Carl Edwards Post Qualifying Press Conference

Carl Edwards Post Qualifying Press Conference

OUR COORS LIGHT POLE WINNER IS CARL EDWARDS. CARL, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT.  “Yeah, it is good. Those Frosted Flakes I had this morning worked. I told Juan on the way out, I didn’t realize he qualified second at Watkins Glen too. He put up some stout numbers. That lap that he ran, I didn’t think there was any way we would be close to that. After the lap was over I thought we ran about a 40 or something. Pretty amazing job my guys did with the car. There were a lot of Ford’s up there and I think that is a testament to how much work the guys have been putting in at the shop. AJ is fast. Greg didn’t run that well in qualifying but his car is really fast. I think we have a really good shot tomorrow. It will be a really great pit stall. It was just a really great lap for us.”  WITH NOT MUCH TO GAIN TOMORROW NIGHT, HOW MUCH OF IT IS JUST FUN OLD TIME RACING?  “Yeah, there is really no pressure. Just go out and have fun and try not to run into Clint Bowyer or one of those guys that has a lot on the line. I think the key for us is just to go out and win a race. When the pressure is off, you can take risks and race harder. I think sometimes you get a chance to perform really well when that pressure is off. Hopefully with this good pit stall and a good starting spot we can get a win and get the 10 bonus points. That would be huge. That is just what we need to start the Chase.”

AJ Allmendinger Post Qualifying Press Conference

AJ Allmendinger Post Qualifying Press Conference

GOOD QUALIFYING EFFORT OUT OF YOU, YOU HAVE TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT STARTING UP FRONT TOMORROW NIGHT.  “Yeah, this is not one of my best tracks. We have had decent qualifying runs here, but it just seemed like in the race we are a little bit off. I felt excited all day today about being in race trim. The car was pretty good. Juan (Pablo Montoya) got to go out there and put a lap down, but I had to sit and wait and watch everyone put down these fast laps. You start going ‘Man, can I run that fast?’  Starting up front here is important and to be in the top five is a good thing. Hopefully we just have a solid day tomorrow.  HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR CAR IS GOING TO TRANSFER GOING FROM DAY TO NIGHT?  “That is something that we have really worked hard on. That is probably the thing we struggle with the most in these races. The races we practice at during the day and then race at night, our race team on the 43 side feel like we struggle with it. I am actually proud of the guys because we feel like we are making gains on narrowing in the box of making the car better. Today the car was pretty solid. Everything we did to it we were pretty fast. You never really know going into the night race, but I am pretty excited that we are at least close enough in a box that if we make some small changes before tomorrow we will be okay.”  DO YOU THINK THE ‘HAVE AT IT BOYS’ MENTALITY WILL BE PREVALENT IN THE CHASE OR WILL EVERYTHING SETTLE DOWN?  “How many guys have you made mad so far Juan?”  “I am not even in the Chase.  The way I look at it, they have to avoid me right? (laughter) Obviously it is NASCAR. Everybody has incidents. Whether anybody wants to pay up when it is time for the Chase and things like that, I think for us we have nothing to lose when it comes to it.”

Post Qualifying Day Comments of Racers

KASEY KAHNE – No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion (Qualified 10th)  “The car felt really good. I thought I was going to be a lot faster than that. Te car was nice and great to drive. The engine felt good. Everything felt good. I thought we would have been a little quicker. We will see where thy ends up.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion (Qualified 12th)  “From the drivers seat it didn’t feel that bad. I’m surprised we aren’t in the chart for as good as it felt. I guess the track was a little quicker than I anticipated. We were a little off, but it felt like we improved quite a bit from practice.”

TONY RAINES – No. 34 A&W Ford Fusion (Qualified 42nd)  “It wasn’t too bad. We picked up quite a bit from practice. We didn’t really work hard on qualifying being that we are locked in so we wired on race trim. We struggled a little bit in practice and hit on something at the end. We got one good run in and we are about a half second faster. We will take that. I think we have a decent race car for the race Saturday night. Going out early is never a benefit so we will take why we get and get after them tomorrow night.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Qualified 24th)  “It wasn’t too good. We were way too loose. We didn’t know what the track was going to do which hurt us.

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 37 Charter Air Ford Fusion (Qualified 39th) “We were a little too tight in practice and we ended up 20th fast. We were afraid to change to terribly much so we ended up too tight now too. We never could get to the bottom and be where we needed to be. I feel good about our car in race trim tomorrow though, so I feel good about switching over and getting racing.”

 
A.J. ALLMENDINGER – No. 43 Best Buy Ford Fusion (Qualified 3rd) “Richmond is one of my tougher places. We have qualified okay here in the past, but it is a tough race track for me. You sit there and watch everybody go fast and then the track seems like it was slowing down a little bit. You just don’t really know. Hopefully that will put us top five or top six. It is better than I was expecting. We will just go and try to have a good race tomorrow. That is what it is all about.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st)  “That is a good lap. That will be a good starting spot. I don’t know if it will hold up for the pole, but it should be top three or four. That is huge for us. We started 28th here in the spring and got all the way back up to fifth. We have been focusing so much on qualifying, it means a lot.

PAUL MENARD – No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion (Qualified 7th)  “We ran better than I thought. I was hoping for a faster lap but the way it felt, I didn’t think it would run that fast. It was a lot tighter than it had been in practice. We made a little air pressure adjustment and that probably wasn’t the way to go. From where we started to where we are going to start for the race, we came a long way. The guys worked hard.”  YOU WERE FAST IN THE SECOND PRACTICE RUN, DOES THAT BODE WELL FOR TOMORROW NIGHT?  “Yeah, we hit on a few things the second practice in qualifying trim that we think we can carry over to the race trim. We will make a couple of adjustments and go from there.”

ELLIOT SADLER – No. 19 Stanley Ford Fusion (Qualified 36th) – “That was not what we wanted. I wish we could have run a lot better than that. I probably drove it in too hard and made it a little bit too tight. We just didn’t run the lap we needed to run. We will do the best we can tomorrow night and pick up as many positions as we can.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Qualified 26th) – “We just have been fighting our car since we unloaded. From the first lap that we made today to now that is an improvement actually. If we had to qualify in the first 10 minutes of practice, we would have probably been dead last. I think that is an improvement, we just didn’t start of real good. It looks like we have a couple of teammates that aren’t that bad, so we will look at what they have and go race them on Saturday.”

TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford Fusion (Qualified 38th) –  “I feel pretty relieved.  We struggled more than we thought we would in practice.  But we hit on a couple things throughout the day that really picked up our speed.  Obviously, working with our teammates was a big plus today.  We made some changes after practice that, if we hadn’t made them, we might be going home.  It’s tough here.  We had 48 cars and a couple with provisionals and all that, so it was a really hard race to make.  I’m proud of my guys.  It was good effort throughout practice.  We made a lot of changes and got it a lot better.  We were still really tight qualifying, and that’s what we fought most of the day, but we got it good enough.”

Matt Lenseth is Sitting Pretty

   Matt Lenseth, who has already clinched a spot in the Chase, brings the experience of a 2002 victory in the fall race at Richmond into the 2010 event. Kenseth discussed how he sees this year’s Chase shaping up and what he hopes to improve upon down the stretch.

HOW DO YOU SEE THIS CHASE SHAPING UP?   “They have all been tough for me because we haven’t won one. They are all tough. Every race is tough. Just watching from the outside, if I go home watching races, it is hard to pick a favorite right now. There have been different parts of the season where guys look really strong and then they struggle a little bit. I think until somebody beats the 48 it is still theirs.”   WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN PRACTICE TODAY? IS IT THE SAME TOUGH RICHMOND?  “Yeah, we have struggled today. We have struggled since we switched to this car I think really. It seems like we made some improvements at the very end of practice and got our car going a little bit better. Hopefully we will have it going okay for tomorrow night. I hope.”  CAN YOU COMPARE THE MINDSET OF WHERE YOU WERE A YEAR AGO TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY, LOCKED IN AND MOVING AHEAD TO THE CHASE? IF YOU LOOK BACK TO THE LAST 15 RACES YOU HAVE AVERAGED LIKE A 12TH PLACE FINISH. IS THE TEAM CAPABLE OF STEPPING UP ENOUGH TO BE COMPETITIVE IN THE CHASE?  “I hope so. To your first question, my mindset is really not as different as what you would think it is. Last year we wanted to get in, yet on the other hand we could see how we were running and the direction we were going. I felt like if we got in we would have been ninth if everything went great and 12th if everything went how it was going. You want to be in there, but just because you are in the top-12 doesn’t mean you have a chance at a championship. I am glad we are in now. We have been running better lately and been more consistent lately. Looking at my team cars with Greg and Carl, those guys have been running really well and have picked up their performance. That gives me some encouragement that if we get everything right, maybe we can be a contender. Greg has won a race and Carl ran second last week. All our equipment seems to be running better. That gives us hope that if we can get things together that maybe we can contend.”  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT JIMMY AND HOW THAT HAS GONE SO FAR THIS YEAR AND THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE HAD THREE CREW CHEIFS THIS YEAR AND I THINK YOU ARE THE ONLY GUY THAT HAS CHANGED ALL YEAR?  “Yeah, it takes three crew chiefs just to get me in the Chase.  It has been going well. I have known Jimmy for a long time. We worked together on the Nationwide series cars. It has been going well. It has been an adjustment for him and for me. It has been an adjustment for me probably since Robbie stepped down just because I was so used to that and we knew how to handle each other. It has been an adjustment that we still haven’t nailed down as well as we probably need to, but that isn’t going to happen in just a couple of weeks. We have been working on it and getting progressively better though.”  
 MATT KENSETH CONTINUED … IT SEEMS EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT OTHER GUYS AS THE FAVORITES IN THIS THING. NOBODY IS REALLY SAYING MUCH ABOUT YOU. DO YOU FEEL LIKE A DARK HORSE IN THIS AND DO YOU LIKE THAT ROLE?  “It doesn’t matter to me really necessarily what people say about it, but I would rather be the guy out there leading laps and winning races and be a legitimate contender. If you look at what we did all year, I wouldn’t be talking about us either and saying that we have a shot as much as the top six or seven guys. We haven’t really been in that position. We haven’t won and Jeff Gordon hasn’t won this year either, but at the beginning of the year he led a whole bunch of laps and was in a position to win a bunch of races. He needed to be in that position to be a contender down the stretch. I still have hopes that we can do that the last 10 weeks. If we can keep our consistency we could have a shot at it. We still have to do it. You can talk about it all day, but you have to be able to go out there and do it, compete on pit road, lead laps and put yourself in position to win races.”  YOUR TEAMMATE CARL EDWARDS WAS SAYING HE THOUGHT THIS CHAMPIONSHIP WOULD BE DETERMINED BY MISTAKES RATHER THAN HOME RUNS. WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON THAT?  “I think that every year somebody says that before the Chase that the mistake is going to cost you. It could. It just all depends. One year we finished second to Jimmie and we didn’t make any mistakes. We were really consistent but we didn’t run well enough to win. He had a couple of bad races and came back to win all those races to beat us. If you are marginal and haven’t been winning a lot of races and on your best day you can run third or fourth and be 10th, 11th or 12th on your off days you can’t make a mistake. If you are a dominant car the last 10 weeks and winning races and leading laps, you can afford to have one mistake or problem or whatever.”  WHAT AREAS DO YOU FEEL YOU GUYS NEED TO IMPROVE THEMOST ON TO BE EITHER A FACTOR IN THE CHASE OR NEXT SEASON?  “I think that for the 17, the main thing we have to improve on is unloading faster. We need to get the car to be quicker off the trailer. We need to make positive changes quicker. Last weekend for instance, we were terrible off the truck and never got it good until two runs from the end. We drove up and finished 11th and actually had the car pretty good if we would have got it better two hours before that. That is the biggest thing, starting off faster. You always have to try to improve every area from pit road to the race track to getting the cars to run off the truck. You always work on everything, but our biggest thing is the cars need more speed and need to be closer starting off. We need to be able to figure out what adjustments we need to make it drive better for me.”

Carl Edwards Talks About Practice Sessions for Air Guard 400

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, enters the Air Guard 400 as one of the hottest drivers in the field, fresh off a second place finish last weekend in Atlanta and his seventh top-10 in the last eight races.  Edwards, who has already clinched a spot in the Chase, talked with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway.

HOW DID YOUR CARL FEEL OUT THERE IN THE FIRST PRACTICE?  “It didn’t feel that good, but we were still really fast, so I think it is going to be a pretty grueling race tomorrow night. I think it is going to be a race a lot like the spring race where everyone is struggling to find grip and the cars will be moving around a lot. Our Cheeze-It Fusion was really good and our Copart Mustang was really good for tonight too.  This is a fun weekend because we are locked in and we can go race really hard and race for a win and those 10 bonus points. It is going to be fun and a pretty relaxing weekend for me.”  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM YOUR TEAM HAS GENERATED RECENTLY AND WHAT IMPORTANCE YOU PLACE ON MOMENTUM GOING INTO THE CHASE?  “Like I said last weekend and the week before that, I used to just laugh at people that talked about momentum because I didn’t believe there was momentum in this sport. I thought you just had what you had at the race track. Lately though we have been building this momentum and it has been working and I am enjoying it. The previous eight or nine races have been really good and if we can make the next 11 of them as good as the previous nine, then I think we are going to be really good. When we sit down and look at the schedule like we did yesterday and look at the Chase races to get our plan of approach at those races, we feel like we have a car that can win every one of those races. That is a far cry from where we were six months ago. I am really proud of my guys and if that is momentum, then I am enjoying it and all for it.  Hopefully we can keep riding it.”  HOW HAS MOMENTUM AFFECTED YOUR TEAM?  “I think when you run poorly for so long, and now that we are running well I see things that I maybe didn’t see before when things were a little easier. I can see the spring in the guys’ steps and communication between team members being better. I think all of those things combine to really make you run better. That is the part of momentum maybe I didn’t understand before. We will see if it works. We could start the Chase and run terribly and then I will be right back to where I was before, but I think we will be pretty good.”  YOU WILL HAVE TWO TEAMMATES IN THE CHASE WITH YOU. HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEING A TEAMMATE AND RACING IN THE CHASE?  “It all depends on the way everybody is performing. If we are all performing very well, then it could get pretty tense toward the end. You might not share as much information if the guy you are racing for the championship is in the same shop as you. I think right up until that point it is advantageous to have guys that are in the Chase that are working just as hard for the same goals. I feel that we’ve kind of built this bond in the trenches over the last year or so that I feel are working very well. I don’t see why that wouldn’t continue. The last lap at Homestead could be different, but I think up until then it will be advantageous to have our guys running well.”  DO YOU FEEL THE’HAVE AT IT’ MENTALITY WILL CONTINUE IN THE CHASE AND DO YOU WORRY ABOUT DRIVERS PAYING EACH OTHER BACK AND CAUSING HAVOK?  “Who knows? It has been so wild this year and each race is so different. You just never know. I think that the wild thing about this Chase is that there are really 14 guys that could win the championship in this garage. I can’t pick a favorite as a fan looking at it and I don’t think you can say which rivalries are going to build. I think this is going to be the best Chase we have ever had.”  
 
YOUR MIND AS YOU LOOK AHEAD TO THE NEXT 10 WEEKS?  “For me the big unknown is Charlotte. Obviously Talladega and Martinsville are going to be one and two on the bottle necks. Those are races you have to make it through. For my team I think it is Charlotte. We have run really well there and we have run really terribly there. As a group I hope we can go there and figure that place out and have a good race there. I feel the way we’ve run at Dover and the way Kasey and AJ ran at New Hampshire and the way our mile-and-a-half program has been, that we are set to run really well. Even though Charlotte is a mile-and-a-half, it is just different.”   CONSIDERING THE FACT THAT YOU HAD ONLY LED SIX LAPS OF THE FIRST 24 RACES, HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO LEAD 32 LAPS IN ATLANTA LAST WEEK?  “That felt good.  We talked after the race and you guys know how much fun I had. If we have a car like that every week we will lead laps and win races. I think I said last week that the fact that we haven’t led that many laps but have run this well in the points just shows the determination and the experience level that our team has built. If we have cars that can run like we ran in Atlanta, it kind of makes things easy. When you have cars that you can’t lead races with then it takes really good decisions by the crew chief and really good pit stops and good decisions by the driver to build as many points as we have built.  I don’t know if I am explaining it well, but it is like while you are not that good, you can build everything else up. If we can have cars like that, we are ready to do some serious good things on the race track.”  SEVERAL DRIVERS HAVE STATED THAT THERE SEEM TO BE SIX OR SEVEN GUYS THAT COULD WIN THIS THING. WE AREN’T HEARING ABOUT THE 48 BEING SO DOMINANT. ARE THEY MORE CATCHABLE THIS YEAR?  “You just never know about those guys. There was one of the championships that he won, I don’t remember which one, where I sat there at the banquet and told him how at one point I felt sorry for him and bad for how bad his year was going, then he goes and wins the championship. You guys know how those guys perform and what they are capable of.  I do believe that the gaps between teams have narrowed up and it is really anybody’s championship. I believe more than ever, this championship will be defined by bad days. There will be a number of teams that run very well and the difference between them and the other teams will be bad days. It might not be how many races you win or how well you run.”  IF THIS DOES TURN OUT TO BE THE BEST CHASE YET, DO YOU THINK THAT WILL INFLUENCE IF THERE ARE CHANGES TO THE CHASE FOR THE FUTURE AND WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON POSSIBLE CHANGES?  “I think that if we can go out and have a battle like it looks like we are going to have, then I think you are exactly right. I think it will make a difference to if we change it. I think NASCAR is in a tough position PR wise to change it now. If they don’t change it right away then it looks like it is a reaction to something that may happen this Chase, which I don’t think they would do anyway. My opinion is that you should just take the points and the rules and lock it in stone for a certain number of years. That repeated longevity of a system will lend credibility to it. If you keep changing it, it is hard to believe that this is the champion and deserves to be champion. Whatever it is they are going to do, do it and keep it that way for a long time. I think this is good.”  

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED … CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE INTENSITY YOU FEEL OUT THERE AND IF YOU ARE FEELING IT EARLIER IN RACES LATELY?  “I don’t know if you guys can see that every race or not. There is a point in each race where a switch flips and everybody just goes all or nothing. The first time I felt that was in 2005 was the last restart of that race in Atlanta. I started in the lead and Jimmie was on the outside and blew by me on the first corner. He was driving at a whole different level. It is pretty amazing that all the guys in the field can do that, really every week, especially if you have a late restart. I don’t know if it is getting earlier in the race, but it is amazing in the driver’s seat. When they throw the green down, you have to go really hard to keep up.”  DOES ONE GUY START THAT OR IS IT JUST SOMETHING EVERYONE SENSES? HOW DOES IT GET STARTED?  “Sometime s if you have multiple restarts you will have one guy go ballistic down into the corner and move everyone out of the way and you will see like little light bulbs over everybody’s cockpit and they will say ‘Oh, lets race like that.’  A lot of times it is just that you get a sense that this might be the last restart and let’s just go for it. At a place like Richmond, that is going to happen easier and combine that with the fact that so many guys have nothing to lose tomorrow night, it is going to be a pretty wild race.  SOME OF THE DRIVERS HAVE INDICATED THEY PICKED UP STUFF FROM PRACTICE WITH THE NEW NATIONWIDE CAR THAT THEY CAN CARRY OVER TO THE CUP CAR. DO YOU FEEL THAT WAY AND DOES IT GIVE THOSE GUYS A LEG UP?  “With the size of this track, you drive the cars more similarly than you would at a bigger race track. That combined with the style of car being so close, I think you can pick up a little bit. It is still a different front end and huge horsepower difference. This track is so line sensitive that it has always helped me to run the Nationwide race the night before. I don’t think it will be a big difference than years past.”