CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – HOW WAS PRACTICE? “Practice was great. I think we ended up fastest in practice, which is great.
We’ve been focusing a lot on qualifying. AJ was really fast. I think Matt was really fast. We’ve come to this race track focused on qualifying, so we can start up front and have a good run. It’s not been the year we wanted, obviously, but to look at the points and see that we have a shot to finish fourth, legitimately, based on our performance the next two weeks is what we’re here to do, so it’s a good start for us.”
WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR GUYS TO MAKE UP POINTS AT THE END OF THE SEASON AND DO YOU THINK IT WILL CHANGE THIS YEAR?
“That’s a good question. I don’t know why it’s so hard to make up points at the end. For us, I remember when I was battling with Jimmie, I think he won here and I finished third or fourth, and then we went to Homestead and we won and he finished 15th or something like that. I think the guys that’s leading, a lot of times in this sport the harder you try, the worse you do, so the guy that’s leading, I believe, has a little bit of a psychological advantage because he can step back a little bit. The guy that’s chasing will sometimes maybe try a little bit too hard. The difference this year though is that it’s Jimmie Johnson chasing. Those guys don’t make mistakes. They’re able to perform and make clutch performances when it counts. I still feel like Jimmie is the guy to beat. I know it doesn’t look that way right now, but I still feel like Jimmie and those guys are still the guys to beat.”
OTHER THAN THE MONEY, WHAT DOES IT DO FOR THE TEAM WHETHER YOU FINISH FOURTH, FIFTH OR SIXTH? “We want to finish fourth and not sixth or eighth or tenth because when it comes down to the end of the year you have to look at how you did with what you have. If you look at the laps led, I think we’ve led 150-200 laps this year.
We have not had the best performing race cars and the best results that we’ve ever had, so, for us, there’s a lot of pride in making the most with what we’ve got. If we can finish fourth in points, that’s a heck of a job for what I feel like we had. For us, there’s a lot of pride in that – for me there personally is – and when you go back and look at history it looks nicer to finish fourth and third and second.
If you’ re not gonna win it, you want to do the best you can. You’ve got to have goals and this is our goal right now.”
DO YOU EVER LOOK AT OTHER GUYS AND WISH YOU HAD WHAT THEY HAD IN THEIR CAR? “Yeah, all the time (laughing). There’s a lot of that that goes on in the garage. You look at a guy’s car, for instance, Denny Hamlin’s car at Martinsville, I watched what his car did and how it performed and I thought, ‘Man, they figured it out.’ It was driving like I wanted my car to drive. It’s like that at different places and I think everybody does that. You look at other cars and you watch them and I think that’s part of what makes a good driver or a crew chief or a car chief – to be able to look around and see where someone is beating you and try to figure out how they’re doing it. I guess that might be different than other sports because there’s a huge mechanical part to this that if you can figure it out, you can go faster.”
YOU’LL BE IN EUROPE FOR THE RACE OF CHAMPIONS IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS. WHAT ABOUT THAT EVENT IS FUN FOR YOU? “We’ll be traveling on Thanksgiving, so I’ll get to spend the morning with my family so that will be nice, and then we’ll travel over to Germany. I’m going with Travis Pastrana, so I’ll be curious to talk to him a little bit about that (coming to NASCAR). He’s a wild man. I think that will be good for him to come here. Hopefully, he does well. I think it would be good if he could do well, but that’s gonna be a blast. We go over there and I get to see a country I’ve never seen. I get to race against guys like Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Loeb, he’s amazing. That’ll be fun. It’ll be a rushed weekend. We leave on Thursday and I think we’ll be back on Monday or Tuesday for the banquet, but that’s a good way to relax, I think.”
DO YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF CARS YOU’LL BE DRIVING? “They just sent me a list of the cars we’re driving and they’re some pretty interesting cars. They’re gonna try to get some cars to Columbia, Missouri and we’ll go somewhere to drive them, but I still don’t know what the course is gonna look like and I don’t know exactly the format. When we did it at Wembley Stadium, it was really, really tough. It was a really short course and they were cars that I’d never driven before, so it was really interesting. I think it makes me a better driver, though, because I got to ride with Sebastien Loeb and he’s the best driver I’ve ever ridden with. I’ve never seen anything like it with the way he drove the car through the wet, tight course. That was amazing.”
WHY DO YOU THINK JIMMIE IS STILL THE GUY TO BEAT? AND SECONDLY HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF BOB OSBORNE MADE SOME OF THE COMMENTS MIKE FORD DID LAST WEEK? “Mike Ford is a smart guy.
He’s just saying whatever he can to get things stirred up so that maybe he has an advantage. I don’t personally know Chad and the guys on the 48 team well enough to know if that will work or not, but that’s just part of the game. Guys are trying to gain and advantage wherever they can, and the thing about Bob Osborne is that he is one of the most mentally tough people I’ve ever come across in my life.
So whatever he says or does that’s fine. I don’t think you could get in his head, but everybody is different. I don’t know the relationship that Mike Ford and Chad have, but whatever they’ve got to do, they’ve got to do. I guess that makes it more interesting for all of us. I think Jimmie is still the guy to beat just based on how they’ve performed in really high pressure situations over the last half decade. They just have an ability and Jimmie has an ability, and I’m not saying that Denny doesn’t have that ability, but Jimmie has proven that they can do that. And then I’m not certain of statistics, but it just seems like Jimmie and the 48 guys have less trouble mechanically. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s something that just seems that way to me. It could really come down to something as simple as that, but when I say Jimmie is still the guy to beat, it’s barely. That’s the feeling. I’m not cheering for one or the other at all. That’s how I feel.”
CAN YOU FORESEE PASTRANA BRINGING HIS FANS OVER HERE TO NASCAR? “Pastrana is an icon, really, I think. What he’s done, the ability he has to transcend motocross and freestyle and rally racing – all these things that he’s done – I think it could be huge. He just has to do well. If he comes over here and can do well, that’ll be great. That’ll be great for him.
It’ll be great for our sport, his fans. I think it’s just very, very difficult to do it. He’s a smart guy, so I’m sure he has a plan of trying to get some experience in testing and things like that, but I’d be glad to help him – right up to the point where if he’s really fast I won’t help him (laughing), but it would be cool. I think all of us would agree that for him to be a part of this and to do well would be huge.”
THERE HAS BEEN TALK ABOUT THE FINAL RACE OF THE YEAR MIGHT BE MOVED IN A FEW YEARS. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RUNNING THERE? “Ford Championship Weekend, I’ve always driven a Ford and it always seems like a fun weekend. I believe that the weather down there, I don’t know where you find better weather at that time of the year, and now that they’ve moved the Nationwide banquet and the Truck banquet to that Monday, to me, it feels like a nice place to go race and to finish the season. It’s also a track, I think, that represents the average track that we race on. It’s a mile-and-a-half, but it’s a true oval, so it is a little bit different. It’s a real fair track to end the season on. If it were a road course or superspeedway or a short track, there are more variables that play in. I think you can go to Homestead and you can perform the way that you should perform.
I think it’s a good way to end the season, so I wouldn’t change it just based on all that, but I guess you never know.”