August 6, 2009 Watkins Glen International
Carl Edwards has a pair of top-five finishes to his credit over five career starts at Watkins Glen, including a career best third place finish last year. Edwards talked about road racing on the NASCAR circuit, his ominous debut at the Glen and his thoughts on Atlanta’s future.
“I am really encouraged. Our team has been doing really well and we have had I think four top-10’s in a row. Last week is exactly what we needed as a team. It was cool to have two guys in the top three and to get a victory. I talked to Jack this week and he says every time he hurts himself we go out and win, but he doesn’t know if his body can take it to keep that up. I told him he doesn’t need to do that for us to get to victory lane. I love this race track. We finished third here last year and the year before that I thought we had a shot at the win but I ran off into the dirt and finished eighth or something like that. This is a really fun track for me and I feel really good about it.” TALKING ABOUT QUALIFYING, IT IS AMAZING TO THINK THAT YOU GAINED 30 SPOTS LAST YEAR, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU DID THAT? “That is something Bob and I have talked about. We have to qualify better. I don’t know what I am doing wrong, or what we are doing wrong with the car. It seems like after qualifying we are hanging our heads but then after the race we are one of the fastest two or three race cars. I have a feeling it would be easier to run third, second or first if we started closer to that position. That is something we are going to work on. It is going to be a little more difficult with having a day between practice and qualifying and running the Nationwide car. When you start a race 33rd and have a survival mentality, then you race for the lead for like 20 minutes it is tough. If I were racing like that the whole time I would have a better chance. HOW DID YOU PASS ALL THOSE CARS LAST YEAR? “I don’t remember how I passed them all. I think it was pit strategy. I don’t think I have ever passed that many cars on a road race before. A lot of it was strategy and restarts. If someone makes a mistake you can pick up three of four spots in a hurry, but it can go the other way too. We just need to qualify better that’s all.” ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY HAS ANNOUNCED IT IS LOSING A RACE DATE FOR 2011. FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LOSE A RACE THERE AND POTENTIALLY GO TO KENTUCKY? “That is a tough one. I think Atlanta is one of, if not the greatest oval that we go to. I think that track has all of the things that make racing fun. It has history and a surface that is really fun to race on. The fans there are very knowledgeable about racing and it is a grueling race. It is fast and exciting, so to lose a race there to me is a little sad. I love that place and every time I come through the gates reminds me of my weekend that I won my first two races in this series. To go to Kentucky though, those fans there really love NASCAR racing, so that will be great if that is what happens. I think all of us will enjoy going to Kentucky. In the end, it would be pretty neat to go to all the tracks one time. I don’t know how the politics work, but it would be fun to go to all the tracks one time. Coming to these road courses once a year is special, not only for us, but for the fans. Maybe it will work out better and let more fans enjoy the sport.” HOW IS JACK AND WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT AN ALL-STAR RACE IN ATLANTA? “An All-Star race in Atlanta would be exciting. The surface there would allow for some amazing feats of car control. At Charlotte, the surface is aging and getting better, but in Atlanta you can drive the cars down in there sideways with smoking tires. I don’t know if that will ever happen because that Charlotte weekend is pretty neat the way it is, but it is a good thought. Jack is really good. I saw him yesterday. He is a lot better than I expected. He is Jack. We talked a lot about the race this weekend and what we were doing with our teams. He seems really good to me.
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED … IF YOU ARE IN THIRD PLACE WITH 10 LAPS TO GO ON SUNDAY, WHO ARE TWO DRIVERS YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE IN FIRST AND SECOND? Marcos Ambrose is one for sure. I think he is going to be the guy to beat. That is my forecast for the weekend. I probably have to go with Tony Stewart too. I stared at those guys a year ago and they were pretty fast. I don’t see either of them being slouches this weekend.” WHAT DO THEY DO THAT MAKES THEM GOOD ON ROAD COURSES? “I have never been close to Tony and gone testing with him or talked about his style of driving, but Marcos I have been around a lot. We ran a Grand-Am race, well we didn’t run it because I wrecked in practice, but we partnered up and went testing and he is just an unbelievable road racer. He can break later, go faster through the corner and get on the gas sooner than anybody I have ever gone with. He is just really good.” A VICTORY HERE WOULD BE GREAT, BUT WHAT WOULD A WIN AT MICHIGAN DO FOR JACK AND COULD YOU COMPARE WATKINS GLEN TO MONTREAL? “A win at Michigan would be huge, but right now any wins we can get for Ford and Roush Fenway are great. All the guys have been working so hard, if we can keep this momentum going forward and keep running well and winning races, it is what we have to do. We are on the step, this is the way Jack described it, we have a chance to either step up or step down. That would be huge and Michigan would be a great place to take that next step. Sonoma is its own thing. It is hilly, slippery and slower, so it is more of a finesse track. This track is kind of a combination. There are some slower sections like the last two corners onto the front straightaway that are finesse. Then there are huge high speed areas and breaking zones. Then there is Montreal which is full on, go all the way through the gears, come to a stop and turn right and left. It is a real stop and go race track. On a scale, I would say that Sonoma is swoopy and smooth, Watkins Glen is in the middle and Montreal is very aggressive. It is fun that we get to go to all of them.” CAN YOU TALK FROM A HISTORICAL CONTEXT WHAT WATKINS GLEN MEANS ON THE CIRCUIT AND WHAT IT WOULD MEAN FOR YOU TO GET A WIN HERE? “As a kid growing up and watching on TV, I always thought this was a neat one to watch. The one I always remember is Rusty Wallace on his birthday running second and off in the dirt doing everything he could to get the win. For me, coming here my first time, it was such a challenging race track. I think it was a two day test, Nationwide and Cup right after one another. I wrecked my Nationwide car right off the bat and Brad Parrott was my crew chief and he said, ‘That is it, if you wrecked the first one that early you will probably wreck the second one and we can’t afford it.’ So I sat and watched guys test all day. The next morning I went out in the Cup car and backed it into the fence in the first lap and I thought this was not the way to start a relationship with a race track. Now I have run here pretty well the last few times and it is a track that I have worked very hard at and has become something I really look forward to.” DID YOU EVER DO ANYTHING CRAZY GROWING UP IN MISSOURI THAT HELPED YOU WITH ROAD COURSE RACING? “Yeah, not legal though. There were some really neat gravel roads where I grew up and I had a Ford Ranger that was perfect when they put fresh gravel down. It became the perfect road racing car because you are going really slow but could slide the rear end around the corners. Video games have helped me a lot to see which corners make up time on the race track. Nothing too crazy, I didn’t race go karts or anything. This was all pretty new to me and I showed it the first time I came here. That day I had a special paint scheme on for our sponsor and no decals so it looked different. Casey Mears came up to me and said, ‘Hey did you see that idiot back into the fence at 9:05 this morning?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, that was me dude.’ I was that bad. Boris (Said) has helped the most I would say.” DID YOU TEAR UP YOUR PICKUP TRUCK? “I did hit one tree with my Pickup Truck in the snow, but I was fast until I hit that tree, so that was good.”