With Ford And Roush Fenway Racing
Carl Edwards announced that he has re-signed with Roush Fenway Racing – a multi-year deal that will keep him behind the wheel of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion. In addition, crew chief Bob Osborne is back this week after completing his six-week NASCAR suspension. Edwards spoke about those issues after Friday’s practice session at Richmond International Raceway.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – WHAT’S YOUR CONTRACT STATUS? “I signed my contract yesterday, so I’m staying with Roush. I looked at everything and I talked to everybody and, for me, the number one thing is looking into the future and saying, ‘Where can I win the most races and have the most success?’ I was honored at the people who I got to speak with and I just feel like for me personally this is where I want to be for the near future and we got it done. It’s good. I’m real happy about it. It’s a huge relief. It really wasn’t that painful. Geoff Smith and I get along really well and we just pretty much sat down and he’s really easy for me to deal with. It took us about a week-and-a-half of going back and forth with just little things and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world for the contract I got.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO NEGOTIATE THIS YOURSELF – WITHOUT AN AGENT? “It’s really neat. If I was dealing with someone that I didn’t trust or that I felt like I couldn’t just kind of air everything out with, then I’d probably have to have an agent, but dealing with Geoff from day one has been very easy at Roush for me, so it was really pretty simple. Besides, I feel like I know what I need more than anyone else. I know what I want to make me happy and this is cool. I’m very excited about being involved with Ford, too, because from what I understand about their corporate culture right now, they’re on their way up and it’s gonna be good here so I want to be a part of that. I want to help out.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ROUSH THAT’S WHAT YOU WANTED? “There are a few things. Robbie Reiser running the place, that’s a big deal for me. More and more I’m understanding how important that is. Things we’ve been doing with this car of tomorrow to make it better, I feel like it’s very efficient how everyone is working and it’s making the cars faster, and I feel like our engine program has a lot in the near future that’s gonna be great. Plus, my pit crew, I’ve struggled since I’ve been here with changing people and having different pit crew guys, and I feel like finally with Robbie managing that I’ve got a group of guys that are going to be really good over the next three years. I kind of know everything and where it’s headed. We’re winning right now and I think it’s gonna be better, so that kind of made it easy for me.”
HOW MANY YEARS? “I’ll just say it’s multi-year.” LONG-TERM? “A week is a long time around here (laughing). It’s a great contract. It’s a dream contract for me and I’m really excited about it.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE BOB BACK? “It’s good to have Bob back. To have Chris Andrews and Robbie Reiser on the box and have Bob back at the shop working, I think it showed the depth of our team, but its definitely good to have Bob back. We won a lot of races together and at least Robbie won’t be calling me Matt on Sunday’s, so it’s good (laughing).”
HOW MUCH WOULD YOU COMMUNICATE WITH BOB ON A WEEKEND? “First of all, Bob and I are friends, so we talk about everything anyway, but all day Friday, Saturday and then on the radio Sunday you end up talking to that guy that’s sitting on the box and I didn’t realize until Bob was gone how well we communicated – all of the little things. He could tell from the inflection of my voice about how I felt about certain things, so that chemistry that everyone always talks about, now I really understand it.”
HOW MUCH DID YOU COMMUNICATE WHILE HE WAS GONE? “We communicated a lot while he was gone, but when he’s not right there it’s a big hindrance. That’s a serious penalty to not have your crew chief, but I tried to communicate as much as I could.”
WHAT WAS THE CRAZIEST THING YOU DID AS FAR AS COMMUNICATING WITH HIM? “I don’t know what the craziest thing was, but I’d call him in the middle of the night. I woke him up a couple of times. I was just thinking about stuff for the race on Sunday and one time I called him and it had to be 11:30 or 12 o’clock there and he was dead asleep and wasn’t very excited about that, but when he’s that close like he is here, I can go ask him anything. It’s hard because you think about it all day and then something will pop in your head.”
HOW WILL YOU ATTACK THIS TRACK? “The number one thing to attack this place is to run well in practice and to work really hard today, and we figured out a lot of things. Now it’s up to the engineers because we’re practicing in conditions that are completely different to what we’re gonna race in, so as a driver you go and do the best you can, but this is really a crew chief and engineers race as far as the setup is concerned.”
SO THIS IS A GOOD RACE FOR BOB TO BE BACK. “Oh yeah, this is a good race for Bob to be back. Chris Andrews is doing a great job, but for Bob to be here and for us to get back in the swing of it is good. It’s definitely good that we got this penalty out of the way so early in the season. This could be a terrible thing leading up to the chase.”
HOW HARD IS IT TO WIN THESE RACES? “It’s really hard to win these races. That’s why everybody is so excited when they do. We had spectacular cars on those mile-and-a-halves starting and then Kyle has done a great job. It’s like you can get on a roll, but then it’s real simple to lose it. It’s really hard to stay on top of this sport at this level, that’s for sure. That’s why those wins are so special.”
HOW DIFFERENT IS THE CAR THIS TIME FROM LAST TIME? “The tires are a little different. We were so good here last time that it’s frustrating they changed them, but they changed them at Phoenix as well and we adapted to that, so I’m hoping that by the time we get to the race, we can look at all the data we’ve picked up in the last couple of hours and we’ll be fast. But anytime you come with a different tire, it kind of throws you a little bit of a curveball.”
ARE YOU ABLE TO ADJUST ON THE TRACK OR LOOK AT THE DATA FIRST? “You have to adjust, but a tire change is tough sometimes because it makes your car do different things in the middle of the corner and off the corner. Right now, this tire is extremely loose off the corner for me, so I almost feel like a broken record. Everytime we go out I say, ‘Hey, that’s better, but it’s still too loose off,’ so it’s hard to decide how far you want to go to change for that tire.”
WHAT DOES THE CAR FEEL LIKE? “In the middle of the corner the left-side tires will chatter a little bit – just a real high-frequency chatter, and then off the corner the rear end just steps out and it’s really loose, so you really have to be delicate with the throttle. It looks like Mark Martin is really fast. I’m sure there’s some combination you can get that will work with it, we just don’t have it quite yet.”
DOES THAT FIT HIS STYLE? “Oh, yeah. Mark can grind it out on the bottom of a race track and make his car work as good as anyone, so I think he’s gonna be really tough.”
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, was part of a Q&A session, where he was asked about teammate Carl Edwards re-signing.
JAMIE MCMURRAY – No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON CARL RE-SIGNING WITH ROUSH FENWAY RACING? “I didn’t know that Carl had re-signed. I didn’t picture Carl going anywhere. When you’re winning the amount of races he has, and he’s had a chance to win even more than what he did so far this year, a guy would be crazy to want to leave Roush Fenway and go somewhere else. I’m sure that the offers were everywhere and it’s probably very appealing, but I can’t imagine a guy like that wanting to leave when you’re having the success that you are.”
Jack Roush, car owner of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, discussed the re-signing of driver Carl Edwards this afternoon at Richmond International Raceway.
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU HEARD CARL HAD RE-SIGNED WITH YOU? “We’ve certainly been challenged there by another team and Carl heard that challenge and considered very carefully what was there for him from a performance point of view and what the economic impact was of the offer we could make, as well as the competitive offers, and that put us in a competition there that I’m happy came out favorably, but I was not thrilled to find out we were in that competition.”
WHO WERE YOU IN COMPETITION WITH? “I’m not sure. I think I know, but he told me he initially was going to talk to two other teams before he made a deal with us, and I’m not sure if he talked to both of the other teams or if he talked to more than two teams. I know there was a specific economic competitive offer that we had to consider and he had to consider our offer as he looked at the value of the contract to him and, at the same time, considered I’m sure what his prospects were of winning, which are very important to him, with our team and our technology and the association with Ford and all the other things that weigh heavily on the performance capability of the car.”
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF GREG BIFFLE’S DEAL? “Right now I’m not presuming that the deal with Greg is done because I haven’t been told that it is, but if he has the greatest interest of being here because of what we’ve got to work with, then I’ll make the same effort for him that I did with Carl to round up the absolute best offer we can make based on the sponsor interest and Ford’s interest and what we can do with other income coming into the team.”
IS IT A THREE-YEAR DEAL WITH CARL? “To the best of my knowledge. What we had hoped for was more than that, but what my understanding was the last time I knew what was on the table was that it was a three-year deal.”
IS GREG’S A THREE-YEAR PROPOSAL? “I don’t know for sure. Greg has expressed to me some interest in a longer term and I know that initially he and Geoff Smith and the folks in the marketing activity that make the deals that they were looking at a three-year term, but Greg had indicated to me that he was amenable to a longer term and whether it’s still a three-year term that’s on the table or whether it’s a five-year term, I’m not sure. To the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t been a lot of interaction between Greg’s lawyer, his people who are helping him, and my guys in the last month. As far as I know, we sent them a proposal back and I don’t know that we’ve heard from them, although we may have last week.”
DID TONY’S ANNOUNCEMENT AT TALLADEGA LAST WEEK CREATE ANY ANXIETY ON YOUR PART ABOUT HAVING TO RE-SIGN YOUR GUYS? “It didn’t have any effect on me or what we can do. We’re going to do everything that we can for our drivers and everything that we can negotiate with our sponsors to make the best deal that we can. The thing that we had with Mark for so many years as NASCAR was growing and the team was establishing itself, we typically had a five-year or a four-year deal with Mark and we would tear it up in two or three – tear it up short of the term – and I think the only time that Mark had a contract that ran out was the last one. For all the middle years – the 20 years of being together – if he had a four-year deal, we re-wrote it every two or three years and I was happy with that and would be happier with that than running these programs out to the end of their term and then having the anxiety that goes with figuring out what’s going to happen next.”
CARL AND GREG BOTH SAID TODAY THAT ROBBIE REISER IS A REAL DRAW IN HIS NEW ROLE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? “Robbie Reiser is one of a number of people that are doing a nice job. Certainly I don’t attribute more confidence in Robbie than I do Chris Andrews or any number of other people that have got responsibility. Robbie is not specifically in charge of the competition. He’s the general manager, which means he has more to do with personnel issues than he does the responsibility for where the speed is in the cars. He doesn’t have that title and he doesn’t carry that mantel, but he is the general manager and he’s most responsible for putting together the pit crews and seeing to it that from a manufacturing point of view that we’re efficiently operating through the shop, but I wouldn’t characterize him as being the guy that’s responsible for how well we’re running. That is not his charge.”
THEY SEEM TO HAVE A LOT OF CONFIDENCE IN ROBBIE. “I’m glad they’re glad about that.” HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH GREG? “It started early and then it stopped. And then it started again and stopped again. Right now, to the best of my knowledge, I don’t know what’s happened in the last week – I know Greg has made comments indicating that he has every expectation of staying and certainly that’s where my heart is, but I’m not aware that there’s been tangible progress toward getting the contracts agreed upon in the last month. There may be, but I’m not aware of it.”
GREG INDICATED 3M WOULD BE A PART OF THAT TEAM. DO YOU HAVE SPONSORSHIP SET FOR GREG AND CARL? “The sponsorship is past the term and each sponsor has got his own period of commitment, but we’ve got sponsors, I’m going to say, lined up for both of those cars at varying levels of interest. I know that the 16 car, I think, does not have a sponsor with enough commitment or allocation to run the whole program for the whole year, so we’re putting together a number of different things, and I guess the same thing is true of the 99. I don’t think that we’ve got one sponsor that is going to make the commitment for the entire year. Aflac and Office Depot and maybe one or two others are buying for parts of the year and parts of the schedule. So it’s really changed the dimension, where you’d sit down and talk to one sponsor about one driver for a specific period of time. For the most part, it’s more than two-dimensional that way. There’s a great interest in being involved with both of those programs without the necessity or the preference of the sponsors involved to have the entire car for the entire year.”
WHAT DOES MATT NEED TO DO TO GET BACK IN CHASE CONTENTION? “We need to stop breaking parts. We need to stop having wrecks. We need to recapture the magic. When you looked at the championship in 2003, we won only one race that year and won it late in the year, but we had all of those top fives. One of the other years, maybe it was 2004, we were a hundreds of points behind where we are today to make the chase for 10 cars and then put together a string of top fives without anything going wrong as far as crashes and breaking parts. This business ebbs and flows. It goes up and down and we just need to have a little luck on our side. I know that Robbie says he’s going to jump in and try to help Chip Bolin with some of his advice given the advice that the guys that are on the team, for the most part, are hand picked – almost members of Robbie’s family in terms of how close they all were, and Chip was certainly part of that, but with another set of eyes and hands, I think Robbie is gonna step in and be at Chip’s side until we feel like we’re back on a roll again and everything is working as well as it might.”
WILL HE BE ON THE BOX AND IN RADIO CONTACT WITH MATT? “My guess is he’ll be on the box and be giving advice to Chip. I haven’t heard, but I would be very surprised if they’ve made the decision amongst the three of them that Robbie would be on the radio. I don’t think that will happen. In fact, if I heard that was going to happen, I would probably try and talk them out of it because it is Chip’s deal.”
CAN YOU CLARIFY THE DAVID RAGAN AND JAMIE MCMURRAY CONTRACT SITUATIONS? “I don’t know. As I stand here, I’m not sure.”
Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 28 Yates Racing Ford Fusion, is coming off his second top-10 finish of the season after a sixth-place run at Talladega last Sunday. Kvapil, who is 23rd in the Sprint Cup point standings, spoke about this weekend’s race at Richmond before Friday’s practice session.
TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 28 Yates Racing Ford Fusion – YOU HAVEN’T RACED AT ANY OF THESE TRACKS WITH THE NEW CAR AND WITH LIMITED TESTING, YOU DON’T NECESSARILY GET THAT CHANCE UNTIL RACE WEEKEND. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET USED TO EACH TRACK LIKE RICHMOND TODAY? “To be honest with you, it doesn’t take long – maybe five to 10 laps – something like that. Fortunately, early in the year we’ve been able to test at a lot of race tracks. I haven’t raced here at Richmond since the fall of ’06. The Truck Series doesn’t run here and I obviously haven’t run the new car here as well, so it’ll be a little bit of an adjustment, but I think just the laps I’ve had at Phoenix and Martinsville with this car, especially Phoenix, I think Phoenix is pretty close to the driving characteristics of what it’s gonna do here at Richmond, so I think I’ll be up to speed relatively soon. I don’t want to say it’s an easy track to get around, but it’s pretty straightforward. There’s nothing really crazy about this race track and then having 300 laps under my belt at Phoenix with this car makes me think we’re gonna be OK. It’ll be just like normal. It’ll take a few laps to feel it out and get my braking points down and things like that, but it won’t take too long.”
DO YOU FEEL THIS TEAM IS HITTING ITS STRIDE? “I think so. I think all of Yates Racing is gaining momentum it seems like. It’s exciting when these cars are getting color on them now, especially the last few weeks, and it all works hand in hand. The better we run, the more apt sponsors are to jump aboard, so we’re working really hard at the shop. That’s what’s really cool and it’s paying off. I’m just really proud of my team. We are making gains every week and the relationship is getting stronger with the crew chief and driver and the teams are working really well together, so we’re definitely gaining momentum and I think we are gonna continue to just get better as the year goes forward.”
David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 Yates Racing Ford Fusion, moved up three spots in the point standings after last week’s race at Talladega and now stands 18th going into Saturday night’s event. Gilliland spoke about Richmond and how his team goals have changed since Daytona.
DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 Yates Racing Ford Fusion – ARE YOU GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE YOU’RE STARTING TO THINK ABOUT MAKING THE CHASE? “Yeah. When we started out the year our goal was just to try and stay in the top 25 and we really got off to a good start. From where we were in December, I’m really proud of the whole Yates Racing team and what we’ve been able to accomplish, but, yeah, we’re definitely thinking about the chase. We went from wanting to be inside the top 25 and then our sights kind of shifted to top 20 and now we’re in the top 20 and right there. But you can’t really get too caught up in the points deal. Obviously, we’re in the hunt to be able to get in the chase, but, first and foremost, we need to just stay consistent and keep doing what we’re doing and finish races and the rest will take care of itself.”
IS THERE ANYTHING THAT NEEDS TO GET BETTER IN ORDER TO FURTHER COMPETE FOR A CHASE SPOT? “Yes, our qualifying. We just haven’t been qualifying as well as we should. We’ve been starting 30th or worse and then working our way up into the teens and track position is just very important with these cars. Every pass you make out there you’re taking an extra chance, so qualifying is what we’re working on. We’ve got a test coming up at Charlotte and we’re gonna work on that quite a bit. We’ve been very good in all the races, knock on wood, so qualifying is what we’re working on right now.”
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion, sits eighth in the Sprint Cup point standings heading into Saturday night’s race. He held a press conference Friday morning to discuss a variety of issues, including some of the reasons for this year’s success.
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – YOUR THOUGHTS LEADING INTO THE RACE? “I really like this race track. It’s a lot of fun to race at and there are a bunch of night races coming up that are really fun to race. We’ve had a really good season so far with the new car. We’ve caught on well. We ran well at Phoenix and I think we ran well at the other short tracks and I don’t think there’s any exception here. We’re gonna continue to run good. Our engineers and everybody at Roush Fenway has done a great job. I was just in the trailer going over certain scenarios we’re gonna try with a shortened practice session, so to speak, for us this weekend, so we really need to get to the point quick and feel like we have some good things to try and see if we can get the Dish Network car going good.”
WHAT’S BEEN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM? “A lot of things have changed at Roush Fenway. One, Robbie Reiser as our competition director has really helped all the teams. And it’s our second year together with Greg Erwin and we switched around and got some new guys on the team, and we’re really just having a great season. Our team has been capable of this. We struggled with splitting our time last year between the old car and the new car and were off a little bit on both of them. We honed in on it at the end of the season, for sure, with the two second-place finishes at Dover and Phoenix and that’s really carried over to this season. Certainly we feel like this is what our team is capable of. We had some mechanical issues and some things go on at Texas that really, really drug us down in the points and we feel like we’re better than where we’re sitting right now because we finished 39th at Texas and had a great race car. We qualified 16th and went to fourth on the first fuel run and had a real competitive car, so we’re kind of eager to get that lost ground back and we think we can do it here. Everybody has worked hard. Nobody has ever given up and I think we’re right where we need to be right now.”
YOU’VE HAD SEVERAL MONTHS TO LOOK AT THE NEW CAR. IS THERE A WAY TO LOWER THE GRAVITY OF THE NEW CAR? WHAT TWO OR THREE THINGS WOULD YOU GIVE TO NASCAR BECAUSE IF YOU HELP THE CAR, YOU HELP THE TIRES AND GOODYEAR TO MAKE THE LEFT SIDE TIRES WORK MORE, WHICH I THINK IS PROBABLY A BIG PROBLEM. “That’s it. I’m not an expert by any means as far as a car building. NASCAR did basically all of the research and development on this car themselves. I don’t think they consulted a lot of teams. I don’t think we were consulted a great deal on what would make a great race car, so they kind of did all the research on it and have come up with this car. If we were to take a stab at changing some things, one thing that I have suggested in the past that may be feasible and may not be is to use some more light materials – carbons, plastics, those kinds of things in the car. One thing that may make the cars more efficient – one problem we’re having is like after we get back from Richmond it’s not wipe the car down and send it to the next race, take this car to Dover. We’ve got to go back and spend a great deal of time in the body shop making the template fit back on the car because of the splitter hitting the ground and the car moving and taking a set, if you will. It’s just sheetmetal, so certainly it’s gonna change some. You get a little bump from behind or beside and now it doesn’t fit the template. So it’s a two-part answer to that question. One thing I think we can do is if we made the top of the car all carbon, carbon is very, very light in weight. So maybe we use a carbon hood, roof and decklid and maybe the entire greenhouse of the car all carbon that is made from a mold that fits the template perfect – absolutely, 100 percent down to a one-thousandth of an inch because it’s made in a mold, it’s not made by hand anymore. That will ensure that the car fits that three-quarters of the template that sits over top of it. Now you’d have the sides and the hood points and all the others that still move around, but that would resolve some of the weight issue possibly and it’s up high. If you want to lower the center of gravity, you start with the weight that’s the highest. That’s the highest weight and it would speed up fabrication and lighten the car and maybe create a little more consistency for the body guys, putting that egg crate over it. But there are pros and cons to everything and I certainly don’t know the pros and cons to doing that. Expense, and carbon is expensive, but a guy might be able to fit all the windows and do all that to this top shell that’s sitting there and speed up production, and it might save some labor cost.”
LAST WEEK YOU SAID YOU WEREN’T IN A BIG HURRY TO GET YOUR CONTRACT DONE. IS IT STILL YOUR INTENT TO WORK OUT AN EXTENSION WITH ROUSH FENWAY? WHERE DO THINGS STAND WITH YOU? “My 100 percent intent is to work out an extension with Roush. I just want to take the time necessary to get everything set up the way I’d like to see it – from team-wise and a PR standpoint and things like that. Carl’s kind of changed a little bit. Randy (Fuller) does both of his schedules – Nationwide and Cup – and it works really well and that’s kind of what I have and I just want to make sure that all the points are covered that a person wants to do. I want to stay at Roush Fenway until I retire and they know that. I guess when I said I’m not in a hurry is I’m not panicked is what I meant, I guess, by that – that I’m comfortable that I’m returning to Roush Fenway so that time is not really an issue for me, other than they need to secure an extension with the sponsor and all those things, which they’ve got time on that as well. The sponsor is extremely happy because 3M is really enjoying being back with me and back on the 16 car fulltime and our relationship I’m real confident is gonna continue for years to come, and 3M is doing well right now business-wise and we’re in a good position.”
ARE YOU CURIOUS TO HEAR ABOUT WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE? “No, I’m not. I’ve sat back and thought about what else is out there. There are a lot of great teams and great opportunities out there, but I don’t know how you look at it, but do you look at as are they better than what I hav