Ford Sonoma Friday Advance (Carl Edwards)

CARL EDWARDS, No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion

DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO RACING THIS WEEKEND?“I told my wife this week on Wednesday when we were driving around that I was really excited about going racing this weekend. With Road America and here, they are both really good tracks for me. We haven’t gotten a win here yet, but it is something different and changes the pace. We are in a good position, leading the points, and don’t have a lot of pressure right now, so it is about going out here and trying to get a win.”

DURING YOUR TIME IN CUP, COMING TO THIS TRACK SPECIFICALLY, HOW HAVE YOU NOTICED THE AGGRESSION RATCHET UP AMONG THE COMPETITORS?  “I think the aggression has ratcheted up across the board. I think in these road courses it has gone through the roof. If you leave anything open, guys dive in and door slam you and they are really going for it. If we don’t get that long green flag run at the end. If we get caution after caution with like two laps to go on the race, it is going to be insane. We could wear out the green-white-checker here for sure.”
American Muscle

DOES IT HELP OR HINDER YOU BOUNCING BETWEEN RACE TRACKS THIS WEEKEND?  “I am going to miss all the practice here tomorrow, so that is going to hurt our ability to finely tune the Aflac Fusion here. Initially I was going to run Road America and then we agreed it would be better for me to stay here and practice and miss Road America, then we talked more about it and in the end I think running that race helps me here. It helps me get in the road racing mode but I am going to miss practice here. We can lean on our teammates and get that final tire pressure and shock adjustment hopefully from them”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PROGRESSION AS A ROAD RACER?  “The first time I went road racing with Boris (Said), about two minutes into it we were backwards in the grass. He helped me a lot. I still have a lot to learn. Coming here was one of the most humbling experiences my first time for a test. Kasey Kahne was out there running about a second-and-a-half faster than me and that was all I had. We have been able to come here a couple times and be very fast and sat on the pole at Watkins Glen last year which was huge for me. I won some Nationwide races, but I still have to get that Cup win on a road course. I want to be able to contend for the win every time we come here. That is the next hurdle for me, to get that much better.” DID YOU EVER THINK YOU WOULD GET TO THE POINT WHERE YOU LOOK FORWARD TO COMING HERE?  “These places used to scare me a little bit. I always thought I could lose a lot of points. Now I do look forward to them. They are a true test to your driving ability. You can’t make a mistake. You can’t miss a shift. You have to really temper your aggression. You can’t just go in there and dive under people and wreck them because if you don’t wreck them they will wreck you in the next corner and you will most likely wreck yourself. It is a really tough place to be fast and to not make mistakes. It is hard.”

THERE IS ALL MANNER OF RUMOR ABOUT YOU AND JOE GIBBS RACING. WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT AND WHERE DOES YOUR CONTRACT STATUS STAND RIGHT NOW?  “As far as my contract status, it is the same as the beginning of the year. We are working hard on it and we do all that stuff behind closed doors. We are making progress and hopefully we will be able to tell you guys what my plan is soon.”

WHAT ABOUT THE GIBBS PART?  “What about it?”

ANY RESPONSE?  “No. I have heard rumors about all different teams for the last two years. The thing I am going to do is keep working on it and working on it privately. I think that is the best way for me.”

AS THE POINTS LEADER, THIS IS SHAPING UP TO BE A CHAMPIONSHIP RUN FOR YOU. IS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU NEED YOUR CONTRACT DONE SO IT DOESN’T HIDER THAT POSSIBILITY?  “That is a really good point, but if it were up to me I would do it when the season is over and not talk about it with anyone. That isn’t the case though. We have to get it done. There is that feeling of hey, we would like to get this done before we get into the Chase. It will be whatever it is. I am not going to force anything or rush anything. I am going to go about it in a methodical way.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE RACING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP AND WAITING TO DECEMBER OR DO YOU WANT IT DONE BEFORE THEN?  “I tell you what. I am not going to talk about it anymore. They are really good questions.  I have worked really hard in my career trying to minimize distractions. That is one thing I am very fortunate that with Bob Osborne, that guy is non-emotional about racing. He just goes about his business. I think that no matter how things go or how long we delay this or how long it takes, we aren’t delaying anything. I think we will race fine as a team. It is a difficult thing though because there are so many personalities that have to come together to get everything to work. We have to stay focused on our goal, to win the championship, no matter what.”

ARE YOU HAPPY AT ROUSH FENWAY RACING?  “Jack has done a lot for me and I am proud to drive for Jack and to drive a Ford. We have had 19 wins in the Cup series and 30-something in the Nationwide series. It is great. Like I said, I am working on all this stuff and when I know what is going to happen, I will let you guys know.”

NEXT WEEK IS A NIGHT RACE AT DAYTONA. YOU WON THE SHOOTOUT AT NIGHT. IS IT THE SAME CAR SETUP FOR YOU NEXT WEEK?  “I don’t know exactly what we have going at Daytona. It is such a different race now with the new surface that it is all about pure speed and partnering up with someone. Bob hasn’t told me the whole master plan yet. We will deal with that after we get out of here.”

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING YOU TOOK FROM THE 500 FOR NEXT WEEKEND?  “I do not want to finish second. I probably won’t be finishing second at Daytona. I will be doing everything I can to win that race. That was the closest I have been to Daytona in a Cup car and I really, really want to win there. That would be cool.”

JIMMIE SEEMS TO BE SITTING THERE IN THE WEEDS. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO KEEP BUILDING THAT CUSHION?  “Right now it doesn’t matter a lot. As long as we make the Chase, those guys are mentally strong enough that they will gather everything up and be fast for the final 10 races. If he made it into the Chase on wild card in 12th position I think he would be just as dangerous as if he were leading right now. I believe that to be true.”

IN 2008 YOU WON A LOT OF RACES. HOW WOULD YOU GUAGE YOUR CONFIDENCE PERSONALLY AND IN YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW COMPARED TO THAT SEASON?  “In 2008 it was the first time we had a truly dominant team. A lot of that was because we had gotten ahead of the curve with the rear end housing and making more side force and down force. I knew other teams were catching us toward the end of the year. The other teams were building up steam and breathing down our necks. I feel this year is different. I feel more calm. I feel I have the same amount of confidence as then because we are fast for a number of reasons, not just one trick. I think with our team, we have better engines, better pit stops, better communication, better race cars, better management, we have everything right now. That gives me a much more calm feeling. I am not worried about guys overtaking us in one week.”

DID YOU HAVE ANY SIMPATHY FOR MARCOS HERE LAST YEAR?  “Yeah. It is a zero sum game. You don’t ever really have a lot of sympathy for other guys but boy; it was a lot like watching the Indy 500. Your heart just sinks because you know how hard it is to lose a race like that. I know Marcos; I saw somewhere this week where he wouldn’t even talk about it. He will win races though. He is really good. That was tough.”

DO YOU EXPECT HIM TO BE A RIGHT THERE THIS WEEK?  “One of our strategies this weekend is that if the car isn’t really fast today, and I have  to leave, we will take whatever Marcos figures out tomorrow and put it in our car. We believe in him and his abilities that much. That is one of our legitimate strategies for setting up the race car, just to copy him.”

WHEN YOU WERE FIRST STARTING OUT AND HAVING TROUBLE WITH ROAD COURSES, DID YOU DO ANY OF THE I-RACING STUFF?  “I am glad you asked that because I spent about two hours this week on I-Racing and my brother races all the time on that. I spent time on Road America where they had an open practice last night. It was really cool. There were about 60 guys and it was just like a real practice session. One of the guys, his name is Mack, he sent a set-up over digitally and we put that in and talked to him a little bit and followed him around the track. It really helps I think. I have to get in that Road America car and jump in and qualify and that is it. I am relying on that I-Racing stuff to get me up to speed.”

DID YOU DO A LOT OF THAT ANYWAY?  “I didn’t do it on I-Racing, but it is the same physics model. Papyrus is the company and I have worked with them and they sent me all the tracks. I have a hot seat and my PC is set up and everything. I have worked a lot on that. I haven’t done that lately because there is a certain limit to how much it can help you here, but it can definitely help you with braking points and where the speed is on a road course, for sure.  It is really hard. I finished practice last night 13th on the board, about two-seconds slower than the fastest guys at Road America. Those guys are fast.”


DO YOU THINK YOU WERE SPEAKING ON A SENTIMENT SHARED BY OTHER DRIVERS?   “I think so, although I wasn’t thinking about that at the time. I have talked to NASCAR and they understand what I am saying. I have talked about it in those open competition meetings. I think the consensus is that Carl doesn’t want down force and wants the cars sliding all over the place, and that is true. They aren’t really going to listen to me that much because they know that I think I would have an advantage. I do think, objectively, as objectively as I can be, the less we rely on down force the better the racing will be.”

IS THE RACE ON PIT ROAD TOO IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW?  “Yes, that is what I was saying.  I have won races like that too. I totally understand. I am not complaining because I didn’t win at Michigan. I understand that I am going to win by that and lose by that. I would rather win or lose by how fast I am that day, not by where my track position is. I know NASCAR wants that too. We are all on the same page. The cars drive really well right now. There are less wrecks, less cars running into each other and arguably maybe the show is better sometimes because of down force. It is just my opinion that NASCAR should take a look at it and I think they will. I was just saying that I hope everybody recognizes how much of a part down force plays, because it is big.”

PIT ROAD IS SO IMPORTANT. IF YOU GO IN FIRST AND COME OUT SIXTH, YOU ARE DONE WITHOUT A MIRACLE YOU WON’T PASS FIVE CARS.  “Exactly. Denny went in second and if he had come out fourth or fifth it would have been a lot different race. Look, Denny is awesome and those guys are good. That is why they won that race. Think of it this way. If the cars didn’t have any down force, the only thing that would happen if you were following a guy is you would benefit from less drag and the guy behind may potentially always have an advantage. You maybe would see a lot more passing for the lead and a lot more really hard racing for the lead, which I think would be awesome. That is what I was pointing out about the 2013 car. They are changing the car and I have gotten a look at it and they are really, really neat. I think it will change the perception of the sport and bring excitement. They have an opportunity there. I just hope they take it. The tires can be softer too. So now the tires can fall off more because you don’t have to worry about the tires giving up because of so much pressure.”

WHAT KIND OF RACING DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE IN KENTUCKY?  “I think everyone is in for a surprise with the fans. The fans there will be just insane. That is one of the neatest parts about going to Kentucky. Also the track has so many bumps and different lines you can run that I think it will be a lot better racing than we see at a lot of these 1.5 mile race tracks. I think it will be a great race and one that people look at on the calendar and think that anybody can win it. It is going to be cool.  I think we will have more passing there because of the bumps and you go through turns one and two and there are places with huge bumps and also really smooth lines. In the Nationwide race it was real hit and miss. If you go through a line perfect you would be fast. If you missed it you would be slow. In the Cup series the gap between cars is so small that if a guy misses a line one time, one or two guys might get by him. It is going to be neat and a little more old school.”

NOBODY WILL PRACTICE YOUR CAR TOMORROW?  “No. We talked about having Billy Johnson come back to practice it but then we figured the cost benefit that we might as well just let the car sit.”

SO AFTER QUALIFYING TODAY, WHAT YOU HAVE IS WHAT YOU HAVE?  “Yes, except like I was saying before, if Ambrose or Matt (Kenseth) figures something out, we will take that and put it in our car.”

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


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