Ford Talladega Friday Advance (Carl Edwards)

Carl Edwards enters Talladega with a five point lead over Kevin Harvick in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Edwards took time with media members following the first practice session Friday to discuss the lead, racing at the track and more.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT LEADING THE POINTS AND RACING HERE AT TALLADEGA? “Well, this track is just as truck for me and our 99 team as it is for anyone and we are coming in here with our fingers and toes crossed and hoping we can have a good solid race. I feel like I have got the best partner out there in Greg Biffle. I feel like he is the most talented driver on the race track and I am glad to have him as my partner. We talked a bit this morning about our plan and practice went really well. We are hoping we can run like we did in the spring. I think together we have a really good shot at doing well at this race track. I am excited to have Subway on board. Some people think it is October but it is Anytober. That means that any regular foot long is five dollars. It is important to say regular foot long because if you go in there and want something special sometimes it costs more than five bucks. I am glad to have Subway on board. They are a lot of fun to work with and Apollo Ohno is running the New York City marathon on November 6th and we are supporting him and his efforts to raise money for good causes and represent Subway. We are hoping to have a good run. This Subway car was fast at Daytona and we got a little racey Greg and I did, me mostly, and our plan is to be a little more cautious here and be there at the end.”

IN 2008 YOU AND GREG HAD A PRETTY DISASTROUS ENDING THERE AND ARGUABLY IS COST YOU A CHAMPIONSHIP. DO YOU ALLOW SOMETHING THAT IS THAT OLD CROSS YOUR MIND? “That is one good thing about Greg and I as partners. We have tried it a couple different ways. I wrecked him pushing him there in 2008 and then he was pushing me when we wrecked at Daytona this year and then we have had a really good run with our Talladega spring run here. I think that, obviously those things were painful when they happened, but I think it has made us a stronger team, him and I together. We talked about that a little bit this morning about different things we together had done wrong. We are mindful of that stuff and we know intimately how bad it can go with just small mistake. I think that can actually help now with our efforts right now. Those were painful at the time.”
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TREVOR BAYNE INDICATED THE OTHER DAY THAT HE THOUGHT HE WOULD WORK WITH YOU AT SOME POINT. IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT GREG IS PLAN A AND TREVOR IS PLAN B? “I feel very confident working with Trevor as well as Greg. Trevor and I talked about it a little bit and then we sat down as a team and we knew we had this history with Greg that has been very good and Greg and I have worked together more laps than anybody else on the race track. When we sat down and looked at it from a team perspective it made more sense to have Matt and David work together and Greg and I to work together. I don’t know what Trevor’s final plan is but hopefully he will be available in the unlikely event that one of us loses a partner somewhere. If any of us four has a problem hopefully Trevor will be available. I don’t know if he has made a deal with someone that is set in stone where he couldn’t leave them. Our mission is to get a Ford in victory lane here. We have such a good group of guys that truly any of them would be great to work with.”

HOW DOES THE TRAGEDY LAST SUNDAY AT LAS VEGAS IMPACT YOU AS A COMPETITOR? “My only comment about what happened in the race at Las Vegas is that my thoughts and prayers and my family’s thoughts and prayers are with Dan’s family. That is my only comment I would like to say about that.”

EVERYBODY REMEMBERS THE RUN JIMMIE JOHNSON HAD IN 2006 COMING OUT OF HERE WITH FIVE STRAIGHT TOP-TWO FINISHES TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. IS A RUN LIKE THAT POSSIBLE NOW? “It is possible. I feel like we have had a run like that the last five races but not as good as that run. It is so competitive right now. You are right. I think it will be more difficult for someone to have that blistering run where they knock off four or five top-three’s or four’s in a row but it is possible. The problem is it is possible for six or eight guys to do it so it comes down to circumstance and luck and strategy. I hope we are the guys that can do that but I believe it is more competitive now, I will just leave it at that.”

EVERY DRIVER I HAVE SEEN THAT IS WORTH A DAMN THINKS IF YOU PUT HIM IN IDENTICAL EQUIPMENT AS HIS TEAMMATES THAT HE IS BETTER THAN HIS TEAMMATES. NOW YOU HAVE TO WORK WITH A GUY THAT HAS TO SUBJUGATE HIMSELF TO HELP YOU WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT ARE THE INTERPERSONAL POLITICS OF THAT? “We actually talked about that a little bit this morning. We are fierce competitors Greg and I, we really are. It is nice to have a teammate that is so good that he motivates not only me but my crew chief, engineer and crew guys. Those guys are very, very good. They have been running better than us honestly a lot lately. This race, we talked about this race being different. We are nothing without each other. Together we have the opportunity to go win this race. All the planning, all of that is one thing but when it comes down to the final two laps or the final lap, whether it is me pushing or Greg pushing, we know and have proven to ourselves that together we can do better than we can individually. We talked about it this morning and shook on it and said we would go out there and do the best we can for each other. We are a team here and that is a good feeling. This race is different. We won’t be able to do that at Martinsville or Texas but this race is different and we have to work together.”

IS THIS A RACE PLACE WHERE WHEN YOU WAKE UP SUNDAY MORNING YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN? “You could see the checkered flag and be leading this race and still feel that way. You have no clue what is going to happen. There is no telling what is going to happen and I would be lying to you if I said I enjoyed it. What we have to do it go out here and take advantage of anything we can and do the best we can and as a driver I have had to realize that this race is different. There is no point in dreading it or dwelling on the things you wish it could be like. You just have to go out and do it. Yes, I have driven to that airport after the race as happy as I could be and feeling like I won the lottery. I have also driven over there trying to rewind time and change one little thing that you will never be able to change. It is a very tough race track.”

THE ENTRY BLANK USUALLY STATES THAT A DRIVER HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT A FACILITY, EXAMINE IT AND MAKE SURE IT IS SAFE. HAVE YOU EVER DONE THAT AND WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR YOU AS A DRIVER TO SAY, ‘I WILL NOT RACE HERE’? “That is a tough question. I have walked every race track that I race at. Let me say this. I feel that NASCAR and ISC and Dover and Bruton and all of these people have done everything in their power to make this sport as safe as it can be and I am very grateful for that. I know that this sport was not as safe as it is now 10 or 20 years ago. If I thought that someone was neglecting some item that they could address and they weren’t out of negligence or cost savings or something like that then what I would do is go talk to Mike Helton or go talk to NASCAR. Very few times have I gone to them and said I was concerned about this or that. They seem to be ahead of the curve on almost everything. This style of racing here I believe is more dangerous than any other type of racing we participate in. We have had discussions at length about things they could do to minimize the risks. Aside from lowering the banking or not racing here altogether there is really nothing else they can do to provide a race for the fans at these facilities. I feel like they are doing everything they can. I do believe that as weird as the two-car racing is, I think in the end it is safer than one big pack. That is not because there will be less wrecks or anything like that, it is because when there is a wreck there will be less cars to run into you. It is my belief that the biggest risk we face at these tracks is a car being on its side or on its top and getting hit by another car. I believe that if you listen to some peoples interviews after these wrecks is they are kinda proud to say that they kept their foot in it and stayed in the gas when there is a wreck. I believe that whole idea is terrible. I believe it is negligent and maybe even grossly negligent. If we can get rid of a little bit of that then I feel like this racing is about as safe as it can be. To be clear, the two cars together I think are better because it separates you a little bit.”

TV WAS SAYING THAT ROUSH HAD A TEAM MEETING AND THAT GREG AND DAVID WERE TOLD THERE JOB HERE THIS WEEKEND WAS TO HELP YOU OR WHATEVER. WHAT WENT ON THERE? “I wasn’t in that meeting if there was one. From what I heard, I called into the meeting this week on Tuesday and we didn’t talk about specifically that. I did hear that there was a meeting where everybody kind of spit on their hands, shook and agreed to what we were going to do for one another but I wasn’t given the details of that meeting. I just heard that it maybe happened. I don’t think there was anything different this week than any other week. When I asked Greg what he wanted to do and how we wanted to work together, that is something we have done over the last few race and it wasn’t like someone told him this is what you have to do. We agreed on what would be the best for us to do and I think we made that decision independently and without someone telling us. You might ask Greg though. They might have been in a meeting that I wasn’t in or the meeting might have been different than I perceived it.”

INSIDE THE CAR AT PRACTICE WAS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAT YOU COULD TELL FROM THE LAST TIME WE WERE HERE? “It wasn’t much different except for we are all nervous about blowing water out of the radiator. None of us really know and I didn’t run mine until the valve popped off when I was pushing Greg. I think that is the big unknown right now. I think that will keep people from staying nose to tail for so long. I think you will see more switching and that is the only thing I can see from my seat. I can’t even see it from my seat they just told me to not let the thing build too much water pressure or we would be in trouble.”

SOME FANS DON’T LIKE THIS TWO PACK RACING AND IT SEEMS THAT RULE CHANGES ARE TRYING TO PUSH THINGS BACK TO PACK RACING. WHAT CONCERNS WOULD YOU HAVE WITH PACK RACING AND WHAT DO YOU TELL FANS THAT DON’T THINK THIS IS GOOD RACING? “I don’t know that there is a balance. I don’t know if these comments are politically correct or whatever but I feel like if the fans had never seen this type of racing, if we had never started it, then people wouldn’t know that it could happen and maybe would be something we wouldn’t be so committed to, you know? I can only speak from my perspective and one of the worst feelings I ever had in a race car or involved in racing was after 2009 hearing that some fans had been hurt because of our wreck there coming to the start finish line. That scared me. Fortunately everybody was okay and everything worked out and all the safety stuff in place worked and went our way but that was a little wake-up call to me that this stuff is serious and you have to be careful and you can’t be passive on any of the safety stuff. I do believe that NASCAR recognizes all those same things. They couldn’t feel any better about that stuff than I did and I think they are doing everything they can to make this still fall under the level that you were talking about of, ‘Hey, we all fell like this is still okay and we are going to go race here and do our best.’ I just don’t know where that line is where we say, ‘Man, this is too much.’ I think if we went back to the pack that NASCAR would have to just slow it down more because then you don’t have as much chance for cars going airborne. You would still be clumped together and I think bigger risk for injury to the drivers but hey, we put on helmets when we go race and nobody forced us to get in those cars. At the end of the day I think our first obligation is protecting the fans and I think we are doing everything we can to do that. I still believe that two-car racing, being able to separate you from the pack is better and I enjoy it more. You are less at the mercy of others people’s mistakes or parts failures and you don’t have so many people going, ‘Hey, I just left my foot in it and drove through the wreck.’ You don’t have that going on around you.”

I THINK WHAT MOST FANS TAKE ISSUE WITH IS THAT ONE GUY IS SUBSERVIENT TO ANOTHER AND IS ALWAYS PUSHING. “Even with the pack style of racing we were still in that same boat. The people, who won those races, if you watch, usually had someone that resigned themselves to help a guy, to push him. That is what it took. I know personally I’ve pushed one of my teammates across the start finish line. I made a conscious decision going into turn three that I wouldn’t go three wide, that I would push to help him. In my mind, that seemed like a better thing to do, to push my teammate to a win, then to race him for it and lose for both of us. Now, that would probably not be what most people thinks is going on in a race car drivers head in turn three coming to the checkered flag but the pack racing was still like that. This style of racing, even though the previous race here came down to four wide and two deep, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. It could be like Brad and I in 2009 with two guys coming to the start-finish line. I love Greg like a brother but I wouldn’t put it past him to pull out and try to steal that win at the last second if it is just me and him. You still have the opportunity for that. My point is, you are right exactly, but I don’t think it is as much different in that pack racing as far as the driver’s mentality as it appears. You still have that option at the very end to make something happen. To take it. To put yourself in front of that guy in front of you.”

ARE YOU NOT GOING OUT FOR THE SECOND PRACTICE? “We are. We are going to go make another run with Greg. They have something else they want to try I guess.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE TWO CAR DRAFT BETWEEN THE FIRST TIME YOU DID IT AND NOW? “I have learned a ton. Greg and I almost have our own language now over the radio and we know what we are talking about. I understand what he is trying to do behind me to keep his car cool and to make us as fast as we can be and the things he is worried about. There is a lot to it. Also I have learned more about the dynamic of two cars racing two other cars. There is a lot that goes into that. It is an odd thing. It is weird. I am not saying that it is the greatest thing in the world. It is a strange position to be in to race like this but it is different and is surely interesting.”

HOW HARD IS IT FOR TWO CARS TO RACE TWO CARS? “It is very difficult for two cars to race two cars because it is as if the two cars are one. They physics work as if the two cars are one but you have two drivers trying to maneuver that unit around to the best position. It is like synchronized swimming or synchronized something, synchronized driving I guess. It is like a Subway sandwich (laughter). They cut it in the middle and they make two separate sandwiches but it is still the same sandwiches.”

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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