Ford Kansas Friday Advance (Carl Edwards)

Carl Edwards enters Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway tied for the Chase lead with Kevin Harvick. Edwards, who led in points earlier this season, met with media members prior to qualifying.

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE CHASE THUS FAR AND YOUR THOUGHTS COMING TO KANSAS THIS WEEKEND. “It feels like we have been running Chase races for a year. The time has really slowed down. We are only three races in and it feels like a lot has happened. I am looking forward to the last seven races. This race I feel for our team, is an opportunity to capitalize on one of our strong points, which is these mile-and-a-half race tracks. I am hoping that we can do that and hoping that we can run as well as we have historically at this type of race track. This week, next week, we have to do everything right so that we have a little insurance for those bad days that are inevitably going to come.”

DID YOU REALLY GUARANTEE LAST WEEK THAT YOU WERE GOING TO WIN HERE? “Well, that is how it was written. I just told my guys, I was feeling pretty motivated at the end of the race at Dover because of the mistake I made on pit road, I told my guys on the radio that we were going to go to Kansas and we were going to win and let’s just go do it. Like I told Randy from the Kansas City Star, that is still my plan. I hope I can come through with that. I feel that we can do it and I really felt like we could do it at Dover. I was really amped up at the end of that race. We are running pretty well now. We will find out in race trim tomorrow how confident I am.”

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YOU MENTIONED MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY COMING UP. YOU HAD A GOOD RUN THERE A COUPLE YEARS AGO AND A SECOND PLACE RUN AT RICHMOND A FEW WEEKS AGO. WHAT ARE YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS GOING INTO MARTINSVILLE? “Richmond was unreal. We were as fast as we have ever been there and I was really excited to go to Loudon and then Martinsville. Loudon we really struggled with and had some trouble there. Eighth place was a gift. We should have been 15th or 20th. I am a little nervous about Martinsville. I think that if we can find some things. If we can pick up just a tiny bit of speed there we will be good. Otherwise, that will be one of the tracks we go to and just fight and claw for a top-10 and that is how it usually is for me there. I would like to be surprised and would love to run better but I am a little nervous about that one to be honest. I won’t be finishing this race and going, ‘We’re going to Martinsville and gonna win it! (laughter) I will go into that one with my eyes open pretty wide.”

HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT NOW THAN YOU WERE IN THE 2008 CHASE? “A lot has happened since 2008. A lot has happened. I have gained a ton of experience in the sport just with the ups and downs and the way things can go. That has been one thing. I think I appreciate the way we are running now more than I did then. I thought that every year would be like that and it would be easy. Then the other thing that I think is very important is that I believe our team has been through more together and we went through 2009 and 2010 and we kind of galvanized our relationships and I think that has been really good. All of that is good plus I think for me personally I have a different perspective and more realistic perspective and am able to focus on the task at hand a little better than riding the emotional roller coaster of good weeks and bad weeks. I think I am better at just going in and doing the job. There is a lot that can happen between now and the end of the Chase. I think that helps me.”

HOW MUCH DOES IT HELP YOUR MOMENTUM BEING TIED FOR POINTS RIGHT NOW AND WITH THE YEAR YOU HAVE HAD WITH A NEW BABY AND RESIGNING, WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO CAP IT OFF WITH A CHAMPIONSHIP? “This is just who can score the most points over 10 races and we are three races in. The feeling is nice to know we are tied for the points lead. That feels good but it doesn’t mean anything right now. There are still seven races left and I understand that there are 19 points separating the top nine guys who happen to be pretty darn good racers. I don’t plan on it getting any easier. As good as it feels as a team we are experienced enough to know that this can change in a heartbeat. We can come out of this race tenth in points. We need to stay focused on the task at hand. For me personally it would mean more than I can describe up here to win the championship. This year it would be very special considering the amount of confidence that Roush Fenway Racing and Ford and Aflac and Fastenal and all our sponsors have put into me. It would be very special to be standing there with the championship at Homestead.”

THERE IS GOING TO BE A FUEL INJECTION TEST THE THURSDAY BEFORE TALLADEGA. ONE OF YOUR RIVALS SUGGESTED THAT WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO TEST FOR THE RACE. DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANYTHING YOU MIGHT TAKE AWAY FROM THAT EXTRA TEST THAT MIGHT APPLY TO THE RACE? “This is the first I have heard of the test, so you know more than I do about it. I think Talladega is going to be insane. The last race we ran at Talladega is one where eight cars were separated by a few hundredths at the finish if I am not mistaken. That race is going to be wild. Any testing you can get, anything you can do to practice will help. There is still that huge variable of the wrecks and things that can happen. We will see what happens. I don’t even know if we are going to that test or not. I have no clue. I should know. Randy is telling me I am not going. Okay then. There you go. I probably won’t learn a lot then. (laughter) ”

YOUR NAME IS BEING THROWN OUT THERE AS A FAVORITE TO WIN THE CHASE. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU RELISH OR WOULD YOU RATHER FLY UNDER THE RADAR? “It really doesn’t matter to me. Obviously I hope to win the Chase and I believe that I am the favorite and our team is the favorite because we believe in one another. All the speculation in the world doesn’t change who is holding the trophy at the end of the year. At least you hope it doesn’t. I try not to subscribe to anyone’s opinions. I just try to go out there and do the best job I can and if we win it, we win it. I have been picked for a lot of things and usually it ends up being the opposite. I have been the media favorite to do things and not a favorite to do others. It doesn’t seem to correspond with the results. I am just trying to keep my head down, focus on what is important and go run. The crazy thing about this Chase is nobody would have picked Tony Stewart three or four weeks ago and then it looks like he was going to dominate and he has one bad run at Dover and now they are talking about other people. With the closeness of the cars every week things could change. Then you throw in Talladega, the new surface at Phoenix, Martinsville, there is no telling. I don’t think you will know who the favorite is until about a third of the race through in Homestead. Then you will see who is running well enough to win it.”

IS THE PRESSURE MORE AS EACH RACE GOES ON. DOES IT MOUNT AS YOU GET CLOSER TO THE END? “I believe the pressure does crescendo. You are going to see who can handle pressure if there are four or five guys going into Homestead. I think we saw a lot of that last year. There was pressure on three guys. That is tough. As close as it is, I realize as a driver that everything you do can determine the outcome of your championship. That is why that penalty last week as so crushing to me. I knew right then that if I ended up finishing 20th when we had a car that could win, that was going to be very difficult to accept. There is a lot of pressure. Everyone knows how close it is and like you said, it is because of that that the pressure is greater than normal.”

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE ANTICIPATION OF THE NIGHT RACE AT CHARLOTTE? “The Charlotte race is very interesting. We struggle a lot there. It is a hit or miss track for us. We won the All-Star race which I was in denial as to how fast our car was the whole race. We were going along and I thought our car was pretty good but thought we would slow down. We kept going fast and I thought we might actually win the thing. I really approach those Charlotte races with a little anxiety for me because I know how poorly you can run there with just a small problem with the car. It is a very exciting place to race because it is home for everybody. The team guys and shops and everything. It is such a long race and a tough race. It took part in ruining our hopes for the championship in 2008 with our ignition problem there. I will never forget that. That was such a bad day for us. I feel like winning a points race there would be huge. It would be a big hurdle for me to get over as a driver and there would be no better time to do it than now. There will be guys that run well there. A lot of the guys in the Chase run well there.”

JIMMIE WAS SAYING THERE IS SOME KIND OF MOMENTUM THAT COMES FROM HAVING EVERYONE ELSE CHASE YOU AS POINTS LEADER, THAT SOMETHING COMES FROM HAVING THAT TARGET ON YOUR BACK. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? “Well yeah, I want the biggest points lead I can have. I don’t know if there is momentum from it but it sure gives you a little more piece of mind when you have that bad day. You want all the points you can have. I think for a competitor that is confident in themselves and a team that is confident I believe having the points lead is good. It lets you relax a little more and focus on racing and you know in the back of your mind that you have a cushion for a little mistake here or there. For a new guy, for myself personally when I first started this, the more success you have in a way it adds pressure. You think, ‘Wow, I don’t want to mess this up.’ I have messed it up enough now that I am glad to have the lead and just enjoy it. The farther out we can get and the bigger points lead we can get, the better.”

HOCKEY AND THE NFL HAVE CONCUSSION ISSUES. DO YOU THINK OTHER SPORTS CAN LEARN FROM THE SAFETY OF THE HELMETS AND SUCH IN NASCAR BECAUSE YOU GUYS DON’T SEEM TO HAVE CONCUSSION ISSUES? “No, they are two entirely different sports. I have hit my head enough to know. It is hard for me to watch an NFL game something because those guys hit their heads a lot. There are a lot of impacts. Anybody here who has hit their head knows it is not a good feeling. I think that if you look at the number of impact we take, if things are going normally and going well there are only a few impacts a year where the NHL and NFL, it seems like those guys, every time they tackle someone or stretch out to catch a ball they whack their head on the ground pretty hard. I believe NASCAR does a really good job and I know the times that I have hit my head pretty hard they have done a really good job of monitoring me and keeping track of things and I feel that we are pretty fortunate in this sport. The impacts we have, when we have them, are pretty big but they seem less frequent.”

GOING BACK TO DOVER AND YOUR PENALTY THERE. WHAT DO YOU DO MENTALLY TO GET BACK IN THE GAME? “It is very hard. I was very, very frustrated. This sport can be one of the most frustrating, disappointing sports on earth. Anything can happen and there are a thousand ways to lose a race or mess up. Anybody who has raced anything knows that. I think that the way we came back, there was a lot of luck involved. We got a caution when we needed it. The way we came back and stuck together as a team, I am really proud of that. I think it was a good exercise for us, even though there was a point’s penalty. Man, that is tough. I felt really, really small. I was very upset at myself.”

WHAT ABOUT MISSOURI GOING TO THE SEC POTENTIALLY? “I don’t know enough about that. I texted Pinkel the other day about something else and he didn’t say anything about it. I am sure he is tired of talking about it.”

HOW IS FATHERHOOD? “It is good. The best thing in the world.”

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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