NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Carfax 400
Topics: Carfax 400
August 15, 2010
HERB BRANHAM: We're going to start our post-race press conferences with our third-place finisher, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford, Carl Edwards.
Good effort today. Tell us about it.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that's probably one of the strongest performances we've had as a team in a long time. It definitely is. There at the end I felt like we were coming on. We had a very fast racecar. Greg was real fast. Matt was real fast. I think if we could have capitalized on those tires, had a little bit of track position, maybe a little bit of a caution or something, we would have been really, really good.
This is how you have to run every week if you plan on winning races. Fortunately we've been running like this for a while. It's really good.
HERB BRANHAM: We'll take questions for Carl Edwards.
Q. Are you there now?
CARL EDWARDS: We're close. We didn't have a dominant car, but we had as fast a car as anyone. That's about all you can ask for at this level of the sport right now. It's pretty amazing how competitive it is.
I think, like I said, if we can run like this every week, we'll win our fair share of races. We just have to keep doing this. We have to understand why we're faster, it's not just good enough to be faster, and apply these things going forward.
The Chase could be really good for us.
Q. How high is your confidence level?
CARL EDWARDS: Confidence level is pretty high. We'll see how it is after Bristol. That can shake things up.
What we needed to do here was come in here and pad our points in front of 13th, and we did that. I don't know what it is now in front of 13th, but it's getting to the point where we can start to feel comfortable. That's huge. I don't want to go into Richmond on the bubble.
Q. When you look at Harvick, he's 293 points up on second place. Your team is coming on strong now. Is this a good argument for why the Chase is good because a team like yours can make up that kind of gap now?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, I'm torn on that. I feel like the guy that performs well through the whole season deserves something. This Chase is good for us right now, that's for sure.
I don't think that you can say there's a favorite right now. I think if you look at how our teams are coming on, Denny is running really well. Anybody could steal the show. I think the fans are in for a fairly dramatic Chase. I think it could be really good, exciting, could be really exciting.
Q. Greg was up front all day, but you came on strong at the end. What did you do toward the end of the race?
CARL EDWARDS: I had a really good restart at the end. Actually Greg gave me space one time when maybe he shouldn't have, and that helped us a lot. He was a heck of a teammate today. I had a little bit of a run and I dove down right in front of him. I missed him by an inch or two and he gave me a little space. So that was huge.
I think Greg's car was better than our, he was faster. It's just the way things shook up at the end. That allowed us to get up in the front. Bob did a good job with the last adjustments. The car was super fast on the last restart.
Q. You're sixth.
CARL EDWARDS: Seriously, that's good.
Q. What does this do now for the game plan for the next race? Now do you start thinking, We have to win instead of protect?
CARL EDWARDS: That made me feel real good. I had no clue we were that far ahead.
So what do we have left? Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond? If we can make it through Bristol and have 200 points, if we can be 200 points ahead of 13th, we go for broke. I think of it as a hundred points per race. If we were 300 right now, I think we'd really go for it at Bristol. We still have to be conscious of that.
The guys back there, I don't know who is 13th, Mark or Clint? Clint, he's a guy who could easily replace anyone up there in the Chase. Those guys are really strong right now. If he goes out and wins two in a row or something, you mess up, put your foot in your mouth, then he could capitalize on that. So you have got to be careful.
Q. Did you make any big technical improvements before this race? How identical is your car setup-wise with Greg's car?
CARL EDWARDS: Those are good questions. We should have made a change from practice, but we stuck with what we had in practice because we were pretty confident in it. The race ended up being sunnier, more slippery. I think if we could have made some changes, we could have been better. I think we were very close to Greg's setup. Our car was close to his, but we needed to adjust on it a little bit.
HERB BRANHAM: We're going to hear from our second-place finisher, Denny Hamlin. Tell us about that effort today.
DENNY HAMLIN: You can finish with Carl first. He's got to go.
Q. From your overall performance, the pole on a road course being an anomaly, you have a remarkable string of finishing. The qualifying performance hasn't been as much. Down the stretch, are you not putting that much effort into qualifying or is it just a matter of your driving style? You have an unbelievable series of finishes but still seem to have to come from deep in the pack.
CARL EDWARDS: We've been focusing more on qualifying because that hurt us today. Our pit stall selection and starting spot. That's all based on qualifying.
We have started to work on it more. It's not something we can just all of a sudden be super good at, though. It's something we're building. I hope that we can get it good here in the next eight or ten races. We can do a better job of it. But it is important.
Q. Carl, you talked about being competitive nowadays. When the series came in in June, people said Gibbs was the team to beat. What is the best team out there these days?
CARL EDWARDS: It's tough. How many races have you won?
DENNY HAMLIN: Five.
CARL EDWARDS: Then he almost won the race today. Like I said, I think going into the Chase, I don't think there's a favorite. If we can come on and continue gaining like we have been, I think we'll be right there. Can't count the Hendrick bunch out. It's going to be a heck of a battle.
Q. Carl, not a win, but three, four, five for Jack. How does that feel?
CARL EDWARDS: Great. We really wanted to get a win. That's a strong performance for us and Ford. That's huge. Meant a lot to perform that well for him.
HERB BRANHAM: Carl, thank you.
Denny, we'll go to you now. Tell us about your effort out there today.
DENNY HAMLIN: It was a good effort. We still just didn't have the speed that we needed. It seemed like the same as qualifying, just don't have that overall speed. It helped today that the conditions were a little bit worse and the speeds slowed down because of the sun. It helped us a little bit.
I feel like if we had overcast conditions like we had during practice, I thought we were going to be in trouble.
HERB BRANHAM: Questions for our runner-up.
Q. Given how much you struggled in practice, are you surprised to be here right now with third?
DENNY HAMLIN: Not really. We finished second, thank you. But not really.
I mean, I felt like we were better than 33rd. We were not a 20th-place practice car. Those are all about single, one-lap fast speeds. I've never really been good at getting overall speed out of the car.
I said last year in Homestead after we won, in order to win the Chase next year, we were going to have to qualify better. Right now we are just struggling so bad with qualifying. It takes us the entire race to get to the front. That's going to be a tough road to travel if we're going to try to win the championship.
Q. Kevin obviously is running away here. Do you consider him a serious threat right now? Kind of glad there's a Chase because otherwise it would be kind of over?
DENNY HAMLIN: I tell you, I don't think that you can put together any 10-week stretch during the course of the year where Kevin has been off. He's always been solid. Even when we had that 10-week stretch where we won all those races, there were a few bad races in between. I'm sure probably Kevin scored the most points still in that 10-week stretch.
Through the course of the regular season, he has just been really, really good. Really reliable. He's been a guy that's been super solid. I really don't see how he can't be really the favorite going into it as solid of performance as he's been. Really not tapered off; he's actually gotten better.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the RCR horsepower. They're taking 18 engines to the dyno this week.
DENNY HAMLIN: I'd love to see it. We heard that they were coming with the engine stuff this week. We're not the best out there. I think the RCR camp has the best engines. So, I mean, we'll see with the dyno numbers.
These guys, they're tough. They really got everything working right now. Their cars are handling really well and they've got horsepower. Those are two things that is tough to beat. For us, we feel like we're off a little bit in our camp in a couple different areas. Meeting with the guys object Monday, we'll figure out what we've got to do to be better.
Q. Denny, is one of the beauties of the Chase that you have three weeks to try to get things figured out with your engines. You're not worried about getting into the Chase. Does this allow you to spend the next three weeks working on things and making it a dress rehearsal?
DENNY HAMLIN: Well, I mean, we're not just going to up and make 50 more horsepower in three weeks. That's a long process that happens. That's not the only place where I feel like we could be a little bit better. There are several different other areas with our cars I feel like we could be better. The key is to try to identify what that is, then relay that to the guys that make the changes.
It's not going to change overnight. It's not going to change over the next three weeks. We can do some things now to help us maybe for later in the Chase. So I've got a list. I've got a list of stuff we need to improve on and hopefully once we do we're just going to be that much stronger.
Q. Denny, it seemed like Harvick was able to gain so much ground on you on the straightaways. Was the horsepower pretty much the difference in the finish?
DENNY HAMLIN: You know, I was really beating him really bad through three and four - I thought anyway. He would catch me getting into turn three, I would pull away in three and four. He was quite a bit better than me in one and two. So it was kind of split.
It's tough. When you are the lead car, of course you're the one pushing the air. The makes it look worse than probably what it is because he had the draft right behind me. That made it look probably a little bit worse than what it actually was.
I definitely couldn't suck up to me like he sucked up to me. It's pretty much all we had.
Q. The pace of the race and the flow of the race was a little strange. Biffle dominated early. When did you first get a sense of how the race was actually going and who you had to beat? Was it halfway through, the last 10 laps?
DENNY HAMLIN: We didn't really know until that last restart with, you know, 20 or so to go when I restarted third. We didn't whether the guys with four tires were going to eat us up or not. I think five laps into that when me, Harvick and Tony started pulling away, I realized it was a three-car race for the win at that point.
But really it just seemed like whoever could get their car up front was pretty strong. You lose one spot, next thing you know your car handles a little worse and you lose more. It's a tough balance out there to try to get track position, but you got to have everything working right for you to get that track position. Once you get it, obviously the fastest car won today. So it was at least good to see that.
Q. Having to come up through the field like you did, what did that take out of your car and cost you at the end?
DENNY HAMLIN: What cost us the most is we had some electrical issues again with our race team. You can probably look up in the last two years how many times I've said that. We just keep having the same problems. So I couldn't run any tire blowers, any brake fans, no AC or anything to me. That's what really hurt us in the long run is not having cool tires. It beat us today. He beat us about 10 laps to go. We had about 30 laps on our tires.
You know, I'm not sure we really had anything for him anyway, but it didn't make things easier when we weren't able to run any fans all day long. It was a little bit tasking on me to be as hot as I was. Once you're up front, whatnot, your adrenaline gets going, that kind of overcomes things. Mechanically we need to be a little bit better.
HERB BRANHAM: Denny, thank you.
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