Edwards Wins Fourth Cup Race of 2008

Carl Edwards won his fourth race of the season as he and crew chief Bob Osborne made the right pit strategy call in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Carl Edwards’ victory at Pocono today is the 11th of his career and fourth of the season. He also won at California, Las Vegas and Texas. Edwards’ wins at California and Las Vegas marked the second time in his career that he posted back-to-back victories.

This is Edwards’ second career Cup win at Pocono. His victory at Pocono in 2005 was the second of his Cup career, and he won in his first-ever trip to the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped track.

Edwards started 29th in his 2005 win, the deepest in the field of any Cup winner in the history of Pocono. Edwards is second in the Sprint Cup series in victories. Edwards now has 13 top-10 finishes in his last 16 starts. His 15 top-10s overall lead the series. Edwards’ victory at Dover last year was the 100th all-time for Roush Fenway Racing.Ford now has won 587 races all-time in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. Ford now has won 20 times in 62 races at Pocono Raceway. Today’s win is Fusion’s fourth of the season and 18th all-time since its debut in 2006. Fusion’s first-ever NSC victory was by Matt Kenseth in February 2006 at California Speedway.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW --  “That was just unbelievable.  Bob and I were really arguing.  I’m trying to make a little light of it, but we thought we’d made the wrong call but I just can’t thank my guys enough and everybody for hanging tough.  Everybody at Office Depot, we’ve had an unbelievable run with Office Depot.  Ford Motor Company, they make the best cars out there.  I’m proud to drive them.  This is good.” 

BOB OSBORNE MENTIONED AN EXPERIMENTAL SETUP TODAY.  WHAT ABOUT IT?  “Bob is the smartest guy in the world.  He’s a smart guy, very intelligent and I hope we can be together for a long, long time.  I’m just really happy.  I was feeling really nervous and thought we made the wrong call there, but it was good though.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (Finished 11th) – HOW WELL CAN YOU KEEP TRACK OF WHAT’S GOING ON OUT THERE?  “Obviously probably not very well.  You kind of know what’s going on, but it’s really hard to keep track of.  We knew when we stayed out there when it rained that we were about three laps short of making it on one stop and everybody else was gonna make it on one stop, so unless we had more rain or more caution laps, we knew we were gonna be a little short.  That’s just what we chose to do.  I thought it was gonna rain one more time.  We didn’t think it was gonna rain out, but I though there was gonna be another little delay and then we would have been able to make it.” 

 IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE 13TH NOW.  WHEN WILL THAT SINK IN OR DOES IT MATTER NOW?  “Every point matters all year from Daytona to Richmond to get in so, yeah, it matters but it doesn’t matter today if you’re 13th or fifth.  You’ve got to be in after Richmond so we’ll just keep digging as hard as we can and, hopefully, we’ll make it.” 

DO YOU HAVE OPTIMISM AFTER TODAY?  “I’ve been optimistic the whole time.  Our car was really fast at Indy.  We qualified really well.  We qualified well here.  Our stuff has been fast, so I’m optimistic about it, it’s just that this is how things are now.  It’s not racing as we knew it.  It’s not the fastest cars out front, you pit, the tires wear out so everybody’s got to come in for four tires and the fastest car passes the slowest cars and gets back in front.  It’s just not that kind of racing anymore.  It’s figure out how much gas you’ve got in the tank and being in clean air.  It’s just really different.  You’ve got to have a fast car to win, but it’s almost as much or more about strategy and being in the front than having the fastest car.  If you have one of the fastest 15 cars and pit the race right and get lucky and all that stuff, and you’re up front, then you’ve got a shot at it.” 

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion (Finished 5th) – “When you can just come out and concentrate on a good handling race car, that makes our job a lot easier when we don’t have to worry about things falling off of it.  It was just a nice, solid day – a good points day.  The guys we’re racing in the points were right in front of us and behind us, so it’s exciting.  We’ve got some good tracks coming up.  I’m just happy to be here and have a shot.” 

YOU’RE 46 POINTS OUT OF THE TOP 12.  CAN YOU MAKE IT?  “Definitely.  The light is shining on us right now.  It’s close.  We’re racing good guys in front of us and good guys behind us and I think all we can do is just go out and do what we’ve been doing – try to get top-fives and top-10s, try not to make many mistakes that hurt us and it’s gonna happen where whatever happens is gonna happen.  But if we continue to do what we’ve been doing we’re gonna win some races and make the chase and everything is gonna be great.” 

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT  YOUR CARS TODAY WITH HOW THE ROUSH TEAM FINISHED?  “We always want to get better.  Even if we had all five cars in the top five and just dominated, we’d still want to be better.  Congratulations to Carl, certainly he had a fast car today and so did the 17 and the 16.  It’s a group effort from everyone back in Charlotte and Michigan and everyone at Ford Racing.  We’ve just got to keep working hard.  The  second we think we’ve got everything under control, the door is knocking and someone else is there.  We’ve just got to keep working hard.” 

A SIGH OF RELIEF WITH THIS ONE?  “Yeah, it worked out good.  We always have a good plan, but whether it works out or not is always something that it does and it doesn’t.  It was a great strategy.  We knew that was gonna be a brief rain shower and we knew we’d get back racing.  That was the perfect call.  Looking at the radar they made the right call.  Things worked out.  We went green the rest of the way and our AAA Ford was handling pretty well.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty close and we were able to hold a few of them off.”

LARRY CARTER, Crew Chief – No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion (McMurray finished 9th) – A GOOD FINISH BUT IT LOOKED LIKE A STRUGGLE EARLY.  “Yeah.  We were just kind of fighting lack of grip and were a little loose and a little tight.  The car was pretty good, but we qualified really poorly and just never could get track position.  When we finally did get a little track position we could run pretty good.  I felt like there at the end we would probably be alright even if the caution did come out because we had cycled into some decent track position.  With about 60 laps to go we just kind of played the fuel-mileage card and hoped it would work out for us and it did.  We just hung on there and a couple guys ran out of gas and we got a good finish out of it.”

CARL EDWARDS PRESS CONFERENCE

CARL EDWARDS, Driver – “There’s nothing like winning.  I remember sitting here in 2005 and just, this track is real gratifying to win here.  A lot of really great drivers have done very well here and it just means a lot to be on the list of people who have won here.  Bob did a great job.  I wasn’t so sure about halfway through when we were yelling at each other, but Bob did an unbelievable job.  Jack, the engine was awesome.  The pit crew was awesome and luck went our way today.  That’s as good as it gets right there.”

BOB OSBORNE, Crew Chief – “It was a little stressful at moments.  The rain comes and we’re not sure what we wanted to do.  We talked about what we would do if the rain cleared up and they got the track dried and that’s what we ended up doing, and then it started raining harder and Carl’s on the pit box with me and we’re arguing at that point about why we did what we did, so it was a stressful day but it worked out for us.  We both had a good time doing it and that’s why we’re here – to win and have a good time.”

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – “Carl has been strong all year and Bob, we reunited Bob and Carl together this year and they’ve enjoyed one another’s company – at least most of the time.  I wasn’t aware about the shouting match, but the crew chief is empowered in our world to make the final decision.  He’s the captain of the ship.  The driver knows more about what’s going on right in front of him as it relates to who has gone down pit road and who didn’t go, but Bob made a courageous call.  The thing I probably would have done, if I’d have made the call and I think most of our other crew chiefs would have done, is protected what they had – which he had a fast car, he was out front.  Why would you give that up and go back in the field and take a chance on getting collected with somebody that you didn’t need to be racing with?  And if the rain had come and stopped, but Bob made a decision.  He thought he wasn’t gonna win it the way he was and he thought he needed to go to the back.  There were a number of people went with him, but he was the first one, he was the head of that line, and it proved to be the right decision.  You have to have a little bit of good luck going for you to win this, but unless he had the courage to do the thing he thought was right, he wouldn’t have won today and I congratulate him for that.  He did the right thing.  The next time it may not work out as well, but he still needs to make that decision.  Whatever he feels is right is what we need to do.  That’s his job.”

BOB OSBORNE CONTINUED – WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED ON THE CALL?  “We discussed it on the radio.  I was planning on pitting.  Carl said, ‘What would you do if you thought the track would get cleaned up and we’d run it green?’  And I told him we would come for two tires.  When the time came he came for two tires, I didn’t tell him to stay out and we digged on.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – “Yeah, but my deal was I felt like you left it to me a little bit.  And then what got me was Jimmie, they’d committed to coming, so I was like, ‘Well, we’ll go ahead and come.’  But if Bob would have said, ‘Stay out,’ that’s what we would have done, but I think we were both about 51 percent on the come in side and neither one of us were gonna argue.  But the argument came when it started raining real hard, then we were trying to blame one another for the idea of coming.  He said it was my idea and I really felt like it was his idea, so that’s where the argument came.  I had to leave the pit box because I was worried Bob was gonna punch me in the neck or something.  You were looking kind of angry.” 

 HOW HEATED DID IT GET?  “I had to walk away, but, personally, I feel like we have a really good relationship.  We can be brutally honest with one another and that’s really valuable.  There’s no beating around the bush.  If Bob feels a certain way about something, he tells me and I tell him and, to me, that’s really valuable.”

BOB OSBORNE CONTINUED – COULD THIS DECISION HAVE BEEN POISONOUS IF IT DIDN’T WORK OUT?  “I think it could be for certain teams, but not ours.  Carl and I, I don’t know what the perception is, but we argue on a regular basis.  It’s not out of the ordinary for us to argue.  We argue.  We get mad at each other.  We walk away and then we walk back together and calmer heads prevail and we have a discussion.  We might argue again on the same subject and walk away and come back together, but through the arguments and through the discussions and through the handshakes and the hugs we come to terms with what we want to do and when we want to do it and 99 percent of the time it works out for us.  Yes, sometimes it doesn’t and when it doesn’t, we say, ‘OK, we argued through it.  We came to terms.  We came to an agreement and it didn’t work out for either of us.’”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – CAN YOU ASSESS THIS TEAM’S READINESS FOR A TITLE RUN?  “I think that it’s important to win races and that’s the thing that will separate people as we start the chase.  It’s important not to have component failures.  It’s important to race with great enthusiasm and it’s important to have some luck going with you and it’s important to have structure and wisdom within the organization.  I’ll look at Carl and I’ll say this and he may slap me, and he can if he wants, but he wasn’t ready to win a championship, I think, until this year.  I think this year he can go head-to-head with Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart or with anybody else that’s there and I think he can close the deal.  The championship ultimately winds up normally being determined by how well you do when things go bad – when you have to say, ‘My car’s not right.  We’ve had a little wreck.  Something’s happened.’  Do you go in and self-destruct or do you manage to be in a frame of mind where you can go on and get the most out of it.  Matt Kenseth and Robbie Reiser did a great job and Matt’s doing a great job with Chip Bolin right now.  They and Carl and Bob are in the same place with the best of the best, and unless you’ve got that maturity of wisdom and presence and experience gives you that – within the organization and having a lot of speed in the car – being able to win a lot of races is not gonna do it because when things go bad, you’re gonna disintegrate and Carl’s gonna be ready to do that this year and I’m real confident.  I have hopes still of getting David Ragan in, which would be really exciting if that can happen, and, of course, Matt and Greg will make a good accounting of themselves, too.  They’re in championship form.  Their organizations are great.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – IT’S BIG TO WIN AND GET THE BONUS POINTS TO CATCH KYLE.  “Right.  That’s the underlying root of the intensity of the argument is that we know if we can go win the race, that’s great.  Anything other than winning back to about 25th right now isn’t gonna make a difference for the end of our season as far as the result.  So, for us, we have to win right now and we can’t give up opportunities to win races.  That’s what was so heartbreaking about last week is to finish so close to winning.  Everybody pats you on the back and says, ‘Great run,’ but at this point in our season, that’s not what we’re out to do.  We have a pretty high standard for ourselves and sometimes that causes a little bit of frustration, but that all changes once the chase starts.  Then it’s points racing.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – CAN YOU SPEAK ABOUT MATT’S DAY?  “Lee Spencer asked me right in the middle of the race what I thought was going to happen and I said,

‘I’ve got winners and I’ve got losers.  I’ve got people who stayed and people who came and we’ll see how it works out.  There isn’t a correct answer so far.’  From where Matt was and where Chip was and the fact that their car didn’t have the fuel mileage that the 99 did and for everything we could see it should have had, but it was down a couple of tenths a mile per gallon and it wasn’t as close for them, it wasn’t as clear a shot for them that they could make it.  It took more cautions than it took for the 99 to be able to do what they were able to do and Chip made the decision not to do that.  If it had rained, he would have been a winner.  The 17 has got a lot of speed and Matt and Chip are doing a nice job.  I just hope that the races in front of them and the way they unfold won’t end up leaving them on the outside.  I give my thanks to everybody in the media for not calling me about the race we had at Indianapolis, which was just a debacle.  That was just a horrible race from an owner’s point of view and a team’s point of  view to be able to go down there and have to run those short stints and have a quarterpanel come flying off your car on the same lap three other cars on the track at that time had flat tires and had worn their tires to the cord and were losing air. 

That’s just a disaster and to go through something like that and, like Carl said, to wind up second without the opportunity to get the 10 points to carry into the chase was a double frustration.  I don’t know what I would have said if somebody called me last week, but I’m sure I would be apologizing for it today.  But coming to Pocono and having rain is one of the things we put up with the two times we come and you can count on most of the times it’s gonna rain and if it doesn’t rain, fuel mileage will be real important and if it does rain, sometimes fuel mileage will be important.  This is a place where things unfold and a crew chief’s got to look into his Crystal Ball and decide what’s gonna happen.  Nobody knows for sure.  Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re not, but there’s just so much happenstance that works into this thing when you have a race that unfolds like it did at Indianapolis it just breaks your heart if you’ve got as much at stake as we all do.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – HOW WAS IT TO REBOUND FROM LAST WEEK AS FAR AS THE TIRE?  “The deal is that some weeks it might be the tires and some weeks it might be the weather or fuel mileage.  Everyone is in the same boat.  To me, last week was something nobody wanted to have to deal with, but we did.  This week it was a whole new different type of stresses, but that’s just racing.  It’s the same for everyone.” 

YOU SOUNDED SURPRISED ABOUT HAVING TO SAVE FUEL AT THE END?  “Yeah, Bob says, ‘So how much fuel have you saved?’  I was like, ‘What do you mean?  I didn’t know to save fuel,’ or I wasn’t listening.”

BOB OSBORNE CONTINUED – “We had a one-lap cushion.  We were fine.  I was just asking him to be a little conservative in case we needed green-white-checkered laps or something like that.  Just being overly cautious.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “I was there actually interfering with Bob a little bit on the stand.  I was a little anxious that if he went out and got himself a seven, eight, nine second lead and a caution came, or a green-white-checkered thing came, he might not have enough tire left as well as enough gas to be able to do it.  So I was concerned as much about saving some tires as well as saving some gas and some of that manifested itself into some anxiety that I introduced that was probably unnecessary.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – WHAT DO YOU TAKE OUT OF THIS – POINTS, CONFIDENCE OR MOMENTUM?  “I don’t believe in momentum so much, but I tell you what, the confidence could lead to some momentum.  Seeing how happy my guys were, to me, that’s the most important part because 10 points at the end of the day is great, that’s wonderful, but I think the championship is probably gonna be settled by more than that and I feel like my guys having that little step in their walk is good.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “The confidence will manifest itself in better pit stops than you’ll have if everybody is frustrated and dragging around.  They’ll come together and Bob will be able to get more energy out of them and be able to channel the energy in very positive ways.”

BOB OSBORNE CONTINUED – “I don’t believe in momentum myself, but anytime you have success at what you do, it makes the next time you do that a little bit easier, I believe – with a little bit more confidence.  Earlier in the season we won a few races, but our pit crew – and I think everybody in here agrees – our pit crew was not as strong as it could have been.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT JACK SAID ABOUT NOT BEING READY TO WIN A TITLE UNTIL THIS YEAR?  “I understand what Jack is saying and I feel like I’m better as a race car driver than I’ve ever been.  I don’t know if I wasn’t ready to win a championship or something like that, but I can tell you that I feel like I’ve learned a lot and Jack has helped me a lot and Bob has helped me a lot, and my teammates and all the struggles and successes, I feel like I’m better now and I do understand things better than I ever have.  I don’t necessarily agree 100 percent with Jack, but I agree with his point.”

BOB OSBORNE CONTINUED – WHAT ABOUT ALL THE PENN STATE PEOPLE IN NASCAR?  “There’s actually a handful of Penn State grads floating around in our business.  We like racing up there and that’s all there is to it.  A lot of guys are getting involved in the small racing programs we have up there and filtering down and trying to get jobs in similar sports as this and, obviously, some of them are getting jobs in this sport.  It’s something we all enjoy.  Some of us that are in this sport have worked together in the past back at school, but racing is a lot of fun, and it’s an extremely difficult engineering problem most days, so you’re gonna start seeing more and more engineers and I hope more and more from Penn State.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED –

WHEN THE RACE RESUMED WERE YOU CONFIDENT YOU COULD GET BACK TO THE FRONT?  “Yeah, that was the most nerve-wracking time of the race for me because Jimmie took off and he was extremely fast, and I knew it was Jimmie, Dale and myself, and I didn’t realize Tony was so good, but I knew all of us had stopped and we were essentially racing for the win if it went green.  When Jimmie took off I was real nervous.  I saw that film last week at the end of the race when I couldn’t get him, so it was really, really gratifying.  So when I got by Jimmie, that was a good feeling because I knew we’d be racing him.” 

ANY FATIGUE ISSUES TODAY WITH THE HEAT?  “No, today that wasn’t an issue.  It was nice and cool.  That really wasn’t an issue.  I got a sandwich.  Tom made me a couple of sandwiches, they were real good and I was ready to go.” 

ANY THOUGHTS ON KIEFER SUTHERLAND BEING HERE TODAY?  “It was very cool having Kiefer here.  I had not seen him since I had the chance to be on their show.  I had a really good time doing that.  He’s a really cool guy.  He’s a real nice guy and the coolest part was we got to the set and he shows up in this old hot-rod Chevelle convertible with mag wheels, dual exhaust.  The first thing he does is, ‘Oh, come check out my car.’  I went over there with the hood up and he’s a cool guy, so that was neat to have him here today.  My girlfriend sent me a text and said he was cheering for me, so that was really neat of him.”