EDWARDS SWEEPS PHOENIX WEEKEND WITH CUP VICTORY
• Carl Edwards captured his 17th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win with today’s victory.
• The Cup win was the first for Edwards since he won at Homestead in the final race of 2008 (70 races).
• Edwards was first in all three Cup practice sessions, in addition to winning the pole and race this weekend.
• The last time a Ford driver swept a Nationwide/Cup weekend was in October 2008 when Edwards won the Nationwide race in Memphis and Sprint Cup event in Atlanta.
• The win was the 119th all-time NSCS win for Roush Fenway Racing.
• Today’s win was the 598th all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win for Ford Racing.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW – “It’s so cool to be able to go up there and celebrate with the fans.
That was really nice. I saw them unlocking the gate, that was very cool. I’ve got to thank Scott’s, Kellogg’s – I ate my Frosted Mini-Wheats this morning – Subway, when they gave me five to go I gave them the footlong – just everybody – Cessna Citation Service Centers and everybody for sticking with us. It’s been a long drought. It’s been really hard to keep our confidence up and this is what we needed.” YOU DID IT ON A SWEEP WEEKEND. “It’s unreal. It’s so neat.
It still doesn’t feel like this really happened. We needed this win.
This is very special. Once again, thank you Aflac. I really appreciate it. It’s just unreal and thanks to the fans.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Finished 4th) – “We weren’t that good, but the fuel mileage worked out for us at the end. We had a top-10 car, but we want to be better than that so we’ll keep working on it. Hopefully, we’ll run a little bit better in the spring and then they’re gonna repave it.” HOW DID PIT STRATEGY WORK OUT FOR YOU?
“We were planning on coming to get tires and there were only five cars behind us, so we came and got some tires.”
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Valvoline Ford Fusion (Finished 7th) – “We probably ran as good or better than our finish. We came and got two tires so we could make it on fuel there at the end and left a nut off the right-rear and had to come back and pit. We started behind all the lapped cars and never got another caution, so we just had to fight all those lapped cars and used our tires up. Some people had to pit at the end, so we got a decent finish, but we ran pretty good. I think if we wouldn’t have had to come back in, we probably had a top two or three car. The 16 finished fourth and we were ahead of all those guys, so I thought we would have been OK.”
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Finished 25th) – “We just didn’t start the race out that great today. Our UPS team had good pit stops and made good adjustments, but our car was just better at the end than it was in the beginning. In traffic, we just didn’t have it right and we were all over the board setup-wise. This is one of our toughest tracks on the schedule and we know that. We’ll just have to take a look at this race, Loudon and Richmond, which are some of my favorite tracks, but we just don’t run quite as quickly as we should at these places. I’m looking forward to going to Homestead where I think we can contend for the win, and I’m proud of everyone today.”
CARL EDWARDS WINNER’S PRESS CONFERENCE
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – “It was a great day for us. The race started, I felt like we had the best car, and then here comes Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson, and I think their cars were better in the middle part of the race and Bob made really good adjustments, and then the track came to us a little bit, and then the thing that really saved us was our pit stall. That’s something we talked a little bit here on Friday. We understand that we have to qualify better and that first pit stall is what kept us up there with that track position, so my guys did a good job on pit road.
The pit stall was good. Bob made good adjustments, and then at the end to make the fuel mileage work out, that was a little stressful but it worked.”
BOB OSBORNE, Crew Chief – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – “It’s great that we were able to get back to Victory Lane, for sure. We started out decent, a little bit on the free side and struggled with that most of the race. Definitely, the 11 car came up through the field quickly and the 18 shortly following him, so we saw early on that the 11 and the 18 were going to be the competition for us anyway at that point.
Like Carl said, some adjustments, conversation back and forth on how the car was handling and what adjustments worked earlier in the race and made some decent adjustments right there on that last pit stop.
And then the Ford Fusion gets great fuel mileage and that went our way with the golden foot over here, so everything worked out.”
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – “It had been far too long since we’d been in Victory Circle with Carl. Everybody expects Carl to win as Carl expects to win, so Bob and I had been working behind the scenes to try to figure out how to get that to happen. The Ford support that we’ve got for our simulations has really come into play. It’s been good. The new FR9 engine that Ford helped us with certainly was a factor today, at least early on before we started saving gas, and then the fact that we were able to save the gas and he still had enough speed to maintain his position on the race track was all very good. I’m thrilled to be here. The pit crew did a nice job and the adjustments were just spot on that Carl and Bob worked out together, so I’m just proud to be here and share the moment.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – WHAT DOES A WIN DO FOR NEXT YEAR? “ A win is very important to us. It’s a big accomplishment for us. It’s something that we needed for our confidence and we needed it as a payoff for all the hard work that the guys put in at the shop and the engine department. It would be nice to get another one at Homestead, but to go into the off-season knowing that we’re getting better and it looks like we have a really legitimate shot to finish fourth in the points, to be in the All-Star Race next season, to have that energy going forward – all of those things are good.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – ARE YOU CONFIDENT YOU ARE CAUGHT UP? “First off what occurs to me is too late smart? We didn’t realize we needed to build something. We thought we finished last year with sufficient momentum to be able to get in this year and do what we needed to do and early on we figured out that the things we tried to predict didn’t work, and some of the things we tried to simulate didn’t work out as well as they needed to. We were waiting for our FR9 engine and we needed a little more work on the aero side of the car. Throughout the year, the engineers worked hard on the aero piece. We had a problem with vibration that bit us last weekend with Greg Biffle’s car and we’ve had two weeks of testing on an independent race track to evaluate that. We think we’ve got a handle on the vibrations and we wish the year would not end, but I certainly feel like all the sponsors will enjoy the moment. Aflac certainly will and all of Carl’s other sponsors as well as the sponsors for the rest of Roush Fenway will certainly bask in the glory of this moment. We’re headed off to Homestead with one more opportunity to win a Nationwide race and another opportunity to win a Cup race. That track has been very good for us, so it’s really gonna end our year. Unless we stub our toes at Homestead, it’s gonna end our year on a great note and that will give us something to go through winter on even though we can’t celebrate a championship.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WINNING ON FUEL MILEAGE?
“I don’’t know the analogy, but it feels like you’re putting yourself out there and you’ve chosen this path and you’re just hoping that everything works out, that the race goes the distance and the amount of fuel that I was saving, I was hoping that was the right amount. I think Jack put it best when he came over to reach in the window and said, ‘I forgot what that felt like until that feeling in my stomach came on with two laps to go and then I remembered.’ When he said that, my stomach was still hurting from the nervousness because there’s so much to be gained by winning a race and it’s such a gutsy call to stay out there and try to stretch the fuel that you just have to sit and wait. Those are some long laps those last few laps.” YOU PITTED THE SAME TIME DENNY AND KYLE DID. WHEN DID YOU START SAVING FUEL AND HOW MUCH DID YOU THINK YOU HAD TO SAVE? “I wasn’t sure exactly what our status was. I don’t think Bob wanted to say it over the radio or he just didn’t want to tell me, but I didn’t know what was going on. I thought we were 12 short and then the caution came out, so I thought we were maybe six short or something like that. So when they dropped the green I started racing pretty hard and I felt like I was a little faster than Denny, but then I realized that maybe he was saving a little fuel, so I better save some, so I was saving.
And then Kyle was falling back even farther behind me and I thought, ‘OK, these guys are all saving fuel,’ and then Bob started telling me lap times. I thought, ‘Why is he telling me lap times? Maybe he wants me to race here.’ So we had to establish the fact that he wanted me to race then, so that’s when we drove by Denny. I don’t know if he was saving fuel then or not or if he was already resigned to having to pit, but I only saved fuel for about half of that last run.” HOMESTEAD HAS BEEN SO GOOD AND WHAT IS YOUR VIEWPOINT OF THE THREE-WAY BATTLE AHEAD OF YOU? “I think the battle we’ve got on the top of the point standings is really good for the sport and I think there are gonna be some really happy people and some really, really not happy people at Homestead. Without any personal favoritism in any way, I still feel that Jimmie Johnson is the guy to beat. He’s been through this kind of pressure a number of times and been able to perform, so I still think he’s the guy to beat, but with everything that can happen in a 400-mile race at Homestead, it’s gonna be an amazing race. If we look at how Matt ran at Texas, Matt could have been victorious at Texas. I felt like we were pretty fast for some of the day at Texas, so our mile-and-a-half program is almost as good as it’s ever been and it’s getting better, so I’m pretty excited to go to Homestead. Ford Championship Weekend has been huge for us in the past. It’s been very good.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – WHAT’’S GOING ON WHEN YOU”RE GOING THROUGH THE STANDS? “People are wound up. Fortunately, they all seem to be fans of mine, but everybody is really excited. I had never really considered doing that until that gate was open at Texas – the hole in the fence there at Texas was right in front of me, so I thought, ‘Well, we’ll see how this goes.’ The wrestler, John Cena, he was at a Gillette commercial shoot with us a few years ago and he did that.
There were some fans there and they just couldn’t believe he did it, so that’s kind of what sparked the idea. Those two times I’ve done that, I’ll never forget those. It’s really neat to go up there. I would highly recommend it to anybody. It feels really neat.” WHAT THOUGHTS GO THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU’RE 0-FOR-70? “A lot of them and none of them are good. I have a lot of confidence. Jack has a lot of confidence, Bob does too, and we all work very hard, so we expect out of ourselves and people around us, we expect to win. We’ve had a lot of success before and with that comes a little more expectation, not just from the outside, but from within. I’m very proud at how our team has come together through this past two years since we’ve won, and I’m very proud to be a part of this team because we very easily could have fallen apart. Instead, we just kept working and here we are in Victory Lane, fourth in points, salvaging a season
that did not begin well, so I’m just proud of everybody.” DID YOU
GET THE CHECKERED FLAG BACK? “I think I actually hit somebody with the checkered flag. I kind of threw it and it didn’t fly like I thought it was going to, but somebody got the checkered flag up there.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – WILL YOU GO UP THERE WITH CARL SOME TIME? “I don’t know. I’m not sure people like me as well as they do you (laughter). I’ve got a spotted past, so I’m not sure how it would work out for me.” DOES THIS RAISE THE WATER LEVEL FOR ALL THE TEAMS AND ATTRACTING NEW MONEY INTO THE SPORT? “I think that the chase and Brian France’s chase has been really good for the sport. We’ve been in the final hunt. We haven’t won a race since the chase started, but we’ve been up there and fought for it on numerous occasions. I think
this year will be remembered as a very good year. At this point,
we’re not there, but we’ll try to be there next year. But I think the changes that they’ve made on the chase are good and I know they’re looking at some other things that might even heighten the excitement even more.”
BOB OSBORNE CONTINUED – DID YOU EXPECT SOME OF THE SMACK TALK BETWEEN CREW CHIEFS? DO YOU EXPECT MORE OF THAT? “It’s hard to say. A lot of that is kind of a mind game. I personally know Mike and he’s not an overly-arrogant fellow, so my guess is they’re gonna banter back and forth and see who crumbles.” WHAT WERE YOU THINKING AS FAR AS FUEL MILEAGE? “It was a gamble at the end of the day. We rely on Jack quite a bit for calculating the fuel mileage and Kevin, the team engineer to calculate the fuel mileage, and both of them said we were short by a various number of laps. That’s when it comes into trying to keep Carl informed on how many laps short we are and use his best judgment on whether he can save that many laps or not. It’s either, ‘Yeah, I can save that many laps,’ and we take the gamble, or, ‘Positively, no way I can save that many laps,’ and we decide to come up with a strategy to pit.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – “I have a strategy for saving fuel that I don’t talk about, but I have a good strategy and it works for me. I don’t even tell Bob what I do.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE THREE CONTENDERS GOING INTO NEXT WEEK? “I feel a little bit like Carl, I don’t know if I should give them advice because we’ll have to race against them next year, but based on my experience with Mark and the other things that have happened to us in our championship runs that have been unsuccessful, if you make a lunge for life, if you take a desperate chance on something new that you think would be better, it very seldom works out. You should stay with the people that got you there and continue to do the same things procedure-wise and process-wise that you have most success with. It’s real easy. It’s the same advice we give the pit crews before the race and sometimes during the race. ‘Don’t just try to do something that’s Herculean and unreal because it’s gonna be unreal and you’re not gonna be able to do it,’ and you just have a bad stop. The same thing applies to the management of the team, I think.”