NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Toyota/Save Mart 350
Topics: Toyota/Save Mart 350
June 26, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We also welcome Carl Edwards.
Carl, you are still the points leader by 25 over Kevin Harvick. Talk about coming into the road course at this point in the season and maintaining that points lead.
CARL EDWARDS: I think this is a huge weekend for us. We started out terrible. We changed plans right at the end of practice on Friday. We all got together and talked about it. I called the CEO of Fastenal. We decided for me to stay here and practice on Saturday and Billy Johnson would run the Fastenal Mustang up there in Road America. That was the call of the weekend. Ended up giving us two hours of practice. We got to really work on the car, and that's what made this a good day for us.
I would have much rather gone over and raced over there. Bob did a great job with the strategy. Early in the race we were terrible. We were back there mired in the back, all the other terrible racecars like Jeff Gordon's (laughter). I almost passed you on the green. It was going to be big. But in the end, he got us. You know, back when I was a little kid and you didn't have gray hair.
JEFF GORDON: Like I said, I'm going to be 40. There are some advantages. Today it paid off.
CARL EDWARDS: He got us in the end. It was a great points day.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. When Kurt stayed out, did you think this was playing in his hands?
CARL EDWARDS: We were too far back.
JEFF GORDON: You have to ask somebody that actually could see the front. I know it wasn't me.
CARL EDWARDS: No, at the end on the restart they were telling me his lap times. He was kind of easing around there. Once in a while he would blister off a fast lap. His car was extremely good. I think he just had a very fast car.
Q. Carl, if you were battling for the points in the Nationwide Series, do you think you might have made the opposite decision and gone out to Wisconsin?
CARL EDWARDS: I think we would have. As it stands, we're racing for the owner's championship over there, then there's the fact that I committed to running all the races. That was the most important thing, that Fastenal was okay with me staying here. They made it clear they were part of Roush Fenway Racing, not just for our 60 team.
We're still fighting for the owner's championship over there and I'll race any race that I can.
Q. Jeff, you mentioned before the beginning of the race your car wasn't as good, then it was way better in the second half the race. What was the biggest difference you made or maybe the way you were driving to get up to second place?
JEFF GORDON: We made a lot of adjustments. Gosh, rubbers in the rear, track bar, wedge, everything else. You know, I didn't really think any of those things were making a big difference. But we also were never in clean air.
There at the end, that was the furthest forward we had been all day. I really think the adjustments we made really did work on just helping the car turn into the corner a little bit better and getting us pointed up off the corner so we could drive off a little straighter. I was just so tight getting in the corner. Because I had so much wheel when I went into the throttle, I wanted to spin off. I was really slow through the fast sections as well.
We struggled in every aspect. Normally when you're off a little bit, there's normally one corner you're good in. There wasn't one corner I was good in. There at the end, I don't know if the track came to us, what happened. It seems like that setup, the adjustments we made, being in cleaner air, started working for me. I had enough grip to really use the curbs. By using those curbs, I could get up off the corners better.
Q. Kurt Busch said at the end of the weekend he was put off by the fact you didn't apologize to him last year; you apologized to other people. Have you ever used something like that as a catalyst to come back and kick everybody's butt? He had a phenomenal race. Have you ever used something like that to kind of push you to have a day like the day Kurt had today?
JEFF GORDON: Well, no. I make a bonehead move and mistake on a guy, a guy like Kurt Busch who ran me off the track on a restart, then I ran him off the track on the next restart. But I did it far more.
I didn't feel like I owed him an apology. He's done things to me over the years that I didn't get any apology on. That's just the relationship I have with Kurt. If it's Carl, certain guys out there have certain relationships. If you have that kind of respect on the track for one another, you apologize. I don't think that exists really with me and Kurt, so I see no reason to apologize.
Those guys have been on a mission here lately. I would say their motivation is how bad they ran earlier in the year. I think it was pretty well-documented how much they struggled, some of the comments that were made. Whatever they've done since then, it's been working. They're fast on ovals, fast on the road courses. They were strong all weekend long.
To me, that's why he's in Victory Lane, 'cause he's a good driver and he had a great racecar and team today.
Q. The way they have come back and performed here lately, have you ever seen a team and organization turn things around that fast?
CARL EDWARDS: I don't know if it's unusual, but they definitely have turned things around. Our team one year ago after this race, we turned things around, got on a roll. Now all I worry about is how long it's going to last, if we can keep it going. I'm sure they're thinking the same thing, hoping they can keep this going through the whole season. It's amazing how the performance in this sport peaks and can fall as quickly as well.
Q. Can you give us an idea what you thought when you saw the 14 car. It's not often that we see a car kind of in that position, so to speak.
CARL EDWARDS: I don't know. What happened?
JEFF GORDON: I'll tell you what I thought. Did you see the wreck in the Grand-Am in Elkhart Lake? That's what I thought. Throttle stuck or brakes went out. You got to be traveling at a high rate of speed going backwards to get up on the tires over there and keep it there.
From what I heard, he had a little help getting there.
Q. Carl, how much do you think staying yesterday helped? Was it tough at all watching the Road America race?
CARL EDWARDS: It was tough to watch the race. But I think staying was the right decision. I paid off today. It was a good call. We could have finished poorly here, ended up on the fence over there like Tony did or something. Anything can happen. It turned out to be the right call and it paid off, so it was a great move.
Q. From up here it looked like things were crazy on turn 11. Lot of action. In your past experience with this race, was it more than usual or anything different about turn 11 or just the way luck is?
JEFF GORDON: I mean, I made a comment one time on the radio, it was nuts, just crazy, crazy. You guys are seeing turn 11. It's crazy from the time you drop the green going into one, two, three. I mean, it's just the buildup to get to turn 11.
The problem is turn 11. There's two places you can pass on this track, going into seven and 11. You couldn't really pass going into seven today. It was so slick, you had to be so careful. So everybody gets to turn 11. Because you're racing one another, it seems like guys, you know, really block the inside lane and force guys to go around the outside lane. So it builds frustration. You get in a position where this is your only shot for that entire lap to try to make a pass.
So, you know, either somebody gets aggressive and drives in there too hard, makes contact, or they just get frustrated and start using the bumper. It's hard to say. But it was pretty crazy from where I was sitting. I know that.
CARL EDWARDS: It looks like there's an opportunity with all the pavement out there to move turn 11 150 or 200 yards this way. Call it the doughnut hole. Spin around and do doughnuts. A lot of pavement to put that corner all the way at the end of it. You know what I mean?
Q. Jeff, you alluded you didn't feel you needed to apologize to Kurt from last year. You apologized to a few of the others. Did you come into this race planning to run it differently than you did last year?
JEFF GORDON: Well, I didn't plan on going into it last year that way. It just kind of happened that way.
I was not proud of some of the things that I did last year. You know, it's not my style. It's not the way I like to race. Like I said, there were some instances where it was a mistake on my part. Juan Pablo is behind me. He's the king of the late brakers. He would be a long bay ways behind me, yet he would still drive down inside me. When I crashed Martin, I was blocking Juan Pablo and made me go into Martin. It wasn't like I was trying to do anything towards Martin.
There were times today where we didn't have the car and I gave up the spots. I wasn't going to try to push the issue. I guess that's good and bad. I didn't have a car that could even try to pass anybody or block anybody down in turn 11 for most of the race. So I had to give up a lot of those spots and bite my tongue and hope that we could get it fixed or get track position, which it worked out.
I certainly didn't want to make as many enemies as I did last year, because I made a lot of 'em coming out of here. So it's nice to come out of here and that not happen. I don't think I really touched anybody today. So that feels good.
CARL EDWARDS: You really pissed me off passing me at the end (laughter).
JEFF GORDON: But I didn't touch you (laughter).
CARL EDWARDS: I felt bad after that race. Then I heard how mad everybody was at you and it made me feel better (smiling).
Q. You might not want to talk specifically in the first person, but talk about retribution and what you need to do if someone gets you earlier in the race. With Vickers and Stewart today, they seemed to have the bad blood. I'm sure you've had problems with other drivers in a particular race. Talk about that in general because NASCAR might be listening.
CARL EDWARDS: I don't think I've ever gone out and tried to get somebody back. Have you?
JEFF GORDON: Never. And I have a terrible memory. I never remember those instances where I got into a wreck with somebody so I forget about it later.
CARL EDWARDS: I think NASCAR has this 'have at it' mentality, the statement they made. I think in the end will be better and safer for all of us. You know when you're out there, if NASCAR is going to let things be settled on the racetrack, I think people will respect each other a little bit more on the racetrack, and that's good.
JEFF GORDON: The only thing I'll say is if you're going to try to win a championship, those types of situations are, in my opinion, going to hinder you from doing that. If you start getting into a battle with a guy, especially if it's somebody that is not in championship contention, you know, then what happens is you're not going to win. It's going to be a lose for you and everybody. If it's somebody that's in the championship, then you guys have to figure out how to settle it, whether it happens on the track or off the track.
I think it just depends. If you're that upset at what happened, and you see that guy again before the race is over, you're still upset, depends on how your fuse is. Some people have short fuses and some people have long fuses. I got into a battle with Tony Stewart before. That's not a guy I battle with anymore. We had our situation. I'm so glad that we resolved it fairly quickly. Nobody has more respect for one another out there than me and Tony because I've been on the other side of it with him when he can get mad. He's not a guy that you want to have gunning at you. He's a great racecar driver, he's smart, he can get really mad. We'll see how this one turns out.
Q. Jeff, does it ever get old winning in your neck of the woods? Probably not.
JEFF GORDON: I hate winning and I hate finishing second. It's awful (laughter).
CARL EDWARDS: You have to deal with all the trophies and money and stuff. It's awful.
JEFF GORDON: You have to understand my emotions throughout this day. Carl can relate because I know he was back there with me. I never thought for one second we were going to finish second today or anywhere in the top 10. So to come back and do what we did was incredible.
I love coming out here for so many reasons. You know, the family, the friends. But I love this track. It's a very challenging, but fun track to drive. It's the first road course of the season. That's unique and different for us at this point in the season. I get to bring my family out here. Ella's birthday is this past week, so had a birthday party for her. There's just one thing after the other. I have the wine that's out here. There's so many reasons I love coming out here.
So to me it's only added pressure to try to do well on the racetrack. And I'm just shocked with all the distractions that we've actually been able to be as successful as we have. I was up the 4:30 in the morning two days this week. I was dead here on Friday. Luckily my wife was very considerate to let me get a lot of sleep the last couple days. I don't think we would have run as well as we did today.
Q. What were you doing up till 4:30?
JEFF GORDON: I was up at 4:30 with Leo. That was six or seven years ago (laughter).
Q. When you see something like what went on with Vickers and Tony, Vickers may come back at him and vice versa, how aware of you are that while you're trying to run your clean race? How do you handle that?
CARL EDWARDS: I wasn't even listening.
JEFF GORDON: You have to understand, neither one of us even saw that. I don't know what happened. I hate to comment on something I don't know what happened. I was purely pointing out an instance with me and Tony.
It sounds like there was a situation, I don't know what it was. I was kind of using that as a reference. But I have no idea what happened.
I think something may have happened earlier that led to that. But I have no idea. I don't think it's really something I can comment on.
Q. You're not aware of that at all. That doesn't factor into trying to stay away from those guys during the course of the race?
CARL EDWARDS: My spotter does a good job of letting me know who is mad at each other. Jason says, Watch these guys up here, they're about to wreck each other. You never really know what happened. You don't know if it happened a lap before. It's hard to tell in real-time what happened to who and what's about to happen.
Q. Jeff, your fans out here are pretty crazy. They just love you to death. How do they compare to fans around the country? Are they as enthusiastic?
JEFF GORDON: Well, you know, you've got the really avid core of fans that are kind of based back east or in the southeast that are very avid fans. The difference is I'm from here. Because I'm from here and we've had so much success out here, the avid fans that are out here are as big of fans as there are anywhere else in the country.
It feels so good to go to driver introductions and get the reception that I get. Even just walking through the garage area. Again, another one of those reasons why I love coming out here, because it is not the same other places that we go. I have an incredible fan base, but it is a little bit unique out here because Vallejo being so close.
Q. After the race, Jeff, you came into the winner's circle and congratulated Kurt. Did that have anything to do with what went on here last year?
CARL EDWARDS: Did you apologize?
JEFF GORDON: I'm still not apologizing (laughter).
No, had nothing to do with that. The guy did a great job. He drove a great race. They've been running well. To me what happened here last year, what happened at Martinsville, is behind us. I've moved on from that. I think we're pretty even. Was just congratulating him on the win. Had nothing to do with anything else.
I think it was his first road course win. Is that right? So a guy really who is as talented as he is, every guy that competes in this series has won on ovals wants to win on a road course to kind of prove something to themselves and the rest of the competitors. When you do that the first time, I know how much it means. I know it meant a lot to him. I wanted to congratulate him on it.
Q. Carl, you decided to stay and practice yesterday. Did that help for you?
CARL EDWARDS: Come on, you need to get here on time.
Q. I was with the winner.
CARL EDWARDS: Hey, we're all winners (laughter).
It did help to stay. We covered it earlier. But I think it was a good decision. I owe it to Fastenal for helping me make that decision. It was cool.
Q. Jeff, you talked about that you haven't been real good on the road courses. What does this do for you now? You were right there at the end.
JEFF GORDON: I have a question for Carl. I want to know what you were thinking when you decided that you were going to fly all the way across the country from California during the middle of the season for that race.
CARL EDWARDS: I like to race a lot, okay?
JEFF GORDON: I know you do.
CARL EDWARDS: We had so much fun last there, man. Have you raced there?
JEFF GORDON: No. When you left last year, I was like, He's crazy. So I take my hat off to you for doing that.
CARL EDWARDS: Thanks.
JEFF GORDON: I mean, I think I may have answered that question, as well.
CARL EDWARDS: Are you going to write this article on Tuesday (laughter)? We're just messing with you.
JEFF GORDON: I don't remember the specifics of your question. But we struggled throughout this day and we really were able to turn it around with some adjustments as well as track position there at the end. So kind of contributed to a great finish.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you for your time. Congratulations.
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