Ford Las Vegas Post-Race (Edwards Presser)

CARL EDWARDS PRESS CONFERENCE

YOU HAVE TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOW THE 99 TEAM IS PERFORMING. “We have been performing really well and it is just a joy to drive these race cars right now. You look at the way we qualified and ran, the Fords are back and are strong. It is due to the work of these two guys next to me and the guys back at the shop like Robbie Rizer. Everyone has worked really well together. It is great to drive these race cars.”

BOB CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THE TEAM PERFORMED FROM YOUR STANDPOINT? “I think the team performed well but I don’t believe they performed their best. There is more to come. They did do what they had to do at the right time which I was very happy with but I think they will get even better from here. I believe that all the programs probably will. I know there is more potential in the crew that goes over the wall for me and the crew that works on these race cars so I am very excited about that.”

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JACK, YOU MUST BE PLEASED WITH HOW THE 99 TEAM FINISHED 2010 AND THE START TO 2011. “We always look forward to coming to Las Vegas and I wish we could come a couple times instead of once a year. Las Vegas has been good to us and the track is comfortable for Carl and all the guys. The team worked especially hard over the winter on things that they knew were strengths and made them stronger and they worked extra hard to fix things that were lacking. Right now as I look at our program, except for the judgments we made and running over things on the race track our Fords have never run better. I can’t wait to see how things unfold. I am really excited about what we have in front of us.”

BOB, WERE YOU TAKING NOTES WHEN TONY TOOK TWO TIRES AND RAN AWAY FROM EVERYBODY? WAS THAT A SIGNAL TO YOU THAT TWO TIRES WOULD WORK? “It definitely didn’t hurt the decision making process to see them run extremely well with two tires. I guess I was taking notes. Their car was very good regardless of four or two and I thought our only opportunity was to leap-frog them on the track and hope we could hold them off.”

CARL, HAVE YOU EVER STARTED THE SEASON AS WELL AS THIS BEFORE? “This is the best start to a season that I have ever had and you know Daytona could have gone any way. That was a lot of luck involved in our good finish at Daytona. Phoenix was a very strong performance from everyone but we had bad luck there. I felt today we had a solid top three car all day. Those are three different types of tracks with success on all three so I am really excited about the season. This is a great start.”

CARL, OVER THE LAST 10 DAYS YOU HAVE JUMPED OFF A HUGE BUILDING, FLOWN WITH THE THUNDERBIRDS AND NOW WON A CUP RACE. “That is a really great week. I have had a blast. I don’t know what I am going to do this weekend (laughter). I really had a lot of fun and I am really excited to be able for our whole team to be able to give that trophy to the Thunderbirds. They were inspiring to hang around with.”

CARL, WE DIDN’T SEE MUCH PASSING OUT THERE. IS THAT THE NATURE OF THE BEAST OR SHOULD SOMETHING BE DONE TO PUMP UP THE ACTION? “I can tell you from the drivers seat that there are no more exciting tracks to drive on. This place has a lot of character. You slide the car at 200 mph through the corner and there are multiple grooves. I think striving to deliver a product that is impossible to deliver in auto racing is foolish. I think we need to be NASCAR. We need to be what we are. Some days we will have races that are more single file and some days we won’t. The true sport of auto racing is making your car fast, driving in perfectly and having the engine have tons of power. I think the fans can appreciate that without having to be in a giant pack with the restrictor plates. I think the savvy fans know what is going on.”

CARL, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 2008 AND RIGHT NOW? “We are making it through tech aren’t we (laughter). If we can come out of here with the points lead or be third or whatever we are in points now will be spectacular. We did not mean to cheat that day (laughter). I guess the biggest difference between then and now from my perspective is that I feel like I have a better understanding of how the sport works. I am more prepared to use these fast race cars and do a better job to try to win this championship. That is something Jack and I have talked a lot about over the years. There is definitely a process to becoming the best you can be at this level because all the guys are so savvy. I feel I am in a better position to get all the points we can and all the wins we can this year.”

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN TONY WAS PENALIZED AND WAS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR ENGINE WITH FIVE TO GO? “We will find out when we take the engine apart but I definitely heard a different sound at the end of the straight away. We are turning these engines really hard and I was trying to be careful with our engine all day. It very well could be just the five laps to go jitters when you are leading but we will find out about that. With Tony, the first thing that went through my mind was that we would see him again in a minute because that car was spectacular. He did a great job driving it. That was a gift for us to have that penalty. In the end it really put him in a position where he had to take two to get to the lead. He had to take four when we took two. It may have been the difference in the race there.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY COMMENTS FOR THE SPANISH FOLLOWERS OF NASCAR? “Buenos dias, gracias, me coche is muy rapido and much denero today (laughter). I took a lot of Spanish folks but I did not pay attention.”

HOW HAS JUAN PABLO ASCENDED IN NASCAR OVER THE YEARS? “It was a big moment when Juan came to NASCAR. I still remember where I was when they made that announcement. I was in Phoenix going to an Aflac or Scott’s suite and it was on one of the TV’s and I thought, ‘Juan Montoya is coming to race here?’ and it blew my mind that he would make that jump. He is a very fierce competitor. When he is running fast like that we aren’t going to help him out. He did a really good job today and did a good job not only of driving the race car but he raced me really clean. We really had to battle for the lead right there when I came out of the pits. I got by him on the outside. He got really loose and gave me enough room. I really enjoy racing with him lately.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GOT SOMETHING BACK TODAY AFTER PHOENIX? “I really do but that is not how this sport works. When you are down it will just keep beating you down sometimes. It is amazing that it worked out this well. It isn’t something you can count on you know. It was a long week. I thought long about Phoenix this week, just because of how great our car was. You don’t get cars like that very often. Jack told me not to expect that at Vegas. This is a true gift.”

HOW HAS FATHERHOOD CHANGED YOU AS A RACER? “I don’t know if it has changed me as a racer or not. I don’t really think about my wife and daughter when I am in the race car. It definitely has been the best thing that has happened to me in my life. It has changed my priorities a little bit. It hasn’t made any less important but there is one big priority that is moved to my front and that is my family. I am truly blessed. It is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in my life.”

JACK, DOES THIS SHOW THAT YOU GUYS ARE READY TO TAKE CHARGE AND THIS IS YOUR SEASON? “There were a lot of good cars out there. Tony certainly surprised me a little bit. I didn’t realize he would be as good as he turned out to be and the 42 car was really good. The thing I worried about was the fact that we had been so good at 1.5 mile race tracks that it is assumed we would be a factor and we concentrate on speedways more than we ever have and have tried to test for the short track everywhere we could. I was afraid the luster would be off the 1.5 mile. That is the reason why I cautioned Carl that we ran great at Phoenix but don’t assume that means we can keep it going. Based on the way we qualified it looks like it is still there. You look at the way you spend your time as a race team doing your testing, you have to work with your athletes to get your pit stops right and you have to work with your brakes and engine and cooling system and aero. In today’s world you use software and simulations and all the data acquisition and data reduction and analysis. If you have any of those things let you down it will affect you dramatically. As we have concentrated on the things we were weak on it has been my fear that we would miss something on the things we were assumed to be good at. I feel more confident on Atlanta and other 1.5 mile tracks since we have in a long time.”

JACK, GREG BIFFLE SAID SOMETHING ABOUT A DEVICE ABOUT HELPING WITH THE FUEL OVER HIS RADIO, CAN YOU COMMENT ON THAT? “I didn’t hear what Greg said. We will have plenty of time to talk about it though. He was frustrated that they didn’t get it full of gas. There is a big challenge for these teams with the new fuel system because it doesn’t fuel consistently from the bottom of the tank to the top. We can get the first gallon or two out of the can at two gallons a second and I am not sure but it is probably twice that long to get the last couple gallons out. For everybody that has to have a finger in this thing there is a learning curve that is not perfect. You need to know what your fuel mileage is before you have a reason to understand what it is and you need to be able to guess correctly about it. My guess is that we didn’t get the 16 cars gas tank full and either it had something to do with the exchange on the cans or maybe the jack man let the car down to early. Either way, we had some kind of a disconnect there that jeopardized Greg’s result. Early in the race the 99 was obviously a good Ford but early in the race the 16 looked every bit the measure of it. Greg was really frustrated but we will get that all calmed down and look at what happened there and look at all the things going right with Carl’s program and put it all together. As Bob said, it takes us longer to change the cans and we weren’t as slick as we should have been with our fueling operation even though we had a good result today.”

BUT ARE YOU TRYING TO COME UP WITH A DEVICE TO LET YOU KNOW HOW MUCH FUEL GET’S INTO THE TANK OR SOMETHING SO YOU KNOW SINCE THERE IS A BIG UNKNOWN OUT THERE? “I am sure it is Bob’s intention to comply with the spirit and the written things that are involved with the rules within the parameters we are given we will work as hard as we can.”

CARL, IS BRISTOL ON YOUR MIND? “Yeah it is already on my mind a little bit. It is going to be a wild race and always is. I believe the reasons we were good at Phoenix we will be pretty good at Bristol but you never know. We have won I think two races there. We have had good runs and had terrible days there too. I think that everyone goes through Bristol and hopes they have a good points day and a chance to win.”

YOU DIDN’T WANT ANYONE TO PICK YOU FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP PRIOR TO THIS YEAR AFTER WHAT HAPPENED IN 2008. ARE YOU READY TO TALK CHAMPIONSHIP NOW? Jack Roush – “It is way too early to be thinking championship. One of the two races before Homestead in the fall I encouraged everyone to be as conservative as we might be if it were in our grasp. We can’t make a misstep and keep our eye on the ball. We can’t squander the opportunity we have now that we are running better than we did last year. It certainly feels more like 2008, even better.”

DID YOU ENGINE PERFORM WELL DOWN THE STRETCH OR WAS IT JUST AN AUDIBLE THING? “It was an audible thing and I lifted off the throttle when I heard it. What I was doing the last few laps was going ¾ of the way on half throttle. I never turned it hard again after I heard that noise. It could have just been the win bumping the car differently but I wasn’t going to take any chances. That was with about five or six to go. I was worried there could be another restart and thinking of how to protect that engine the best I could. It is probably fine. Nobody had any trouble, none of our guys, so it is probably just fine. The clock is ticking you know with six to go and five to go. It is another dimension of time and it is very slow. A lot goes through your mind.”

WAS BOB COUNTING DOWN LAPS FOR YOU OR KEEPING HIS MOUTH SHUT? “I can count well enough to do that myself but with 20 to go you think; I wish you guys could have a microphone to hear what drivers are thinking. With 20 to go I am planning on a caution and what to do on a restart. You have to keep your mind busy because if you start thinking you are going to win the race then it all goes to hell. The key is to focus on what you have to do. We do this to win. We do this for that victory. When it is right there within your grasp, that is the toughest time to stay the course and stay focused.”

HOW DID THE NEW NOSE IMPACT THE RACE TODAY? BOB OSBORNE – “It is hard for me to comment on how it affected the race. I don’t really want to step out on that. Adjustability and how the car reacted on the race track seemed to be okay. Carl could probably comment on whether it was more influential in traffic this year than last year but the car responded well to changes I thought.

CARL EDWARDS – “We were still a little tight in the center of the corner. It wasn’t like we had a ton more front grip or something. The car drove well like it did at Homestead but there are still things we can do to make it better.”

DO YOU HAVE A PROCESS OF WHAT CHASSIS YOU ARE GOING TO USE WEEK TO WEEK? BOB OSBORNE – “I was going to make a joke and say we just wing it, but I have written down already on a piece of paper what chassis we will use form now to the end of the season. That will change if we have damage but I have a plan for the entire season.”

CARL, MARCOS WANTS YOU TO JUMP OFF THE STRATOSPHERE AGAIN BUT WITH A HELMET CAM THIS TIME AND ON LIVE TV, AND JACK, DID HE RUN THIS BY YOU BEFORE HE DECIDED TO LEAP 800 FEET INTO SPACE? JACK ROUSH – What did you do? CARL EDWARDS – “I jumped off the Stratosphere. You may be the only person in all of Las Vegas that doesn’t know I jumped off the Stratosphere. It’s a tall building downtown.” JACK ROUSH: “Were you in a balloon?” CARL EDWARDS: “No, I was tied to a cable. You can see Jack is really concerned about me.” (Laughter.) JACK ROUSH: “A couple years ago, or maybe it was last year, he broke his foot playing Frisbee, and he started to tell me how he thought he could do it and how he thought it was going to be all right, and I really didn’t care how painful it was. I can’t imagine what my impression would be if you cracked your head or something.” CARL EDWARDS: “Yeah, each time I dislocated think thumb, it was aimed backwards, then I broke my foot, and each time it was pretty much the same from Jack; if you’re going to be dumb, you’ve got to be tough. That’s all he said. You don’t get a lot of sympathy from Jack. I don’t think there were going to be any minor injuries if something went wrong with this one.” (Laughter.)

CARL, IN ADDITION TO JUST WINNING, TO WANTING TO WIN, DO YOU VIEW WINNING MORE IMPORTANT FOR THE BONUS POINTS WHEN YOU ENTER THE CHASE, OR THE FACT THAT IF YOU DO GET A COUPLE OF WINS HERE, YOU CAN MAYBE EXPERIMENT WITH SOME THINGS KNOWING THAT YOU’D HAVE THAT WILD CARD TO FALL BACK ON? “I hadn’t thought of the bonus points in the Chase, but I did think a lot about the wild card position. A lot of people knock the new points system saying they didn’t put enough emphasis on winning. But when you look at it from the wild card perspective, the bonus points in the Chase, those two things alone make winning extremely important right now. So for us, the thing I’m most excited about this win or that makes me most excited about it is that we’ve got one in the column, in that win column already, and if we do well enough, maybe win one or two more, we’ll be in a position to have that wild card no matter what happens at Bristol or Talladega, some of these tracks that we may not be in control of our own destiny, so it’s good.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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