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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 18, 2010
DENISE MALOOF: We'd like to welcome you to the new car test here at Daytona International Speedway. We'd like to ask you to open up, Carl, just with how have things gone for you today so far out there on the track?
CARL EDWARDS: Erik Darnell spent yesterday getting the car comfortable, and the first thing is, for me to walk in the garage and to see all these really neat-looking race cars, they just look cool. That Mustang looks great. I'm proud to be driving one.
And out there on the racetrack they took all the -- I guess the things that we complain about here, you know, the nose sliding off of the corners, not enough front grip, it gets tight, and they fixed all that because they are screaming loose, and it's exciting. I mean, it's really, really difficult right now to race very close and keep your car going the way you want it to go. So that's what we're struggling with is tightening up the car, making it handle better.
And I think we're going to go run in a big pack here at 1:30. I told all the fans out there they need to go stand up on top of the garage and watch this because it's going to be insane.
So if we can get the cars tuned a little better, if we can spend the rest of today getting the balance better and then maybe that test day or that practice day on Wednesday before we come and work on the cars a little more, hopefully they'll be a little bit more predictable, but right now it's wild. Brendan Gaughan and I were talking, it's like the 2003 truck race when it was my first one, and they're just a handful. So it's going to be pretty exciting.
Q. Can you talk a little bit, the contrast, the old car everyone is saying seems tremendously tight compared to what you have now.
CARL EDWARDS: Right.
Q. You know, where do you find the balance of that, and from what I understand it's going to come with the mechanical end of adjusting it because there's not a lot of play with the aerodynamics.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, we talked a little bit about the tire that we're running and the shocks that we've got mandated, things like that, were put together with a different style car than this. So right now it literally -- my car feels like the left front tire is pinned to the racetrack and the rest of the car is just spinning around that the whole way around. So it's pretty exciting.
I drove into the corner behind Brendan Gaughan, and I could literally see him sliding up the racetrack and I could see his front cars turning like a Sprint car, chasing this thing all the way up the racetrack. It's pretty wild.
And that's the feeling that my car has, and it looks like some of the other cars feel the same way. I haven't talked to a lot of the drivers, but we're kind of having to go to extremes mechanically to tighten the car up, and I think we'll just end up with a new baseline which is far tighter than what we expected.
Q. These cars look so different, and you mentioned that 2003 truck. What do you most relate the way this vehicle drives to anything you've ever driven in your career?
CARL EDWARDS: Hmm, you know, it just drives with a ton of front grip, so it feels -- I don't know if you ever did this when you were a kid, and you pull your front-wheel drive car up on some trays like at a local drive-through restaurant and then you set the emergency brake and you drive around the parking lot with the rear on the trays and slide around. I don't know if anybody else has ever done that, but that's kind of what it feels like. It's pretty wild.
The thing about that is that when it's difficult like that and it's dynamic, it's going to make for a very exciting race. What I hope for is that it doesn't make it so hard to drive them around one another that there's just wrecks because guys -- the car snaps loose and stuff, so we'll have to make sure we can get them tight enough that we can still race aggressively and not be at risk of disaster there.
Q. The way the track is now, are you comfortable with the old surface? I mean, is everything holding up out there okay?
CARL EDWARDS: I love the surface of this racetrack. I think it makes it one of the neatest racetracks we go to because there's bumps and there's slick spots and there's spots that have a little more banking, and there's a lot going on on the racetrack. So the driver -- I grew up racing at dirt tracks, and that's how the tracks were. There was always a hole somewhere that you didn't want to run through and there was always a little grip somewhere else. And I really like it.
So I'll miss this surface when they repave it. I like the dynamic racetracks like this. The bumpier and rougher and slicker that they are, the better.
Q. Also, just can you talk about Ford this year and NASCAR? They haven't won a race in Cup. I guess you guys may be holding your own in Nationwide, but....
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, we're just -- Roush Fenway, I can't speak for any other teams, but at Roush Fenway we are just -- we just need to be better. We just need to be a little faster. That's what it boils down to. We've got great pit stops. We've got great team chemistry. We just have to be faster.
And the thing that's a little bit frustrating about that is that I believe that Ford as a company, Ford as a car manufacturer, they're doing as well or better than anyone else, and they make the greatest cars on the road, and we have to work with them more closely and figure out what we're lacking here, because we should be winning races. Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, the drivers that we have over here, are some of the best in the garage, I believe, and we should be winning more races.
Q. (No microphone.)
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, we were this far away, and now we're closer. If you look at Richmond, Richmond was the best that I've run and our 99 team has run. We passed -- they dropped the green flag, we passed 10 or 15 cars, we were moving forward, finished fifth, led a couple laps.
You know, that would have been one of our worst days in 2008. That was one of our best days that we've had in a long time.
We went to Darlington, we struggled. But then at Dover, you look at how well Matt ran, and we ended up seventh or eighth, I think, and we're getting better.
It's not -- I feel like we've seen the bottom and we're headed back up, but it's like Jack said, we need to figure this out now. We can't come up with something that's going to work next year. We need to get better.
I've been to the shop the last two weeks, and the guys are just -- they've got their heads down, they're working hard. But hopefully we can come up with some things. I think we're getting closer, though, I really do. That's not optimism, that's how I really feel.
Q. Understanding that this new car is in its infancy, with the front grip and the looseness that you're experiencing now, is that really a better starting point than what you had with the Cup COT when it was pushing through the middle of the corner?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that's a really good point. It's nice to go down there to NASCAR and say, hey, this thing is way too loose because we've got all sorts of ways to tighten cars up, but if they just won't turn then you're in trouble. So this is a much better starting point. And I think NASCAR and everyone -- as much as I was -- I told them, man, this thing is way, way too loose, but as we've worked on it throughout the day since I've been here, we've gotten better, so that is a much better than being tight. When they're pinned down in the rear, man, it's hard to get them to turn.
Q. You'll be at Pocono here in a couple weeks and this is a place you've had a lot of success, especially early on in your career. Talk about what Pocono does to set up to your driving style and how you're looking forward to coming here in a couple weeks.
CARL EDWARDS: Pocono is a blast. I think all the drivers like racing at Pocono. It's just such a neat racetrack. I mean, it's -- you go down into Turn 1 there, you're going so fast, and you feel like you're kind of -- it's such a long straightaway that you get kind of -- you go down the straightaway and you don't realize how fast you're going until you get to the end of that straightaway, and as it gets closer and closer, you're looking at those signs, 6, 5, 4, 3, and you're thinking, man, I don't think I drove this speed last time. You kind of question yourself because you're going so fast.
And then you come off of that corner off of Turn 1 and 2 and there's these big bumps, and the car is moving around a lot. And down the back straightaway there are those trees, I don't know, are those cypress trees, or I don't know what they are, some sort of tree down the back stretch, kind of hanging over the back straightaway, and the car in front of you is blowing the trees. It's just neat. The tunnel turn is crazy.
The last corner, one of the neatest corners in our series right now is that Turn 3, that long, flat corner, because they paved a strip on the outside, and so I don't know what they were -- what the thinking was there. It must have been coming up or something, but that pavement has more grip than the other pavement at the bottom, so now everybody goes in there and slides up to the cushion like a dirt race, and you come off of that corner and drive down two-thirds of a mile long straightaway. It's really fun.
My first race there, I couldn't believe we won it. It was a great race. I raced with Brian Vickers, one of the best battles I've had, and it's just a fun place to go to. I really like it.
Q. Just going back to the Sprint Cup, I was actually talking to another driver, I'm not going to name him, this week, and he said you're making him look bad because he picked you to be the guy to upset Jimmie Johnson if anyone was going to do it. I guess I'm just wondering, what are the other guys doing, the Chevies and the Toyotas, that you're not able to match, and exactly what is it in the car that you really need to improve?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, that might have been last year he picked me. I don't think he picked me this year. Maybe he did.
You know, the thing is our cars just have to drive -- they have to have -- they just have to be faster. They have to drive a little better and they have to have a little more speed. I know that sounds very simple because it is racing and that's what we do.
But in 2008 if I finished third in a race, man, I was upset. I was mad. I felt like we could win every race we went to, and it was just simpler. Our cars were just faster. And what's happened is things have evolved, and for the last year or so we've struggled with the center of the corner, getting the car to turn in the center of the corner, and it's just been tough. But we're kind of figuring out maybe some of the things that we've been missing. Hopefully we'll get better.
But as a driver, I feel like I'm a lot better than I was two years ago. I've learned a lot of things, and I just can't wait for my car to be better so that we can go out here and win some races. There's still hope yet.
Q. As far as regards to drivers losing their tempers on the track and doing something about it, do you think that fans misunderstand just how competitive you guys are? I want to give you a quote from about two years ago when Jeff Gordon got into a little pushing match with Matt Kenseth. He said, "We're not robots." Do you have a comment onto that?
CARL EDWARDS: I wouldn't know much about any of that. (Laughter.)
Yeah, I mean, it's competition. Somebody said something -- I think everybody was really shocked when, I don't know, I got mad and did something, one of the things I did, and someone had a good comment, and they said it's not -- a smile and a rosy demeanor sure doesn't get you around the racetrack. Once you get out there and you're racing, it's on. It's time to race.
And I think that's something that any person can relate to. I mean, when you're competing and it's the heat of the battle, you've got to put it out there and you've got to go.
I think that NASCAR has done a really good job of -- I think the "have at it, boys," mentality is a good thing for the sport, and I think that you'll see some things go on. But in the end, the number of incidents will probably be fewer because guys know they can't just get away with them scot-free. So there might be a little bit of a penalty for taking advantage of someone, and NASCAR is going to let us take care of that, and I think that's good.
DENISE MALOOF: Carl, appreciate your time. Thanks for coming in.
We're now joined by Trevor Bayne in our NASCAR Nationwide Series, one of our series' only regulars driving the No. 99 Diamond Waltrip Toyota. Trevor, it's been an exciting day and a half for you out here so far in the NASCAR Nationwide Series new car, so why don't you tell us about how things have gone for you.
TREVOR BAYNE: It has. It feels hot today, but I can promise you it was hotter inside of my race car when it was on fire. You know, luckily it didn't really mess anything up too bad because we've got it back in action today.
We missed out on a lot of practice time yesterday in the draft, so we kind of started at square one today where everybody else had already had laps and kind of dialed their cars in. And I heard all the drivers in the garage, even Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards are saying things are loose, so I'm like, all right, they must be pretty loose, and I got out there and saw for myself, and they are sideways.
So we've been working on it. I think we're a couple steps behind just because we didn't get that practice yesterday, but we're dialing it in pretty good now.
Q. In regards to the fire, drivers are thought sometimes to be fearless, and you're a little bit different than the rest of us chickens out here, but as far as that goes, I've interviewed a lot of drivers over the years, NHRA, IndyCar, and the one comment, they really are fearless, but the one common fear that they have is fire, so could you explain a little bit about that?
TREVOR BAYNE: I don't think anybody likes fire, except Joe Balash; he said he was going to make s'mores next time, just let him know. I mean, I got out of there fast luckily. They've made these cars, the window openings in these new cars so wide that you can get out pretty quick. I didn't get caught up on anything luckily.
But I was getting out of there so fast I ripped the radio harness off my helmet, so that tells you I was a little bit scared. Luckily my left foot and everything is good from last week, so no problem there. But yeah, fire will get to you in a hurry.
Q. What was Carl apologizing to you for?
TREVOR BAYNE: It was just racing incidents. Last week at Dover when we were -- it was late in the race, my car was getting tight, so I was having to run the top and he was loose on the bottom, and it seemed like every straightaway we'd just be at the same speed and we'd come out right together; we'd go into the next corner, and it happened for like five, ten laps, and finally something happened and he got into my door on the straightaway and said he didn't mean to do it that hard. So it's all good; it's just racing.
Normally I have to go apologize to people for something stupid I did. It happens in racing. We're so close, we're running 180 miles an hour at tracks like that, and things are going to happen. So no hard feelings, and we'll just keep racing.
Q. As a follow-up to Dwight's question, would there have been a difference in terms of your ability to get out of the old Nationwide car versus this one?
TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, I believe so. They're making them safer all the way around, every aspect. That window opening in these cars now is so much wider. I could have seen myself getting caught up in the old car. Something -- I've never been on fire before, so I don't know that. But it seems like that old style car would have been a lot harder to get out of it.
Q. Trevor, the way the track is now, they're going to repave it next year. This is the last go-around on this track. Has the patch been a concern for you at all?
TREVOR BAYNE: No, I mean, I was just talking to Mr. Bragg, and I was telling him that over the patch everything has got the same grip level as the rest of the track. I wish they'd just pave over the surface they've got now and let it get the same bumps and all that stuff because it is fun, like Carl was talking about. This track's characteristics are awesome, and I'm sure over time that it will probably come back to this somehow.
I guess they have to repave because of what happened during the Cup race last year. But the patch is holding up good right now. These cars are hitting the earth pretty good right now, too, so for it to hold up that well is awesome.
Q. Do you like the way the track is now with all the bumps and ruts and this and that?
TREVOR BAYNE: I love it. I love any kind of track where you really have to get up on the wheel because that's what I've done my whole career with short track racing up until this point. So I love the Atlantas and the Daytonas and stuff like that where you have the characteristics where you have to drive the car.
Q. At this point in the season I'd just ask you to reflect where you're at now and where you'd like to be and how you'd like to finish out.
TREVOR BAYNE: Well, last year when we qualified second at Nashville, I thought that was pretty cool. We ran seventh there and got crashed late in the race. That whole season I kind of set a high standard for myself after that. It's easy to do when you h.
Ave that good of a run. I went into this whole Nationwide deal thinking, all right, top 15s will be great, and then all season long it seemed like we ran top 10. So now I came into this season thinking, all right, we're going to be top 5 every weekend, and I found out how tough this competition really is and how much it steps up every season.
I think we're on par to where we should be being our first full season in the Nationwide Series. I would like to run a little bit better myself, and I know the whole team would. I know we're capable of top 10s every weekend, but we just haven't got those finishes due to silly things taking us out of the race.
It seems like the last two weeks we've run top 10 all day and something small just takes us out right at the end. So I know we deserve to run better.
The guys are working hard at Diamond Waltrip Racing. They've got our Toyotas dialed in awesome. Now we've just got to get those finishes. I'm really fortunate to be in this situation, being 19 years old and being able to run a full-time season in the Nationwide Series, though.
Q. How cool is it for you to be riding around in a cool-looking car with a bunch of other cool-looking cars?
TREVOR BAYNE: It's really cool, man. They did a good job at Toyota of making it look like their Camry on the street, and I think that's what's pretty sweet about these new cars is they look like the street cars a lot better on the front end. The tail end of them, not so much, but the front ends are cool. Everybody did a great job of that. So it's pretty nice to see.
End of FastScripts