Points leader Carl Edwards....


CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – J

ACK ROUSH SAID THE FIRE IN YOUR EYES HAS GOTTEN BIGGER WITH YOU LEADING THE CHASE. DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY? “I’m definitely having a lot fun. To me, winning this championship would be the ultimate goal in motorsports, the ultimate achievement, and I feel more competitive than I ever have, and I feel like I’m learning a lot. My guys are doing a great job, too – my team and everyone. I’m glad Jack hired me, that’s for sure. I’d still be down the road in Columbia, begging people to let me drive their race cars. So, I’m very grateful.

STARTING THIS WEEKEND, FIVE OF THE NEXT EIGHT RACES WILL BE ON A MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACK. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR MILE-AND-A-HALF PROGRAM? “We’ll know after practice tomorrow, really, how good we are. This thing evolves, you know? Everyone picks things up and everyone gets faster and faster, and you have to stay ahead of that curve. For us, we’ve been great, but we’ll find out. Like you said, there’s a lot of mile-and-a-half races coming up, and this one will be a good test to see who’s got what it takes.”

THIS IS ALSO CLINT BOWYER’S HOME TRACK, AND HE SAYS HE’S STRESSED OUT RACING HERE. HOW DO YOU FEEL? “I wouldn’t say I’m stressed coming here, I just look at it as a really good opportunity to run well in front of the people that I know and the people that have helped me. The win here in the Trucks was huge. I know that when we roll out there Sunday there will be a lot of people that I know and grew up with, and people that helped me, up in the grandstands. So, for me, to win the Cup race here at Kansas – that would be the biggest win on the schedule.”

BEFORE THE CHASE STARTED, HOW BIG OF A THREAT DID YOU THINK YOUR TEAMMATE GREG BIFFLE WOULD BE? “You don’t know who’s going to be a threat. In the Chase, you don’t know. You don’t even really know day to day who’s going to pick something up, who’s going to step up their game. I think it’s a case in point with Greg, you know, coming into the Chase I didn’t hear a lot of folks talking about Greg Biffle, and there he goes and wins the first two races. So, as a competitor, I have just respect everyone and imagine all of them can do what Greg’s doing. You go down the line, Denny Hamlin could win this race on Sunday and win eight of them, total, and dominate. You just never know. So, yeah, it’s a surprise, but that’s how this goes. You’ve got to expect the unexpected.”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT MIKE MITTLER HAS MEANT TO YOUR CAREER? “Mike Mittler has meant a lot to me. My real breakout race, the thing that really got my career going was our run here in I guess that was 2002. We ran eighth, which was a victory. That was a huge, huge day for all of us. For Mike to give me an opportunity, to give Jamie McMurray an opportunity, Kenny Irwin, Tony Roper, all these guys that he helped out. If it weren’t for Mike Mittler, I definitely wouldn’t be standing here, that’s for sure.”

MIKE SAID IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO LEAVE. WHY WAS THAT? “He’s exaggerating a little bit, but the cool part is when the folks from Roush called me, I was working on Mittler’s truck, we were getting ready to go to Daytona, and I walk up the hill to the other building, to his office, and I was like, ‘I just go this phone call,’ and I fully expected him to ask me or try to force me to stay there and drive his truck because he put so much into it. He stood up, smiled, he was as happy as I was, he shook my hand and said, ‘Whatever I can do to help you, you gotta go.’ That was cool. He put himself aside in what he needed for me. That was cool.”

YOU ALSO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO WIN THE NATIONWIDE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR, TOO. WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN TO YOU? “To win both of them would be the ultimate. That would be it. That would be huge, historic.”

HAS ANYONE EVER DONE THAT? “No, no one has ever done that. So that would be really neat. I’ve got to catch Clint, though. Clint’s doing a great job.”

WHAT IMPACT HAS ROBBIE REISER HAD ON ROUSH FENWAY’S ACROSS-THE-BOARD SUCCESS? “I think Robbie’s played a huge part in it, has had a huge effect on us, in a positive manner. He’s just true racer. He’s real pragmatic and objective, he’s firm, he’s not unfair, and I think that’s cool to have a guy that really epitomizes a leader. He’s a leader. That’s cool. I think that’s helped us a lot.”

DOES HE BRING THE TEAMS ALL IN LINE WITH ONE ANOTHER? “I’m not there every day in the shop. I don’t sit through all the meetings. But from what I can tell, it’s the same as it’s always been. When we’re in a meeting, and when Robbie speaks up and says what he’s got to say, everybody listens. He’s just real fair and he’s got the experience and all the intelligence and all that to make it work. I’m extremely glad that he’s doing it.”

ON RACING AT KANSAS. “If we raced here once a month, that would be great for me. I got to drive my car here from Columbia and have a nice drive. My girlfriend is coming up tonight and I got to have dinner with my friends last night, that I haven’t seen for a while, they live here in Kansas City. To me, this is fun. I know what Clint’s talking about. There is a little extra pressure because no matter what happens, good or bad, here, that’s what everyone sees, that you know. Or, where I live this is a the race that people come to on the Cup side. But, it’s fun.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY SYMPATHY FOR THE PLACE WHERE KYLE BUSCH FINDS HIMSELF AFTER TWO CHASE RACES? “Definitely not sympathy. We’re here to beat every one of these guys. But you can bet everyone in this garage looks at that and goes, ‘That’s an example of how tough this sport is and how quick things can change.’ That’s why you have to just take it week to week and race to race because things like that can happen, to the best teams. That’s a case in point.”

WHEN YOU SEE SOMETHING LIKE THAT, DO YOU THEN WORRY ABOUT STUFF LIKE THAT? “I worry about it way before I’ve see it happen to them. It’s happened to me and it’s happened to all of these guys – not just here, but in the series we came up in, you know? It happens at the local dirt track. It’s not always the fastest car that wins, luck plays a really large part in this. Luck and the extraneous stuff, little things that you really don’t have any control over at the race track. There’s a lot of moving parts on a race car.”

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO DEAL WITH THE THINGS THAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL, LIKE LAS VEGAS, FOR INSTANCE? “It’s very difficult to deal with things that are out of your control. Vegas is a perfect example. I know that that wasn’t why we won that race, I know it wasn’t intentional. But I still have to hear all the commentary on it and everybody’s opinion. And at the end of the day, it’s something like that or something like a parts failure. They don’t write about that in the paper. They don’t say, ‘Hey, you had the fastest car. You should’ve won the race. You did your job right.’ They just say, ‘Hey, you finished 35th.’ And it’s really hard to just swallow that and move on. That’s one of the tough things about this sport is know how well everyone did on your team, know that it was something out of your control, but that’s not how it’s remembered. So, it’s just tough.”