KRISTI KING: We will go ahead and get started with our post-race press conference with our winners here. We welcome our winning owner Jack Roush, who owns the No. 99 AFLAC Ford driven by our race winner today Carl Edwards. Talk a little bit about Carl’s first road course victory here at Sonoma. We were just talking to Jimmy about what an exciting race it was, a little bit of everything we saw here today. Talk a little bit about what this victory means to you.
JACK ROUSH: Well, Carl was able to win today because Jimmy had him in a fast car and Carl was motivated and able and Jimmy stopped him on lap 70 and got him good track position and it all came together. As I said on the pit box today, I remember so many times I’ve been to Sears Point. The first time — I guess it’s Sonoma Raceway now. It used to be Sears Point and then it was Infineon, maybe some other things in between, but at any rate, 30 years ago, 1984, I brought my SCCA Trans Am car out here with a local driver, Greg Pickett drove it, and we won the first road race that I ever entered at Sears Point, and we were able to win on that occasion.
Anyway, it was good karma today. Carl had been good in practice. The car did not have the characteristics that was unsettling to him, and they focused on forward drive and had good brakes, and it all came together.
KRISTI KING: Also joining us, crew chief Jimmy Fennig. Jimmy, this is the second victory of 2014, so obviously you guys already have solidified your place in the Chase this year, but talk a little bit about what your strategy was today, as Jack just mentioned, and what this win means to you, and obviously your thoughts moving forward as the Chase looms.
JIMMY FENNIG: Well, any time you can get a win, it’s great in our business, whether it’s a road course or oval. The strategy don’t change with two wins now. I think we just stay with our plan that we’ve been doing. We’ve been racing trying to improve our mile-and-a-half program, and we’ve been working really hard at it. But to have two wins right now and be locked in really feels good because it also adds some bonus points, too. I feel good about it, and it feels good to win here at Sonoma.
KRISTI KING: We’re now joined by our race winner, Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 AFLAC Ford. You’re the 10th consecutive different winner here at Sonoma Raceway. First road course win, obviously your second win so far. These gentlemen have been talking about the strategy and what it means to sit here today and being part of this historic win for you here at Sonoma. Talk a little bit about the race today and your win.
CARL EDWARDS: It means a lot to me. A lot. My road racing progression, it’s been a pretty long climb from when jack let Boris come to VIR, the two-seater, and basically we ran off in the dirt a bunch all day, and Boris taught me all of the basics of road racing. To be able to come here and to be able to win this race 10 years later is really special.
A lot of hard work has gone into this, and to be locked into the Chase is huge. Now we can focus really hard on our program for the final 10 races.
And then the real special part to me was to stand in victory lane at Sonoma and have Jeff Gordon come and give me a handshake as the second place finisher means a lot. I grew up watching Jeff Gordon and specifically watching how he drove this racetrack and all the successes he had here, so I mean, that’s really super. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Q. Mr. Fennig and Mr. Roush, I was talking with Carl the other day about what it would mean if he could win the race for Ford at this track since 2002, and you were talking about the past, Mr. Roush, earlier, about that. I just wanted to see if you ever had any flashes in your mind about the 1997 finish with Jeff Gordon following Mark Martin to the line.
JACK ROUSH: We’ve really enjoyed our success road racing. Mark Martin was a good road racer, and of course the Trans Am in the SCCA programs we had and the IMSA programs we had before that that took us to this racetrack, it was always a lot of fun to do that. There’s an expectation on my part. I come out here and I tell the guys you need to get lots of toe out to get this thing to turn, and you need lots of toe in in the back to get the forward bite. There’s certain things about the racetrack that are unique, and they apply to all the cars that we’ve had here over the years.
But it was good to watch Carl. I know Ford Motor Company has helped us make their test in Utah available to us to – test track available to us. Carl was out there. You were out there again this year, weren’t you?
CARL EDWARDS: Yes.
JACK ROUSH: So there was a lot of effort going into getting Carl to the point where he could do what he needs to do and trying to get the car what it needs to do. The brakes did a nice job today. The brakes are really important here.
Q. Carl, you’ve had some very good results here recently, too. Did you feel that it was just a matter of time before this happened?
CARL EDWARDS: Not really, because every year is different. You come out here and there are always people who figure something out. There’s so much time between these races, it leaves a lot of room for innovation and improvement, so you never really know what to expect. But after practice on Friday, I got out of the car to walk to the hauler and I told Richie, the car chief, I said I think we’re going to win this thing. The car was driving pretty well and we seemed to have pretty good lap times. But halfway through the race I did not think we were going to win it. We were not doing well. I was driving my heart out and I wasn’t going anywhere, but Jimmy made the right adjustments, he made the right call to get us out front, then he reminded me to leave nothing out there and to drive as hard as I could, and that was what I needed.
Q. Carl, Jeff was closing on you those last couple of laps. He really got close. Were you expecting him to try and make a move on you at the end, or did you figure out – were you going through your head how am I going to hold him off and keep him behind me?
CARL EDWARDS: Yes, we were really good in the braking zone so I felt good about that. How close did he get in Turn 11, three feet, 10 feet? Half a car length or so? I kind of felt he’d be right there. What I did is I made a couple of mistakes that final lap. My tires were really worn out. I was having a hard time getting the car to turn, and if I didn’t do everything perfectly, he would really close on me, and I didn’t do everything perfectly.
The biggest thing is I just wanted to get down here to 11, get stopped, get turned without getting hit, and I figured if I could do that, it would be okay. But yeah, I’m glad it’s a 110-lap race, not 111. It would have been a tough last lap if we had to go one more.
Q. For Carl and if you’d like to answer, Jack. Coming off a race where as an organization a place that you guys have typically run very well and did not at Michigan, and then coming to a place where you have not as an organization won many races and ending up in victory lane today, I know the two tracks are not similar at all, but is it somewhat of a good momentum boost or a confidence booster?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, these two guys sitting next to me, they give everything they’ve got all the time, and even though we’re not obviously running as well as we want at the bigger tracks, like Jack said, we prepared for this race the very best we could, and we’ll prepare for Kentucky the best we can. We’ve got to go out and take advantage of the places where we run well, and this year it’s been the short tracks, and the road course looks like we’ve got that program going pretty well.
From my perspective, what I see as a driver is just everybody working very hard, and we get the results on the days when we can. But I hope it picks up the organization a little bit, this win from last week, because that was really the low point of the season in my opinion.
Q. Carl, you haven’t announced where you’re going yet or what your plans are for next year. In the past we’ve seen that sometimes affect teams and hurt teams. The last time you went through this, though, you guys kind of – I think you were leading the points for most of the summer and it didn’t seem to affect you at all, and now here you win today, and it kind of seems like you guys are not affected by anything that’s going on. Can you speak to your team being able to stick together and still perform well despite everything that’s swirling around?
CARL EDWARDS: I think you guys worry about that more than we do. We come out here and race every week and the mission is to win the championship. So for me it’s really simple. I just have to give the best I can every week, and that’s it.
Q. Jimmy, this is a question for you. Sitting on the box, you have a plan you’d like to bring Carl in at a particular lap. All of a sudden yellows come out, everything seems to change. Walk us through how you stay focused on exactly how you want to do it regardless of the yellows.
JIMMY FENNIG: Well, early on we kind of got beat up. We got beat by it. We had a plan to start – we worked on a plan, Carl, Jack, the engineers, everybody, we talked about it yesterday. We did talk about it this morning. We’re going to do a two-stop race, and what happens is you kind of have to stick to your plan going in.
But even at the beginning we got a yellow come out and we got trapped out there, and that hurt us quite a bit. But what we did at the end there, we was going to be pitting on lap 71, and we figured, well, we’ll just come a lap early because we know if we need to stretch it because we worked on fuel mileage with Carl yesterday in practice, or Friday in practice, so we came one lap early, and fortunate enough the yellow came out as soon as we were done with our pit stop. But we stuck to our plan. We were getting beat up out there, but the end result worked out to our favor.
Q. Jimmy, sort of following up on that, did you think at any point that because of the cautions that kept popping up there at the end, you might have to deviate from that plan, or was it there really wasn’t any thought in your mind, you were sort of anchored into that strategy and were going to leave it be?
JIMMY FENNIG: Well, at the end there, once we pitted on lap 70 and got tires, the cautions were coming out and I didn’t think where we were, we were in the front, even people like the 88 got tires, and he’s coming up through, but once you get going so far the tires start balancing back out, plus he was far enough behind where he’s got to abuse his stuff up pretty good. We kind of just held our plan and stayed with it.