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MAY 16, 2014 | Concord, N.C.

Edwards Looking For Second All-Star Win

Edwards_Car_1170

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion, is a former winner of the Sprint All-Star Race (2011).  He came inside the infield media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway to talk about this weekend’s race and other issues.

CARL EDWARDS -- No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion -- THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEKEND’S ALL-STAR RACE?  “We come here to win the race. We’ve got no pressure to do anything other than to win the race and have some fun, so this will be a good time.  It seemed like the car was pretty decent.  Brad was really fast, so the Fords as a group were running really well.  Greg was pretty good in qualifying trim.  I don’t know if you guys watched the practice getting on to pit road, but that’s about the most exciting thing I’ve done in a race car in a long time, so just having fun and hopefully we’ll learn a little bit for next weekend.  The 600 would be a great race to win.  We’ve run third, I think a couple of times in that race, so if we can’t win the All-Star Race, the second-best thing we can do is just learn something that will help us win the 600.”

HAS YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL CHANGED AT THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS BECAUSE YOU USED TO BE DOMINANT AND NOW THAT SEEMS TO HAVE CHANGED?  “I don’t think my personal confidence level has changed.  My level of confidence in my ability to win these races has definitely changed.  It’s nice to show up and know in practice you’re the fastest car and in qualifying, if you don’t screw it up, you can get the pole, and then in the race be dominant the whole time.  I think as a group, Roush Fenway Racing, we’ve all struggled.  We’ve recognized it.  We’ve talked about it a lot, and you saw a really big change this week within our engineering structure that hopefully is a step in the right direction. It’s a big change and anything can happen.  I do want to say thank you to Chip (Bolin) and everything he’s done for this company.  All of those wins that I’ve had and the dominating time that you talked about was with Chip on board, so it’s a big decision for Jack and for Roush Fenway Racing, but we all want to be better at these tracks.”

WERE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT CHIP?  “I don’t know.  I guess the way I’d answer that is I wouldn’t be surprised about anything right now because we’ve got to shake things up, we’ve got to try different things.  I hope it’s the right thing.  Chip has given so much to this company I hope that it’s an opportunity for Roush Fenway Racing to get better, so, yeah, I guess we’re wiling to try just about anything and I think the magnitude of that change shows how much as a company Robbie Reiser, Jack Roush, everyone is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to try to figure this out.”

HAS JOEY LOGANO ELEVATED HIMSELF IN THE EYES OF THE OTHER DRIVERS AS A LEGITIMATE CONTENDER?  “He definitely has elevated himself in my eyes.  If you look at the hierarchy of the garage, as drivers we all look at which cars are running the best and which team at what point and who is learning things quicker and Joey kind of threw that whole thing on its head by just going out and basically speeding up a half-second everywhere he went.  It’s unbelievable how much faster he is now than he’s ever been.  The only thing I can gather from everything I see is that he has just really stepped up his game and worked hard and become a better race car driver.  It’s pretty spectacular, so he’s faster than me at most places we’ve been to lately, so obviously he’s elevated in my eyes.”

YOU SEEM PRETTY LEVEL-HEADED.  WHAT WOULD SOME OF YOUR FELLOW COMPETITORS ARE CAPABLE OF DOING FOR A MILLION DOLLARS?  “I think at the end of the day we’re all capable of a lot and a lot of things that we didn’t wish we were capable of, so I have a feeling that if you have a green-white-checker restart for a million bucks it’s gonna be an expensive salvage yard down there in turn one.  I’ve seen things lately, there were guys on the apron at Kansas at race speed sliding up in front of the field.  It was crazy on these restarts, so people ask me what this race means and is there a higher stress level and I just go back to the race that we won – those last few laps knowing that if I made a mistake it was basically gonna cost us a million dollars.  There’s a lot of anxiety and a lot of stress and a lot of desire out there, so it could get crazy.  With all of us level-headed guys it could go out of control.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON HASN’T WON A RACE IN 14 RACES.  IS HE LIKE A NORMAL DRIVER NOW?   “And I don’t feel bad for him (laughing).  I’ve felt bad for him before and he turns it right around.  I have a feeling they’ll be just fine and they’ll probably turn this around and be very good. They have a way, no matter what, of being good when it matters so I’m not going to worry for them.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL FROM A FITNESS STANDPOINT AFTER THE 600?  “Refreshed does not come to mind after that race.  That is a long one and I think you can tell by you guys after the race, there will be more guys sitting on pit wall doing interviews than standing up probably.  It’s a tough event.  If it’s hot out, it’s gonna be really tough and then if your car is bad or if you come into it with any type of cold or you’re not prepared physically, it can be a really tough race.  I’d have to say that this is the one you don’t want to have the flu on race day or something. It is a tough race and now the speed of the cars with the g-forces and everything you’re really on edge a lot more during the race. So it’s a long one and it’s one of the few races you really see a little bit of the fitness pay off that you just didn’t at a regular race pace, so I really enjoy it and I’ll be as refreshed as I can be, but it’s a tough race.”

ANYTHING DIFFERENT IN PREPARING FOR THIS WEEK?  “Nothing really different other than I may take a few more fluids.  I might save a little bit of energy the first part of the race and not let myself get too flustered early on because this race goes so long and so many things can happen. We started out and been running 25th or 30th and ended up in the top three, so it’s a mental challenge as well.  It’s pretty exhausting physically and mentally.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT FORD’S NEW TECH CENTER?  IS THIS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?  “Absolutely.  I got a chance to spend a lot of time with the Ford folks this week.  We did rides here, which they’re pretty brave for getting in the passenger seat of the car with us, but we had a really good time.  I did not get the chance to go over to the R&D Center, but I’m familiar with how much work has been going into that and I know that Ford is dedicated for the next 100 years about being involved in motorsports in America.  The way they explained it to us is they said it’s not something they do for marketing, it’s not something they do for any reason other than it’s in their DNA – it’s the foundation of Ford, so I’m really excited about it and I appreciate their investment in making our cars faster.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE AS TO WHERE YOUR PROGRAM IS AT COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING?  “I’ll use the term that Chip talks about.  He says we’ve got to stack pennies.  It’s not like you’re gonna go out there and find something that’s just this huge windfall change, so it’s small things – maybe it’s as simple as chemistry between people and maybe that would create an environment that’s more fertile for new ideas and innovation and progress.  Right now in this sport it’s very small things.  One small amount of grip in the corner at these speeds makes a lot of time on the stopwatch, so I hope we’re doing the right things and I look forward to it.”

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Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes
Sprint Showdown -- Charlotte Motor Speedway

MARCOS AMBROSE -- No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion -- YOU MADE A BIG SAVE AT THE START.  WHAT HAPPENED? “That was a pretty big save right there.  I was just racing hard there with Ricky.  I passed him off of four and slid up the race track just with the loose rear end, so I defended myself into turn one and I guess he didn’t like it.  He’s gotten me three times now, so I’m kind of getting sick of that.  But we put ourselves back in position at the end and just didn’t have the car to get back to the front.  We tried really hard and we learned a little bit for next week and we’re gonna give it some for the 600.”  WAS THAT FUN COMING THROUGH THE FIELD?  “That’s not something you really want to do, but we just put ourselves in a bad spot and had to come back from it.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. -- No. 17 Building For America’s Bravest Ford Fusion -- “It wasn’t at all what we wanted.  The first run I felt like we had a decent car and felt like we weren’t too far away, we could make a change or two and have something that could contend for a first or second spot, but we made an adjustment to make our car looser and it got tighter.  We’ve been working on a lot of things, some driving style and some with the car and I think we’ve got a direction to go for next week, which is always a positive.  I don’t think we were terrible, we just have to fine-tune what we’ve got and I think we can be a lot better off.  I’m looking forward to getting back next week and tune on it some more.  I think come next week we should be quite a bit better.”  WHAT HAPPENED WITH MARCOS IN THE FIRST SEGMENT?  “He got to the inside of me in three, so I let him go and he slipped off of four and I got back underneath him.  Then he wanted to run me in the grass, so I kind of lifted a little bit.  Then I went back to the gas and got up to the inside of him again and he wanted to run me in the grass a second time, so the third time going into one I just didn’t lift.  He does that to everybody, so it is what it is.  He rebounded and had a good day.  He had a fast car, but that’s part of it.”

ARIC ALMIROLA -- No. 43 Smithfield Ford Fusion -- “I think we got a bad set of tires to be honest with you.  We were really fast in practice.  We were second-quick in practice and thought we had a really good car and the tires that we put on for qualifying the car was just all over the place.  We qualified poorly because of it and we took off at the beginning of that race and the car would not drive very good at all – not anything like it was in practice.  We came down pit road and put four new tires on it and it drove like it did in practice and we passed a bunch of cars back and got to fifth.  I wish we would have started the race with this set of tires and be able to adjust from there, but it is what it is and we’ll go back to the shop and learn from it and we’ll be ready for the 600.”