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FEB 19, 2014 | DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.

Edwards Excited About His Car Entering Wednesday's Daytona 500 Practice

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Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session Wednesday afternoon before practice for Sunday’s Daytona 500. He spoke about a variety of topics with members of the media.

ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT PRACTICE TODAY?  “I am excited about practice today.  Our cars were really fast, so it was fun to come into the gates and see all of those Fords up there.  I think we’re gonna have a good car.  The interesting thing is we run the Duels at night so we don’t really have a way to practice for that, but we should have more grip and should be good.”

HOW IS IT KNOWING YOU’RE LOCKED INTO THE 500 WITH HOW THE RACE SATURDAY WENT?  “Saturday night was crazy and I think it reminded everyone that we do have to use our heads a little bit so that we don’t tear up these race cars and that’s our concern.  We’re not so much worried about being in the show as we are about tearing up a really good race car.  We’ve got a fast car and I think that Saturday event might have been good for all of Speedweeks in reminding everyone that we can crash these things and we can tear a lot of stuff up.”

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS RACE?  “We actually have a team meeting about it later so I don’t know exactly how we’re gonna approach it. It’s very difficult.  When you start up front you definitely want to be aggressive and stay up front and win the race, but there is a lot on the line in this event.  There are people that are going to be really, really trying hard and whenever you see that at these restrictor plates you get the chance for chaos and we have to balance what we want with how much risk we’re going to take.”

DID SUNDAY’S QUALIFYING DO ANYTHING FOR YOU AS A GROUP?  IT SEEMED TO BE KIND OF A SURPRISE?  “Nobody was more surprised than us.  That was really nice.  A lot of times in this sport you can work really hard.  Everybody always works hard.  You hear that, ‘Hey, we’re making our cars faster,’ but it’s nice to see that pay off like it did on Sunday.  In testing we were bad.  It was pretty ugly, so to come back here and run that well and be a half-tenth or a tenth of a second off the pole, this is really good and I’m proud of our guys.”

ANY ADVICE FOR AUSTIN DILLON?  “I don’t have any advice for Austin Dillon.  He’s doing just fine without my advice, so I don’t think he needs any more help.”

THE LAST RESTRICTOR PLATE RACE AT TALLADEGA SEEMED MORE TAME THAT THE OTHERS.  “It’s crazy.  There are laps at these restrictor plate races where I see people, all of us, get away with things that we shouldn’t get away with.  I see cars hit one another, turn sideways, people save it, just crazy stuff.  Sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don’t.  I think the other night reminded us that it can go bad. In a way, pushing that car up on the hauler, watching my guys, I think everyone realized we’ve got to protect these cars a little bit.   You have an off-season and everyone gets wound up and it’s hard to bring everybody back to reality and realize, ‘Hey, we have to make it to the end of 500 miles.’”

DID LAST SEASON SEEM MORE TAME AT THESE TRACKS, MAYBE BECAUSE OF FEELING OUT THE GEN-6?  “Yeah, it did seem more tame last year and I don’t know exactly why, but I think we’re right back to normal now.  It should be entertaining at least.”

RICKY IS NOT LOCKED INTO THE 500 RIGHT NOW.  IS THERE ANYTHING GREG CAN DO TO TRY AND HELP HIM?  “I’m with everyone in that I don’t have a firm grasp on exactly everything that can happen, but I know that as racers -- if there’s a chance he can’t be in this race, then definitely the pressure is on.  If he could miss the race because of something that happens here, some set of circumstances, then that’s stress.  That’s not a good feeling, so we’ll help him as much as we can.  I don’t think there’s much we can do out there and even if you had a plan it changes so quickly out there.  That race track, it’s tough to stick to a plan with everything that goes on out there.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEYOND THIS WEEK AND THE HARD WORK YOU GUYS HAVE DONE DURING THE OFF-SEASON?  “We went back and worked really hard and it paid off.  We’re fast at Daytona.  Right now we’re working on how to be fast at Phoenix, at Vegas.  We’ve been testing.  My guys left here, went back to the shop, worked all day, went testing all day, they’re back here today.  They’re really pushing and we hope we’ll see the same results from the work now at Phoenix and Vegas.  You just never know.  It’s a moving target.”