tough. I mean, if you ask them, they're having a good time, but it's still tough.
So you know, I think that for me it means a lot. I think with Brendan being multi-time Truck racer and having Cup experience and some of the other talent that was involved, I feel good that we were able to come out on top, and it just really puts a period on the end of the season for us.
Q. For Carl and Jeff both if you could, it's Kyle Busch's first championship. He's been through a lot in his still young career. Can you kind of talk about that and what kind of accomplishment it is for him?
JEFF BURTON: He hasn't been racing that long. How could he have been through a lot? What is it, his fourth year or something?
Kyle is a phenomenal driver. He's going to win more championships. This is a competitor -- I've never won a championship, and I have a lot of envy for guys that have won them. I know Carl won one, and Kyle has won one, and there's a lot of -- that's a heck of an accomplishment. You know, they deserve it. I mean, Carl pestered them this year, but at the end of the day they've been the fastest car the majority of the time. He deserves to win the championship, and it's just that simple.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, my championship means a lot to me. At the time I was so caught up in it, I didn't -- I don't think I valued it as much as I do now, and I have for the last year and a half or so. And this race this year was -- I mean, it's like Jeff said, those guys, they really earned it. I mean, they performed well. They did not back into this. They overcame a lot at the beginning of the year.
I hope they enjoy it. It was enjoyable racing with them. The highlight of it for me was all their crew guys thanking me after the race. I thought that was pretty nice of them. They didn't have to do that. So a hard-working group of guys deserve that championship, that's for sure.
Q. Justin, we're going to be talking so much about the Denny-Brad thing over the next couple days, and hey, that guy is going to be your teammate next year. So I just wanted to get your reaction on all that. And just having a second full-time team, I know you guys have been a single-car team in the Nationwide Series, how that might help you as you try and go for a championship next year.
JUSTIN ALLGAIER: Well, I'm glad that Brad is coming over. Having a teammate, it doesn't matter at this point really who it was. It's definitely good to get somebody in there that has some experience for sure, and I think that it's going to help our program as well as theirs. Like I said, I think we've still got some room to grow, and I think we can still learn some stuff.
The deal between him and Denny, it's unfortunate. I'm not going to take sides because I'm not in either one of their shoes, and I can't tell you what I would do if I was in either one or the other's shoes. It's a tough situation. Nobody wants to see somebody get wrecked or wreck somebody else. But at the end of the day, it happens, and like Jeff said, it's kind of self-policing, and I'm sure that they each felt they were right.
Like I said, I'm just glad to have him as a teammate. Hopefully we can take the information that he can bring over and that we've learned from the course of this year, and it'll definitely help.
JEFF BURTON: I want to be clear; I like Brad, too. I don't mean to say either one of them is a bad guy or whatever. Sometimes stuff happens. I think Brad Keselowski does a really good job, and I think he's going to be real successful in the Cup Series, too. Sometimes you've just got to take control and make it stop.
CARL EDWARDS: It's between them. The thing is there's two sides to every story, and sometimes things get painted a certain way. You never really know, you know. I guess I'm with Jeff; I can't take sides on that. I've been wrecked by Brad, but we worked that out. You know, I think there really is, there's two sides to everything. You never really know who's in the right, you know?
Q. I guess for Carl and Jeff, despite all the differences of opinion, can we agree on one thing, that this sort of feud is good for the sport in terms of generating interest and fan frenzy?
JEFF BURTON: It works for wrestling. You know, I hear that, and I don't know what I think about that. I certainly -- I'm a fan of the sport, too, and I like to watch a good race. I like to watch a good hard-fought race. I'm way more interested in watching that than two people jaw about each other to be perfectly honest. You know, if two guys truly don't like each other and they happen to be running first and second, that is a compelling thing to watch for sure. The same thing as watching Duke and Carolina play, same thing as watching Green Bay and the Vikings play.
But just the jawing and all the intentionally wrecking and all that, I don't think that's something that our sport needs to be successful. I hope it's not something our sport needs to be successful. I hope what our sport needs to be successful is just good, hard racing. I understand some people like it, but I'd like to believe that the core of our sport has more to do with racing than it does running that mouth.
CARL EDWARDS: Amen.
Q. Carl, I guess I'm going to be the bad guy that changes topic. I just wanted to talk about Gibbs real quickly because they've won the last two years I think 33 races now out of the 70, and -- it's ridiculous, it's almost half the races, so they're kind of like the Hendricks of the Nationwide Series right now, and I was kind of wondering, where do you think they have the edge? Where do people need to work most in the off-season to catch up?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question. Just recently I've felt like our engines are comparable to theirs. That's been something that they've really done well at. Our guys have been working hard, though, and we're closing that gap.
I was talking with some other drivers about it even tonight, just how well their cars handle. They seem to build really nice stuff, and they put a lot of effort into it. I think it's a whole package.
I initially for a long time thought it was just the engine, and I'm starting to realize that our cars could be better. That car tonight was a good example that I was driving of a car that was better, and I was more competitive with them.
I feel like we're catching them. But they've got -- from the drivers to the tire pressures, they seem to have things figured out over there.
Q. Any one of you guys want to -- everybody is so mystified a lot of times over a team that is doing so well. You never seem to put a finger on it. Nobody will say anything what it is, and then some people say, well, it's a small thing and some people say it's a big thing. What do you think it is? Is there some mystery to it? Is it always going to be a mystery?
JEFF BURTON: I personally don't think there's one widget on a car that makes a car go fast. I think it's everything. When you dominate, when you shoot that figure out, that means that their engines are really good, that means their cars handle really well, that means they're driving them well, they're making good decisions, they have good pit stops. It's all of that.
I agree with Carl 100 percent; I think they had us killed on the engine for a long time. But even when they were just killing us on engine, they went through the corner fast, too.
So they drive them hard, they drive them well, they have cars that stick. They work hard on them. They've got good aerodynamic packages, they've got good spring shop packages, they've got a good chassis package. You don't do just one thing well and when that percentage of races. It's all of it. If you watch their pit stops, they hardly ever lose track position on pit road. When you're going to win that many races in that amount of time, you're going to be doing almost everything as well as you can do it.
That's the way I see it. I just don't believe there's a magic button that they push or a magic spring or a magic shock that makes that car run well. It's all of it.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, congratulations, Jeff, Carl and Justin. Thanks for a great season.
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