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May 09, 2014 - 05:46 PM
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2014 Kansas Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Carl Edwards
Posted by: ASkyler on May 09, 2014 - 05:45 PM
2014 Kansas Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, is still looking for his first victory on what he considers his home track. The Columbia, Missouri, native has never been bashful to say a win at Kansas would be on par for him with a win at Daytona. Edwards spoke about that and his chances to cross this race off his bucket list with media members Friday afternoon.

CARL EDWARDS, No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion - TALK ABOUT RACING HERE AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY AND WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO WITH RACING UNDER THE LIGHTS FOR THE FIRST TIME HERE TOMORROW NIGHT. "I think racing under the lights is going to be great. I think that is a great move by Kansas Speedway. It is such an important race for me. You guys all know the story. It is the same for Clint (Boywer) and myself. I feel like in a way that for one of us to win here would be really special because it is so close to home and there are so many people here that we race with. For me, there are a lot of people in the grand stands and garage that if it weren’t for them I definitely wouldn’t have this opportunity. For me, a win here would be a win for all those folks and validate or maybe in a way pay them back for how much they have done for me. This place is really special for that reason. The racing here, after that first practice I think is going to be really tough. I don’t know what it looks like but from inside the car, the car is so fast through the center of the corner and the speeds are extremely high. I think if the line moves around you will have to be very aggressive and there will be a lot of opportunity for mistakes because speeds are so high that guys will get aero loose and that could be a big problem. I think overall those high speeds, nobody knows what the night time will do and hopefully it is a good race."


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CAN YOU GIVE US AN EARLY REVIEW OF HOW YOU THINK THE NEW RIGHT SIDE TIRES ARE HOLDING UP? "I will say this, that is the fastest I have ever gone through the corner here. It is extremely fast. I spent the week up in Dover. I spent two days there doing a tire test and talked quite a bit with the Goodyear folks about the challenge posed to them with these high speeds. We have these stock cars rolling around on a relatively small tire in racing, relative to a lot of the other cars that go that fast, and so they are put in a box with all that force in the middle of the corner to make a tire that drives well and lasts and doesn’t create a ton of heat. It is really tough. We were super fast at Dover and here it feels like we are even faster. I have no complaints about the tire. I think the amount of downforce we have and the speeds through the center of the corner, I don’t know how they make a tire that even holds up. Whatever they are doing is working."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STRENGTH OF ROUSH FENWAY THIS WEEKEND? IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WENT TO THE TABLE WITH FOLLOWING THE LAST 1.5 MILE RACE? "We have been working a lot and working very hard and I think working smarter. Hopefully you see some of that this weekend. We unloaded and I don’t want to say specifically what we have done but we have worked on some things and the cars are a little better. It is still practice and we will see in qualifying. Ricky, myself and Greg were all fast in qualifying trim but I will say that we are still kind of figuring out the new stuff we are doing. There is hope, and that is good. We have to be better at the 1.5 mile tracks and this will be a real test of our 1.5 mile program. It will let us know if the things we have been doing have been working or not."

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED … HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TIRE WEAR FOR SATURDAY NIGHT? "I didn’t look at any of the tire wear yet. I know people had wear issues in the test but I don’t know how this tire is holding up right now. The only thing that makes me nervous is if we get a pop up thunderstorm that washes the track clean. The speeds are so high that might pose a problem but if the other cars out there and the trucks lay down rubber and the groove gets widened out I think it will be good. That is a statement that I am not really qualified at making because I haven’t looked at much tire wear yet."

WHAT CAN’T YOU RACE AT KANSAS THEY WAY YOU DO AT TALLADEGA? "If they leave everything the way it is and take 100 horsepower away we will be right there. We are almost wide open in the corner. I think that is one thing we don’t do enough in this sport as a whole group is to describe what exactly is going on in the race car. What makes Talladega and Daytona look the way they do is the fact that the car doesn’t go fast enough - we have limited the speed with the restrictor plate that you don’t have to lift going through the corners which makes for an interesting spectacle but it takes basically a huge amount of the driver talent out of the equation. When we come to a track this size or smaller, the car can’t physically go around the corner wide open. You have to lift off the throttle and then you are sliding the car and balancing it and talking to your crew chief and trying to describe what the car is doing to make it faster. That is why you see some spread in the field. I think that is what makes NASCAR racing, NASCAR racing. The thing that has made the 1.5 mile races look boring sometimes is that we rely so much on clean air over the car. If you look at the size of the spoiler and the front splitter, those are huge aerodymanic devices that put 2,800 pounds of downforce or sideforce on the car. When you put a car that big at 210 miles per hour down in the corner it makes a big hole in the air and the guy behind you doesn’t have enough air on his car. That is where it gets tough to describe to people what is going on. If I am following four cars Saturday night and they are all in a line and all going 200 mph, the air on the front of my car is so turbulent that I can’t go fast enough to catch them. So NASCAR hears it from me all the time. I push for taking the downforce devices away. We might not have Talladega every week but we will have some close racing when guys are comparable with speed and talent."

WERE YOU AWARE THAT BUSINESSWEEK.COM STORY LAST WEEK THAT TALKED ABOUT YOUR NEEDLE MOVING ABILITY FOR NASCAR AND IF SO, WHAT DID YOU MAKE OF IT? "Yeah, I saw that and it surprised me. That is pretty interesting. I thought it was interesting. I know I am happy when I do well. It is good to know that other people might be too. That is good."

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED … GREG BIFFLE WAS TALKING ABOUT HOW THE VEGAS RACE WAS DEMORALIZING IN TERMS OF THE 1.5 MILE PROGRAM AND THERE IS A LOT GOING ON WITH HIS FUTURE, YOUR FUTURE, THE FUTURE OF RFR. CAN YOU ADDRESS HOW BIG THIS WEEKEND IS FOR THE TEAM? "The deal is that we have to be better and everyone knows it from top to bottom. I would like to speak of it outside of the context of contract negotiations and things like that. At the end of the day I am a Ford driver and drive for Jack Roush and that is my job. So as a group we all have been working and I think at the end of the day the mood right now is very hopeful. We were pretty deep in the desperation portion of mood after California. It was bad. There is a lot of hope right now because we have tested a bunch and worked on a bunch of things. I am seeing guys like Robbie Reiser and Chip Bolen and guys working hard. This weekend so far has been pretty good. We need to keep doing that and seeing positive things. I think if we continue on that path we will have a shot at the championship and that is all we can do."

MANY TIMES HERE IT SEEMS YOU’VE HAD A GOOD ENOUGH CAR TO WIN HERE BUT JUST HAD BAD LUCK OR SOMETHING ALONG THE WAY. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS TRACK OWES YOU SOMETHING? "No, not at all. In fact it is the opposite. When I come here I feel just the opposite. I don’t feel like this place owes me anything. I feel very grateful to be racing here and feel that any success here is a gift. I literally used to drive up and down I-70 here and almost couldn’t look at the grandstands because it would have meant to much to me to be able to be a part of this. Even though it was just right across the field there I never thought I would be on this race track. So yeah, the Truck race here, that win was huge. The race in 2008 when basically I was one adjustment away from beating Jimmie and winning that race, those were really exciting and in a way I think it is going to make the win here when we get it really special. I just can’t imagine how cool it would be to win here and drive back home. That would be cool."

YOU MENTIONED CONTRACTS. HAS THERE BEEN PROGRESS? "You guys know that I don’t like to talk about that stuff in the media. To me, that is business and I have made the mistake of letting that turn into a big media thing before so I would rather not talk about that and keep that between me and Jack and Steve Newmark."

ARE SOME TEAMS MORE ENTICING THAN OTHERS? "Part of me not talking about it would be not answering that question."

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED … LOOKING AHEAD TO THE COKE 600, HOW DO YOU MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THAT LONG RACE? "That is a tough race. One of my tire guys was talking about the first time he went to that race he was running tires and they did eight or nine pit stops and he was thinking the race had to be about over and he looked up and they weren’t even half way. It is a long race and a neat race and for me I have a great coach from Carmichael Training Systems that keeps me physically prepared and from a mental perspective you have to be ready for a long grueling event. I tell you the coolest thing to me is that Kurt (Busch) is running both races that day. I don’t know how you guys have been covering that or whatever but to me that will be really fun to watch. I have never driven an Indy car but they say they are really hot and physical so to do that and the Coke 600 in the same day will be amazing. If he is able to accomplish that I will have a lot of respect for him."

WHEN WE LOOK AT THE ALL-STAR RACE WE LIKE TO HYPE THE MILLION DOLLAR PRIZE AND NO POINTS ON THE LINE. WHAT DOES THOSE TWO THINGS REALLY CHANGE ABOUT HOW HARD YOU RACE IN AN ALL-STAR RACE AND HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THAT? "We all race very hard for every win. You do. You drive as hard as you possibly can but I can tell you this. Leading that All-Star race the year we won it for the last few laps the stress level was through the roof. It is a million dollars! Sprint and NASCAR put that money on the line. I used to race in front of this many people for $75 to win and I am sure my heart was going about 180 beats per minute. It is hard to put that out of your mind. Leading that race and I am sure all the guys that have won that thing will tell you - I had Kyle Busch behind me and it was pressure. To know that if you just hit all your marks and do this right you are going to win the race and a million dollars, it is crazy. You just almost can’t think about it. It is a cool place and a cool race."

DO YOU STILL HAVE AN AFFILIATION OR GO TALK WITH MIKE MITTLER AND THOSE GUYS ON THE MB TRUCK TEAM. JUSTIN JENNINGS IS RACING HERE FOR THEM THIS WEEKEND. "Yeah, if it weren’t for Mike Mittler I would literally not be sitting here. The first time I came to this race track was with Mike Mittler and they gave me a radio and sent me down to turn one and acted like they gave me an important job to watch the front valance. I don’t know if it was important or not but they made me feel like it was. My first race here was for Mike Mittler and I finished eighth and it was a huge day for me. It changed my whole life. I haven’t been by his shop for awhile and haven’t driven that way but when I do, I stop. He has a beautiful facility and a new building. It is amazing. Mike Mittler, to me, is a lot like Jack Roush or one of these guys that is a true American hero. He provides a living for a lot of people by building things. I see him at the race track a bunch and I sat on his pit box at Texas and Justin Jennings is doing a great job. He builds the body on these trucks. He hangs the body and knows how to set the things up and is a smart kid and is racing really well for him. Hopefully he gets the same opportunity I have."

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