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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Daytona 500

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Daytona 500

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Daytona 500

Carl Edwards
February 26, 2012


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

KERRY THARP:  Carl Edwards was certainly kind enough to come in and join us today.  Carl would of liked to have come in after he won the trophy, and he still very well could.
CARL EDWARDS:  I plan on it.  Hope it works out.
KERRY THARP:  He's our polesitter for the 54th running of the Daytona 500.
Carl, you're an athlete, highly trained athlete with a lot of focus.  Coming in last night, this morning, that focus was on taking the green flag.  Now you have to push that back several hours.  How does that work from an athlete's point of view?
CARL EDWARDS:  This is one of the toughest things for us drivers.  I mean, you're living it as well.  You're sitting here.  You planned on getting this race in, writing your stories, covering the event.  Now when you put that off for another day, for all of us, it's now who can really stay focused.  That's not just the drivers, that's the pit crews, the crew chiefs, everyone, the officials.
But I think we'll be just fine.  Someone told me this is the first time it's ever been postponed.  A couple years ago I remember it was late or something.  They talked about that.  I think that's a pretty good record for NASCAR.  They've been living right to have 53 of these and never have one postponed.  That's pretty spectacular.
We'll come race tomorrow.  I think everyone is really excited about this race.  All the drivers I've spoken with, you know, the fans, this is going to be a very good Daytona 500.  I think NASCAR, they're doing the right thing, you know, not dragging this out.  Everybody knows we'll be racing tomorrow during the day.  It will be a good event.  Just hopefully that weather will hold off and we won't be in this same position again tomorrow.
KERRY THARP:  Questions for Carl Edwards.

Q.  Carl, obviously a lot of moisture on the track today.  How might that impact things?  Does this really whack up your schedule for the week?  Have stuff you have to reschedule?
CARL EDWARDS:  No, I'm pretty open.  I mean, I didn't have anything scheduled for tomorrow.  So this is fine.  Did break the awning on my motorhome.  I left it out in the rain.  Cost me a little bit.  But we'll just hang out.
What does it look like for tomorrow, the weather?

Q.  Rain.
CARL EDWARDS:  Awesome (smiling).  What are you guys going to do (laughter)?  Eat?
You know, I heard the dryers going out there.  They're doing everything they can.  There's so many people, I have a lot of friends out there, they were debating whether to drive back to their hotels.  Now everybody gets to go back, have a little fun tonight.  I'm sure there will be a lot of people out running around in Daytona Beach to wait for this race to start tomorrow.  Nothing big for me.  I hope it's a really big day.
Let me put it this way:  if I did have any plans, I'd go ahead and put them on hold for the Daytona 500.

Q.  Track surface?
CARL EDWARDS:  I don't think so.  The only thing is that the rain will make the track a little more abrasive to start.  I think NASCAR will have a competition caution.  We'll get to look at the tires.  Hopefully there won't be any trouble.  We didn't see any trouble in the Gatorade race or the Shootout.
That's something you're always worried about at these places, you're at such high speeds, if you have the camber wrong, we've had trouble before at these places just 'cause if you have too much camber or something, it heats up that outside edge of the tire sometimes, even on the straightaways.  I don't think anybody will have an issue.

Q.  A little off the wall.  Maybe other people are going to be disappointed.  Everybody we had in here this morning, the Thunderbirds, John Cena, all they could do is talk about you.  Talk about your relationship with the Thunderbirds and with John?
CARL EDWARDS:  The Thunderbirds, they're amazing.  I don't know how many of you guys have taken rides with them, but you definitely should do that.  It is amazing.  They're spectacular.  I'm proud to say that I made it through my whole flight and I didn't get sick, which I guess is a big deal.
It was really cool.  I don't know about you guys, but it was neat to see them flying around.  I think it was cool they did the fly‑over today.  They were right in the bottom of the overcast.
John, that's the biggest thing I'm worried about in Daytona, that guy is out running around with nothing to do.  He could tear this whole town down himself.  He's a good guy.  Hopefully he can stick around and for the race tomorrow.  That was a big deal for him to wave that flag.  He's genuinely excited.  So I think that's really neat.

Q.  Talk about the crew chiefs.  The tough thing with Phoenix being the next race is on the crew.  This puts them in a bind.
CARL EDWARDS:  I just was looking at the schedule earlier today.  We're not on the track till midday Friday or something.  Yeah, if we were to put this out until Tuesday, I think that would be real tough.
But I'm sure it will be fine.  I mean, we've got guys, they can do it.  I know our Phoenix stuff is ready to go.  I think there might be an issue with some of the engines, especially with our FR‑9s.  Have to ask Jack.  Doug Yates, the quantity, the amount of engines we had to have ready for these races, I'm sure they'll be running back and forth and turning things over.

Q.  What did you do throughout the delay?  If it's a night race tomorrow, would that change any of the dynamics of it?
CARL EDWARDS:  I'm assuming they would go until 7:00 or 8:00 tomorrow night.  If this weather is out of here, I guess we'll almost certainly get it in tomorrow.  I don't know that it will change much.  It will look neat.  That would be pretty neat to run the Daytona 500 under the lights.  I think the fans will enjoy it.
As far as what I did, I did not do much.  I really did break the awning on my motorhome.  That was kind of an ordeal.  Wayne, the motorhome driver, and I were up on top pulling fuses, trying to figure it out.  That was fun.  Just hung out.  Just watched a little bit of the coverage.
I did watch the US Open, the PBA tournament.  Have you seen that?  It was the 69th US Open.  Pete Weber won.  I don't know if you guys are Pete Weber fans or not.  That guy is intense.  Turns out he's from Missouri.  That was pretty interesting.
Yeah, I got into that a little bit.  It was inspiring.  He had to throw a strike, and he did, final throw.  He won his fifth major title.  Pretty cool.

Q.  These last couple days have certainly been exciting finishes and whatnot.
CARL EDWARDS:  'Exciting' is one word (smiling).

Q.  That's where I'm going.  If the Daytona is the same, is that good entertainment?  Is that good racing, I guess, or is it just entertainment?
CARL EDWARDS:  Well, this is a rare type of racing event.  In the whole world, I don't think there's anything like Talladega and Daytona.  I think NASCAR has done a very good job of making this race so that there's some driving involved, there's a lot of luck involved.  It's hugely entertaining.  I mean, they've kept the speeds down just below that really scary speed.
I don't know how to describe it.  I'm truly torn about this type of racing.  When the Nationwide race started yesterday, I mean, it really bothered me to not be in the race.  I wanted to be out there.  By the time it was over, I was watching the finish, I thought, Man, that's okay, that was neat to watch.  I'm glad I'm not out there.
In the space of one race, I had awfully mixed emotions about how much I like this stuff.
This place can chew you up and spit you out.  It can be a really frustrating day or it could be the biggest day of your career.  It all depends on how it turns out.  I'd say for most everybody, it's kind of love/hate.  It's really great when it goes well and it's really frustrating when it doesn't.

Q.  Speaking of the Thunderbirds, John Cena, do you miss some of the pageantry when you have to postpone race day?
CARL EDWARDS:  I don't know.  I mean, anytime you have to wait to race later, it has a different atmosphere.  But, I mean, we got to go out there, we got to take part in the driver intros.  We got to go to the drivers' meeting and see all the celebrities and everybody that had come.  Yeah, that stuff is neat.  It's neat to see that much interest in our sport.  I think it tells you a lot about how big the Daytona 500 is.
But then whenever you have these races, you wait till the next day, you go out there, walk up to the car, they feel a little different.  They feel more like a pure racing event.  It feels more like a short‑track event.
I don't know how to explain it.  It doesn't feel ‑‑ like you said, there's not as much pageantry.  It's more a feeling of just a pure race.  It's real cool either way.  I've enjoyed some of the Monday races that we've had in the last few years.  They've been a lot of fun.

Q.  Carl, could you expound a little bit on your experience in the Thunderbird ride.  The pilot said you were as good a pilot as you are a driver.
CARL EDWARDS:  I don't know what he thinks of my driving, so I'm not going to take that as a compliment just yet (smiling).
It was fun.  We took off.  I'm telling you guys, you really ought to try to do it.  Anybody that was interested, I'm sure they would work something out.
What you do, you get all the training first of all.  It's all about how to bail out of the airplane.  I guess Bill Elliott is the only civilian that has ejected out of a military plane in the United States.  I don't know if you know that story, you have to dig that up, ask him about it.  Looks like a helluva deal to get ejected out of one of those planes.
They teach you all this stuff.  They tell you where your survival packet is, how to land in your parachute.  They show you videos.  They get you thinking a lot about jumping out of this airplane.
By the time I got out there to the plane, I hadn't thought about the flight very much.  They throttle this up.  It literally feels like you are attached to a rocket.  They put full afterburner, takeoff, and Jason, my pilot, real soft spoken kind of understated kind of guy.  He said, We're going to pull‑ that's what they say‑ We're going to pull in three, two, one.  We were going about 500 knots at the end of the runway.  Slammed me into the seat, we went vertical 12 or 1300 feet (snapping fingers).  It's the most amazing ride you could go on.  You have this big bubble canopy.  You can see everything.  The whole world is dropping at MACH 9, 8, however fast you're going up.  It's just insane.
And he did let me fly a lot, which was cool.  It's nice to get some of your tax money back, get enjoyment out of it like that.  I really did enjoy flying it.

Q.  Do you have the kids here?  What do you do as a parent to keep the kids entertained during a rain delay?
CARL EDWARDS:  My family has been here.  It's been really nice.  We're all very fortunate to be able to travel with our families, to have our motorhomes and stuff here.  I know how tough that is.  For everyone sitting in this room, you don't have motorhomes, aren't able to bring your families a lot of the time.  Hey, man, I don't know.
So it is really nice.  We've been able to go out and enjoy.  Almost every day has been nice weather.  Just go to the park, stuff like that.  It's been really fun.

Q.  How about with the rain delay?
CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, the rain I think is hard on everybody.  Myself, my wife, you want to get out and go do stuff.  We might just go out and walk around, I got a good raincoat.  You guys know how it is.  You sit inside and wait these things out.  You get cabin fever.  You just want to go do something.  So who knows.  We haven't decided yet.

Q.  When they get older, you can let all the kids go out and play in the rain.
CARL EDWARDS:  I don't know.  I don't want my kids playing with like Newman's kids and stuff like that.  No, I'm just kidding (smiling).
It is pretty cool to see the kids play.  It's fun.  It's something that brings us all together here in the sport of NASCAR.  It's pretty neat.

Q.  Carl, during all this rain delay when you got nothing to do, was it mainly with the family or did you get together with other drivers and play goofy games?  I can tell you the media played Danica games.
CARL EDWARDS:  What is that?

Q.  We inserted Danica in movie titles.  Did you do anything really goofy is what I'm saying?
CARL EDWARDS:  No, I truly didn't do anything goofy.  I took a nap.  I truly was woke up to the sound of my awning on my motorhome collapsing.  Then we stood out there in the rain and worked on it for a long time.  Not yet, I haven't done anything crazy.
The coolest thing I did this week, I went down and I got my float plane rating in a little airplane at an airport north of here.  That was fun.  I landed on water, which sounds really simple.  But here in Florida, it's dangerous.  You have the giant reptiles floating around everywhere, alligators.  When I was flying around the lake, he was pointing out alligators.  That was a lot of fun.  But nothing in the rain.  I haven't done anything yet in the rain.

Q.  What actually happened, Bill Elliott was in a mid‑air collision in an F‑15.
CARL EDWARDS:  Holy smokes.

Q.  But he didn't eject.  The other plane crashed and the pilot ejected.  Bill actually landed.
CARL EDWARDS:  All right, well...

Q.  So you were half right.
CARL EDWARDS:  Well, thanks, though.  But he did run into another plane.  So he really got his money's worth, is what you're saying (smiling).  I always thought he ejected.

Q.  You've been around Danica last year in the Nationwide Series.  Now you're seeing a couple of the weeks of the reaction here, the crowds around here, the cameras and all.  Did you last year ever sense there was any resentment or jealousy among drivers from the attention she got?  Do you think that could happen?  Have you seen any evidence of that this year?
CARL EDWARDS:  I didn't really sense that.  I think all of us drivers realize she's a racecar driver trying to make it in our sport and trying to do well.  She seems to really genuinely want to do well, to work hard.  I mean, I treat her no differently than any other drivers who come over here.
I think that comes from me being treated that way.  People respected what I was trying to do when I came here.  I mean, I needed a lot of help.
You know, it is obviously unique, the amount of attention that she gets.  But, you know, I think that's probably only hard on her.  It's not something that, you know, I definitely don't resent it.  Whatever attention she gets, that's good.  If she can do well, you know, then that will be good for our sport.
But if she doesn't, then that just shows you how tough it is.  It could go either way.  But it is pretty neat that she's giving it her best effort.  I respect that.
KERRY THARP:  Carl, thanks a lot for coming in.  Have a good evening.  We'll see you tomorrow.
CARL EDWARDS:  All right.  See you tomorrow.



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