Ford Friday Advance (Edwards)

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is the highest
Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings heading into this
weekend – sitting in fourth place.  Edwards, who swept last week’s
Nationwide and Cup events at Phoenix, spoke to the media after
Friday’s practice session.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – “Last week was a blast.
This has been the best week of the year for me.  I take that back.  My
daughter being born was the best week, but this is a close second.
We’ve been having a lot of fun.  It’s been a good week so far.  I
believe, I’m not certain, but I think we ended up fastest in the first
practice there.  We’ve got a fast race car and it’s Ford Championship
Weekend.  There are a lot of exciting things going on and it’s
exciting to have a fast race car.  It’s been fun.  Starting at Texas
in the Nationwide car, winning that race was a big deal for us, and
then to do what we did last weekend was huge.  We just need to
continue it this weekend and hopefully lock down fourth place in
points.  That would be a big accomplishment for us and we’ll just keep
truckin’.”

WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT ON STAGE WITH THE ZAC BROWN
BAND?  “It was a lot of fun.  Those guys are really nice guys.  I met
them at Talladega and I didn’t know who they were.  I heard their song
‘Chicken Fried’ but I didn’t know that was them until it was either
after we met or halfway through our conversation.  They’re just the
most down-to-earth, humble guys, so they were playing last night and
they threw it out there that I could play with them if I wanted to.  I
figured that was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I had a blast.
The bass player, about halfway through the song came over and as cool
as he could be said, ‘Did they tune that guitar for you?’  I mean,
right in the middle of the song, and I said, ‘Yeah.’  And he said, ‘It
sounds out of tune.’  And he walked away.  I was like, ‘Oh, boy.’  And
then he turned around and laughed.  I thought that was pretty sly of
him.  We had a really good time, though.  It’s just a great group of
guys.  Zac Brown is starting a camp for kids and we talked a little
bit about it before we went up there, but he’s buying the property
himself, putting up all the money and following in the footsteps of
folks like Kyle and Pattie Petty, trying to do something good in the
world, so just really good guys.  It was a blast for me and I really
enjoyed it.  I don’t know if I did well or not, but I had fun and that
was my number one goal.  I’m not a good musician by any stretch of the
imagination, but I practiced that song a little bit and it was just
cool to be able to go up there and do it.  That was really, really
fun.  Those guys are massively talented and they did a good job of
making me feel comfortable.  It’s something I’ll never forget.  It was
just really, really cool.” 


American Muscle

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO RACE THOSE THREE GUYS
ON SUNDAY?  “They’re all gonna be aggressive.  That’s the way it’s
gonna be, no matter what they say.  That’s how they got into the
position they’re in, and now it’s gonna be a great race for everyone
to watch.  I hope I’m watching the whole thing in my rearview mirror,
though.  I hope we’re fast enough that we can do what we did last
week.  We’ll see in race trim how fast our Aflac Fusion is, but Greg
looked extremely fast in race trim.  I couldn’t believe the lap he
laid down his first lap on the race track, so, to me, I don’t go into
this race even thinking about them and their situation, I go into this
race thinking what can I do to win it.  If it gets to the point where
I’m racing one of those guys really hard and I don’t feel right about
it or something, then I might consider their situation, but, for now,
those guys are just guys that we have to beat.  Last week was a good
example of that.  I raced pretty hard with Denny, right up to the
point where I thought we might be getting a little bit too racy, and I
thought it went really well.  He raced me the same way.  The points
are what they are afterwards.  I think most of us just think of going
out there and winning the race.”            

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED — DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM NOW IS WHERE WE
THOUGHT YOU WERE AFTER ’08 OR IS IT TOO SOON TO TELL?  “It’s probably
too soon to tell, but it’s interesting you phrase it that way.
Someone asked my car chief, PK, ‘Hey, has he ever won the double
before?’  They thought that was pretty neat, and he said, ‘You know
what, I think the last Cup race he won was the double.’  So that’s
back-to-back doubles for us, they just are almost 24 months apart.
What we’ve got to do is we’ve got to keep doing the things we’re doing
right now to run as well as we are.  The upside to all of this and the
thing I’m excited about is I don’t feel like we have implemented all
the things we’ve figured out yet.  I think we have a lot of really
positive things that they’re working on at the shop, so I think we
could even be better yet come Daytona, Phoenix, Vegas.  I think we’re
poised to be extremely good at the beginning of next season, maybe in
a better situation than we were at the end of 2008, where I felt like
we had been ahead and people were catching us.  I feel like now we’ve
been behind and our progress curve is steeper than theirs, possibly.”

DO YOU SENSE MATT AND JIMMY ARE STARTING TO FIND SOMETHING TO ADD TO
THE RESURGENCE AT ROUSH?  “If you look at what Matt did at Texas, I
think if that restart were to happen a couple more times, he would win
the race about half the time.  It looked like him and Denny were
similar speeds and Matt just didn’t get through turns one and two the
best way that he could have.  Matt’s an amazing race car driver.  He’s
always, I think, just kind of flown a little bit under the radar, but
his speed has been spectacular.  I think we can just get our cars a
tick better, I think all three of us are gonna be really, really good.
But, yeah, Greg’s fast almost every week.  Our team is starting to
get that way.  Matt’s that way.  We’re right on the cusp.” 

WHERE DO
YOU THINK MOST OF THE GAINS HAVE BEEN MADE?  “I really don’t know.
That’s something we talked a lot about a little bit this past week in
looking back on the win and how we were better than we were the first
Phoenix race.  It’s really hard to say where the gains are at.  Right
now, if you have everything else being equal and all the cars are
equal, the guy who qualifies the best right away has an advantage.
That helped us out at Phoenix.  We may have finished third or fourth
if we had a different pit stall at Phoenix, so right off the top, if
you say, ‘Alright, qualifying.  That’s a gain,’ because that helped
our race.  That pit stall kept us up front each time.  The engine is
something that you can’t ever discount because you use it every lap,
qualifying, leaving the pits, restarts, all of that.  I think the
engine is really important and that’s something I believe we’re a lot
better than we were a year ago and we’re still making progress on
that.  And then just little things making the race cars better race
cars, but there truly isn’t one thing like the skewed rear-end housing
or a giant leap in horsepower or something like that, it’s just a
combination of very small things.”  

IS THERE A SILVER BULLET OF HOW
YOU WOULD IMPROVE THE CHASE IF YOU COULD?  “I think the idea of the
chase and the way it is right now was a huge leap from the way
motorsports and auto racing and NASCAR have crowned a champion over
the last 60 years, so I think that in itself is a very big leap.  I
think from my perspective, which may not be the best perspective, but
as a competitor I think we should just keep it the way it is.  I think
if we let it play out, already you’ve taken a season that’s 36 races
long, you’ve compressed it down to 10 races and I think that in itself
is a big change and it’s made things tighter and closer this year, for
sure.  I think it’s not gonna be a race like this every year.  It’s
not gonna be a championship hunt like this every year, but that’s just
auto racing.  I think if you keep changing it and making knee-jerk
reactions, that diminishes the value of that championship, so,
hopefully, they’ll just stick with what we’ve got or make minimal
changes.”             

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED — HAS IT TAKEN TEAMS A FEW YEARS TO FIGURE OUT
A STRATEGY TO THE CHASE?  “I don’t know.  I think everyone looks at
that 48 team and at first when people said, ‘Oh, they saved their best
stuff for the chase.  They built up things for the chase.’  I thought,
‘That’s just the way to describe their success.  I didn’t think that
was reality, but now I think we’re all realizing that those guys
really have a strategy.  They have a real strategy to win the
championship in the last 10 races, and I think it has taken other
teams a little while to catch on to that, but this sport is so tough
that if you’re behind a little bit, you don’t have the luxury to
create some sort of strategy or implement some sort of grand plan.
You can have all the plans you want, but if you’re running 15th,
you’re still running 15th.  I think that teams are figuring out how to
focus their resources for the chase, but, still, there’s a lot of luck
involved, making sure you’re peaking at the right time – at least for
everybody but the 48 team.  I know we scramble as hard as we can all
year and I guess what I’m saying is I don’t know that there is always
a strategy with every team.” 

DO YOU REMEMBER THE ’04 RACE HERE WHEN
KURT WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP?  WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE?  “I didn’t have any
role in that race and I’m glad I didn’t because it worked out very
well for Kurt and the Roush team.  But I do remember spending a little
bit of time with Kurt before that race.  We were at the Roush sponsor
summit down at the Ocean Reef and I thought he was doing a really good
job.  At the time, there was a lot of media coverage about the battle
and I thought he had a lot of pressure on him and I thought he did a
really good job of handling it.  I sat next to him and we signed some
autographs and I felt like it helped me kind of see what he was
dealing with and see how much pressure there was on him.  I kind of
tried to put myself in his position and think how I would handle it,
and, for me, I think that was a good experience so I’m glad I was
close to it.  I didn’t get to see the race.  As it unfolded, I didn’t
realize the thing happened with the wheel falling off and all that
stuff.  That’s just spectacular and I think that was good for the
sport, and I think that Sunday these fans are in for something really
spectacular.  There’s a feeling to me in the air that this thing is
gonna come down to the last lap and it’s gonna be a spectacular race,
and I think that’s the best thing we could have, not just for us as
competitors, but for you guys and for our sponsors and for everybody.”


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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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