EDWARDS MAKES IT TWO STRAIGHT WINS TO END 2010
• Carl Edwards captured his 18th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win with today’s victory.
• Ford has now won 7-of-12 NSCS races at Homestead, most among manufacturers.
• The last time a Ford driver won consecutive NSCS races was last season when Matt Kenseth won the first two races of 2009 (Daytona and California).
• The win was the 120th all-time NSCS win for Roush Fenway Racing.
• Today’s win was the 599th all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win for
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW – “This is unreal. This is a great way to finish the season.
Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson – five championships in a row, that’s unreal. I think the way we’re going here, if we could start like this our Aflac team could have a shot at them next year. I’ve just got to thank Scotts for the great lawn products, Aflac, I think I hurt my foot on that backflip, so that’s a good time to do it because I’ve got Aflac coverage. John Force was here and gave me a little motivation on those restarts. I’m just so proud for Ford, Aflac, Scotts, Vitamin Water, Kellogg’s, Valvoline – everybody that’s been behind us all year. To finish like this is unreal.”
HOW DO YOU GO 70 RACES WITHOUT A WIN AND THEN WIN BACK-TO-BACK? “It’s just these guys not giving up. We don’t give up. My guys are unreal and we just had an unbelievable run towards the end of this season. I’m truly blessed. I’m so excited. Last week, my wife and daughter weren’t here and today they are, so I’ll get Victory Lane photos with them.
It’s just a great way to end the season. I can’t wait to go to Vegas.
I can’t wait to go home to Columbia, Missouri. I’m kind of hungry, I’m gonna go get a Subway sandwich and go celebrate with my guys. This is unreal.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE LAST FEW LAPS? “You know I was really fortunate that Jimmie was racing for the championships because I think he was taking it easy there in the last minute. Our Aflac Fusion was great. I can’t believe this. Two wins in a row is just really great. We are finishing the season like we need to. I am excited to go into next year and go into Daytona where hopefully we can be one of the people lining up to knock Jimmie off his throne. That would be nice.”
THE WAY YOU GUYS ARE PERFORMING DOWN THE STRETCH, ARE YOU SAD TO SEE THE SEASON END? “It would be nice if we could line up tomorrow morning at Daytona but it will come soon enough. I am going to enjoy the off season. I have a beautiful family and they are here with me today and that means a lot. I am really excited. We will go to the banquet tomorrow and then the banquet in Las Vegas. I am sure we will see some fans there. Once again, Ford Motor Company stuck behind us. Aflac, Scotts, Kellogs, Subway and all my fans that I see every week out here supporting us. We are back on track and I am really excited. It is fun to drive these race cars when they are like this.”
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion — “As hard as it is to let Ford people down when they are not at the race track, when they all show up it is even harder yet. The guys just really got themselves up for this and it is a good race track for us. We have great notes for it and the new FR9 engine ran wonderfully. It is a great day.”
JAMIE ALLISON, Director, North America Motorsports – “Oh my gosh. You know they say how you finish is how you start, so we hope this foretells a great 2011 season. For now we get to celebrate this victory and an amazing two in a row for Carl. We are very proud of what Jack has done in the second half of this season.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Finished 10th) – “It was a pretty good day. We were off just a little bit with this car. I think our other car was faster. We had to go to a backup car. It was a good day for us, but I just wish we could have finished up there a little higher. That last caution hurt us because I thought we were better than that and guys got to start behind us with new tires. I’m happy Carl won two in a row at the end of the year and we’ve got our program turned around. It’s good for us.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NEXT YEAR NOW AFTER THIS REBOUND? “I think we’re gonna be five spots better, and I think we can win two or three times as many as we did this year – maybe four, five or six wins.”
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion (Finished 9th) – “I was frustrated at the very end. I was happy that we performed better, but I was too loose all day and just couldn’t keep up. We worked on it and tried hard all day, but we just couldn’t find that right adjustment.”
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Finished 20th) – YOU RAN IN THE TOP 10 ALMOST THE ENTIRE RACE, BUT THE CAUTION THAT CAME OUT DURING PIT STOPS REALLY HURT THE TEAM. “It was just unfortunate the yellow came out when it did. Drew [Blickensderfer] and everyone was doing such a good job and our UPS Ford was fast, but we’ve got to keep working on the pit crew. We had a few mistakes that hurt us and that is probably the difference between being on the lead lap and not when that caution came out. We had a good car, we just didn’t have the luck on our side and that seems to be the way of how a lot of our season has gone. I’m proud of the way our cars have been running and it’s great to be able to qualify in the top 10 and run in the top 10 the whole race, but we just did not get the result that we wanted here.
Nevertheless, looks like a good offseason for us and we have some good things to look forward to.”
DONNIE WINGO, Crew Chief – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion (Bill Elliott finished 15th) – “We got the right-front fender knocked off of it and then on another restart somebody came down on us and got on the left-front, so we had to pit under green and lost a lap. We took the wave around and got that back and just fought hard and dug all day.
We kind of waited there at the end to pit as long as we could and it paid off for us.” TWO TOP-20 RUNS TO END THE YEAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL?
“I think everybody has done well with all the transition we’ve gone through the last two or three weeks. I hate that we had issues at Charlotte because I think we had a pretty good car there, too.”
ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion – “This is awesome. Working with Kenny Francis and all the guys on this Budweiser team has been a pleasure. They have fast race cars. Really fast race cars.
Richard Petty Motorsports should be very proud of themselves. I know they are going through a lot, but they are going to get this race team turned around. They have great equipment, great people and they are going to be successful.”
WAS IT NERVE RACKING RACING AROUND THE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS? “Oh my gosh, it was. I was so conscious to not make a mistake. I made several today and we were able to rebound.
It felt like we had a car capable of winning. All in all it was a great day and I am proud of all my guys on this team to step in and let me fill in on this team has been fun. I have learned a lot and it has been awesome.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER, No. 43 Insignia/Best Buy Ford Fusion – “That was pretty wild. We were pretty good in the beginning and then about the third run in we got so loose it was almost like something broke on the race car. We were so loose and we tried everything to fix it. We basically flipped this thing upside down. I give all the credit to Mike Shiplett who kept me calm and pep talked me. I was frustrated and it was tough out there but he kept working on it and throwing things at it and finally we hit something at the end. It still wasn’t great but we got it raceable and we got a little lucky with that yellow to get us track position and a top five.”
THAT IS A PRETTY EXCITING WAY TO END YOUR YEAR ON WHAT HAS BEEN A BIT OF A CRAZY SEASON FOR YOU ISN’T IT? “Yeah, all the credit goes to my race team and all the guys back at the shop. Credit goes to Ford, Insignia, Best Buy and Valvoline too. This team could have easily fallen apart and fought and just dismantled itself, but I feel like we became stronger and when we figure this stuff out back at the shop we will get this race team back where it needs to be and I think we will be that much stronger for having gone through this.”
CARL EDWARDS POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE – “First, congratulations to Jimmie Johnson and those guys. I was telling him in Victory Lane that this means it’s gonna take us six years to beat that. It’s just unreal what those guys have been able to do. For our team, to finish like this and be on the upswing that we are, this is as good as it gets. I can’t remember who asked the question, but somebody asked a really good question on Friday in here about how I felt this compared to 2008 going into 2009. I feel a lot better right now going into
2011 than I did going into 2009 and that’s because I feel like we’ve got a lot of momentum, things are getting better, we’ve got a new engine that we’re working on that just keeps getting better. This is the best performance down the straightaway that I’ve had in a long time today, so we’ve just got a lot of good things going. I can’t tell you guys how much it means to finish the season like this. It’s spectacular for us.”
BOB OSBORNE, Crew Chief – “First of all, I’d like to say congratulations to Chad Knaus and the entire 48 program. It’s a phenomenal feat and hopefully we have the opportunity to surpass that at some point. There’s not really any one specific piece, technique, process that we’ve changed to turn the corner here. It’s just a lot of little things that seemed to have built momentum for us and has gotten us back to Victory Lane.”
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – “I want to start off by congratulating Rick Hendrick and that entire organization as well. What they’ve done has just been awesome. As far as coming to Ford Championship Weekend and not winning in a Ford with all the support that we’ve had for all the years, I would be embarrassed to go home and not have made a really good showing, so I can sleep better tonight than I did last night based on the way it worked out today. With Bob, they have the dual celebrations going on here and I look forward to being able to do it up on the stage with the championship group and at the same time in the background with the race win as well, so maybe we can get both of them next year.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – IS IT ODD TO BE IN VICTORY LANE CELEBRATING AND KNOW SOMETHING ELSE IS GOING ON? “First thing is I can tell you it’s a lot more frustrating to not be in Victory Lane and be watching somebody out there doing their donuts and all that stuff. I’ve been in this position before when we’ve won this race. Whoever wins this race is usually watching somebody else celebrate out there with the
championship. I think I have a good perspective on the season and
I’m able to look at what we’ve done, look at these two race wins and fourth in points and say, ‘Hey, if you would have told me 10 races into the season that this is how we’re gonna wrap this thing up,’ I would not have believed you. This is beyond the comeback that I expected. It’s really beyond what I hoped for. This is very good, a good finish to the season. This victory is very, very important to us and those guys celebrating their championship, they earned it.”
DO YOU WISH THE SEASON WAS JUST STARTING? “Heck yes I wish the season was just starting. That would be nice to start the season with these two wins, but we’ll go for three in a row at Daytona. That would be a heck of a place to get three in a row. We’ve been close at Daytona in a couple races. That would be nice. We’ll go there with guns blazing and I think we’re gonna be better than we’ve ever been starting next season.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – WE MADE YOU THE FAVORITE IN ’09 TO DETHRONE JIMMIE. “Don’t do that again. That didn’t work with a damn (laughing).” DO YOU FEEL SO MUCH BETTER THAT YOU THINK YOU WILL HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM NEXT YEAR? “I think that’s the question everybody is gonna themselves when they go home. How do we beat those guys? I believe that our slope, our gain is a little steeper than theirs right now. The question is, ‘Can we keep that going?’ Because on average they’ve just been better than everyone else. They’ve proven that.
We’ve been better at times. Other people have been better at times, but when I look at the two cars sitting next to one another, you understand that those cars are made with shocks and springs and the chassis and the body and the engine, and I look at all those parameters and where we’re headed with ours, I feel like we’re making really good progress. I feel like we’re making our slope steeper than theirs. With that being said, we just have to hope that we can continue that and, regardless of how we stack up with them, I still feel like we’re on more of an upswing than 2008.”
CAN JIMMIE BE CONSIDERED THE GREATEST EVER? “No, I feel like I’m better than him.
I mean, everybody feels like that. That’s why we race. If you get a driver out there right now that’s driving that says, ‘Oh no, Jimmie is a lot better than me.’ You don’t want that guy on your team.
Obviously, they have proven that they are able to win more races and more championships than the rest of us, we just have to figure out how to do that. There’s a reason we call each other by our car numbers, it’s because we’re all humans. I don’t want to think about Jimmie Johnson, the person, or so-and-so as a person. I think of them as just a car, a guy that I have to beat on the race track, and I think that’s how we all deal with one another the best. That 48 was sure good this year, that’s for sure.”
COMPARE AND CONTRAST A 70-RACE WINLESS STREAK TO A TWO-RACE WINNING STREAK? “Let me think. A 70-race winless streak – no offense Jack – but it’s like a sharp stick in the eye. It’s bad. It’s really bad.”
JACK INTERJECTS. “Actually, he and Bob both lined up on me and got me in the eye with their champagne before I realized the battle was on today.”
CARL CONTINUES – “I’m sorry about that. That was bad. I was just having a little fun there, but a 70-race winless streak is very difficult and it’s difficult because Jack owns this team, he goes to bed and wakes up every morning, I’m sure, thinking, ‘How can we make this better?’
I go to bed and wake up every morning thinking, ‘How can I be better?’
And Bob does the same thing, and when you don’t get the results that you want, you first look at yourself and you say, ‘Hey, how can I do better?’ And it’s very easy to start looking around and pointing fingers at everyone else. I think our shop and our guys, I’ve said this before, but I really believe we’ve done a very good job of working together. I’m very proud of Bob. When we ran in 2008, Bob kind of stood alone and did his own thing and we ran very well. And then when things weren’t going so well, Jack and I ganged up on Bob and said, ‘Hey, you need to look around and come up with some other ideas.’ He was a little defensive at first, but then he’s transformed into a guy that can take the best parts of every car out there that he has access to and make our car the best. Myself, I feel like I’ve worked very hard on some shortcomings that I have as a driver, and all of us have worked really hard. That process is very painful, not quite as painful as the analogy I used earlier, but it sure seems like it and a two-race winning streak is a lot better. It’s like doing a loop in Jack Roush’s P-51 Mustang. Is that better?”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “Last night, I was trying to help Mike Beam and help Carl win that Nationwide race last night. Carl had a little wreck and he finally got aggravated enough with it that he suggested I go help somebody else. Did you mean that?”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – “We give each other a hard time. You guys know Jack and that’s another thing that I’d like to say before we leave here is when Jack got in his accident – the fact that we can joke around about it says a lot about Jack – but when he was in his accident I think all of us, I know myself, Bob, all the people I’ve talked to said, ‘What are we gonna do with this company here? What if something is really wrong with Jack and he can’t come back and lead us? What are we gonna do?’ The fact that you came back to the race track two weeks later, something like that, and never missed a beat, he never talks about himself, he never complains about anything. He’s the guy you want to go to war with and we’re just proud to have you, Jack.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – DO YOU WORRY ABOUT CARL GOING INTO THE STANDS OR DOING BACKFLIPS? “I certainly questioned the backflips and whether he was skilled enough to do that, and he assured me that he practiced that art when he had a girlfriend that was a gymnast in college and that he’d worked his way through it and I should relax, it would be alright. As far as him going into the stands, that does pose a certain risk. Depending on who you are as a driver, you may not want to go up there after a race, but Carl is pretty well thought of. I thought that this won’t be a problem for him. Mike Helton will put his ore in and he’ll lock the gate and won’t let him up there. The first time we saw Mike after it happened the first time, Mike was cheering him on and bragging on him for it, so I don’t know what we’re gonna do. Maybe we can get the security organized to help out with that, but there’s a crowd of folks that are anxious to see the winner when the winner is Carl and the fact that he recognized that’s something he could do to improve the sport and give the fans something back really says a lot about Carl.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – WAS THERE RELIEF KNOWING YOUR CAR WAS SO GOOD YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO RACE THE OTHER THREE GUYS IN TITLE CONTENTION?
“Yeah, I don’t think anyone wanted to be out there racing those guys too hard, just because of the potential disaster you could be a part of. We thought of and we joked about it, we said, ‘Hey, it would be nice to watch that whole thing out of the rearview mirror,’ and that’s what we did almost all day. That was very nice. I talked to Bob and Jack both after the race, that car was very, very good. Our car was very fast and it was nice to have a car that is that fast. He did a really good job today. I had fun racing with him. That was pretty neat.”
YOU TOLD BOB TO KEEP AN EYE ON THE 11 AFTER THE HAMLIN INCIDENT. YOU SAID THAT COULD BE YOU NEXT YEAR. ARE TRYING TO SEND A MESSAGE TO YOUR TEAM ABOUT NEXT YEAR ALREADY? “For me, personally, I don’t like to get into a situation and have it be the first time I’ve been in that situation, even if it’s just in my mind. What we were kind of discussing is you just don’t ever want to look back and say, ‘Man, I wish I would have thought about that harder.’ So anytime you get a chance to really look at a situation that is a high-stress one, in my mind to figuratively kind of place myself into it, it’s good practice so that’s what we were talking about – just look at them, see how they’re dealing with this high-stress situation and maybe we’ll have thought about it one time. We’ve all been in situations where something happens and you’re like, ‘I wish I would have thought about that because now I’m surprised and I can’t react the right way or the most productive way.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED — WHAT IS GOING TO TAKE TO DISPLACE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? “You have to make fewer mistakes than they do and you’ve got to be better at spending your money. There is enough money to do what you need to do here, but the main thing is spending money on the things that you have enough time to affect a good result and a good solution to the problems and challenges that you have. So that’s what we’ve got to do. Last year as we made our plans for 2010 we dared to be great as it related to our simulations and we didn’t get it done right. That put us behind this year for six months before we got it fixed and got the confidence in it. We’ve got to do a tear-up as all the teams do over the winter this year to try to make things better, otherwise you get passed behind.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE RACING TODAY AFTER HAVING RACED ALL THESE YEARS? “Today, to watch Bob win his first championship and Carl win his first championship and the pit crew to win their first championship — to watch all the people that are realizing the success and their goals is really what keeps me up and keeps me going. I know when I have had my problems, I have thought, ‘Is this really the way I want to be spending the rest of my life?’ And it is. To enjoy the drama. To enjoy the competition. To enjoy the personalities, the challenges and the solutions to the problems are things that really keep me as young as I am and keeps me interested in carrying on. A long time ago, after I’d won enough championships and won enough races to say that I felt that I had done enough for me, but to be a part of everybody else’s success that has followed me is what really keeps me going.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED — YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU HAD SOME PAIN IN THE FOOT ON YOUR BACK FLIP. WAS IT THE SAME FOOT YOU HURT BEFORE? “Yeah, I kind of stubbed my toe a little bit on the ground. I was just kind of over-excited there. It is okay though. I was a little nervous there for a minute but it is fine. I do have my Aflac coverage paid up and that is good. If something does turn out to be broken I will get paid and I have plenty of time to heal, but I think it is fine. Thanks for caring, I appreciate it. (Laughter)
IN A YEAR WHEN SO MANY PERCEIVED THE 48 TO BE VULNERABLE, WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THAT TEAM TO STILL COME OUT ON TOP? “They are spectacular. I am not certain, you guys saw the race from a much different perspective than I did, but it just looked like they didn’t make any mistakes today. They steadily made their car better and they let the other guys make mistakes. I think that if you really look from the 10,000-foot view, that is probably what they do best. They toe the line and keep progressing forward without too much emotion or too many mistakes. I think that is the thing that all of us are trying to do is to be that good. They have done it, it is just spectacular. I believe we really are all witnessing something that is nothing short of spectacular.”