Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, has finished in the top 10 in seven of the last eight races, and is now a season-best fourth in the points standings. Last week at Dover, Edwards led for 64 laps en route to a second-place finish. Edwards is second in the series with three victories this season.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE NEW ASPHALT PATCH IN TURN THREE? “Right now, I didn’t even try running the bottom. That new strip of asphalt just feels so good, everyone’s running up there. We were just talking about it. I think it’s going to make for an interesting change in the passing zones, where before you could come up in the tunnel turn, get inside someone and then you’d have the preferred line. Now, if you get inside someone they’d have the preferred line, so it’ll be a little more give and take, a little more passing heading into the tunnel, which will be exciting. Let’s see what happens.”
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT PASSING HERE? “This race track, it’s so fast, the corners are short-duration corners – at least one and two and the tunnel are – so aero is a big deal. So, yeah, it’ll be tough to try to work somebody over. But, one and two, the good thing down there is that it’s so wide, you can run different places. That’s good. Maybe that new asphalt will slick up a little bit. That’ll be an awesome corner then.”
THERE WAS A LOT OF TALK LAST WEEK ABOUT THE INABILITY TO PASS WITH THIS CAR. WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO FIX THAT? “I really like this car. I think it’s great. It’s been one of the best things for our team. Me, personally, my opinion of it is it’s great, just because everyone’s so equal. With that, though, when people are that close it’s hard to work somebody over and get an advantage because if you are better than them, then you might only be two-hundredths of a second a lap better than them. The only thing in this sport that I think would be good is the more downforce that we can take away, and the softer the tires are, the closer, more dicey racing you’re going to see. Anytime you rely on any downforce at all and you’re following someone at a fast race track, you lose that downforce, you lose speed. So, less downforce, softer tires, that’s I think always going to be better. And I think this car is a step forward in that direction, so we just need to go a little farther, I think.”
THESE ARE LONG STRAIGHTAWAYS HERE. DOES IT SEEM LIKE IT TAKES FOREVER TO GET TO THE NEXT CORNER? “Oh, yeah, the straightaways are really long. I’m glad the guys have been working on the engines, because this is a place where the engine is a huge factor. It’s fun. The long straightaways, they kind of lull you into thinking, ‘Oh, this is nice and comfortable,’ but then the corners come up real fast and you’ve really got to be on your game not to mess up any of those corners.”
IS IT A CHALLENGE TO STAY FOCUSED ON THOSE LONG STRAIGHTAWAYS? “It’s not a challenge to stay focused overall, but definitely you have to be aware of how long those straightaways are, because anything you screw up in the corner, you’re going to have to live with that or suffer it for half a mile or three-quarters of a mile on these straightaways.”
HOW DID ELDORA GO FOR YOU THIS WEEK? “Eldora was fun. Just couldn’t get up there and fight for the win. I got tangled up with Robby Gordon and fell back, and the engine was overheating, so I thought, ‘I can’t blow this engine up for fifth place.’ We’ll come back next year.”
HOW MANY TYPES OF EVENTS LIKE THAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO EACH? AS MANY AS YOU CAN? “Those events are really fun. I do a couple of events like that every year. I’m going to go to I-80 Speedway and run a Late Model against my little brother later this summer. So, that’ll be fun. But, that event that Tony [Stewart] puts on there is great because it’s got some much buzz around it, so much energy and it all transfers to charity. It’s a really amazing thing.”