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February 15, 2015

Carl Edwards


THE MODERATOR:  We are joined by Carl Edwards, who actually finished seventh today in the qualifying run here at Daytona for next Sunday's 57th annual Daytona 500.
While we only locked in two spots for qualifying here, it will line you up in a good position for Thursday's Duels.
Talk about coming into Daytona a little nervous with no points and a good run today.
CARL EDWARDS:  A little nervous to say the least.  We had not really talked about it much publicly.  There were a lot of meetings and a lot of anxiety over the fact that we could possibly miss the Daytona 500.  I think we've had four or five meetings trying to come up with a strategy for qualifying.
To have the third fastest time of the day, I believe we are locked into the show, which is huge to say the least.  With ARRIS coming on board in such a huge way, Stanley, it was going to be really tough to explain to them if we had trouble in the qualifiers.
Now we can go out, be aggressive, have fun, try to start up front.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for Carl.

Q.  I know you had a lot of stress.  What was your plan, what did you decide at JGR, how did you make this work in your favor?
CARL EDWARDS:  We had a lot of plans.  It didn't go according to plan.  When that first group took off and put such fast times up, threw any sort of advantage the second group had out the window.
Fortunately the second group, went out, put up the good time.  It was getting that fast time that was the key today.  It wasn't because we came up with some genius plan.
Jeff Gordon and those guys got the pole because they timed rolling off of pit road better than us.  They took a bigger gamble, so you can give them credit for that.  For our fast lap time, it's just pure chance.

Q.  You're happy, understandably so.  A lot of your colleagues were not.  Can you give some perspective of what went on out there.
CARL EDWARDS:  I'm very happy with the result.  The process and everything was extremely stressful.  If it is better for the show, if it's better for the fans, then it's definitely good for all of us.
But this is a heck of a way to qualify for the biggest race of the year, especially for folks that are in our position, because there's so much chance for a problem or something keeping you out of the race or putting you in a bad position.
I don't know.  I guess it remains to be seen what the best way to do this is, but this is definitely one way.

Q.  When the decision was made at Gibbs that you were coming down here with no points, you have to qualify on speed, how much has that been on your mind?  What was it like for you behind the scenes?
CARL EDWARDS:  I don't know if it was a decision as much as a realization that we're coming down here.  With this qualifying format, if you look at how everything came together, I think the realization or the understanding that this is how we were going to qualify, that's the point at which we all went, Whoa, this could go extremely bad.
From then on it's been, I mean, just a total mess of anxiety trying to figure out.  It's a bunch of if thens.  If we would have qualified poorly or had a wreck today, the qualifying race would have been different.  If there was weather, what do we do.  There were so many variables.  This is all put to rest now, but, man, that was not fun to think about.

Q.  From down here watching the Unlimited last night, seemed like you drove a more aggressive race than we've ever seen before.  Was that a conscious effort to try to set the tone for your career or was it just the plate race itself?
CARL EDWARDS:  That's a great question.  I thought about that.  I'd say I was a little more aggressive last night just because I wanted to make sure I could get everything I could out of the car, find the edges of the box.
I was cautious at the beginning.  We avoided a couple of those wrecks.  Towards the end I wanted to make sure I gave it everything I could.  There's nothing better than starting out fast.  Hopefully we can continue to do that.

Q.  You used the word 'anxiety.'  How much anxiety did you get seeing the wreck in the first knock‑out session?
CARL EDWARDS:  That wasn't good.  I didn't like to see that.  You don't want to see any wrecks or anything like that ever, especially here, because they can be so violent.
But, yeah, when you see that, especially with everything we have going on, I probably would have been better off not seeing that actually.
As soon as we ran our fast lap, Darian said, P3, fast lap, do not wreck the car.  It's crazy, you know.

Q.  After the qualifying session at Talladega last fall, there were some unhappy people.  NASCAR said they were going to take a look at it.  This is a matter of opinion, but do you think they addressed it?  Do you think they changed it for a restrictor plate race?  If you have any thoughts, Kurt Busch suggested doing four‑lap averages, is there a way that might be better than this way?
CARL EDWARDS:  Depends on it's better for whom.  For the competitors, the best thing is to go out and do single‑car runs and see who built the best car and who brought the best piece.  That's probably the best way for the competitors.
But this makes it a little more chaotic.  Probably creates some storylines.  Definitely stirs things up.  In some ways it might be more entertaining.
For the fans, this may be the best way.  I don't know.  It's hard for me.  I have a very subjective viewpoint.  It's just hard for me to say.

Q.  If you are locked in on speed, what is your approach for Thursday night's Duels?
CARL EDWARDS:  That is a big if.  We're locked in, right?  Can anybody do the math on this?  We are, okay.
Since we are locked in, I want to write and say that as much as possible in case we're not (smiling), then I can be more aggressive because I want to start up front in that 500.  Now I can be more aggressive, not worrying about getting in a wreck, we'll still be in the show.
Those qualifiers are going to be insane.  If you're not locked in, it's so hard out there, I don't know how to explain it, it's so hard sometimes.  There's half of you screaming, Just go for it.  The other half says, Moron, slow down.

Q.  Not worried about losing the primary car?
CARL EDWARDS:  We have a really good backup car.  I don't even want to talk about that.  Let me go back.  But we do.  I'm going to go for it, yes.

Q.  When you say this is a heck of a way to qualify for this race, is that an endorsement?
CARL EDWARDS:  No.  That's a statement of fact.  I said, This is a way, this is one of the ways to do it.

Q.  When you made that decision to go to Joe Gibbs, you must have had a lot of expectations.  How do those expectations line up as of today?
CARL EDWARDS:  So far my expectations, everyone at JGR and Toyota, everyone, they've exceeded my expectations.  It's been very good.  We haven't raced a lot.  I'm sure we'll have rough times just like everyone does.  So far it's been great.
I think the buildup of this team, the way everything is put together, the group of guys they put on that 19 car, I could not be happier with it.  I'm having a good time.

Q.  When you're sitting on pit road with the clock ticking down, how ridiculous does that feel for a driver to sit there when that's going on?  Do you feel as silly as we thought you looked doing that?  If you were a fan today, do you think you got your money's worth?
CARL EDWARDS:  I'm not going to answer that and I don't want you to assume that I agree with you.  I'm just saying I don't know what it looks like to the fans.  That's for the fans to say.
I know for me, that's a heck of a lot more stressful.  The word 'silly' did not come to mind with everything we had on the line.  It was really stressful sitting there watching the clock tick knowing we had to get around and make it correctly.  It's a strategy, just like everything else.
We all have to remember, this style of racing, it's not racing in the sense that everyone thinks of racing.  This is a whole different paradigm here with the restrictor plates, with all the strategies in qualifying, with the way things shake out on racetracks, avoiding wrecks, being in the right line.  This is its own animal.
It just is what it is.

Q.  Is there anything in the spur of the moment that you can think of that might be a better way of doing this?
CARL EDWARDS:  Well, I think if we were probably starting with a blank sheet, we'd probably say‑‑ well, no.
Here is the deal.  I don't decide how we're going to qualify.  I get in the racecar and go do the best I can under the rules I have.  I think everyone in here would have an opinion on what would be the best way to do it.
I'm sure you'll write a couple ideas.  You don't seem too shy with your opinions.

Q.  Is it safe to say that the Gibbs and Hendrick cars are the class of the field?

Q.  Is there anybody out there you're looking at that's really, really fast?
CARL EDWARDS:  I'd say that 78 car last night was extremely fast.  I think those guys, they've got something going there.  That car was very, very good.  Looked like the Penske cars were very good.
The performance here is a measure of your performance at a restrictor plate racetrack.  This is so different than Atlanta or Vegas or any of the places we go to next.  It's really its own animal.  I personally compartmentalize this race and separate them from the rest of them.  It's just so much different.

Q.  You had very limited on‑track time with you and Darian prior to this week, the test at Charlotte, you had a great outing last night, really good outing today.  How much do you look at Thursday now as surviving or looking for an opportunity for more experience and motivation and the bonding you need to be successful?
CARL EDWARDS:  To me, racing is my livelihood.  It's what I do.  I have to go perform.  Honestly, it's been very stressful, a little bit scary at times with all of the new things.
I feel like every time in the car I feel a little more comfortable.  Just the procedure for starting the car, the procedure for cooling the engine, the belts, the seat.  Everything is different.  The way Darian talks on the radio.
Last night, we did a pit stop.  He said, Dig, dig, dig.
I'm like, Who is he talking to?  I'm used to, Go, go, go.  I sat there like an idiot.  Those things keep me awake at night.
Every time I get in the car I get better.  We'll balance things and I'll get better.

Q.  You talk about as the clock is winding down worrying about getting around to the start/finish line to put a lap down, did you practice that to see how long it actually took?
CARL EDWARDS:  The final time when we went out, the final 12 guys, all of us knew the time we thought it would take to get around and take the green.  We also knew the time it would take to get a second or third lap.  Once the third lap time had passed, like two and a half minutes, everybody thought, Okay, now we're going to run two laps.  Got to two minutes.
Now since nobody went, it's, Can we get around and make one lap?  That cutoff time was right at one minute.
I waited till about 57 seconds, did a lot of praying.  The guys behind me, I thought there was no way they could make it, Jeff and those guys.  They were willing to risk more.  They crossed the finish line literally right when the clock was going off.
That is harder to do than it sounds.  You just have to take into account the draft, all the things that can pick you up a second or two.  They gambled big and they won.

Q.  Carl, is this the start of the Carl Edwards rejuvenation tour?
CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, I'm going to get T‑shirts made to say that (laughter).
Yes, I think so.  It's fun.  I've had more fun this week.  I did a thing with Darrell Waltrip this morning.  We talked about it.  It's a new challenge.  I feel like I'm starting over.  Jack Roush brought me down here 12 years ago or something for my first truck race.  I had all the anxiety and nerves.  I feel that way right now.
This is fun for me.  I hope the result is good.  For now, I'm really enjoying the process.

Q.  Now that you've got a guarantee that you're going to be in the Daytona 500, how much does that turn Thursday's Duel somewhat into a test session because you haven't been able to test all winter?
CARL EDWARDS:  The pressure will be off.  There are some things like the communication between Darian and I that I think we can work on.  The pit stops are going to be important.  Not only is it a new pit crew to me, but it's a new group working together.  We talked about that a little bit last night.  We didn't get much opportunity to mess around with pit stops.  As you know, the last pit stop can be huge in the Daytona 500.  It will give us a chance with less pressure to work on all those things.
As I sit here and think about all of them, it makes me a little more stressed out because there are a lot of things to cover, but that's a good time to do it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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