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July 31, 2007

Carl Edwards

HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the weekly NASCAR teleconference. It's in advance of this weekend's events: Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, and on Saturday the historic Canadian debut of the NASCAR Busch Series, the NAPA Auto Parts 200, at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course in Montréal.
Our guest today will be driving in both of those races. Carl Edwards comes into Pocono sixth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings, driving the No. 99 Office Depot Ford. He'll come into Montréal driving the No. 60 Scotts Ford, leading the NASCAR Busch Series standings by an incredible 852 points, over second place David Reutimann.
Carl, obviously on track to have one of the greatest seasons in NASCAR history. Big weekend ahead, two races, two different countries. What's the outlook going in?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, Herb, I'm really excited about this weekend, to say the least. I'm excited about every weekend, but this one, to go to Canada, be part of such an historic event, such an historic city as Montréal, it's going to be really exciting.
Leaving this afternoon to go to Montréal for a media day all day Wednesday. I believe Patrick Carpentier and myself are going to go run around town and see some things. He's going to show me around. PK, my crew chief on the 60 Scotts Fusion is from Canada, so he's going with me. Just really excited about that race.
Then obviously excited about Pocono. We've run really well there. We got a win there in 2005. I love racing there. You know, it should be a fun weekend. I believe we have all of the customs and stuff in order so that we can go back and forth pretty easily. Just ready to go racing.
HERB BRANHAM: Excellent, Carl. We'll go right to the media for questions for today's guest, Carl Edwards.

Q. I'll ask you about the thumb. Didn't seem to give you a whole lot of trouble turning left in Indianapolis, but there will be a lot of lefts and rights on the road course up here. What kind of rehab are you doing and do you expect any difficulty at all on the road course?
CARL EDWARDS: I've got a great group of folks here, an orthopaedic group, rehab center, that have just been helping me a lot. It's really not that big of a deal. My thumb feels great. It's a really minor injury. Like you said, it was really no problem at Indy, in the Busch race or the Cup race.
We have a whole test day, practice day scheduled for Thursday. John Andretti will be there to help out. He's the one who will practice the car for us on Friday.
I feel like we're prepared the best we can be. I feel good. There would have to be some spectacular problem to keep me out of the car. As it stands right now, I think I'll be a hundred percent. We'll just have to make sure that the shifting is no issue. But I don't believe it will be. It wasn't this last weekend.

Q. The field in Montréal for Busch on Saturday looks to be stacked with veteran road racers. Does that make it difficult for you or do you feel you have the advantage on them?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, you know, I feel like road racing, just like oval racing, it's a specialty of auto racing. It's a niche. There are guys who are really good at it. I think in road racing, it seems to me that the people who have the most experience on a given racetrack are the ones that have an advantage. The guys I would be concerned about going in would be the guys that have a lot of experience at this circuit and then combined with a little bit of experience in stock cars. If there's any of those guys entered in this race, those are the ones I'd watch.
But, no, I love it. It's fun to get to race against different people. That's one of the beauties about going to Mexico City in the Busch Series, you get to race against so many different guys, local guys, from Mexico, Mexico City. I hope to meet a lot of new guys this weekend. It will be fun.

Q. We saw Tony Stewart slip up a little in Victory Lane this weekend, utter a profanity during his celebration. How difficult is it when you're in that situation to control your emotions?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, I think for anyone, I mean, we all slip up and say things we shouldn't say. I know I personally understand that situation. I mean, it's an amazing moment when you win a race or you're involved in a big wreck or you're having a fight with someone or whatever, someone sticks a camera or microphone right in your face, it's really, really hard sometimes to choose your words.
It is difficult sometimes. It's really hard to snap in and out of pure attack mode and racer mode and then go right to saying the right things in front of the media. It's really hard to do. Sometimes you just slip up.

Q. Your injury brought up the old question again of whether a driver should be doing extracurricular activities. What is your take on that whole controversy?
CARL EDWARDS: I really don't think there's a controversy there other than, you know, just people like to speculate about things. I mean, the bottom line is, I'm a race car driver. I started racing cars because I loved to do it. I never imagined that I'd have so much responsibility attached to it as far as people's jobs, marketing for sponsors, things like that.
Just like I said about trying to snap out of racer mode into media mode, it's really hard to go from being someone that just really loves to race and would race at the drop of a hat any chance I could get, it's really hard to go from that guy that I was four, five years ago to the guy that I am now. The difference is that now I do have that responsibility.
I guess for me personally, you know, just having that slight injury there, seeing how much it could affect my NEXTEL Cup season, my Busch season, kind of made me take just a little bit of a step back and make sure for me personally I know in the future I'll be just a little more cautious when I go do things like that.
I'm telling you, it's part of who we are. I mean, we like to race cars. If I can go run a dirt race with my dad and my little brother at a beautiful dirt track somewhere, get to try to win a race, I mean, it's going to be really hard not to do that. I just have to be a little more careful, I guess.

Q. With all the running that you've done, competing both in the Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series, especially the weekends you aren't at the same tracks, how much adrenaline does it take for you to do that? How tired do you get halfway through the year with the double duty?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, personally I don't really get tired. I have a great trainer. His name is Dean Golich. He's from Carmichael Training Systems, based out of Colorado Springs. I partnered up with them. That's been a big help to me to have a trainer, someone that looks at my schedule, plan out may workouts, my travel days, point out bottlenecks in the season where it's going to be really tough, and to train accordingly.
I think the hardest part is the guys it's hardest on, guys and girls, are the people who do all the stuff for the drivers. The guys that do all my PR, my travel, planning, the season gets really long for them. The crew guys essentially work seven days a week, 18 hours a day. This is a grueling season.
As the drivers, we've got every perk there is. We get to fly our airplanes, go home, visit our friends and family almost every week. It's really pretty simple for us. On the whole for the industry, it's an extremely tough season.

Q. Obviously you have the big points lead in the Busch Series. You're pretty much I would think in good position for making the Chase. Have you thought about the possibility of winning both championships this year? What do you have to do to maybe make that a reality?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, yeah, I thought about it. I think about it every day. I mean, that would be the ultimate achievement I think for me personally. That would be an amazing achievement.
What I have to do personally to make that a reality is, you know, apply everything I've learned the last couple years since I've been driving in NASCAR. I have to make sure, Bob Osborne, my crew chief in the Cup Series, makes sure we do everything we can to gather the most amount of points we can. We practiced a little bit last year at the end of the season. With 10 races to go, we said we were going to go points racing. At the end of the year, I think we accumulated more points than anyone else in the series in the last 10 races.
I feel like we can do it. We just have to do everything right and rely on luck to be on our side. This sport requires a lot of luck. I've been trying to get all the good karma I can.

Q. This season you've been really consistent, other than the engine problem you had had at Talladega. That was opposite of last year: you'd run well for a few weeks, struggle a little bit. What is the reason you've been so consistent this year? Is Bob being back full-time a big reason for it?
CARL EDWARDS: I was thinking about that a little bit. Obviously, I want to learn as much as I can. I try to compare this season to last year and the season before. I don't feel like we've run any better on average this season. I feel like in 2006 we had great cars. We just had some crazy luck, man. I mean, I got caught up in some wrecks, had some wild stuff happen that was both my fault and just pure chance.
I feel like that's the difference between last season and this season. Plus there's always just a little bit, you know, experience with anything helps. I'm learning. Sunday is a perfect example. We ran 18th. Had about an 18th-place car. A couple years ago I might have wrecked that thing trying to run 15th. Just kind of knowing when to go, knowing when to just get the most out of the day and move on I think has been a big key for me in points racing.

Q. If your hand hurt like crazy, would you be able to tell everybody that? You're a kind of guy that seems you can handle pain well anyway.
CARL EDWARDS: Listen, I've been to Walter Reed Hospital a couple times. I look around and I see a lot of people going through a lot of physical pain, having great spirits, not letting it slow them down at all. To me, those folks inspire me. Meeting those soldiers, people that have come back from war missing arms and legs, things like that, seeing them just hop in their pickup truck.
I saw a guy hop in his pickup truck at Walter Reed, and he had two prosthetic arms. He got in his pickup truck, waved to everybody and took off. It was like that's a tough individual. For me to have a dislocated thumb really doesn't amount to anything.
I guess to answer your question, if it did hurt real bad, I wouldn't say anything about it. It would have to hurt extremely bad to keep me out of the race car.

Q. You talked about the travel, how hard it is on so many different people. It's difficult enough to be running both the Busch and Cup if both races are in the same city, same track. Not only are you changing cities, you're crossing borders. Can you talk us through day-by-day of what your travel looks like. You said you get into Montréal tonight, run on Thursday. Theoretically you leave here Thursday night, head to Pocono.
CARL EDWARDS: I have an itinerary. Leanne Howell, Randy Fuller and Angela Tucker, three-person group of people who help with these weekends. I know Angela, my assistant, called me this morning and was -- she was at her wit's end. She can't wait for this weekend to be over because it's been really tough to plan with crossing the border back and forth.
Essentially we'll go back. I'm going to take my airplane and fly with David Ragan and Max Jones, our general manager, from Montréal to Pocono on Thursday night. Friday I'll do track activities in the Cup car all day at Pocono. Saturday morning we'll run the first Cup practice at Pocono and then fly in Jack Roush's new premiere, pretty fast airplane. We'll use his to fly over to Montréal for qualifying, driver's meeting, run the race, then fly back to Pocono on Saturday night to go race on Sunday. That's the current plan.
The customs folks have been awesome. That's been the biggest thing to try to work it out with customs so we could fly straight to the airports that are closest to the tracks. They've been awesome. They've really accommodated all of us.
But, yeah, it's been a lot of planning, but other folks have done it for me. It's been a lot of work for 'em.

Q. How do you rate yourself as a road racer?
CARL EDWARDS: I feel like I'm getting better and better at road racing. Last year we averaged about a fifth-place finish on the Cup road racetracks, road courses. This year I thought we were one of the fastest cars at Sonoma when we ran out of fuel like Jamie and some of the other guys.
I feel pretty good about it. I don't know, I think a lot of that has to do with just going back to the same courses over and over. I can't wait to go to Watkins Glen. We ran fourth there last year. I mean, I really enjoyed it.
I don't think I'm the best that I can be at it yet, but I look forward to it now, where the first year I didn't know what to think.

Q. How much do you think NASCAR itself is going to be watching what happens off the racetrack in Montréal and see how things go there with a view to the NEXTEL Cup? Do you think Montréal would be a good venue for the Cup to come and have its first international race?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, having never been there, it's hard for me to say. From all my initial impressions, this morning I talked to some folks with customs to file a flight plan, and all of the people that have been working on this have said that everyone is great to deal with up there. I mean, to me, you know, not just racing, but life is an adventure. It's really fun to go do stuff like this.
I feel like a guy that gets -- I'm very fortunate to get to go do this, race this Busch Series race in Montréal. Personally if it's logistically possible and feasible economically, I'd love to go race all over the world in these stock cars. I think it's awesome racing. Hopefully that's what NASCAR's doing. Hopefully I get to be a part of it.

Q. Your little mishap at the I-80 Speedway, you say your thumb is fine. I cover both dirt racing and NASCAR. Sharon Speedway, owned by Dave Blaney, he's having a NASCAR night on August 14th. I know Stewart, Harvick are all invited. Did you get invited? Were you going to make an appearance there?
CARL EDWARDS: Did Dave Blaney put you up to asking that question?

Q. No, he didn't.
CARL EDWARDS: I don't know what I'm doing that week. There's so many dirt tracks around the country. It is so much fun to go race with guys at local tracks. I don't know if I'll be going to that one or not. There's no telling. I go to as many of them as I can. But running the Busch Series and Cup Series full-time keeps me pretty busy. They're kind of few and far between now. Someday when I retire, I'll be at all of them.
HERB BRANHAM: Carl, best of luck this weekend. Really appreciate you taking time out this busy preparation schedule. We'll see you at the races and talk to you soon.
CARL EDWARDS: All right, cool. Yeah, je me parle français. I'm going tonight. I got my PR guy looking for somebody to teach me some French phrases for tomorrow's press stuff. Stay tuned, I'll say something pretty silly in French.
HERB BRANHAM: Be careful on that (laughter).
Thanks to Carl and thanks to all the media for joining us in advance of this week's races at Pocono Raceway and Montréal. As always, we appreciate the coverage.

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