Ford Kansas Friday Advance (Edwards)

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings coming into Sunday’s race. He spoke with reporters between practices on Friday.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – WHAT ABOUT THIS WEEKEND? “You guys know there’s no bigger race on the schedule for me than Kansas.  It’s fun to be able to drive over here.  It was nice to be able to wake up in the morning and drive to the race track.  Our car is very fast.  We’ve got a really good race car, so this is fun.  I like racing here. I’m excited to be able to race one more time on this surface.  It’s got a lot of character and a lot of bumps.  The car slides around a lot, it’s really fun.  Hopefully, the car runs well in the second practice and we can get a good qualifying position and the last time I saw the weather report it looks like it’s gonna be a beautiful day on Sunday, so this is as good as it gets for me.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR SEASON?  “We’d like to be leading the points right now, but the great thing is that all of our Fords are doing well and if it weren’t for Phoenix and Bristol, which we ran out of fuel at Phoenix and we got in that wreck at Bristol, we’d be looking pretty good.  We’re still OK.  We’re fast.  We’re competitive and we’ve got a lot of racing left, so we plan on marching up to the top of the standings throughout the season and hopefully get a couple of wins as insurance so if, for some reason, we have trouble we can still be in the Chase.  Right now, we need to capitalize on the racing successes of our teammates and we need to go out and win a race or two.  That’s what we’re focused on and this would be the ultimate place to do that for me.”


American Muscle

WHAT WOULD YOU TELL NASCAR IF THEY ASKED YOU HOW THIS TRACK NEEDED TO BE RESURFACED?  “I would not resurface this track ever.  I wouldn’t resurface tracks ever if it were up to me.  I’d patch the holes and keep on running.”

DOES IT HURT THE SPORT WITH RESURFACING?  “I don’t know.  There are so many different things that NASCAR and our sport has to manage and I know no one wants to sit through a delay while they fix a hole in the track.  Those kind of things that have led to some of these repaves, I understand that we have to address those things, but I am a racer that likes to race on a bumpy, rough, slick race track with the cars sliding all over the place.  That’s what I like.  They don’t even talk to me about any repaving stuff because they know my answer each time. I don’t care if there are 20-foot long patches of dirt in the middle of the race track, I’m happy.  Hopefully, when they repave this they will leave some of the bumps, they’ll use some sort of pavement that isn’t so perfectly smooth and sanitary.  That’s all I can hope for, but this sport came a long way without my opinion on pavement and I’m sure it’ll go a long ways.”

BIFFLE SAID YOUR TEAM IS STILL THE NO. 1 TEAM AT RFR.  DO YOU THINK HE REALLY BELIEVES THAT?  “Right now, Greg is the number one team, the 16 team is because they’re leading the points and winning races.  I don’t think in terms of who is the number one team.  I don’t think Jack thinks that way.  I feel that Greg and Matt have had a huge part in building this team, so that guys like myself are able to come in and have success.  Greg has my respect.  His team has my respect, just like everybody in the garage right now, so as to who is “the number one team” stay tuned.  That could change at any moment, I guess, but I don’t think like that.”

IS IT EXTRA MOTIVATION TO SEE GREG AND MATT FIRST AND SECOND IN POINTS?  “Yeah.  I think we all get motivated by someone doing well, but especially when it’s someone that’s got the same equipment as you and the same resources.  It shows us and gives us confidence that our 99 team has no excuses.  We need to be up there in the points where those guys are and I believe we will be.  We’ve proven that all three of these teams are formidable teams at almost any track we go to. Martinsville is still a little bit of a struggle, but I think all the teams are good and I think we all drive one another.  It’s like having a brother who pushes you, you compete with the people close to you the most, and I think it’s been really healthy at Roush Fenway for the last couple of years.  I’m glad those guys are running well.”

DID YOU LOOK BACK AND FEEL YOU COULD HAVE DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENT LAST YEAR TO WIN THE TITLE?  “That’s a really tough question.  I’ve been asked that a lot.  We actually sat down and had a meeting.  Bob and I are sitting there and Jack and Robbie, and I think Chip Bolin was there.  We said, ‘Let’s take stock in our season.  What could we have done differently.’  And I thought, ‘You know, it’s only one point,’ and then Bob spoke up and said, ‘If we had it to do over again, I wouldn’t do a thing differently.  We performed the best that we possibly could.  We made the right decisions.  Those guys just did better.’  We went to Homestead with the most pressure I think any of us ever had and we sat on the pole, led the most laps and were leading when it started raining.  If we perform like that each time when that pressure is on, we’re gonna be tough.  So looking back with a real objective look at it, I don’t know that we could do much different.”

ARE YOU CHARGING JUST AS HARD BEHIND THE WHEEL NOW AS LAST YEAR? “Right now I don’t think about the points, other than I know we need to make the Chase.  I think in terms of goals.  I set goals for myself.  The first goal when I get in the race car is to go as fast as I possibly can all the time, but the other goal is we have to score enough points to make the Chase.  Once the Chase starts, it’s a whole different ballgame and Tony showed us that last year.  He showed us that if you get yourself in there, you can make something happen. That’s the way I’m thinking.  Whether it’s right or wrong, I’ve done a really good job personally of looking at last season and saying, ‘Hey, I’m proud of how we performed.’  I cannot express to you guys how much I wish it would have gone our way.  I can’t say it in words how much I wanted to win that, but I also am a realist and I know that sometimes things don’t work out like you want them, but you better not let yourself get down about it.  You better move forward and that’s what I’ve worked on and I feel like we have more confidence as a team and we’re better than ever because we know we can do it, we’ve just got to go do it.”

THE LONGER IT GOES WITHOUT WINNING HERE DOES THE ANXIETY GROW?  AND DO YOU WANT TO WIN HERE BEFORE CLINT BOWYER?  “Let me put it to you this way.  If Clint and I are side-by-side going down the back straightaway on the last lap, it’s going to be an exciting turns three and four. Neither one of us might win.  Both of came from similar backgrounds. I think we both look at this sport the same way and it would be huge for either one of us, but there is an amount of competition between us going all the way back to Moberly, Missouri when Clint was driving Scott’s car.  We want to beat each other.  I’m sure that if one of us were to win and the other guy were to finish second that it would take a long time for the second-place guy to live that one down.  I’ll do everything I can to beat Clint.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED — WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT YOU HEARD ABOUT THE ROCKINGHAM TRUCK RACE LAST WEEK?  “I didn’t see any of the race, but the races I’ve seen from Rockingham were just spectacular. It’s an unbelievable race track.  As a racer, watching a race at a track like that is a lot like watching a race here at Kansas or Texas last week.  Regardless of how competitive it appears, as a racer when you watch it you see the car moving around and you can watch the guys working in the car and that is, to me, the neatest part about racing is the guy balancing that race car, going 150-180 miles an hour over slippery, bumpy pavement or dirt.  That’s what’s cool about racing, so I’ve always enjoyed the races I’ve seen at Rockingham.  Right back to the first question about pavement, that type of pavement – that old, worn-out, nasty, bumpy pavement is, I think, one of the neatest things about our sport.”

BIFFLE ALSO SAID HE LIKED BEING THE UNDERDOG.  DO YOU FEEL IT’S EASIER BEING IN THAT ROLE?  “Maybe for a new guy that underdog role is simpler, but I’ve learned that wears off pretty quickly.  I’d rather be the guy leading the race, leading the series, leading the expectations.  It’s just better to be faster.  I know Greg well enough to know that it doesn’t matter if he’s leading by two laps in a race or 100 points in the standings, he’s gonna drive just as hard as if he had nothing to lose.  Greg is an amazing competitor and I think we’ve all known at Roush Fenway and the people close to him how great of a driver he is and it looks like he could be the guy to beat for the championship.  Last year towards the end, Matt was running really well and it appeared – we had a couple meetings where it’s like we’re all sitting around the table and it looked like it might be the 99 and the 17 racing for the championship.  That’s pretty cool.  That’s pretty neat to be sitting in a room with nothing to hide. He knows everything about my car and I know everything about his car and it was like, ‘We might be battling for the biggest prize in all of motorsports.’  It’s just kind of neat.  It takes that team situation and makes it a little interesting when you’re competing against your teammates like that.”

WOULD HE BE A HARD ONE TO FIGHT FOR THE TITLE?  “Greg is a tough competitor.  He is tough.  Yeah, I think he would be as tough as anyone.  If you went into Homestead tied with Greg, I think everyone would respect how tough that’s going to be.”

DO YOU SENSE SOMETHING AROUND THE 16 TEAM THAT’S SPECIAL THIS YEAR? “I’ve been really impressed with Matt Puccia.  I know a lot has been talked about with him recently, but I’ve known Matt since I was about 16-17 years old and working at Ken Schrader Racing.  I say working, but I was just mostly hanging around.  He’s a racer.  He’ll do anything.  He’d mow the grass at the shop, wash people’s cars in the parking lot, do whatever it took to be around racing.  When you have a guy like that, some people might see him as a Cup crew chief, but knowing where he came from and the true love of the sport that he has, I’d say he’s gonna be a great crew chief for Greg.  When I look at Matt, he and I have kind of had similar career paths and what I’m saying is I know he has a lot more to learn and is going to be even better.  That could be a genius pairing by Jack Roush.”


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