Edwards To Start Second ..

 After Rain Cancels Loudon Qualifying Session

Rain cancelled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon, meaning Ford driver Carl Edwards will start second in Sunday’s Sylvania 300. Edwards spoke about that starting position during a press conference Friday afternoon.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – “This rain, I hate to see the rain for the fans and for any of the teams that had to go home, but for us this is a gift.  We were struggling in practice, so this gives us a really good opportunity to get a good starting spot and a great pit stall selection.  If we can get our act together tomorrow, we should have a good race, but we were hurting a little bit today.” 

WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM WITH PRACTICE TODAY?  “We started out in race trim and then we went to qualifying trim and we came here with something we hadn’t raced here before and we just weren’t as fast as we needed to be.  Some of my teammates were quite a bit quicker, so we were just gonna have to kind of lean on them a little bit for qualifying and hope for the best.  It would have been spectacular for us to end up second, so this is really good luck for us.” 

IS IT GOOD TO INSTANTLY KNOW WHERE YOU ARE COMPARED TO EVERYONE ELSE AT THE START OF THE RACE?  “Right, yeah.  I just hope we can stay up there.  We’ll know tomorrow.  To me, the way the weekends work is you unload and the first practice people are qualifying, race trim, you never really know exactly where you stand, and then you run qualifying.  Once you get through that, you know how fast everybody can run for a lap, but the true test is on Saturday morning when you really find out how good everybody’s race cars are.  Bob is really good, even if we do have a bad race car going to bed Saturday night, coming up with something and making it really good for Sunday.  At this level, I don’t know if you know where you stand, but at least for the first couple of laps I’ll be able to see the lead or be in it and that’ll be nice.” 

HOW DO YOU FEEL BEING ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE FRONT ROW?  WOULD YOU RATHER BE WHERE JIMMIE WILL START?  “I don’t know here.  The outside, it depends on probably how much rubber gets put down on the race track before the race starts.  If there’s a lot of rubber down, the outside might be good.  The cars, when you’re on the bottom here, one of the things that makes it so hard to pass is the guy on the bottom gets a little bit of that aero-loose condition, and even though you’re not going real fast, you get a little freer on the bottom, so I’m fine with starting on the top.  I think that’s a safe place and knowing that Kyle and Jimmie and knowing all the guys that are right there, I don’t think it should be a problem.  I don’t have to worry about them getting loose or anything.” 

DOES IT AFFORD YOU THE OPPORTUNITY TO KEEP AN EYE ON THE GUYS YOU’RE RACING IN THE CHASE?  “Yeah, we get to kind of be up there and be right in the mix.  At least I’ll get a good view of how fast those guys are at the beginning of the race.  Like I said, hopefully, we can just stay up there with them.  You know everybody up there is racing for the same thing, so it should be pretty tame, hopefully, the first few laps.”

            Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle all held Q&A sessions after Friday’s practice session for this weekend’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  Following is a transcript of each.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – IS IT NICE THAT THIS CHASE HAS ARRIVED?  “Yeah, I’m just excited to get rolling in these last 10 races and see how this thing goes.  Everybody always speculates and talks about it, but what really matters it what happens on the race track, so it’s fun to get out here and get on the track and get started.” 

THERE’S SO MUCH ABOUT MOMENTUM AND THE BIG THREE WINNING ALL THESE RACES.  DOES THAT MEAN ANYTHING NOW?  “No, the wins, all that means is you get 10 points per win.  Momentum, all that stuff, it doesn’t matter.  Right now, Clint Bowyer is the fastest car here in the first practice.  I don’t know where he’s getting that momentum from if there is such a thing.  I don’t believe in momentum, it’s just how you run on this day, at this race track.  That’s what’s defines where you’re gonna finish, so I think all the talk about the three front guys running away with this thing, that’s fine and everything, but I don’t know if that’s gonna be how it is.” 

HOW DO YOU CHANGE YOUR FOCUS AFTER ALL THESE WEEKS OF JUST BEING ABLE TO GO ALL-OUT AND RACE FOR WINS?  “We had the luxury of just going for wins and doing whatever it took and having a good time with it.  We’re still gonna go out there and run the absolute fastest that we can, but me as a driver, I just have to realize that every point matters in this chase, especially here at the beginning.  You don’t want to do something dumb and put yourself in a hole.  A year ago I sat here going to a backup car.  I wrecked in practice trying a little too hard, so I’ve done it both ways.  I’m gonna try to do it the right way this year.” 

IS IT WISHFUL THINKING WITH PEOPLE WANTING SOMETHING MORE THAN WHAT THERE IS BETWEEN YOU AND KYLE?  “Honestly, I don’t even feel like talking about that.  It’s so silly.  That was just a race where one guy threw a little fit and it turned into a giant deal.  I don’t think there’s really anything to it.” 

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TALLADEGA AND HOW YOU MAKE IT SAFER?  “The first step would be taking the restrictor plates off.  That would be the best way, but you can’t, really.  You go into Talladega and just do the best you can and just hope that you don’t get caught up in that wreck.  For the fans it’s very exciting.  For us it’s very nerve-racking.” 

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT RICKY STENHOUSE?  “Ricky is just a hard worker.  He’s a real racer.  The first time I met him he was just working on the Silver Crown car with Chris Santucci and all our guys there in Memphis and Chris told me, he said, ‘Man, that guy is awesome.  He’s gonna be great some day just because of his work ethic and how much he loves this sport.’  So far, he’s proven everybody right.  He’s doing a great job.” 

DID YOU HAVE A ROLE IN HELPING HIM GET TO THIS POINT?  “No.  Ricky was driving for us a little bit and then Tony Stewart stole him away.  He did great over there at Tony’s deal and Tony was really the one who guided him to go talk to Jack.  After that, I talked to Ricky a little bit, but it was a lot of help from Tony and a little help from me.” 

WHAT IMPRESSES YOU ABOUT HIM ON THE TRACK?  “Jack Roush and I were just talking about him this morning and Jack said after every test session and after the races Ricky gives him a sheet that breaks down exactly what went on and what he thought he did and how he thought things went.  For a guy to do that kind of stuff even after the race is over, that really shows you how much he cares about it.” 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RON HORNADAY SITUATION?  “I just read the AP article or the one on ESPN.com, I think it was.” 

IS WHAT HE DID SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE BANNED UNDER THE NASCAR POLICY?  “I don’t know.  I don’t know enough about all of that.  I do know Ron well enough to know, it’s my opinion that Ron is a real stand-up guy, a good guy, and I don’t think there’s a connection between what he was doing and racing.  You know what I’m saying?  I don’t think he was out there doing something to try to gain an advantage at the race track.  I don’t know enough about those substances.  Anything that obviously isn’t good for your health isn’t good, but I don’t know how it affects you in a race car.” 

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DRIVER USING A PERFORMANCE ENHANCER AND A FOOTBALL OR BASEBALL PLAYER TO GAIN AN ADVANTAGE?  “I don’t know.  Man, I just don’t know.  I don’t even know how it works or what goes on there.  I thought the article I read, I didn’t understand exactly all the details.” 

CAN YOU GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN THIS SPORT WITH STEROIDS?  “I don’t see how it would help you.  We’ve got power-steering and I think the competitive advantage in this sport is more mechanical with the car.  As a person, I don’t know that there’s anything other than just practicing and focusing and doing the best you can that helps you.  I would think anything that alters your state of mind or anything like that would be bad for you.  All you have to do is line up all the drivers and look at our different statures and strengths and sizes and it has no bearing on how you run on the race track.” 

IS IT POSSIBLE TO HAVE A BAD GUY ANYMORE IN THIS SPORT?  “I don’t know.  I guess my deal is I don’t know why you’d want to be a jerk to begin with.  There are jerks out there.  If that works out for them, that’s great, but I don’t think anyone would go out and be a jerk just to be one.  I think that’s very silly.” 

ANY IDEA HOW YOU MIGHT HANDLE THE PRESSURE OF THIS CHASE AS IT GETS CLOSER TO THE END AND YOU’RE IN THE HUNT?  “There’s pressure every week at the race track.  Obviously, everybody out here wants to win a championship.  That would be the greatest achievement in the sport.  I can only equate it to winning a race.  Once you win a couple of races it starts to get a lot easier.  Maybe it’s that way with championships.  I hope I find out real soon, but we all deal with a lot of pressure.  That would be a nice pressure to have.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion – “It’s really no different at all with where we’re at.  We’re in the chase and things might change from week to week, but I kind of feel like we’re not in it.  We’re ranked 12th right now and we’re not particularly running well so far today, so we’re just kind of giving it our all and try whatever we can to make our car run the best we can and just see how it goes.” 

BEING 300 MILES DO YOU HAVE TO GET AFTER IT QUICKER BECAUSE IT’S A SHORTER RACE?  “No.  You’re always running as hard as you can run without trying to go over the edge and crash.  There so hard to pass with, especially at tracks like this, that you try to run as hard as you can and get as many positions as you can the whole race.” 

YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHERE YOUR TEAM IS NOW?  “I don’t know.  I’m glad we made it in, but we’ve got a ways to go, especially at tracks like this.  We seem to be off a little bit, so they’ve been working hard and trying to get some better stuff to try and get it running better for me, but we’ll kind of have a better idea, I guess, on Sunday night.” 

DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM MIGHT BE FLYING UNDER THE RADAR?  “Today I don’t.  I might next week or the week after, but I don’t feel like it today.  I don’t feel like we’re really a legitimate threat at this point, but that could change.  Hopefully, it does.” 

HOW WAS YOUR CAR TODAY?  “It was about 40th.  I don’t think it’s typical.  We’re usually better than 39th or 40th.” 

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE A NEW LEASE WITH THE CHASE STARTING?  “Well, yeah as far as points go, but you’ve got to perform.  Hopefully, we can get our performance up to where it needs to be or where we think we’re capable of running.  We are closed up in the points, but you’ve got to run good at the same time.  You can’t just get closed up in the points and keep running how you are because you’ll just be behind in two weeks anyway.  I feel good that everything got all basically evened up and now we’ve just got to go out and get running better and be able to run with those guys.” 

ARE YOU SAYING THE TOP THREE ARE STILL BIG FAVORITES? “I think so, not just because of where they are in the points, but because of how they’ve been performing.  Those guys between the three of them have won most of the races this year and it’s been hard to beat those guys for everybody, so I would say that they are probably the favorites today.” 

WERE YOU UNHAPPY AFTER PRACTICE?  “If you look at the time sheets, we’re just not running good.  We’re about 40th or 39th or something like that, so you’re not gonna be too happy being seven-tenths off and being 40th on the sheet.  You can’t be too happy about that, and if you are, you’re probably in the wrong business.” 

THEY SAY IT TAKES ON AVERAGE A 7.5 FINISH TO WIN THE TITLE.  ARE YOU GUYS GOOD ENOUGH TO AVERAGE THAT?  “Maybe with no trouble, but last year I think it took more like a 4.8 and a 5.0 or something like that.  That’s pretty unbelievable.  We certainly aren’t there today, but anything can happen.  If you don’t have trouble and you can run good and run in the top 10, I think right now we’re capable of running in the top 10 and at some of our good tracks, maybe in the top five, but I don’t think we’re in the class those other guys are where they can go out and run in the top five and top three and lead laps every week.  I don’t feel like we’re there yet.  We’re working really hard at it, but, right now, we’re not there.” 

IS QUALIFYING MORE IMPORTANT THESE LAST 10 RACES?  “Overall, with this car qualifying has been a lot more important and track position is now a lot more important than it used to be.  We used to be able to work our way up through the field a little bit better, where you’re really seeing this year – I can think of some races like Bristol, where the top five basically ran in the top five all night.  Nobody came from the back and challenged them.  They never fell to the back and drove back through the pack.  It just seems like it’s a lot tougher to change positions, so, yeah, qualifying I would say is more important than it’s been in the past.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion – YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHASE.  “I’m certainly glad to get the 16 car and our team back in the chase this year.  I missed it a couple of years so it’s great to get back in.  I was a little nervous about this race track until we got on the race track today.  The car is running really well, so I’m excited about that.  I’m just ready for 10 weeks of battling it out.” 

CAN JAMIE AND DAVID BE TEST PLATFORMS FOR YOU GUYS?  “Yeah, I think so.  Just the same as it’s always been for the past few years, we’ve been able to rely on those guys for information – everybody in the group.  We can rely on them for looking outside the box, for a little bit of stuff.  Usually, somebody is always kind of experimenting so we’re always paying attention, but definitely having a couple of teammates not in can maybe be a slight advantage.” 

IS GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WINNING THIE FIRST RACE OR TWO?  “Yeah, I think so.  It can certainly be a confidence-builder, if anything.  You know, to get off to a good start – you feel really good about it.   With those stats, I hope I don’t win Sunday (joking).  It’s always nice to be in Victory Lane, but we’re gonna do what we can and certainly we want to get off to a good start and certainly this weekend so far we’re off to a pretty good start.” 

WHEN DID IT CHANGE THAT GUYS NOW FEEL YOU HAVE TO WIN RACES IN THE CHASE TO WIN THE TITLE?  “I think it changed last year.  We see Jeff Gordon have a five-point-some average and didn’t win the title, so that gives you an idea of how tough this thing has become and this new car.  The new car has certainly tightened the field up, so the reality is you’re gonna have to be winning races.  I wouldn’t say you have to win races, but you’re gonna have to finish better than fifth – a fifth-place average to win – so certainly you can be second five times and a bunch of thirds and fourths and win the title, but it’s gonna take better than a 5.4 or whatever it was average to win the title.” 

DOES THE FACT KYLE HAS WON AND BEEN IN THE TOP FIVE SO MUCH ADD TO THAT FEELING?  “Yeah, I mean that’s something all of us have looked at is how many wins Jimmie Johnson has every year in the chase and how good he’s run, what Kyle’s done and what Carl’s done recently, so we certainly know that you’re gonna have to perform.  We know that and we’re ready for that.  We’re gonna do the best we can.” 

HOW DO YOU APPROACH TALLADEGA SAFELY?  “That’s hard to do.  I tell the story over and over again.  I was running third or fourth and the 10 car flew across my hood upside-down coming off turn two, so I thought I was in safe territory being at the front of the field and only one row of cars on the outside of us – we were two wide – and he flew across the hood upside-down.  It didn’t look like Days of Thunder, but Talladega Nights, where he could look out his window net right at me.  But it never ceases to amaze me what can happen there.  I don’t know how I finished Daytona this year.  We were all crammed together and my tires were off the ground.  I think my front and back tires were off the ground at the end of the backstretch, guys shoving on each other and we’re all beating off of each other and going crazy, but it’s luck of the draw – right place at the right time, keep your dart going forward and just hope for that checkered flag and hope to be the highest because anybody can get caught up in something.” 

THE ONE SEED HAS ONLY WON THE TITLE ONCE.  DOES THAT GIVE YOU GUYS HOPE?  “Yeah, it does.  I think so.  He’s had a tremendous amount of success, Kyle has, so a lot of times we see that momentum typically shift throughout the season.  He has not had that yet, obviously, so maybe these last 10 we’ll see it shift a little bit, but we’ll just have to wait and see.” 

CAN YOU THINK OF WHERE A WIN GOT AWAY FROM YOU?  ONE OF THOSE RACES THAT JUST STICKS WITH YOU?  “There are a bunch of those – mistakes that you’ve made behind the wheel or mechanical issues you’ve had.  Probably this season the most recent would be Darlington.  We had a fantastic car.  Carl Edwards had a good statement earlier, Kyle does have a number of wins but Darlington we went out of the race.  It looked like we had him beat fairly decently and at Atlanta Carl had that race won and went out of that race and Kyle won that race, so there have been a few races on the other hand that Kyle’s picked up that somebody else has gone out of – not taking anything away from him, but certainly it can go both ways.  I’ve been on both sides of that thing.  The losses eat at you more than the ones that you just happen to get by chance.” 

HOW HAS THE CHASE CHANGED THINGS AS YOU APPROACH THE SEASON?  “A lot has changed getting to the chase.  I think the sport has just become more competitive altogether.  It seems like it’s harder to get in the chase and, as you can tell, it’s hard when you get in the chase.  Like last year, a fifth-place average finish didn’t win it.  So the teams are just getting better and better and better.  We don’t see any mechanical failures.  We don’t see people making mistakes or accidents happening.  What it does is it forces everybody to be better.  It forces me to be better behind the wheel on Sunday to not ever make a mistake – to run as hard as I can.  Everybody keeps upping their game and upping their game and the tighter and tighter it gets, the more competitive it becomes.” 

HOW HAVE YOU GOTTEN BETTER?  “I think we’ve gotten better as a team on pit road.  Greg and I communicating.  I’ve been really, really smart on the race track.  I’ve really tried to analyze pit road and predict and execute the best I can.  What angle getting into the pit box?  How much brake to use?  You’ve got to polish every last opportunity that there is.”

THIS IS THE FOURTH RACE WITH THIS CAR ON THIS TRACK.  HOW DOES IT COMPARE?  “It seems like this track I see a little bit of difference because the old car here, we were a threat for the win all the time.  We had a couple of seconds and thirds and fourths and top fives anyway.  I remember racing Matt for third at the end of the first chase race in ’05, but we haven’t been as good in the new car here and I think it’s just us or me.  We haven’t been as good as a team, but they do drive different.  There’s not much to compare the two together, but they do act different on this race track.  We just have to keep working on this new car and get it to go as good as we can.” 

THERE ARE 12 DRIVERS REPRESENTING FOUR TEAMS.  WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE SPORT?  “I think it’s just a fact of the numbers.  You’ve got more technology, more testing.  That gets spread across the group.  Your average is better.  If you do the math, the guys that have more cars have a better average – not necessarily a better average of getting in, but they have a better average of getting it right.  If me and Carl go to Milwaukee and test for two days, the other three teams benefit from that.  And then when they go and test at Nashville, we get the benefit of that.  I think that’s what makes the multi-car teams better than the single-car teams and that’s never gonna change no matter how the testing policy is because you’re always gonna be able to exchange information across, whether you’ve got three cars or four cars.  These organizations have been building and building over years.  Gibbs only has three cars, but they’re very good about execution and learning and they’ve got three good drivers.  They’re able to dial that in and polish that.” 

NOBODY HAS BEEN ABLE TO TEST KANSAS THIS YEAR.  WILL THAT BE AN X-FACTOR RACE?  “A little bit, but not as much as you think.  This new car, I keep going back to that, the thing acts so similar to about everywhere we go.  We’ll be able to take something we used at some other race track – Chicago or wherever – and really be real close to it.  And it probably won’t take us long to get up to speed.  These cars, there’s so little adjustability.  The thing is to get the splitter down on the track so it doesn’t hit, stays as low as it can, and get the balance front to back.  We can’t move fenders.  There’s not a lot we can do.  We pretty much already know rolling it off the truck exactly what we’re gonna need there, or we’ve got a dang good idea.” 

WHAT IS YOUR TESTING SCHEDULE LIKE FOR THE CHASE? “I think we have two or three tests planned.  One is an open test at Charlotte, but I think we’re talking about going to one more track and testing other than that, or possibly two, so that’s what we’re planning on for the rest of the season.”

            Roush Fenway Racing and UPS announced today that David Ragan will be behind the wheel of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion in 2009.  The official press conference was held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway infield media center.

RON ROGOWSKI, Director of Sponsorship, UPS – “As we entered into NASCAR almost 10 years ago as the official delivery company of NASCAR, we evolved and a couple of years later we entered into an agreement with one of the icons of the sport in Dale Jarrett and our team sponsorship.  The last eight years were a great run with Dale and Dale became such a big part of UPS and our customers and our employees really endeared Dale.  So when Dale announced his retirement, it gave us an opportunity as an organization to really sit down and take a look at our whole program and over the last several months we’ve done that very detailed overall review.  And I’m very happy to be here today and announce on behalf of over 425,000 employees around the globe and our customers, our new partnership with Roush Fenway Racing, David Ragan and the No. 6 Ford Fusion for the 2009 season.  We are absolutely ecstatic to be able to be part of the team with Jack and David and we look forward to next year and being in Victory Lane.  Our people and our customers have always been very competitive and we think David epitomizes and comes right in and can help us replace Dale, if that’s even possible given Dale’s iconic position within the sport, but we could build a program around our speed, the agility.  We took a hard look at David’s performance over the last couple of years in his career before even entering into Cup.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion – “I’m thrilled and excited to be here this morning.  Just the atmosphere walking in, I can tell all of you guys are pretty thrilled.  I don’t know if it’s the coffee and the doughnuts you’ve had this morning, but I can tell the atmosphere in here is pretty exciting.  To be talking about the 2009 racing season already, combining great groups of people like the UPS family and the 425,000-plus employees that they have, the Fenway Sports Group, Roush Fenway Racing, I think that’s a pretty good combination to talk about going into the 2009 season and beyond.  We’ve still got 10 races to go this year.  We need to find Victory Lane and get our team into championship form, and I think we’ve got a pretty good schedule to do that. 

" We’ve had a solid season.  This has been a big week for us, barely missing the chase at Richmond was certainly a disappointment, but I think that gives us a little more drive starting here this weekend at New Hampshire to put our best foot forward.  And when the checkered flag falls at Homestead, we’re gonna have a successful year, we’re gonna be 13th in points and everybody is gonna be talking about us and the new UPS Ford Fusion team.  We’re definitely real excited.  Jimmy and our whole group of guys, just to be talking about it already – looking forward to it.  It’s gonna be a great off-season.  We’re gonna have a lot of good things happen and we’re gonna unload in Daytona and we’re gonna be fast.  It’s gonna be a fun year next year and for many years to come.  I don’t have a whole lot to say.  Growing up and being a fan of the UPS Ford driven by Dale Jarrett, it’s always been a dream to work with great companies like that and I feel like we’re in a good stage in my career to hit a home run, combining the Roush Fenway team, UPS, and David Ragan and the No. 6.  I think it’s a winning combination and I think we’re gonna deliver big next year and for many years to come.”

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion – “Thanks to all the folks here from UPS that have been participating in this competition as it was