FORD FAST FACTS (KENTUCKY)
. There are 12 Fords participating in the Inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
. Four of the Blue Ovals are required to qualify on time.
. As a manufacturer, Ford has taken the checkered flag five times at Kentucky in NASCAR events (3 NNS and 2 CWT).
. Both Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards have won Truck Series races at Kentucky.
. Biffle’s victory was in the first ever NASCAR sponsored race at the Speedway and Edwards’ win in 2005 signified the birth of his trademark post-victory back flip.
. Edwards and Matt Kenseth are in the top-five in the latest Sprint Cup points standings while David Ragan has positioned himself in second place in the race for one of the two wild card spots.
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, finds himself in second place in the current Sprint Cup point standings for the first time in 10 races after relinquishing his lead to Kevin Harvick by five points following last weekend’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. Edwards, who has enjoyed success at Kentucky, including his first career NASCAR victory in 2003 when he debuted his trademark back-flip after winning his first Camping World Truck Series race, talked about trying to regain the lead, coming to Kentucky in the Cup Series and much more during his media availability Thursday afternoon.
CARL EDWARDS, No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS RACING BACK HERE AT KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY? “This is going to be a good race. Our Cup cars are a lot of fun to drive around here. It is a different feeling to be here with two races in once weekend. I think it is going to be good. Just in the test session we have seen the line move around two or three different lanes, so I think it is going to be a good race. This is a perfect place for these Cup cars and the track has a lot of character, is pretty slipper, there are bumps and it is taking rubber so it will change quite a bit that way. I think it is good.”
KENTUCKY FOUGHT HARD TO GET THE CUP RACE HERE. TALK ABOUT HOW SPECIAL THAT WILL BE FOR THE FANS AND DRIVERS. “I don’t know all the details but I know that I have been coming here for about nine years now and every time I come here a number of fans always ask when the Cup cars are coming. It is a big deal to the fans here. I don’t know what happened behind closed doors to get all this done, but I think it is a perfect place to be racing. The fans seem to be very excited about the race and it feels a lot like going to Iowa. A lot of people around here understand stock car racing. They like it and it is cool we are here doing it in the Cup series.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WINNING AN INAUGURAL RACE AND HOW SPECIAL THAT WOULD BE? “This is going to be a big race to win. When they throw that green flag, there are going to be a lot of energy here. There are going to be a lot of really excited fans. Right now it is kind of a novelty event. There is a little buzz in the air and everybody is excited to be here. We are real excited to be here, but it is kind of in a different way. It feels different. The first time you come to a track is special. Everybody is going to be learning as much as you can this first race, but somebody is going to figure it out quicker and win the race. There is pride in that to be the guy who wins an inaugural event. I don’t think I have won one. It is fun to go to a new track with cars.”
DIDN’T YOU DO YOUR FIRST BACK FLIP AT THIS SPEEDWAY? “Yes. It was my first NASCAR win and it was huge. That was 2003 I guess and it was really neat. That changed a lot. It seems like a long, long time ago. I have won here in the Truck Series and then we have had really good races and one or two wins in the Nationwide Series. We were really close in the Nationwide race the last time we were here. I have had some really bad races here too. I think that is evidence that this place is really hard. It is a difficult race track. Hopefully we are on the good end of it this week.”
DO YOU HAVE AN ADVANTAGE HAVING BEEN HERE BEFORE OVER GUYS THAT HAVE NOT RACED THIS TRACK? “I felt like I had an advantage the first two or three runs out there and then it seemed like everybody figured it out. That is the other thing, the Nationwide cars drive so much differently. The Cup cars you are off the throttle, the front end of the car is loaded longer in the corner. The bumps feel different. The way you apply the throttle is different. I thought there would be a bigger advantage but it doesn’t look like that will be the case. This test day kind of negated that advantage I think.”
FANS ASK WHAT THE GUYS THINK OF THE NEW FUEL INJECTION. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO DRIVE THE CAR TODAY AND WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON IT FOR NEXT YEAR? “I don’t know enough about the new fuel injection to have a really strong opinion on it. I like whatever is simplest and most even. Ricky Stenhouse has been running the fuel injection today and it looks like it is really fast. From what I can tell it doesn’t seem like the fans are going to be able to tell a difference in the racing. They say the drivers won’t be able to tell a difference in the cars. In the end, if it allows Ford and other manufacturers to develop stuff for cars that they produce for the road then I think it is better. I just haven’t been around it enough yet and haven’t driven it yet.”
AFTER DAYTONA THERE WAS LOTS OF TALK ABOUT YOUR PHYSICAL CONDITION AND THE COOL BOX. CAN YOU ADDRESS THAT AND IF YOU WILL MAKE CHANGES FOR THE FUTURE TO DEAL WITH WHAT HAPPENED? “What happened, best that I understand it, was that the crush panel got knocked out. Whatever was going on back there it was pumping the exhaust fumes directly into the car. That is the hottest I have ever been in my life by a big margin. I drove around out there and I didn’t want to quit. I didn’t want to pull in just because I was getting hot there. Fortunately it got something in the car hot enough that the car started running badly and I had an excuse to pull in. Once they put the crush panel back in it was good. We talked about it a little this week and if that were to happen this weekend we would have to fix it. I don’t think the car or driver could make it for more than 30 minutes or something like that. I think things would be on fire. It opened my eyes to how hot things can be in those cars if you knock those crush panels out. I don’t know how many races I have run in, but I have never had that situation before. Not anything like it. If the hottest I had ever been before was say, 140 degrees, it felt like it was 240 degrees. It was a whole different dimension of heat. It got my attention. I don’t think there is anything that could battle that. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I am glad I have gloves on or my hands would be burning right now.’ It wasn’t just fumes or something. We will try not to do that again.”
WHEN THAT HAPPENED TO BIFFLE, HE SAID HE WAS BASICALLY DELIRIOUS IN THE CAR. WOULD YOU EVER PULL OVER? WOULD A RACE CAR DRIVER EVER PULL OVER FEELING THAT BAD BECAUSE HE SAID HE WOULD RATHER DIE THAN PULL OFF THE TRACK? “I don’t think any of us would and that is probably not smart. Bob and the guys were mad at me that I didn’t pull in and fix it right away but that is just our nature. You can’t pull in and say, ‘Hey, I am too hot.’ It got my attention for sure. I was doing the math. I was thinking that we had 100 and something laps to go and thinking, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work.’ That is an interesting predicament to be in. I can see how in years past there have been guys that got out of cars and have had something wrong with the crush panel it is a serious situation. That was a lot of heat.”
YOU ARE NO LONGER THE POINTS LEADER. IS THIS A BUMP IN THE ROAD OR IS THERE CONCERN IN THE GARAGE? “No, it is a little bit of a reality check for us. Although it has felt nice to be atop the standings, when the Chase starts, we won’t be atop the standings. We need four wins to be on top and we don’t have four wins. I think it is in a way good for us. It puts us back on the offensive and we can go out and test ourselves a little bit here these next nine races. It is nine races before the Chase starts right? So we essentially get a practice Chase starting right now. I am curious to see how we can perform. If we can climb back to the top of the standings and build a big point lead again it will give us confidence going into the Chase. We are looking at it as an opportunity to take a step back and look at the reality of the situation that we have to beat these guys in the final 10 races and hopefully it will be a practice run and we can do it. It will give us more confidence going into the Chase if we are able to do that.”
YOU WERE IN INDY YESTERDAY. ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO RUNNING WHAT COULD BE THE LAST NATIONWIDE RACE AT ORP? “NASCAR’s official stance on the ORP situation is that they make their plans every year, so I have a feeling we will be back there sometime, even if it is in addition to racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I understand NASCAR’s position that the opportunity to run these cars at Indianapolis is one you can’t pass up. It is a huge opportunity and will be great for the young drivers and even the veterans to have two shots at a trophy at Indianapolis in one weekend. It will make the Raceway Park race more special this year knowing we won’t be there next year. I really love racing at Raceway Park and I have a feeling it won’t be my last race there, even if it is a silver crown race or something in the future.”
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HAVING SO MUCH TIME ON THE TRACK TODAY? “We used to test a lot more so this is kind of neat to go out there and test a little bit. For me, it is just as much about the driver and getting comfortable with the race track. I haven’t driven a Cup car here for a long time, since we tested in like 2004 or something. Driving down in these corners, they are very treacherous, they don’t look like it but they are, especially turn three. It is very flat and deceivingly slippery. The first lap I drove in there way over my head and it got my attention. The bumps down in one and two, there are areas that have bumps and to figure out how to get through that corner is difficult. I think a lot of guys are out there and if they are being honest they would say they are working on their driving. I think there are a lot of things you can learn as a driver out there running more laps. I think you will see guys make long runs this evening and see what happens too.”
KEVIN HARVICK DESCRIBED THIS AS A BUMPY RACE TRACK. WOULD YOU AGREE? “I wouldn’t call it a bumpy track; I would say it is a track that has a lot of character. The bumps are part of it. I like race tracks like this that are not just one groove, sitting on the white line, single file racing. This is going to be a race track where you could chase a guy down, pressure him, get him to go through the bumps the wrong way and slide up the race track. You can make moves. The bumps are part of that but if I only have one sentence to describe this track I would say it has a lot of character and I really like it.”
KYLE BUSCH SAID HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT THE BUMPS AND YOU DON’T WANT TO GET UNDER SOMEBODY BECAUSE YOU MIGHT GET INTO THEM. HOW WILL YOU DEAL WITH TRYING TO PASS SOMEBODY DOWN IN ONE? “The last Nationwide race I worked on Joey Logano for laps down there and I couldn’t figure out a way to get around him. I had all sorts of options but I couldn’t get him. Kyle is right. Those bumps will make things interesting. If you dive down there under someone, the guy on the outside you might want to take that into account that the car might not stick as well on the bottom as a guy wants to. Turn three isn’t based on bumps but has the same feeling because the car can slide sideways there. It is a tough race track and I think for the same reason that it is difficult for the guy on the inside, if you pressure the guy leading he can make a mistake too. I don’t think a guy will be able to sit in the lead and run away with it. I think someone will be able to make something happen. We will see what happens but it isn’t as simple of a track to drive as some of the ones we go to.”
IF YOU TAKE THE CHECKERED FLAG ARE YOU GOING TO THE TOP OF THE STANDS? “I don’t know if I would make it to the top of the stands here. The fans are pretty wound up. I will try. I will make a deal with you that I will try to make it to the top if I win on Saturday night. We will see what happens. I hope that is my biggest problem.”