Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:
NRA 500 Advance (Texas Motor Speedway)
Friday, April 12, 2013
FORD FAST FACTS:
Jack Roush leads all car owners in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Texas Motor Speedway with nine. The next closest is Rick Hendrick with four.
Ford Racing leads all manufacturers with 11 wins at Texas Motor Speedway, compared to eight for Chevrolet, three for Dodge and two for Toyota.
Texas Motor Speedway was the site of David Ragan’s first NSCS pole when he took the top spot in the 2011 spring race.
Jack Roush has won his nine NSCS races at TMS with five different drivers. Jeff Burton won his first series race in the inaugural Texas event in 1997 while Mark Martin followed that up with a victory one year later. Carl Edwards has won three times while Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth have two under the RFR banner.
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion, is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings going into tomorrow night’s race. He stopped by the infield media center after practice on Friday to talk with the media.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion – WHAT IS THE OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND? “First of all, it’s good to see you guys. It’s been a while, but, yeah, we’ve had a great start to the season. Testing didn’t go very well yesterday. We struggled a little bit with our Fastenal Ford. Fortunately, Greg Biffle with his 3M Ford was very fast, so we basically just stole all of their notes and went and started this practice session and the car was very good. It’s not quite as good as it needs to be on the long run, but, at the end of the day, we still are practicing in conditions that we’re not going to race in, so I think we’re all trying to figure out exactly how the race track is going to be at night tomorrow. It’s a fun race track for me. I really like this place. I think you guys are gonna see a great race because the tires are falling off quite a bit, and I believe that was the key to the spectacular finish at California, so I’m really excited about the race. It’s a fun place to race for me and I think it’s gonna be a good show.”
HOW GOOD DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR START AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE BEEN UNDER THE RADAR? “Yeah, we’ve been a little bit quiet, but that’s OK. I’ve been having a lot of fun. It’s a huge relief to have a win early. That was big for a number of reasons. Number one, we felt like we could run that well, so to get that win based on the crew chief and the driver and the pit crew all working really well together that early in the season, that was huge. The other thing is it lets us play around a little bit more with setups and driving and strategy because we already have that win and we’re pretty decently high up in the points, so it’s just been kind of relaxing and fun. A good example was our practice session today. From yesterday, Jimmy Fennig and the engineers were able to basically change everything and make the car a lot faster, so it’s been really good. I think we’re kind of building our team for the Chase.”
WHY IS ROUSH FENWAY SO GOOD HERE AND CAN YOU APPLY THAT TO THE NEW CAR? “I don’t know why we’re so good here, but it is nice to come here. I think all of us look forward to coming here because of our past performances, and I know we expect a lot out of ourselves here. It was neat yesterday, I was talking to Greg Biffle during testing and we were talking about the track and about what his car was doing and he said something that kind of struck me. He was describing his car and he said, ‘But you know it’s just like Texas normally is,’ and I thought, ‘Here’s a guy who knows every nuance of this race track and he knows exactly what the car is going to do after five or six laps and he’s a resource that I have and Ricky has, so I guess Greg Biffle’s success is a big help here. He’s a motivator. He was way fast yesterday and I got to look at his data and I think that teamwork is key here.”
KANSAS IS NEXT WEEK. YOUR THOUGHTS? “There would be nothing better than winning here in Texas and then going to Kansas and doing it again. That race track means a lot to me. We tested there a couple weeks ago. It went pretty well, but it was only our team, so we really don’t know how we stack up, but it’s lightning fast. I think we were 207 or 209 miles an hour at the end of the straightaway there at Kansas, which was really good and really fast, but we didn’t have any other teams there to compare with. I’m excited to go back there. It’s amazing how much that area has built up and how much is going on there. It’s a neat place and I’ve got a lot of family and friends coming, so that would be huge to win there.”
HOW DO YOU THINK THE NEW CAR WILL DO ON A STILL-NEW KANSAS TRACK SURFACE? “I had reservations just because of how different the car is and the cambered rear ends and the different aero package, and then those last 10 or 15 laps at California pretty much said it all to me. If we can put on that style of a race at a track that’s two miles long and has all the aero issues that we complain about, if we can put on a race like that at California, I think this car could put on some very, very good races at these mile-and-a-halfs. I believe that one of the biggest things that made the race so exciting at the finish at California is the way Goodyear had engineered the tire to interact with that track surface, so what you had at the end of the race was you had guys like myself, who had a 12th-place car, but we came and got tires and could go four-wide in the first corner and ended up finishing third or fourth. I think that’s the key, so I don’t know yet if Kansas has aged enough for the tires to act like that. It feels like Texas has and I think Kansas will be a good test to see how the tires work on that really perfect surface that they have there, but I really believe Texas is going to be good.”
HOW MUCH SPEED ARE YOU CARRYING INTO THE CORNER HERE AND IS IT DIFFERENT FROM THE PREVIOUS CAR? “It always feels like you’re carrying a ton of speed in the corners. Even with the other cars it did too, but this new car it’s extremely fast. I mean, the testing at Kansas was very, very fast. One of my buddies came to the track over lunch and he’s been going there for years and he said that it just looks so much faster in the corner. I don’t know the real difference. I haven’t gone back and said, ‘Hey, how much faster are we going?’ But the cars have a ton of grip.”
CAN YOU PUT A NUMBER ON IT? “No, that’s what I’m saying. I didn’t go back and compare, but I know it gets your attention. It’s amazing that these cars can weigh as much as they do and the tires can hold up and everything works out because it’s very, very fast.”
HOW HAS MATT BEING GONE AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GREG? HAVE YOU WORKED TOGETHER MORE? “I know this weekend being next to Greg in the garage and with his success here I find myself walking over there for the last two days asking him a lot of questions, but I’ve always felt like I could go talk to either Matt or Greg or Ricky now at this point. It’s not like the guy with the most experience always has the best ideas, so I think it’s just more important that we all talk to one another and work together and, right now, it’s as good as it’s ever been. Matt and Greg and I, I felt bad losing Matt because he was such a huge asset. We get along so well now, but I think that Ricky is picking up a lot of slack and we’ve all talked about it. We actively said that we have to work together and we’ve got to do the best we can. We’ve even extended that to Brad and Joey. I’ve spent more time talking to the Penske guys than I ever have, so I think we’ve got five really good guys.”
DO YOU HAVE A BETTER READ ON JIMMY FENNIG NOW THAN WHEN THE SEASON STARTED? “Yeah, I’m getting a better read on Jimmy. I still joke around with him at times that he feels it’s inappropriate and then he gets mad at me, but I’m learning which times are appropriate and inappropriate. We have a lot of fun, though. He’s a really good guy and a very hard worker and the more I learn about him, the more grateful I am that I’m partnered with him.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO HAVE A RIGHT-FRONT GOING DOWN IN THOSE SECONDS BETWEEN FEELING IT AND WHATEVER IS COMING NEXT? “I don’t even want to think about that. That’s on the list of things we don’t think about very often because if you drive in that corner and you’re thinking about the tires giving up, that’s no good. Goodyear has done a really good job lately and we haven’t had a lot of trouble with that, but it’s tough to decide whether to lock up all the brakes or keep trying to turn. It is no fun to hit the wall as fast as these cars are going when you have that trouble. That’s no good.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DRIVER CONFRONTATIONS WE’VE SEEN THIS YEAR? IS IT GOOD FOR NASCAR? “I notice there has been a lot of violence at my workplace lately (laughing). I don’t know what to think of that, but I think that you’re seeing a lot of passion. You’re seeing guys that really care and I think that has always been a part of this sport. If you go down to Cowtown and watch the races tomorrow night, there will be guys that get out of the car really, really mad at other guys. I’m sure there are those of you in this room that are guilty of getting really, really frustrated on the road. It’s just really hard to express yourself from inside of a car, so you get out and it’s all built up and you just go for it. I think that’s just part of the sport.”
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF AS TO WHY YOU ARE DOING SO MUCH BETTER THIS YEAR? “I wish it was just up to willpower because we would be all right, but it’s just the fact that Jimmy has a lot of experience. I’m doing everything I can do. My pit crew has been a huge, huge part of our success this season. We had a bad race at Martinsville, but, other than that, our cars have also been very fast and very competitive. Doug Yates has been doing a great job with the engines. I think everything has to be there, and we’ve had a little bit of luck. Things have gone well, so I think if we just continue working as hard as we can, we’re running a little bit better now than we were last year, so we could weather a bad luck streak a little better right now, but it’s all the parts of the team. We’ve got good cars, good people, good pit stops. That’s good stuff.”
HAS NOT DOING THE NATIONWIDE RACES HAD AN EFFECT ONE WAY OR THE OTHER? “I don’t know. I think it’s been very good. It’s let me spend a lot more time with the guys and a lot more time focusing. I haven’t been paying as much attention to the Nationwide Series, but I am going to broadcast with ESPN the next three races, so I’ll get a chance to watch the races a little bit more, and I believe that Jack and the guys at the shop have bought me a Nationwide license, and I think there’s the potential I could run a couple of those races later on. My plan is to watch these races really closely, see how the Cup guys that are running at this track specifically learn and kind of watch how they run tomorrow and see if there’s anything I can gain from it, and then I might consider running some more later in the year.”
HOW MUCH INPUT DO YOU HAVE AS A DRIVER IN DETERMINING WHERE YOU TEST? “We went through the whole decision-making process earlier in the year and I can’t remember all the numbers of what tests we get, but we had a voting process. They said, ‘Hey, where do you want to test and why do you want to test there?’ So everybody had input and it was just for the reasons you said. We want to make the most of our tests, so that it benefits you more than just at that track. That’s why we picked the tracks that we picked, and I think everybody in the sport did that. And you also have to weigh your weaknesses and strengths. That’s one of the questions I think everyone battles with. Do you work really hard on your strengths because you know you can achieve there? Or do you work hard on your weaknesses and try to raise them, but it was a big decision-making process at RFR for us.”