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Interview With Phoenix NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Winner – Carl Edwards

Q. Obviously a big day for you.  Just talk a little bit about it.

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, very excited.  After I left here this afternoon I told Randy, I’m going to quit being so nice when people ask about this losing streak because it is very frustrating.  Not that it makes me mad that you ask, it makes me mad to not be winning races.  I cannot say enough about Jack Roush and all the folks he has there at Roush Fenway Racing.  Bob Osborne and I won 18 or 19 races together, and when Bob couldn’t crew chief anymore Jack put Chad Norris behind me.  Chad picked up as much slack as my man could being put into the fire there last year, and then when the season ended Jack put Jimmy Fennig behind me and let him build a team around this 99.  And it just seems like Jack and Robby and everyone just keep pushing this 99 team forward and it means the world to me. To be in victory lane this early in the season, to have a car like we had today is really, really great.  This win feels as good or better than any win I’ve ever had, so very excited about it.

Q :  Obviously being part of this, Jack, talk about what it feels like to be here with Carl for this win today.

JACK ROUSH:  It’s great to be here with Carl.  We were holding Carl back last year without meaning to just because we didn’t have the right chemistry around him.  But Jimmy Fennig, when we asked Jimmy if he would take Carl and take me for another year and do this thing, he had his requirements, he wanted to change a few things, he didn’t want to see as much of me as I’d shown to Bob.

CARL EDWARDS:  When I saw you up on the box today on pace laps, I thought how did Jack wiggle his way up there?

JACK ROUSH:  I was on your box at Daytona, too.  Jimmy held a spot for me.  But anyway, Jimmy is well studied.  He works as hard behind the scenes – I know that Carl really got in his way a little bit last night.  Carl was a midnight caller on Jimmy, and he had some questions and issues he wanted to be reassured about, so he kind of knocked on Jimmy’s door last night.  Jimmy puts his night’s work in on the car wor with the engineers, and he really put a good plan together.  He didn’t plan to take four tires all day, I think, and it worked out, and I know the people got on the 2-tire program, but Jimmy was there first.

 

Q.  Jimmy, talk about what this win means for you.

JIMMY FENNIG:  Every win means a lot but this is a pretty special one, winning with Carl Edwards and the 99 team, it feels good.  I can’t say enough about the guys back at the shop, especially what we struggled with a week ago.  We put that all behind us, nobody let their head down or nothing.  We kept wor forward and hard work pays off, and here we are.

 

Q.  Carl, Denny was in here a little while ago, he says, Carl Edwards is relevant again.  Did you feel irrelevant and do you feel relevant now?

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, I appreciate him bringing that up.  At least he didn’t talk about my irrelevancy when I was irrelevant.  But it is hard to explain.  A lot of people that have been in sports and definitely Jack and Jimmy understand this, but when you’re struggling it seems like time slows down, you’re wor harder, you’re trying more, you’re questioning yourself more.  Kyle Petty earlier, we were being interviewed, he’s like, where were you last year?  I was there.  That’s one of the longest years of my life to work that hard and not get the victory.  I’m very, very happy to be back in the mix here.  A victory is huge and for so many reasons.  Last year we didn’t make the Chase.  For me to sit home while everybody was at the Chase stuff and at Vegas, that was a little bit of a shock to me.  I did not like that at all.

To get a victory helps us be in a better position for the Chase.  It just feels good to win, and I’m just very glad to be here.  So yeah, I hope Denny is right.  I hope we’re relevant or more than relevant all year.  I hope we dominate this thing.

 

Q.  Not to sound like a marketing tool, but we’ve heard from the people up in Dearborn and you have a new teammate now and he just happens to be the defending champion.  How much did that mean to have the two Fords get together at the end and really help push you to the win?

CARL EDWARDS:  That was huge, and we all know that Brad and I have not had the best history.  It was pretty bad at one point.  But we’ve worked a lot through Ford in the off-season, we did our media day, Brad and I talked a little bit about how we planned on helping one another this season, and that I think was an amazing example of what we can do together to make sure Fords get to victory lane.  We talked a lot about it at Daytona.  We weren’t able to put something together.  But hopefully this season the things that Ford has been tal about, one Ford – all the way from Jim Farley – Jim Farley and Edsel Ford came to that media day at the Hall of Fame just to sit us in a room and say, hey look, we want to win as a team.  We want to do what we can do to help one another and that was very cool today of Brad to push us.  I knew if we made it to Turn 1 first, we were going to win that race.  He could’ve gone three wide, he could have made that a heck of a lot harder, and that was pretty big.

 

Q.  What was going through your mind when the caution came out there?  Did you think that you still had a chance to win?

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, yeah, I always think I have a chance.  To be honest, the first thing that came to my mind is now if we win it, we’ve really earned it because we did have a great pit crew and great pit strategy today.  We got out front, and I felt pretty good with two or three laps to go that we were going to walk away with that race, and when the caution came out I said, okay, now we’re going to have to earn it.  It made me real – not real nervous, but it made me really buckle down and work hard.  A heart rate monitor on me would have been pretty interesting probably at that point because I knew it was going to be tough.

 

Q.  You touched on this a little bit earlier, but during a streak like that, to what degree does self-doubt come in the mix?  Obviously a lot has to do with the car, but do you ever – does it ever cross your mind, oh, man, what’s going on with me?  Or do you always have confidence in yourself enough to turn it around?

CARL EDWARDS:  I’m not a psychologist or anything, but I can tell you that my little bit of experience with race car drivers is we all have pretty fragile egos.  That was probably one of the things that makes us perform well is you’re always questioning yourself, you’re always wor hard.  I never feel like – I never feel like I’ve had a perfect race or a perfect year.  I’m always trying to be better, and I think all of us are like that.  But when you’re not getting that positive reinforcement and you’re not winning, it is tougher.  You have to really be objective, as objective as you can, which is hard to do when you’re thin about yourself.  But to try to think am I doing the right things, am I wor the right way, am I being a good team player, and Jack has helped me a lot with that, Jimmy, I asked him for the last month or two, every time – what do you need from me, is there anything I can do, and both these guys have helped me a lot to make sure they tell me what they need from me.

Basically, yes, it is tough and you have to question yourself constantly.  Even when you’re winning you have to do that, but it’s hard when you’re not.

 

Q.  We’re not going to ask you how you felt when that caution came out, but before the caution what was the fuel situation, because it seemed like Carl opened up a lead to eight, nine-tenths of a second, so what were you telling him about the fuel?

JIMMY FENNIG:  Well, basically I was just telling Carl to watch his gauges, you know, because if that thing just started bouncing we were going to be in trouble.  It was going to be close.  We had to maybe conserve a lap or so but also going to have to run hard because Jimmie was right there.  But Carl did an excellent job with that.  We ran some laps in the 70s and when he had to take it back, he brought it back down to the 50s.  So he did a good job, but it was close.

 

Q.  Jimmy, clearly you’re the missing link on this team if you look back over the past 70 races and you come in and you guys win.  Can you talk about the changes or do you just have a whole new approach to running things?  What has made it work so quickly?

JIMMY FENNIG:  Well, I don’t think I’m the missing link.  Me, I go about my work a little different than some people do.  I’m a hard worker.  We sit there and we pay attention to detail on our race cars, and that’s about it.  I do the same thing I did with Matt, with Mark Martin in ’98.  That’s the way I work.  We still have 85 percent of the team left from the 17.  That’s still there, and everybody knows the way I operate, what I want, and we’re just trying to deliver it to Carl.

 

Q.  Jimmy and Carl, did you feel victory this morning at all as you were getting this car ready?  Did you feel like you all had a real chance at winning this race?  And Carl, how about you?  How did you feel this morning as you were getting ready?

JIMMY FENNIG:  Well, you never – you don’t feel victory.  I don’t feel victory – the only thing I know is yesterday I felt pretty good about the race car studying lap times, things we did.  We make adjustments every Sunday morning and we didn’t have to really dig deep in the bag because we think our car was pretty good, and it ended up to be okay.  We made one air pressure adjustment and one other adjustment, and Carl did the rest.

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, the pit crew I think was key today, too.  I think that was huge.  I’ve kind of felt – I don’t know, I’ve felt more confident, like a victory is closer, since the first meeting I had with Jimmy at the shop to see the attention to detail he has on the car and to see the intensity in the guys’ eyes.  But yesterday after the final practice my trainer came with me from CTS, Dean, and we were tal after practice like man, I’m in a really good mood, like I feel good, and I realized it was because I felt that speed in the race car and the thing drove like I wanted it to, and that’s a really good feeling.

So I was more optimistic than I have been for a long time this morning getting ready to race.

 

Q.  Carl, you mentioned this morning that yesterday you kind of went out and took a little hike and sort of cleared your head.  With all the crazy stuff that happened in Daytona that was beyond your control, what does that do to somebody when you get into all these messes that are not of your cause?

CARL EDWARDS:  I try real hard to put the past behind me very quickly so when things go poorly I try to just turn my back to it and look forward, but I know other people don’t do that.  I know it’s hard for a lot of people.  So the one thing I was most nervous about coming to Phoenix was having another problem, having some wreck or a parts failure or something like that.  I actually missed a shift in practice, over revved the engine and little bit, and I thought, man, we can’t have another problem with that because I knew if we had two bad races to start it would be hard for some people – not Jimmy or Jack or me but there might be guys on the team or at the shop that would start hanging their heads because it is very difficult to come out of a hole like that.

So I’m very grateful that we came right back with a win here this weekend.

 

Q.  Carl, you’ve talked a lot that you kind of feel that you still have Bob Osborne wor for you because he’s doing a lot of the engineering on the Gen-6 cars.  I’m curious if you and Jack can talk about what you feel like his contributions were to the win today.

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, yeah, Bob is still here at the racetrack.  He’s in all the meetings.  He doesn’t seem as stressed out.  He’s a little easier to get along with, which is nice.  I think Bob and I are going to be better friends now than we were before.

That’s the thing that’s amazing about Roush-Fenway and what Jack is able to do.  I don’t know how he does it, but it seems like every time we make a change, we don’t actually lose a person, a person just goes into a different part of the team.  I don’t know if you enjoy paying all those paychecks, but I appreciate all those good people.

JACK ROUSH:  Actually with Bob’s initiative we started a new department to work further out.  Instead of wor on two races out, Bob and three or four young engineers are wor half a dozen races out to try to find things.  I asked Bob when the fruit of his work was going to kick in, I asked him yesterday, and he said, well, by Fontana we should be really good, and we will have hardware that reflects what he’s been wor on by Fontana.

But Bob has been there for Jimmy and he’s been there for me and he’s been there for Carl, and he’s bringing his considerable knowledge to the benefit of all the programs.

 

Q.  Carl, I don’t know what there is to say about it, but it’s quite the coincidence that your two wins at Phoenix both broke 70-race winless streaks.

CARL EDWARDS:  That is kind of strange, huh?  Stranger that I’m even here driving these race cars.  If you guys had known me 10 years ago you guys would be laughing.  This place – it’s a little more coincidental because this place is so special to me; this is my — my first pavement race I ever ran was here in 2001, the Copper World Classic, so each time I come here I really enjoy this racetrack.  It was a huge turning point in my career, and there was a lot of good fortune that happened that weekend.  I missed about the biggest wreck of my life on the first lap of the consy, and we made the feature, and that was huge.

So yeah, hopefully we don’t have any more 70-race losing streaks in my career (laughter), but if they were to happen, I’ll look forward to Phoenix again sometime.

 

Q.  The pit road stats showed that you guys spent the least amount of time on pit road of any team out there and that you gained an average of about one second per stop over the 48.  Has that been a particular emphasis in the off-season, both with the pit crew and getting on and off pit road?

CARL EDWARDS:  Those guys are just bad to the bone.  I’ve been – those guys have frustrated me on pit road for years, and it’s neat to have them doing pit stops for the 99 team now.  It’s pretty awesome.

 

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about Subway being the title sponsor of the race, and is that added incentive, added pressure?

CARL EDWARDS:  It is a little strange to come to – not strange, it’s an honor to come to the track and be driving the Subway car and to have Subway as the primary sponsor of our car and the title sponsor of the race.  But there is pressure.  Those guys are as competitive as anyone.  I know you guys have been to the banquets and met a lot of the sponsors and talked to them, but all of my sponsors are that way.  They want to win.  They didn’t sign up with Jack Roush and the 99 team to be on 70-race losing streaks.  They signed up to win and win a lot.

I wouldn’t say it’s more pressure because I put a lot of pressure on myself, but it is very nice to win this race for them.  It’s really, really great.  After everything they do for me, it’s very cool.

 

Q.  Before Denny said irrelevant again, he brought up the point that I was as him that he can relate because in 2010 he almost won the championship, in 2011 they were terrible, and then they won here last year, and he said at that point he knew that they were back, even though it was just one race, and he said, I can feel exactly what Carl is feeling.  Do you feel that way just from one race?

CARL EDWARDS:  That is interesting.  Until you mentioned it I didn’t realize the parallels there between the two of our situations.  Yeah, he must have felt good that day because I feel really good right now.  I mean, I feel like I could jump over those grandstands right now.  This is neat.

I’m more excited to go to Vegas than I’ve been in a long time.  Very pumped.

JACK ROUSH:  I’m just glad we didn’t run out of gas and glad you could still do a back flip.  Those are the two things I was worried about.

CARL EDWARDS:  I was a little nervous about that, too.  I haven’t done one of those for a long time.

 

Q.  On the 239th lap under the caution down here, you and Dale Jr. were side by side coming down pit lane, and you had Casey Mears in front of you, and it looked like Earnhardt had a nose in front of you and had to check up when Casey went into his pit.  Did you see that developing, and since you never trailed after that, how important was that moment?

CARL EDWARDS:  That was hugely important.  I’m glad you brought that up.  There were a couple things that happened there.  First of all, I think we came onto pit road fourth, something like that.  We came out first.  I was in front of Dale – he must have had the timing lines figured out really well because I was as – at the max speed I could go, and he shot up there, and I thought, man, I can’t go any faster, I’m going to get a penalty.  Then Casey was up there, and I thought, I’m not exactly sure how this is going to work out, and then he turned left and Dale could have run me up into the wall and spun Casey out.  I could tell he thought about it.  I mean, I think he did because there was that little pause, and I thought, he’s going to do it.  And then he stood on the brakes and kept from tearing all the cars up.  That had to be very difficult for him because I think we all knew right then that that was the – that could be the race.

I’d like to think I was just going to pass him anyway, but I was a little nervous.

 

Q.  Can you talk about the final restart, Jimmie thought maybe you kind of slowed down a little bit before you started up?

CARL EDWARDS:  That’s interesting you brought it up because I thought, man, he’s playing some kind of trick, he’s speeding up.  I thought, what’s he doing.  Usually the guy in second hangs back a little bit and tries to watch, and he pulled up there, and I thought, man, why is he doing that.  Yeah, so maybe I was slowing down, but I wasn’t trying to.  I thought he was speeding up, and I thought it was pretty genius what he was doing because he kind of got me off of my game.  But then when I went, I think maybe he wasn’t loo at me or something because it seemed like he waited just a little bit too long to go.

But truthfully that was not by design.  I was not trying to do anything tricky.  I thought he was.

 

Q.  We’ve seen in your career you’d have one, maybe two great years and then mini-droughts here and there, another two good years and another drought –

CARL EDWARDS:  You noticed that, huh?

 

Q.  My question for you is do you think this combination with you and Jimmy Fennig is going to be the solution?

CARL EDWARDS:  I hope so.  It’s really interesting because I have fought you guys on that stuff.  You guys say, well, you have a good year and then a bad year.  I’m like, that’s just chance.

But it really has been happening.  I don’t know what that is.  How many more years are you going to do this, Jimmy?  Let’s put him on the spot.  I don’t think he wanted to do it with me this year.  Maybe if we do well enough, we can keep him around and we won’t have any more bad years.  I do not like – those droughts are terrible, but the floodgates are open.  Hopefully we can go out and do some good.

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Posted by on March 4, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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