NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Daytona 500 Qualifying
Topics: Daytona 500
February 19, 2012
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: Starting on the pole for the 2012 Daytona 500, the first Coors Light pole winner for 2012, which means, Carl, you have already qualified for the 2013 Shootout at Daytona.
The front row of Roush Fenway Fords. The No.99 Fastenal Ford is sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500. Owner Jack Roush. I understand crew chief Bob Osborne had his father pass away and is certainly in our thoughts and prayers.
Carl, congratulations. What does it feel like to be the polesitter for the biggest race in our sport?
CARL EDWARDS: It's an amazing feeling. I just cannot thank Jack Roush enough for all the work that he's put in. Doug Yates, I feel like he should be sitting up here with us. Those guys have done an unbelievable job of working through the transition to the EFI. It's just amazing. To know for the next week Bob and all of us are going to be working on the fastest racecar here at Daytona and preparing it for the biggest race of the season is a lot of fun. It's great.
I'm glad that I'm driving it.
KERRY THARP: Chip Bolin crewing the car today. Congratulations, Chip. Talk about when the car unloaded till the time it went to qualifying, did you think you were going to be sitting on the pole?
CHIP BOLIN: We would like to think that we were going to be. Our goal was to sit on the pole. You come down here to try to run the fastest lap you possibly can. The guys at Roush‑Yates engines have worked really hard to get us ahead on the EFI curve. We were discussing last week, we felt this was the best crop of Superspeedway cars we brought to the racetrack in a long time. Our entire organization was really confident about it.
Bob has built this program on steady, calculated moves. We just tried to execute the plan he expected us to do, and here we are.
KERRY THARP: Jack, two of your Fords up there. Certainly another outstanding qualifying effort for Matt Kenseth, as well. Talk about being able to start on the front row for the Daytona 500.
JACK ROUSH: It obviously starts in the shop. Robbie Reiser, he's under the weather today as well. But he's worked really hard all winter. Great manufacturing program for us. Chip is behind the scenes leading the engineering group with the simulations, with the predictive things, the wind tunnel, kinematics and suspension. I tease him as he's writing up new stuff all the time.
There's a lot to this. There's a lot more than driving a car fast and having a fast engine. You have to coordinate every piece so it's ready to do its job when it's time.
I think we may have been a little bit lucky on our wind, more favorable wind than some of our competitors. I think that Greg's lap was impacted more than Carl's was.
It's just a crapshoot when you line your stuff up and see what you got. When you have the great people behind the organization, if they're as diligent as they are, on a good day you can have the success we had today.
KERRY THARP: The pole speed of 194.738 miles an hour, the fastest pole sitting speed for the Daytona 500 since 1999. Certainly the horsepower showed through today for the Fastenal Ford.
We'll go ahead and take questions from the floor.
Q. Jack, your reaction to the first Ford being on the front row for the Daytona 500 since 2007? Each year's frustration versus the satisfaction to get back on the front row, but also to get a sweep this year.
JACK ROUSH: It was great. We had a sweep that's in the record books for 2004. We had one of Robert Yates' No. 38 car and Greg Biffle's No.16 car there then.
It's great for Ford Motor Company. Ford has been behind my racing and been a great partner for more than 40 years now. Some days, many days, they don't get what they deserve, but today we've rejoiced in the success. I'll be happy to get the phone calls early in the week from people as they go back to work and read the newspapers and figure out what happened.
Hopefully they can sell some more Fords on Monday, as well.
Q. Carl, this is the fastest qualifying speed for the 500 in 13 years. You're only a tick off from what Gordon ran back then. How do you account for it? Is it the technology, the Ford engines, maybe why did it take so long?
CARL EDWARDS: It's not that simple. It's not the same rules package, so a lot of that's just chance. Our speed is based on what package NASCAR thinks is going to race the best and works the best for the current rules.
You can't really compare speeds here from year to year. All you can do is compare where you stack up from the rest of the field on a given day. For us sitting up here, that's where the pride in this accomplishment comes from. Hey, we got done with the season last year, we ended on a very high note. But obviously this shows that everybody went back to work hard and they brought the best racecar that we could here.
Like Jack said, the wind worked out in our favor. Everything went our way. But at the end of the day it's not just one Ford up there, it's two of them, two Roush Fenway Fords. I think that says a lot about the organization.
Q. Carl, this whole off‑season you've had to listen to everybody talk about how it was such a close championship race and finish second. How does it feel to come out of the box and be first?
CARL EDWARDS: It feels really nice. This is our second pole in a row. Feels nice to pick up right where we left off. I've been telling everybody, it seems like every media question, How great would it have been to have one more point? How did you deal with that this off‑season?
I think this is nice to come here and show everyone that, hey, it isn't just talk. Everybody at Roush Fenway went back and worked hard and kept their heads down and dug for, just like Chip said, the best racecars we've had in a long time. I thank Jack, Chip, Bob, Robbie Reiser, Doug Yates, everybody who has built these racecars, for not letting the disappointment of not winning that championship, not letting that slow us down, but instead giving us real motivation.
Q. Carl, obviously you want to win next weekend. That would be the ultimate. You've won poles before. Tell me how this rates in your career of overall accomplishments. A pole is a pole, but is this any more special?
CARL EDWARDS: This is very special. It's not a driving accomplishment. This is a team accomplishment, this pole. As a driver, any one of the drivers out there that would have gone out at the time I had gone out, would have been driving that 99 car, the Fastenal Fusion, this he would have run the same lap time I did.
This pole and these qualifying sessions at these restrictor plate racetracks, it shows you what the guys are doing at the shop, it shows you the engine capabilities, the engineering, the decisions by guys like Chip and Bob. So this is about the team. Today there's a lot of pride in this for everyone. Just like Jack said. I'm excited to have all the guys back at the shop this week know they sent the best racecars down to Daytona.
Q. You're a competitive guy. You've run short tracks all over the Midwest. You want to win every time they drop a green flag. Thursday is going to be different for you. If it gets goofy out there, your spot is protected, why risk it?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that's one way to look at it. The other thing is I know how good our backup car is. I also know you can't give these other guys any advantage.
If I were to not race and not understand the dynamics that are going to happen during the daytime here at this racetrack with this package, I'd be giving them something. I have to go out there as a driver and mix it up, race, see how our car handles.
But, yeah, there is a little bit of, Man, there might be something really special about this car.
I'll talk with Bob. I'm sure Jack will have some words for me before that race.
JACK ROUSH: We talked about it. I think you've been a little late going to the front some of the time. I would go to the front a little earlier. That would be my advice.
CARL EDWARDS: All right. I just do what I'm told (smiling). You guys write that and we'll see what happens.
Q. Noticing your record, you have had a lot more poles in the last two years. Has there been a strategy change on your team to go for pole positions, higher starting points?
CARL EDWARDS: Jack hasn't been doing much carburetor tuning.
JACK ROUSH: They're working me closer to the door. The more this technology expands, the less there is for a dinosaur like me to do. I'm just a comedian right now.
CARL EDWARDS: No, Bob and I and Jack and Chip, everyone, we've recognized the last couple years that qualifying is more important, it's harder to pass. I do get a lot of really good advice from Robbie and Jack and Bob about my shortcomings as a racecar driver. They've sort of kicked me in the butt a little bit. We've all agreed we need to focus more on qualifying.
I think our success out there has come from some of that recognition that it is important and focusing on it.
JACK ROUSH: I'd like to comment on that a little bit, too.
One of the things that happens, the qualifying event and the race are totally different, except for an impound race. We've made an effort with Chip's support, the direction he's had with his guys back in the shop, to be able to bring a racecar to the track that was set up with known things that would be of benefit for a qualifying package. We started with those in our practice and dedicated time that otherwise might have been fretted away on looking for that last shock absorber, that last pound of air pressure.
There has been a focus started with Chip and the guys in the shop, that the crew chiefs have carried forward, to dedicate a certain amount of time in practice for the qualifying event.
Q. Carl, last year it's actually not true you didn't win the championship because you didn't win races. If you would have been one position higher in any race in the Chase, you would have. But when you look back on that, I know when you tie for the championship and you don't win it, it has to rack your brain at some level. It racks our brain at some level. Is there anything other than just luck and the way things fell that made it that way? Was there any sense that you felt like you were too cautious or tried to be more consistent? Is there anything at all that you would have done different?
CARL EDWARDS: No (smiling). It's just like the four thousandth time I've been asked that question.
We sat down and we had a meeting. We all sat there. It was Jack, Robbie, I think you were there, Bob and me. The first thing Jack asked was the same question. I started to say‑‑ Bob said, No, if we started the Chase again, we'd do the same thing, put our efforts in the same places, I wouldn't change a thing. As we sat there and talked about it, there was Martinsville and Kansas in particular where we were truly running somewhere in the high 20s or low 30s, running laps down. We were able to come back those days and finish, I don't know what it was, ninth in Martinsville and fifth at Kansas.
That doesn't seem as exciting as a victory. But those days I was more proud of our ability to gather up those points. Those two days themselves were probably 40 points that we didn't really deserve. So at the end of the championship, when you look at it, we tied a guy who won half of the races. I venture to say if we would have been able to win half of those races, we would have just dominated that thing.
So I guess that's the long version of me saying we did the very best we could and there weren't any races where I got out of the car and felt like, Oh, man, I could have got another spot. I got out of the car at seven or eight of those races and thought, Thank you, Lord, for the spots you gave me and we were able to capitalize on it. In the end it ended up a tie.
Another simple way to put it is we didn't lose it. We didn't go out and do anything wrong. We went out, raced hard, did well, and they came in and beat us.
Q. Carl, I know that next Sunday is a long way away, there's races in between. Does it give you a little bit of relief to know when the green flag falls next Sunday you're starting at the front, all the madness that could transpire like last night?
CARL EDWARDS: I don't know. We're likely to wreck up there in the front, too. Last night I was running second behind Greg. Clint was third. He got turned sideways coming out of the tri‑oval. I truly don't know there's a safe place on the racetrack with this style of racing.
The thing that's really good for me is that Greg, the guy who has been my partner at these restrictor plate races, is right there with us. Him and I can work together. I know Greg has my best interests and Roush's best interests in mind, just as I do for him. That kind of makes me feel better, that we'll be together at the start, we don't need to find each other to help each other later.
Q. Carl, most of the recent 500s have ended with green‑white‑checkereds. Last night's racing would indicate the chances of that next week are really good. Do you go into the race assuming that's going to happen and you try to strategize and plan early for that or do you hope it's not going to happen?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I think you have to. Chip and I last night, he was calculating fuel based on going through a green‑white‑checkered. I think everybody knows that that's very likely to happen. As a driver, you have to in your mind plan how aggressive you're going to be and get a plan for that, too. So, yeah, we take that into consideration.
Q. Carl, there's this sentiment that plate qualifying doesn't matter as it pertains to where you finish on Sunday.
CARL EDWARDS: That's what I've always said. But I've never qualified up front.
Q. Other than the marketing part of this, the exposure part of this for you, your sponsors and team, why does this matter to you?
CARL EDWARDS: That's a really good question. It probably wouldn't have mattered to me the first time I came down here or the second time. But now, after seeing how hard everybody works all winter, how much pride the guys take in how these cars qualify, it does mean something to me. It's a sign of the strength of your team. It's not that we just have one car up there. To have two cars, to have that whole front row, I mean, that says a lot about Roush Fenway Racing, about Ford. It's huge for our sponsors. You said 'other than the marketing'. There is no part of our sport that is other than the marketing.
For Fastenal to be on the pole for the Daytona 500, their first Cup race, that's huge, too.
But your question is specifically, What does it mean to me. It's that understanding of how much goes into it and now that I've been in it for a little while I recognize this is huge for everybody at the shot.
Q. Jack, Trevor's sponsorship situation being what it is, do you think him getting a solid spot in the race helps you?
JACK ROUSH: Certainly it helps. Trevor is the reigning Daytona 500 champion. We have not managed to put together full sponsorship for the Cup program or the Nationwide program. We do have ongoing conversations.
I don't know that there will be any great improvement in our prospects based on this, but it would have certainly have been a downer if we failed to qualify or had a problem with our car on that lap.
Q. Fuel injection, what has it been like so far?
JACK ROUSH: Doug Yates and Ford Motor Company have set the curve. We've had three or four tests. I think there were four that we were invited to bring our fuel injection. Our system worked better than everybody else's every time we went out.
Today it's not a well‑kept secret, but we had a qualifying calibration for the fuel injection. I think that some of the speed we found in our car from the practice on Saturday to what we have had on Sunday here was the result of the work that Doug and the guys did in the shop, with Ford Motor Company's support.
The fuel injection thing has been a boon for us based on our support and partnership with Ford, the insight and inspiration that Doug and the guys have had.
Q. Carl, the cars were extremely unstable last night. It's the shorter spoiler, longer rear bumper and the nose, and the water temperatures were surprising. You had to make a quick move. All this instability, do you think they ought to do something to make the cars more stable in the rear?
CARL EDWARDS: I guess you're right. I don't know. In my mind if they just take the front splitter off and the rear spoiler off of the thing entirely, it would be better. To me the less stable they could be the better because it would separate the cars a little bit and make it a race. But that's not what people want to see. They want to see that pack.
What NASCAR has done, and I give them credit, they've done a really good job of making the cars just stable enough that everyone can stay together in a pack. But they're not stable enough to really partner up well and push one another.
Kyle and Tony were able to do it. We're going to look close at that and figure out how we can be able to do that ourselves. You got to look at the big picture. We have a racecar that can hold such high speeds. They're trying to slow the cars down enough to where you keep them under a certain speed, but that speed makes it easier for the car to drive, then they have to take downforce away to make it harder to drive, but not so hard that the drivers complain. NASCAR is just trying really hard to keep this race so that it keeps everybody happy.
Q. Jack, water temperature, engine problems you foresee?
JACK ROUSH: We pretty much decided that with 250 degrees water is all we recommend, water temperature. It's down substantially from what we had before NASCAR got involved with a number of things they required. There's limitations in the system.
Everybody that loses water in the engine has an indication that the water is leaving. There may be some situations where there will be cars hit pit road for a drink of water, but I don't think it will be a major factor. I think the bar has been lowered for what the tolerance is for temperature of the engine, and I think everybody understands what the impact of that is.
It's going to be okay.
Q. Carl, the pole here has traditionally not meant a lot but I get the feeling you think these cars are really good in the pack and this is a car that is as good as any out there, where in years past you maybe would have won the pole and that didn't equate to running well in pack racing.
CARL EDWARDS: We've been able to do the things we've done at these restrictor plate races, which for me I don't have a win yet, but we've had some really good runs with cars that were not this fast on qualifying day. So to me, I'll take a little extra speed anytime.
There are times, no matter what anyone says, when you're running around in that pack, you can tell one car is just a tick faster than the other. For me that's a good feeling to know I'm going to get in this Fastenal Fusion on Sunday and I've got as good a car as anyone, even if it's just a psychological placebo, really doesn't mean anything. It's nice to have that feeling.
Q. Carl, can you talk about balancing the fact that you want to win your Duel on Thursday versus trying to protect your primary racecar.
CARL EDWARDS: We talked about that a little bit earlier. I really haven't thought much about that. I've never been in this position. Bob and I will talk about it. Like I said, I'm sure Jack will have some input. We'll just decide what we're going to do.
Even if we make a change halfway through the race and say, Hey, things look smooth, let's go for it, or, Things are looking insane, let's save the car, I don't know exactly what everybody will want to do.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations to Carl, Jack and Chip on winning the pole for the 2012 Daytona 500.
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