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April 17, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our winner of the 56th‑annual Food City 500, Carl Edwards, driver of the No.19 Comcast Business Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. This is his first victory but seventh top‑10 finish in 2016. This is his fourth victory and 11th top‑10 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. Talk a little bit about your race today.
CARL EDWARDS: So it was a really great race for us. It started on Friday‑‑ well, started this winter building these cars. But the car was really fast in qualifying, got the first pit stall, and that meant a lot to the guys. They were ready to put last week immediately behind them, and they did. They were just flawless on pit road. The car was really fast, and Dave did a good job of managing everything. We didn't have any trouble, and really it's just a testament to everybody at the shop and our whole team. Really awesome to have a win so now we can really have some fun and focus on this championship.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by crew chief Dave Rogers. Can you just talk us through a little bit about the race today?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, it was a great race there. Carl just did a great job of managing the race car, keeping it out of trouble. There was some hairy moments out there, and Jason Hedlesky, our spotter, he did a great job of keeping Carl in the right groove.
But the biggest thing I take away from this weekend is the team effort. It started back at the shop, Lee Hallman and Kenny Oates putting together a great setup for us to come up here with and the mechanics putting that setup in, and of course all the guys at JGR that built the car and our partners at TRD that put the motor in it. Just a great race car, a great weekend for this Comcast Business Toyota Camry.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by team owner Joe Gibbs. This is the third straight JGR win this season. Obviously a sweep for you from Erik's win yesterday. Talk about the momentum your team has.
JOE GIBBS: Well, I think it shows you how hard our sport is. In '14, it was our worst year, '15 we bounced back. This year we get off to a good start. But I think it's really a product of ‑‑ I can't thank everybody enough back at the race shop. So much hard work back there, those guys never get to be in winner's circle with us, and there's so many people that are dedicated in this sport, it takes everybody to win.
You think about today, how many pit stops we had to have, our crew going over the wall. You know, it gives you a good example, our three other cars all had problems, had issues, and thank goodness the 19 was up front almost all day and no tire issues, no anything. Great job by these two guys, Dave and Carl. I think they have a great chemistry going, so that's a big deal for us, too.
So big day. Had a lot of our sponsors were here, Comcast, a huge deal for them, ARRIS, and Stanley, Black & Decker on that car, also.
Q. Carl, the obvious question with your teammates having all the tire issues, were you wondering whether that was going to bite you at some point?
CARL EDWARDS: Yes. I have the best teammates in the business, and if they can have trouble, I can surely have trouble. I was nervous about it, but Dave did a good job of talking to me about how hard we were pushing the tires and what we had going on there, so I felt pretty comfortable after talking to Dave after a couple stops.
Q. What was going through your mind when you're seeing somebody like Kyle in particular having almost the same kind of tire problem?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, it's just everybody pushes it. The whole sport, everybody pushes everything to the edge, and we don't know‑‑ while we don't know what happened, could have been debris or could have been anything, we'll just go back and look at it and learn from it. Fortunately Kyle has a win, and our cars are up front every week, so hopefully it doesn't hurt us too bad.
Q. Dave, last week you told me that you're having more fun than you've had in a long time, so I want to know why. And also, even though Carl, as he says, has the best teammates, is there anything that he does on the track and the way he drives that might be a reason why he did not have tire issues compared to his teammates?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah. Coach taught me long ago that it's all about people, and that's why I'm having so much fun. This 19 team is full of good people. Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. I've been there 18 years or so, and I mean, it's just‑‑ there's good people everywhere.
But this team, this 19 team, the pit crew, the road crew, everyone gets along so good, and Carl treats us with a lot of respect. He keeps a level head when we have down days like Martinsville. He doesn't get too excited when we have good days like today. So that even keel just lets you perform at your best, and you're always having fun when you're performing at your best.
As far as today, I just think Carl drove a brilliant race. There was plenty of times that he was running, and the 4 car, someone would be tracking us down, I'd read lap times and let him know that, hey, we're a tenth off, we're a tenth off, we're a tenth off, and then all of a sudden he would run a tenth‑and‑a‑half quicker to show me that the car had it and then back it down. So I think Carl did a great job of managing the tires. It was just our day today, I guess.
Q. Carl, with 16 laps to go you pretty much had the race in control, then Aric Almirola ended up in the wall. What was your thoughts at that moment?
CARL EDWARDS: At no point did I feel like I had the race under control. This place is crazy. But I don't know if I could describe that to you guys or make you understand, but when you're sitting in the driver's seat here, everything is so fast, you can jump that little rubber‑‑ you can hop over the rubber or get sideways or have trouble at any moment, and the guys are‑‑ at 15‑second laps, they close in quickly.
I at no point felt comfortable. Even the last lap I felt pretty good, but it's just so easy to mess up here. I guess I was on edge the entire time. For me it was a really tough race in the car. I felt like I had to go really hard.
Q. Coach Gibbs, when the rest of the team has such a tough day, is it kind of mixed emotions for you, or does it make it that much more satisfying that you still get a trip to victory lane?
JOE GIBBS: Well, I think in our sport, obviously we have four teammates, they all work together. I'll tell you, our technical meetings on Tuesdays are great. You hear the crew chiefs and drivers share everything. I think also with the 78 car in there, I think this sport takes a total team effort by everybody trying to solve problems.
So yes, the answer is when you leave the racetrack, the first thing on my mind right now is Matt. Every single week he's been up front, had a chance, I think, to lead laps and have a chance to win, and something happens to him.
So you feel awful. You call him on the way home.
And Denny, of course, and Kyle today.
So it is in some ways, it's a thrill, though, to win, and to see Comcast and everybody with us in the winner's circle, you know, that's certainly a high.
And I think the other guys‑‑ as soon as I go to them, I've gone to Carl when it's Denny winning or whatever, and he says, hey, go get in the winner's circle. They really, I think have great respect for each other, and they understand that they have teammates, and real good teammates. So it's a thrill for me to see the chemistry, the way it's working right now for us.
Q. Carl, from outside, it looked like a near perfect day for you. Was there any moment, though, where the frustration really was there where you were just like absolutely sure this is going to be the end of it but you got by it?
CARL EDWARDS: I never felt like it would be the end of it, but I was just telling Dave, there was one point when Kurt got by me on one of those restarts. I thought, man, I shouldn't have let him do that. He just really drove hard. He stepped it up and took advantage of me kind of sleeping there.
But I think overall, the whole day was a really good balance of being really aggressive and trying to make sure I didn't make mistakes. I thought it was a really good race, and I mean, we're obviously sitting here with the trophy, but I feel like we just performed really well.
Q. Coach, you told me as you walked in that J.D. was here. What was it like? Was he up in victory lane, and how great was it?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, great. J.D. was here early. He loves to hang out in the haulers with everybody. I think everybody loves seeing him there. And then Carl grabbed him in the winner's circle, so it's a thrill for us, and from a family standpoint, Coy is here now, of course working in the Cup stuff, too, and called Pat, and all the grandkids were fired up, too, so it was total team, I'll put it that way.
Q. Carl, I was talking to Matt DiBenedetto's dad out there. I guess you came up to them after Phoenix after finishing 20th and you congratulated them. Today they finished sixth and they were extremely excited. They were having their own victory lane on pit road. From your experience, a guy like that that's not in the same equipment that you're having, what does that mean? How hard is that to do in today's Cup Series?
CARL EDWARDS: They finished sixth?
CARL EDWARDS: Man, that's unbelievable. That's probably tougher than what we did. That's a real testament to them.
He seems like a really great guy. I haven't spent a lot of time with him, but he seems like a really good dude, seems like a neat family. That's neat.
I was telling somebody on top, what makes these races so special, and I think I can speak for everybody up here, is that this competition is so tough. These guys are all so good, and on TV it might look like, oh, those guys are struggling or oh, that's a lap car, whatever. They're only a half a tenth off or a tenth off. It's just unreal how hard everybody goes.
A good finish in this series is a real accomplishment.
Q. Carl, on those last two restarts, you got great jumps. Did those kind of surprise you at all, to be with guys that were kind of bearing down on you that you could get out like that?
CARL EDWARDS: I at no point felt like I got a great jump. They seemed to be right on my bumper. I'm sure it looked better than it felt for me. You can't be far enough ahead of these guys. Just when I think I've laid the car down in the corner as fast as you can, somebody always dives it in there deeper. It's tough to feel like you've got an advantage here.
Q. Carl, you're working with a new crew this year. I'm curious how much more time in the off‑season when you have a crew chief change like that and a crew change like that that you have to kind of spend getting to know your guys?
CARL EDWARDS: I've spent more time with Dave and the guys this year and in the off‑season than I ever have in my career. When Dave says this is a real team effort and Coach says it's a team effort, it's true. I've never been around a group that really brings everyone together as much as Coach does at JGR, from the sponsors to the families to everybody that builds the cars, to guys that are on the road and guys that jump over the wall. There is no more close‑knit team in sports probably, so it's really cool to be a part of it. It's been a lot of fun. I've had a great time getting to know Dave, and it's really just fun to be a part of something like this, and the fact that we're running well, that's just icing on the cake. It's really neat.
Q. Carl, how hot was it and hard was it out there on the track? We talked to Junior and he said it was very difficult for him.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it was a lot tougher day in the car physically than I thought it would be. Fortunately I've really been working hard at my fitness and focusing and Dean Golich, my trainer, guys at Carmichael Training Systems and the guys at Hulett House Gym and all them, they've been helping me a lot, so I look forward to days like this. It's fun to push yourself, but yeah, real, real thirsty. Parched, actually.
Q. Dave, for what you guys have done so far with working together, understanding things are moving smoothly, but when you look at it, what more do you guys still have to work through? It's only been eight races together. I'm sure you haven't reached your max. Where do you have to get to learn more about each other? And for Joe, obviously when you put a pairing together, when you make a change, you're expecting it to be better. You've had some success, especially with some of the changes you've made in the past. What led to this type of thing and what are you seeing working that you were kind of hoping to see?
DAVE ROGERS: I think at some point you don't know what you don't know. I think my main focus right now is to keep bringing good race cars to the racetrack, consistently, each week. We ran really well at Texas, and we ran really well here, but two races doesn't make a season. We need to do it all year long.
The things that I'm proud of are days like Martinsville where we started out being literally a 45th‑place car out of a 40‑car field and managed to make it a top‑5 car. That was just probably one of the worst cars that I've ever been associated with, and Carl did a great job of managing and getting to the pit stop, and then the pit crew did a great job of making some changes, and we clawed ourselves back into it.
So far those are the moments I'm most proud of, and we can't lose sight of that. Like Carl said, this competition is extremely strong. This is the best of the best, and you're going to have days like that, and we need to be able to weather that storm every time it comes up.
I know later on in the season, it's going to be a lot more pressure to do that than it was at the first Martinsville, so we've got to stay focused on that. But I think the biggest thing right now is keep bringing fast race cars and let Carl display his talents.
JOE GIBBS: I think for me, Dave mentioned 17 years. I've got to tell you, the loyalty that he's shown at different times is‑‑ I know that if I ever needed somebody, I could call him and he'd be there.
Something that's kind of unusual for us right now, I feel so good about where we are with crew chief and driver. I'll say this, when you put a crew chief with a driver, you're never sure. We've all seen in this sport, you have dream relationships there, and something‑‑ because really those relationships are going to be tested for whatever reason. You're going to have some real bad days, and it's not going to go well, and whether somebody kind of starts turning on somebody or something, it's so hard. The thrill for me right now is all four of our crew chiefs came out of that XFINITY program at one point, and I think what's happened there, they've had a chance to be with the drivers, and you look at Adam last year, everything that happened there. Dave has been a mainstay, he and Jason. They've worked so hard to build our XFINITY program, and they got wheels, went back down and spent a year back down there.
I would just say this to you: It's one of the hardest things in sports to get a great chemistry between two guys, particularly at what they do. You've got somebody that's making all those calls, and I've been there‑‑ same thing in football. It reminds me so much of making those calls on the sideline. You're going to have some bad ones. You're going to be called some names, and you just hope it's not your quarterback and it's not the driver.
Q. When it comes to backflips on a track like this, do you find yourself being a little bit more careful because of the banking?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I considered not doing it. I haven't done one for a while, so I almost landed and tripped and fell backwards, but oh, well. Once you stand out there and the crowd is cheering and everything, it's a pretty cool feeling. I'm glad it went well. I didn't see any velvet to break the fall, so I was nervous.
Q. Coach, did you get to meet Peyton, talk with Peyton at all today, and if you did, what did you all talk about?
JOE GIBBS: I don't like Peyton. The man tried to cost me a job, okay? That's a joke. That's a joke. I've got great respect for Peyton, and yeah, it seems like every time we played them, we came out on the short end of the stick. I've got great respect for him. Great family, too. I go all the way back, I'm old enough to have seen his dad in that Sugar Bowl. It's probably one of the greatest games anybody ever played.
So anyway, great family. Just really it seems like they're a first‑class, top‑flight‑‑ haven't spent a lot of time with him. Like I said, he was always kind of on the other side, so I didn't get time to spend a lot of time with him. I saw him today.
Q. Dave, I know a lot of times people talk about certain tracks fit a driver's style, but I don't know if I've ever heard‑‑ do certain drivers fit a crew chief's style? I know all your stuff for all your cars are quick and you guys have hit on something that the rest of the field is trying to catch up on, but with part of the success, is it something that how Carl drives that kind of work with what you're doing with the cars do you feel, or does he kind of fit your style or what you're doing, or does what he wants out of a car kind of fit with what you are comfortable or that's kind of in your wheelhouse or not?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is chemistry, just the way we communicate about the car and the way we communicate about life. That's a big thing.
I feel you're always trying to get the most out of your driver. You're always trying to tell him what you need to tell him to allow him to perform, and the driver is doing the same for the crew chief.
But the relationship that Carl and I were able to build this winter, I just feel really comfortable being me calling the races. I call them the way I want them. I don't have to take on an adaptive personality of any sort, and it works for Carl, and likewise, I hope he feels very comfortable being Carl and communicating the way he wants to, and that's a big deal. That's a real big deal.
Q. You smiled when he said that.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I don't want to overstate it. I don't think I can. I truly have never worked with someone that I think is more like me and communicates the same way as I do. If we don't win the championship, it will not be because of any problem between Dave and I. It's unreal. And I'm not just saying this because he won this race, but he's already like a brother. It's unreal. I'm really, really happy with being with Dave. We don't get along with everybody, but we get along with each other really well, so it's great.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports