Carl Edwards wins at Texas

AMARKING THREE VICTORIES IN SEVEN RACES TO START 2008

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, led three times for a race-high 123 laps en route to winning the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. It was Edwards’ third win in the season’s first seven races. Teammate Matt Kenseth (ninth) also finished in the top 10after leading three times for 68 laps.

CARL EDWARDS press conference

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion (finished 1st) – “That was a really good race car. It was extremely competitive out there. There were a lot of cars that were virtually the same speed, so it was really difficult to get the track position. But, once we got it, the car was really good in clean air. At the end, that restart, might not look exciting to people watching, but it was real exciting for me in the race car to try not to spin those tires and hold off Jimmie. To win here, it means a lot. My first trip here was with Tony Roper. That was the weekend that he got killed here, and he was a great guy and it always means a lot to come back here, and to run well and to win these races is very special to me.”

CHRIS ANDREWS – crew chief/engineering manager, No. 99 Ford Fusion – “My view today, I guess, more exciting on the last restart than a lot of people’s, also, because that was fun to watch. What you saw today speaks a lot for Bob Osborne and Robbie Reiser and the team they put together on the 99, and the strength of the organization to come here, run as well as we have in Bob’s absence, and I wish he were here to enjoy this.”

JACK ROUSH – owner, No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – “Bob Osborne should take solace in the fact that even though he’s on injured reserve right now, it took two of the best guys in this business to replace him. It was a great show of strength by Carl. He’s really good. He’s brave beyond reason at fast race tracks like this, and he communicates as well as anybody has in my time with the engineering people that we’ve got. Chris Andrews, of course, is our engineering manager. Bob Osborne is a mechanical engineer as well as a crew chief. So anyway, we’ve got a lot of engineering content that’s in the cars, where we have very specific information, and Carl doesn’t stand on principle for what he might think, necessarily, and listens and interacts with the engineers to come to the best decision on many things that affect the setup. Carl has done just a great job, working with the tools that we’ve given him, and, of course, closing the deal today. I can imagine that it was really hairy with having the 48 wanting it as bad as Carl did, and knowing that probably the only shot he had was get him early because he hadn’t been able to run with him the second half of the race. So, if Carl got away on the restart it was going to be over unless something broke in the car, which was going to be my responsibility today, since I talked Carl out of changing an engine this morning, which was a question mark.”

EDWARDS, continued – BOTH JIMMIE JOHNSON AND KYLE BUSCH WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT HOW BAD THE CAR IS, AND THAT YOU CAN’T RUN SIDE BY SIDE. IS THAT SIMPLY DRIVERS WHO DIDN’T WIN THE RACE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE CAR, OR IS THIS CAR REALLY BAD? “I don’t want to get on a rant here, but let me state my position very clearly, because you asked. I’ve heard people say that the races are boring, and people always want something to complain about – if it’s too hard to drive, you don’t get enough side-by-side racing. The fact is that these are the 43 best drivers in the world. The cars have 900 horsepower and go 200 miles an hour, and the track is slippery and the tires are slippery, and that’s a spectacle – and that’s what it’s supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be easy everyone. It’s not supposed to be driving down the interstate. I’m tired of hearing people complain, the media make up stories about how terrible it is and stuff – this is auto racing. There are going to be people that are faster. We’re going to have days when we can’t keep up because the car is too hard to drive. Somebody’s going to win. That’s racing. So, for me, personally, I didn’t have trouble with the car at Atlanta. I think that as long as the tires don’t blow out, they’re fine. So, it’s the same for everyone and it just makes it more exciting to win, and it means more. That’s how I feel about that.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT DYNAMIC WITH CHRIS ANDREWS AND ROBBIE REISER ATOP THE PIT BOX THIS WEEKEND. HOW IS IT DIFFERENT, ESPECIALLY IN CRUNCHTIME? “Simply, it is difficult, just because I’m so used to Bob. I can tell by the way Bob says something, or he can tell by the way I asking something kind of what we’re getting at, and that only comes over time. Chris does an unbelievable job. And, Robbie – everyone knows how great Robbie is. They couldn’t be any better at it, it’s just personal interaction takes a long time to build to where you can just say a couple of syllables and know what someone’s thinking. So, it is difficult, and we’ve had a couple small issues where we didn’t communicate well, and that’s cost us, so we’re working on that and it’s been a good exercise.”

DID JACK SAY THAT YOU TRIED TO TALK HIM OUT OF AN ENGINE CHANGE BEFORE THE RACE? “Yeah. The last three engines that we’ve had fail, I felt like it cost us three wins, so I’m real hypersensitive to anything with the engine. They’re nice enough to tell me when anything’s going on, because I’ve freaked out so much on ’em. So, this morning, Chris was the one that broke the news to me that there was a little bit of a possible issue yesterday, and so they kind of had to talk me off of the emotional ledge – that’s how one of the MRN guys put it – but, it was the truth. We had a meeting, and Jack just told me, ‘Hey, you’ve got to trust us,’ and that’s what we did and it worked out.”

ONE ITEM THAT HAS BEEN TALKED ABOUT THIS WEEK IS THE LACK OF TESTING. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT THAT HAD, ESPECIALLY WITH THE CHANGE IN THE WEATHER AND TRACK CONDITIONS? ALSO, AT WHAT POINT IN THE RACE DID YOU THINK YOU GOT YOUR CAR WHERE YOU WANTED IT? “Personally, and don’t know if this sits well with everybody, I don’t think we should go testing. It just makes it harder on all the guys, it costs everyone more money. As long as everyone operates under the same rules, we’re all in the same place. So, that’s my position on that. Our car, I didn’t feel like at any point in the race it was spectacular, you know what I mean? I had to fight with it all day. It was really difficult, and it was just kind of a lesser of the evils, or however you put that, we kind of found something that worked and that’s what we stuck with.”

ROUSH, continued – EVER SINCE THIS TRACK OPENED, YOU’VE BEEN SUCCESFUL HERE. DO YOU CONSIDER THIS TRACK YOUR OWN HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE, AND WHY ARE YOU SO MUCH BETTER HERE? “The guys have been really good at mile-and-a-half and two-mile race tracks forever. Mark [Martin], starting in 1988, I’ll say he got his first pole at a mile-and-a-half race track, that might not be true, but certainly he set a practice of running very, very good at these fast mile-and-a-half race tracks, and when they built Kansas and they built Texas and they built Chicagoland and Las Vegas, those were all happy circumstances to have those race tracks on the schedule. Personally, I don’t have any sense that I do anything or I direct anybody to do anything that’s special for here. But Robbie Reiser and Chris Andrews, of course, and Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle have always done well at these big, fast race tracks. So, there is an expectation, there is a notebook to go from. There is a process that the guys have got worked out that works better here than it does most places. If I really understood it, I would apply it to Loudon and I would apply it to Martinsville, some of these other places where we struggle. But the guys are really good here, and it just flows for us. Starting with Jeff Burton, who won the first race here, Texas has been really good to us. I really, really enjoy the Fort Worth area and all the fans that probably otherwise wouldn’t have a chance, a lot of them wouldn’t have a chance to see a NASCAR race.”

DID ROBBIE GO TO VICTORY LANE? AND ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT NOT ONLY HE’S AT THE RACE TRACK, BUT HE’S WINNING AT THE RACE TRACK, AND THAT HE’S REALLY GOING TO GET THE ITCH TO COME BACK. “Robbie Reiser, and you can quote me on this, he’s a conflicted individual. He would like to change the tire, he would like to hang the body, he would like drive the car, which has done, he would like to crew chief the car, he would like to manage the program. He can’t do all those things, so there’s conflicts there. I don’t know why he didn’t come to Victory Circle today, with us. I guess that he felt that he would let Chris Andrews and Carl have the limelight rather than share it. I felt slighted by the fact that he didn’t come. There was nothing that happened; he was just being shy, I’m sure, just being shy today, and we’ll get him for it later. Robbie’s done a really nice job. In the last two years that he was crew chief for Matt, he served notice on me and said that he didn’t want to be doing the crew chief job forever, he wanted something else to do in  the company and I should be thinking about that, and then of course Max Jones made his decision to move off to Doug’s program, and when that happened then we had the opening that was – okay, it’s fish or cut bait here, Robbie, either you’re going to work for somebody else or you’re going to be the boss. And, so he made the decision to step off. But the other thing that is there, there is a chance that Carl may have had enough of him today because he has a tendency to make Carl made under the most stressful circumstance. And I’m not sure that doesn’t rankle Carl some.”

EDWARDS, continued – ON A COUPLE OF THE RESTARTS IN THE MIDDLE OF HE RACE, THE 18 WAS PUSHING YOU ALL THE WAY TO TURN ONE. HOW WAS YOUR CAR BEHAVING ON THE RESTARTS? “Not very well with him pushing me.”

AND, HOW MUCH DID THE PREVIOUS RESTARTS FACTOR INTO THE LAST ONE? WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU COULD DO TO GET AWAY FROM THE 48? “Yeah, the restarts are very important, obviously more toward the end of the race. I just personally try to be very conservative because it seems like that’s when a lot of wrecks happen. So, Kyle, he was just helping us get going there. He did a very good job of pushing me square down the straightaway. That’s one of the things that’s neat about these cars is you can line the bumpers up and you don’t wreck someone if you don’t push them a little bit like what happens with the Nationwide cars or with the old-style cars. Towards the end, I knew I had to be prepared for a restart if we had one, and I always try to save my best ones for last.”

WHEN YOU WERE PENALIZED, YOU SAID THAT WASN’T GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING AND THAT YOU WERE GOING TO KEEP DOING YOUR THING. AND THEN YOU COULD’VE WON AT ATLANTA, IF NOT FOR THE MOTOR PROBLEM, AND NOW YOU’VE WON HERE. SO, IS THIS SORT OF BACKING UP THAT STATEMENT? “Yeah. It’s just the truth. Does it matter if we get penalized? I mean we might get penalty for something today. It doesn’t change what I do, I just do the best I can. Our cars are really good. And it does fell good to win, though, and look in there and see the oil-tank cover on the car. That’s good. It’s what we do. We go out and try to win, and the other stuff doesn’t matter.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR DOMINANCE ON MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS? AND, IT LOOKS EASIER FOR YOU THAN FOR THESE DRIVERS WHO ARE COMPLANING ABOUT HOW THEIR CARS ARE HANDLING… “It’s just my opinion. When I say I really like this type of racing, I really like the difficult tires and all that, I just like it. That’s my opinion. That’s where I stand. I like it. It’s evident by how well we run. If I was running 15th I might have a different opinion. But right now we are running very well. It’s good. That’s what we do. We work real hard, and when we run like this it’s fun. I don’t know what else to say about it. I have zero issue about it. The part that I do like, that I can specifically say I love, is I feel like at a race track like this, and maybe it’s just my car, but I feel like I can make a difference out there lap to lap. I can pitch the car sideways a little bit here, orplay with the throttle a little bit here or there, and I can change what that stopwatch says every lap. And that’s cool. That’s what it’s about. That’s what I grew up doing in Missouri on the local dirt tracks is being able to make a difference by pushing those pedals and stuff. So, for me that’s fun. Like I said, that’s my opinion. Other people have their opinions and they have the right to say whatever they want and It’s okay if we disagree.”

DID YOU TALK TO BOB OSBORNE TODAY, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK HE WAS DOING AT THE END OF THIS RACE? “He was probably smoking about three packs of cigarettes during that race. Bob’s a really good guy and I did talk to him today. We talked a little bit about the engine thing and everything, and he’s just a really, really smart guy, and he’s a smart person and we get along well, and I’m sure that he’s really excited. I know Bob wants to be at the race track, he even told me that. The first weekend was like, ‘Oh, it’s too bad I’m not there, but I get to spend time at home,’ and he said, at this point he’s sitting there and he’s feeling terrible, he wishes he could be there. The number-one thing, that I told him and I firmly believe, is as good as we are right now, as great as Robbie and Chris are, we’re going to get better when we get Bob back, and I can’t wait to get him back.”

HOW MUCH OF THE CAR OF TOMORROW TESTING DID YOU DO FOR ROUSH? “I’ve done as much as they’ll let me do. I mean, it was embarrassing, a couple of those races, that we first went to, how far off we were. And I think everyone, all of us, stepped up. I think Greg and I are going to do a test somewhere, we’re going to both be testing. He and I have done tests together. Everyone’s done everything they can. I think everyone feels the same way. I know for me, personally, I see the benefit; I know that everyone else does, so we’ll test all we can to be the best we can be. I don’t think of done more than the other guys.”

IS THE KEY RIGHT NOW TO MAINTAINING YOUR DOMINANCE NOT BECOMING COMPLACENT? “Yeah, I think in any competition you can’t ever – I don’t think anyone who’s ever been good for a long time sat back and said, ‘Hey, we’re great right now’ – so, yeah, we have to keep working hard. I know I’m doing everything I can and I know Jack is, too.”

THE CAR LOOKED AMAZING OFF THE CORNER. WOULD YOU SAY THAT’S WHERE YOU’VE MADE THE BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT? I don’t know. There were times in the race – I was watching Kyle Busch, and I thought, ‘Man, he’s going to dominate this thing,’ and there was another point when Matt Kenseth was leading and I thought, ‘Man, he’s got it in the bag.’ So, it kind of depended on the run, it depended on where you were in the run. The cars moved around a lot, and like I said, you could really kind of play around with some stuff and be better here and there. There was a lot of sacrifice. For us, personally, though, we’ve been working on a lot of different things.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (finished 9th) – DURING THE LAST CAUTION, YOU WERE RUNNING FIFTH AND THE LAST CAR NOT TO PIT AND TAKE TIRES. WOULD THAT HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE IN SAVING THOSE POSITIONS? “Yeah, they would’ve helped. That’s an obvious question. When you’re the first one on old tires and everybody’s got new tires behind you, they’re going to eat your lunch. It was a 50-50 call and we were right in the middle, and we tried it and it didn’t work.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion (finished 13th) – “It was a long day. Certainly, a top-15, it’s an average run. I wish we could’ve been a little better at times. We just fought not a lot of forward grip, poor bite, spinning the tires – real slick all day – and just couldn’t find any overall grip. At times we could find it and then it would get too tight late in the run. I’m proud of the way our team hung in there. At times, it looked like it was going to be a bad day but we salvaged something out of it.”

FOR A WHILE, IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE ANY DECISIONS WERE GOING TO HAVE TO BE MADE, AND THEN AT THE END DECISIONS HAD TO BE MADE. “Yeah, it’s funny. We ran so many green laps like that and then all of a sudden we have a couple of quick cautions there at the end. It worked out. If it had been a few more laps to go, we probably would’ve pitted, but we decided to stay out and to finish 13th on a day like today is a day we’ll just kind of learn from and move and try to be a little better next week.”

YOU MENTIONED TODAY WAS A LONG DAY. FOR A YOUNG DRIVER, DID IT HELP IN DEVELOPING PATIENCE? “Yeah, because at times you feel like you’re fast and you can set the world on fire and other times you feel like you’re the slowest car on the track, so you’ve just got to give it your all every lap and try to compromise and try to get out of the car what it’s giving you, and that second when you go over is when you find yourself in trouble.”