CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion –
THERE WERE A NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS LAST WEEK ABOUT THE HEAT IN THE CAR, BUT IT WAS SAID THAT YOU DIDN’T EVEN BREAK A SWEAT. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT HEAT IN THE NEW CAR? “I think it’s fine. Personally, for me, it’s not an issue, but I noticed they were checking CO levels and I think that’s good because that could make you real uncomfortable. But, I haven’t run an air-conditioning unit in my car for two years; we just blow whatever the outside ambient air temperature is on my head, and I think it’s fine. I don’t have any issue with it. I hope they don’t implement some sort of rules or change something or whatever. I think we’ve got enough creature comforts as it is.”
HOW MUCH OF THAT, DO YOU THINK, IS A PRODUCT OF YOUR PHYSICAL TRAINING REGIMEN? “I don’t know. I think we’ll learn more with this CO, the carbon monoxide measure. I’ve felt so terrible in a car before that I literally thought it was permanent damage, and I think that comes from the carbon monoxide, and that’s not safe for anyone. So, I have a feeling that we’re probably going to find out it’s not the heat as much as it is that.”
YOU’VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL HERE AT MICHIGAN, IN THE MANUFACTURERS’ BACKYARD. HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT? “It’s real big. I took a trip to Ford Motor Company yesterday with all the drivers – all the Ford drivers and owners – and spoke with Jim Farley, and it was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had on the business side of this sport – it’s the most interesting I’ve had. We’re at a point right now in America and with these cars companies here in Detroit, Jim Farley explained it to us, this has to be the turning point, the way we do business, the way Americans look at where they’re buying cars – there has to be a paradigm shift.
People have to understand that if they don’t go out and research the best they can and drive these cars and support the car manufacturers that have been in America historically that things are going to change, and it might not be for the best. So, definitely a renewed spirit of camaraderie among the Ford drivers, definitely, and a new feeling of responsibility on my part to carry the Ford banner, try to help them with the changes that they’re making, creating compact cars that people believe in. Because, the bottom line is gas is unaffordable right now, and we have to offer them products that they believe in. And that’s what Ford’s focus is right now. It’s a huge shift from where it’s been. So,yeah, it’s very important for us to run well here in Michigan, and it’s really important, I think, for us to have those educational meetings like we had yesterday.”
SPEAKING OF EDUCATIONAL MEETINGS, WHAT WAS THE MEETING CALLED BY NASCAR EARLIER TODAY ALL ABOUT? “That’s just Helton reminding us that we’ve got it pretty good and you’ve got to be careful when you start complaining and whining and acting like things aren’t that great. It’s detrimental to all of us and to the sport. So, he was just making us aware of the weight of our comments and you’ve got to tale a moment and think about what we have here. And I think that’s a good little wake-up call there.”
YOU’VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL HERE AND ROUSH FENWAY HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL HERE. IS THIS A RACE THAT YOU CIRCLE? “This is a good one. We won it last year and that was a huge win for me in my career. It’s really huge. Jack’s doing the flyover in his P-51 tomorrow; this is home to him. It’s cool to run well here. The first time I came here, Kurt won in the 97 car. It’s a good place for us.”
WHY THE MEETING NOW, DO YOU THINK? “I think it got just a little out of hand this week, everybody complaining so much about everything. It’s almost a little bit silly, I thought. I actually called David Pearson yesterday and talked to him about it, just to get his take on how things were back then, and he told when all those people started putting power steering in their cars, they wouldn’t do it because it was worth three horsepower. So, he said he never used power steering. He had some other choice words that were pretty funny; he’d be a good guy to interview for that. But I think that’s what was going on. People were just – it just seems like every week would get out of the car and there more complaints, and I think that’s what Mr. Helton was trying to address there.” THEY WANT YOU TO GO STRAIGHT TO THEM INSTEAD OF VOICING AN OPINION? “No, no. Just reminding everybody. I can understand their position. We’ve got it pretty good here. This is what I signed up for. And I think all of us, when we think back about where we started, we signed up to be race-car drivers, and part of that the car doesn’t handle real well, and sometimes the car is hot, sometimes you’re uncomfortable. It’s kind of what they pay us for, to so that job. So, that’s what I got from that meeting. I think that’s fair.” WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS? “This track takes everything. It takes a real great engine, a great aero package, a real smart crew chief and we’ve got all those things. Roush really puts a lot of focus on these types of tracks.” WITH THE WAY GAS PRICES ARE GOING, DO YOU THINK IT WILL AFFECT THE SERIES? “Oh, yeah. Gas prices are going to affect everyone. I was just telling them we had a meeting at Ford yesterday, and Jim Farley laid out everything, this is the bottom line, it was a really straight forward, brutally honest meeting, and gas prices are not just going to affect the grandstands and from the spectator’s side, it could have a huge effect on the manufacturers in the sport, bigger effect than I ever imagined. So, what we have to do is focus. Me, in my job, is to make people realize that the products that Ford Motor Company makes that are definitely competitive and probably better than some of the other manufacturers, the products that are being bought. So, I have to go out and make sure to educate people and make them understand that if they buy these products from Ford Motor Company or GM or Chrysler that they’re really helping to keep the sport the way it is.” YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FANS WHO HAVE TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY TO MAKE THE TRIP TO THE TRACK? “I was following a couple of motorhomes in here the other day, and it means a lot to me – these are hard-working people and they take their money and they decide, ‘Hey, we’re going to buy some tickets, we’re going to put gas in this motorhome, and we’re going to drive to the race track and we’re going to take a couple of days of work,’ that’s huge. My family never did anything like that. It costs a lot.” THERE ARE REPORTS THAT THIS RACE IS NOT SOLD OUT AND THERE ARE A NUMBER OF TICKETS LEFT. DOES THAT CONCERN YOU? “It concerns me just as much as it should concern any American. It’s a tough economic time. It’s just the reality. I brought three of my buddies with me, and one of them just got laid off work, back home in Columbia. That’s the story. It’s tough. It’s tough to put gas in your tanks. So, yeah, it concerns me. I think the sport will go on. We just have to understand that we are going to suffer just like everyone else.”