Prior to the April 12 Bojangles’ Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Carl Edwards spoke with the media on a variety of topics, including winning, the upcoming off weekend, racing at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (the next track on the Sprint Cup schedule), the new criteria for getting into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, among other things. Here is some of what he had to say:
DO YOU PUT ANY THOUGHT INTO WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO WHEN YOU CLIMB OUT OF THE CAR IN VICTORY LANE?
“Victory lane is so much fun. It is just cool. The hard part about victory lane is when you are sitting in the car and they tell you to wait and you can’t get out yet but you want to jump out and celebrate with the crew and there is all this buildup and finally the TV folks say it is okay to get out of the car. It is so cool when you turn and look and see all your guys and how excited they are. They put in so much work and that victory lane is what it is all about.”
IS THE BACK FLIP GOING TO CONTINUE?
“I plan on continuing the back flip. I wasn’t so sure at Bristol and I don’t practice it very often so it is always when we win a race I get about 100 yards past the finish line and start thinking about if I should do it. When I get out of the car and see how pumped the crowd is and my guys, it makes it easy to do a back flip.”
AFTER YOU CROSS THE CHECKERED, IS IT ALL PURE EMOTION?
“I think every race is different and for me it has changed over time. It used to be surreal and I couldn’t even believe I had won the race and I still have to ask Jason Hedlesky if this is really over because you don’t want to think you won and have it not be the last lap. There is always a little bit of that and as time has gone on, I feel a little bit differently about the wins. It feels more satisfying for my guys and for all my sponsors and for everybody that puts all the work in. Every race is different though. There are some races I can’t remember anything other than the checkered flag and that is about it because it is so intense.”
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE IN VICTORY LANE? CHAMPAGNE IN YOUR EYES OR ANYTHING?
“I have never had a bad experience in victory lane but I don’t know if you remember that All-Star race when I tore that car up after we won. That wasn’t too cool. I didn’t feel too good about that. The win made up for it mostly but I think Jack is still mad about me tearing up that race car. Other than that, I think anything that happens in victory lane is okay.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT WINNERS AND THE PARODY THAT YOU MIGHT NEED A SECOND WIN TO SECURE A CHASE SPOT?
“Right now by definition you have to have that second win to be definitely in the Chase. So much can happen in this sport. I believe there will be more than 16 winners. I think we will have 18 or 19 guys win races. I say that because if you look at the list of guys that have not won yet it is a stout list. I think things are going to get crazy and that last race at Richmond there will be some interesting stuff going on. There will be a few people needing a win or battling in points that have to step it up.”
ARE YOU SURPRISED JIMMIE JOHNSON HASN’T WON YET?
“I don’t know. Seven races isn’t that long and anything can happen but I look at Jimmie and Jeff (Gordon) and you look at how these guys have run and they are all fast. All the Hendrick guys are fast. I think Jimmie will definitely get one. I am not going to worry about him.”
YOU WON THE FALL RACE AT RICHMOND. WHAT IS THE KEY?
“I love Richmond because you have to manage the tires and the cars slide around a lot. It is a short track race but we are still going fast enough so there is a little aero in play and you have to pick your line right. To me, Richmond is just a perfect blend. It is a lot of fun.”
HOW IS RICHMOND DIFFERENT THAN OTHER SHORT TRACKS?
“They are all different now because everything is so precise. Bristol stands alone and Martinsville is its own track and Richmond is its own track. Phoenix has its own nuances and they are all different. For some reason we have hit on some good stuff at Richmond lately so hopefully it continues.”
CAN YOU RATE YOUR SEASON TO THIS POINT?
“I would say so far, seven race in, I would give us a B. Maybe a B+ because of the win. We really capitalized at Bristol and did really well there and that has changed the shape of our whole season but if you step back and look at what we need to work on it is the bigger tracks. We have to figure that out. Everyone is working really hard at that. That is going to be the meat of the Chase. We have got to turn that around.”
HOW PRECIOUS IS THE OFF WEEK FOR YOU GUYS?
“For the drivers I don’t know that we really need an off week. I would just as soon be out there racing. But for these guys it is a grind all year. They work so hard. They are in the shop after these races at 6 a.m. on Monday and for them I think it is really important to have an off week.”
IS IT PARTICULARLY SWEET TO HAVE IT FALL ON A HOLIDAY LIKE EASTER AND SPEND THE TIME WITH FAMILY?
“Any time we get off is good but like I said it is really about the guys. For them to be able to take time and spend it with their families and go home or have their families come to Charlotte. We forget, this sport is all about people. You watch the garage and it starts at Datyona, all of us, you guys, the media the crews and all the officials. As the year goes on you see everybody and their heads kind of droop a little as they get tired and then there is an off weekend and they get re energized.”
WHAT IS THE ROUGHEST DAY YOU HAVE HAD OR TOUGHEST CHALLENGE INSIDE THE CAR?
“Physically the toughest day I think I have had in a race car, which is still way better than a day at any other job, was when I had the flu at Bristol last spring. It was pretty ugly. I don’t want to go into details but it was not pretty. It was bad.”
HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THAT DAY?
“The NASCAR medical folks really helped me out. I spent the whole morning basically over there at the infield care center and they put like five or six bags of fluid in me and gave me a bunch of medicine and kicked me out the door. So that was it. I really appreciate what they do for us. I always wondered what people do when they have the flu and they race and you just go race. But it is not fun.”
NEXT WEEK IS THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FORD MUSTANG. DO YOU HAVE A FOND MEMORY OF MUSTANG?
“The first neat car I had was a 1985 Mustang GT with T-tops and it was great. We put a clutch in it. My dad and a guy named Bobby Williams and I worked on it and painted it and my buddy Ray Owen helped me work on it and he was a big Mustang guy. I was like 19 years old and I had a Mustang. It was neat. I had a lot of fun in that car. It was a great car. Mustangs are fun, period.”
GREG (BIFFLE) SAID EARLIER THAT HE WAS CLOSE ON A CONTRACT EXTENSION. ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SHARE ON THAT FRONT FOR YOU?
“No. I would rather not even talk about it. I have no news and when there is nothing to say all I could do is stir it up. I promise you, no drama. No drama.”