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July 27, 2008
HERB BRANHAM: Carl, tell us about your run today.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I mean, second place. I mean, awfully close. I mean, obviously the tire debacle there, I think NASCAR and everyone did the best they could once the race started. But, you know, obviously that was a mistake there with the tire.
But I think everyone did a pretty good job. We all make mistakes. We just did the best we could with it and at the end I actually believed we were gonna be able to drive by Jimmie. All day I'd been racing around him. I thought I was a little better than him, but he was holding back a little more than I thought he was.
On the restart, Denny Hamlin was hanging back a little bit. I had no clue how good Denny was. I thought, of all things, I'm not going to let Denny get by me here. So I hung back a little bit and got a run from Denny, thinking I'd have several laps and be able to work Jimmie over. But I was never able to get to him.
Our cars were almost identical in speed. You know, that's where we ended up, is second. I truly believed we were going to be able to win that race. I thought it was ours. That's how it goes.
HERB BRANHAM: We'll take for Carl Edwards.
Q. Fans out there are pretty angry about what they saw today happen. Who do you hold responsible for what happened?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, I mean, obviously it's the folks that make the tires. I mean, that's just the way it is. But as long as they have Aflac, if they get fired, they'll be all right. I don't know.
Look, I've heard people go on tirades. Everybody's doing their job. Everyone is trying their hardest. Every once in a while I run into the wall, act like I'm going to punch somebody after the race. Everybody makes mistakes. They just assume, the way I understand, that tire was -- the rubber was going to fill in like it has before and everything would be fine.
What happened is it turned into a dust instead of laying into the racetrack and it just never filled in the gaps. Yes, it's their fault. But, I mean, we're all doing the best we can. I just hope the fans understand that, that this is not -- nobody wants to see this happen. Goodyear, you know, the least I'm sure. That's what it is.
Q. When you actually could get some green-flag laps in, how was the racing?
CARL EDWARDS: The car was good. The car ran really well here. It's cool they took the rumble strips out, those bumps down there. That was good. Really, it pays the same. The trophy looks the same. I don't give a damn if we race 10 laps at a time. It's frustrating, but it's the same for everyone.
I'm sure we won't have that race again. I'm sure that will not happen again, you know. That's the only thing that I can say. I guarantee there will be some sort of better testing, you know, that comes from this. Hopefully it's testing without a race team. Hopefully it's a NASCAR-owned racecar and driver and things like that, they can come out and test a little more.
But that's it. The racing was fine, I thought. I thought Jimmie and I would be able to race there at the end. If we could have raced for 30 laps like that, it would have been pretty cool.
Q. Looked like you had the best car last night and today. Is this a positive weekend or are you frustrated with a second place?
CARL EDWARDS: I learned a long time ago not to let all your emotions hinge on the result. It has to be the performance. And I felt like last night we performed. I mean, I don't think I could have done much better last night. So I was happy with that, even though obviously I was frustrated with the result. Then today, we did the very best we could.
Jimmie had first pit stall. We came in, took two tires. We beat a lot of folks out. They did a great job. So I felt like we performed the best we could. If Jimmie hadn't had the pole, he was pitted down on the other end, we might have beat him. Might have been a different race.
They earned it. We just need to do a better job in qualifying.
Q. Were you ever in a situation out there where the caution, the mandatory cautions, hurt you, where you felt like don't throw it, keep going, we're on a roll?
CARL EDWARDS: No. I could burn the tires off the car. At the end of the race, I ran as hard as I could for seven laps. I don't know if it would have done that for nine laps. I know early on I could run about 80% and it would make it 11 laps. But that's it. 85%, I had the right rear tire come apart.
You know, they had to time 'em so we didn't run out of tires. It would have been great if they would have been eight-lap runs. You could have seen some hardcore racing. 11-lap runs made everybody throttle back a little bit. Kind of neat.
I learned some things out there. Bob told me about the tires each time. I kind of learned how to deal, change around, wear the tires a little differently. Made me think a lot harder than normally. Usually you just drive the hell out of it.
Q. At what point did you realize that the tires just weren't going to get any better today?
CARL EDWARDS: I knew when there wasn't any rubber laying down on the track. I couldn't see any rubber on the track. I thought we were in trouble there. I know everybody was hoping that it would get better. By lap 30 or 40 I knew we were in trouble there.
Q. So it was that early?
CARL EDWARDS: Oh, yeah, yeah.
HERB BRANHAM: I'll get an opener from Denny Hamlin, our third-place finisher. Tell us quickly about that run today.
DENNY HAMLIN: We had a solid run. I mean, I don't think anyone really can push their car as hard as what they would like to throughout the day. But, you know, we were put in a box unfortunately. NASCAR was put in a box. Goodyear was put in a box.
You know, with these tires -- the tires I think were good. I think the car itself is really hard on them. And this track don't take rubber very good anyway. So for only three cars to come here and tire test, it's gonna be extremely hard for them to get the data they need to produce a good race tire.
I mean, you know, unfortunately that was the circumstances of what we were given. But I applaud NASCAR in the same aspect for not putting anybody else in danger by putting these cautions out.
Q. One of the things you were hearing this morning was that the tires won't go far, people were going to have to go slower. In 1969, the first race ever run at Talladega, the same thing happened. That's what Bill France said. He said if you have to go 20 miles an hour slower, you have to do that. The drivers walked out because they thought it's ridiculous for a racecar driver to be asked to go slow. I wanted to ask you, did you have to do that? How tough is that to do?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I mean, I don't know about you, Denny, but I had to go about 80%, just ease it around there. It sure would have been interesting if they didn't have those cautions. Like Denny said, that's a good plan. If they would have said, Hey, run as long as you want, it would have been a crazy day.
DENNY HAMLIN: It would have been 10 laps anyway. Seemed like right at 10 laps, somebody would stop almost because they were going to blow a tire. Didn't matter whether it was mandatory or not, they were going to have a caution.
Q. Early in the race, they shouldn't have a competition caution because they couldn't get to it before the tire blew out.
CARL EDWARDS: Right. I was just trying not to be that guy.
DENNY HAMLIN: I mean, from the driver's seat, really, you know, there's some tires that just blow out. But I could feel it. Right on lap eight and a half or so, you could feel a little bit of a vibration. That's when you know, all right, let's start backing it down a little bit more, a little bit more. Not that we all was running hard anyway from that point.
We seemed like as soon as they would do the caution is when I needed it because I was about to wreck, we were about to blow a tire out. We needed those cautions.
Q. At what point in the race did you have to go from tire conservation mode into I have to put the foot on the gas and go for it?
DENNY HAMLIN: Mine started about lap 35 to go when we decided to go ahead and take two tires. We took four all day long. We never played track position. I think we just were conservative. We wanted to get our car as good as we could chassis-wise for the last couple runs. We saw some guys during the race go three cycles on the lefts. You know, it was our third cycle at the end of the race, and it just wasn't as good. First two cycles were, you know, great.
CARL EDWARDS: I didn't go hard till the very end. Bob timed it out real well to where we took two for the last run. I just went like hell. That was my first time.
Q. Denny, did you have an issue on your last pit stop?
DENNY HAMLIN: We had a lot of little things, I think. You know, you don't want to get busted for speeding. I felt like I was maybe a little bit conservative on my attack as far as that's concerned.
But, you know, I was leading the pack. So you would think that these guys can make up a little bit of time probably when they pass me. I don't think our stop was stellar, by any means. I think we had to wait right at the end because the 41 was coming in. We had to wait a little bit then. And then if those guys were running faster pit road speeds, when I was running to 'em, they just had to accelerate and go.
I think a lot of little things. And he cut me off.
CARL EDWARDS: Slid out right in front of you (laughter).
DENNY HAMLIN: Whatever (laughter).
Q. Carl, I watched the race from down the short chute between three and four. Looked to me like every time you had a pit stop you came out with more cars in front of you than when you went in. Was I incorrect? Could you have won the race if had gotten out first?
CARL EDWARDS: No, what we were doing there is we were always taking four tires. A lot of people were rationing up, taking two tires. That's why we lost position.
Our pit crew was awesome on pit road. That last stop was as good as anyone. But, yeah, that was just a tactic, always take four just to be safe. I think if we would have been in front of Jimmie, we could have won. Denny probably would have won. We were all kind of about the same speed there.
He had the first pit stop because of his qualifying. You qualify on the pole, you get that.
Q. Denny, on the final restart, Carl said he was more concerned about you back behind him. What happened on that last restart? What were you trying to accomplish? Did you think you had a run on the front two guys?
DENNY HAMLIN: Not really. It seemed like my car was really loose for the first lap after a restart. So I was gonna let -- really wasn't going to pressure him that much. I was just going to worry about the 19 and then I was gonna see if those guys were gonna race each other hard. If they were gonna race hard, maybe the last lap they would blister their tires. That was going to be my only shot really because if I didn't get out first, it was going to be tough to get around.
I mean, you know, with 30 to go, Jimmie had four tires and lined up right behind me when I took two and we pulled away from him.
Track position meant a lot. When you ran your car harder at the end of the race, it did things it ain't done all day because you ain't been running two seconds faster all day. I was more concerned with holding off the 19 than going forward.
Q. 2005 we had a fiasco with the Formula One guys. Most of the guys didn't want to race. Did you ever have the feeling during this race that this is kind of a dangerous thing, maybe we shouldn't be out here? What would you say to the fans also?
DENNY HAMLIN: Go get 'em, Tiger.
CARL EDWARDS: I know in practice I was making sure my belts were tight, eyeing where they had the SAFER barriers. Like Denny said, in the race you could kind of feel the tire going away. You could tell when it was going away. Once the race got going, I felt comfortable, like I'm not going to get the big surprise, blow the tire, hit the wall. In practice, I definitely was worried about it.
To the fans, they just have to understand it's a dynamic sport. There's a lot to it. To bring 43 cars here, race 'em, you know, at 200 miles an hour, Goodyear did their best. Somebody just made a mistake in judgment. Hopefully they understand that and realize that nobody wanted this to happen.
Q. Denny, do you feel that you had maybe the best car through the second half of this race and that the tire issue maybe cost you the win?
DENNY HAMLIN: I felt like we had a really good car all day. But I just was so -- I was as patient as I ever was in any other race because I knew how hard I had to push it.
But, you know, I felt like we did have a good car. I mean, Jimmie, it's hard to argue that he was the second-place car at the end of the race. He was really good. He was really good for the whole race.
You know, it just seemed like when we had track position, we were really good. When he had it, he was really good. So, you know, it's tough to say who had the best car, especially when you don't know how hard the drivers are pushing it. I mean, it was just a situation where when I wanted to run hard, I could look like I was 20 miles an hour faster than anyone else, but I was going to pay for it at the end. We just had to do the best we could.
Q. Based off of this experience, where do you go forward from here? What have you learned? What needs to happen to try to prevent something like this happening again?
CARL EDWARDS: I mean, I don't make the decision on how to build the tire. So I don't know. I guess they just have to look at this, learn from it, figure out exactly what went wrong.
DENNY HAMLIN: I think they said during the tire test they had some other tires that did wear better, but the drivers didn't like 'em. They were too hard. So had we come here with a hard tire, then you'd have all the drivers complaining about the tire's too hard, you can't race.
I think it's just a tough balance. I think this track is extremely hard on right-side tires anyway. The car is extremely hard on right-side tires anyway. The track just didn't take rubber like it had in the past.
To tell you the truth, I don't know what tire they would be able to engineer to go a full fuel run here. I mean, 35 laps or so, it would take a tire probably so hard that, I mean, we'd probably spin out every lap. I think they were just put in a tough box, to tell you the truth.
Q. Everybody is talking about Goodyear. This has happened here with other manufacturers, Formula One. Is it time the track does something to make it easier on the tire?
CARL EDWARDS: Charlotte was a big problem when they did that, with when they repaved.
DENNY HAMLIN: That's when we blew tires.
CARL EDWARDS: That was worse than this, I thought. I don't know, man. The way I see it, we're just renting space. This is Indy's deal.
Q. Denny, what does this mean points-wise to have this kind of day?
DENNY HAMLIN: When we saw the 17 had issues, the 83 blew up, we knew we needed a top 10 day. We knew that at the beginning of the day.
This race only comes around once a year. It is prestigious, so you hate to let a win slip away. In the back of your mind, you have to be happy knowing you had a good points day. That's where we are.
HERB BRANHAM: Guys, congratulations.
We're joined now by NASCAR vice president of competition, Robin Pemberton just in case anybody has any questions for Robin today.
Q. They've had an open test here in the past. Do you think that would have made a difference? I understand the crew chiefs selected which tracks to go to for the open test. Would that type of test make a difference in a case like this?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, I think generally when you have an open test, you already got your tires picked and things like that have already been decided. I don't think an open test here would have done enough for what we all as competitors would want to have achieved. It wouldn't have helped I don't think.
You may have had enough issues that you may have gone back and redesigned the tire. But then, you know, I don't know if we could have done it in time. I mean, hindsight is 20/20. I think we'll just learn from this experience here this weekend and try to do a little bit better job next year when we come back.
Q. Is there something the track should do to help build a better tire? This happened now two big times.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, this isn't the first time we've raced here with the surface the way it is and we've been able to accomplish what we need to accomplish. So to pick on the surface or anything like that, that wouldn't be fair, 'cause we have been able to do and run full fuel stops here by the end of the race, mid race last year and the year before. I think coupled with the new car, probably not having a test here, whatever, probably didn't help us at all.
For sure you can say the surface is abrasive, but we have been able to accomplish a full fuel run in the past.
Q. What is the game plan for next year for this place? This is a big race. We had the same problem with Goodyear or something in Atlanta a couple months ago and the drivers were screaming about how you need to spend more doing engineering work. Looks like there's a situation where somebody dropped the ball on this.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, you know, you can criticize all you want. But when you come here and you do have the surface that we got, and I think you need to pay attention to what Denny said. You know, we have to anticipate where the tires and the competition are gonna meet on Sunday afternoon when the green flag falls. We have challenges when we develop tires here because you do have such a dramatic change in surface grip as the track rubbers in. You can make everybody happy on Friday and be miserable on Saturday and really miserable on Sunday, or you can come back and work your best trying to achieve the right grip, the right tires and everything when it comes time to race on Sunday afternoon.
I'm speaking for Goodyear. I really wish one of them were here. But when they did their test, they felt like they were on target based on what we've dealt with here last year and the year before last, we felt like it was going to come us by race time. It didn't happen. Even when we got running this afternoon, we got eight or nine laps, thought we were going to get to 10 or 11, tried 12, never got any better than 11. Really, 10 was a stretch for us.
We just have to take what we learned today and do a better job next year as a group.
Q. Jeff Burton talked about after the race what you alluded to, anticipating things need to be better by Sunday. Does this change the philosophy or thinking or thought process on saying, Hey, it's going to be bad on Friday, we hope it's going to be better on Sunday? Do you have to change that thought process?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Definitely. I mean, we work off a lot of history. We try to develop new stuff. But we also have to rely on a lot of history to get us through some of these things.
All of our events, they're different. We have different challenges everywhere we go. We felt like we were prepared. The only thing that we were prepared for, we at least had enough tires to go the distance, for everybody to have enough tires to finish the race on.
So my hat's off to the competitors to be able to help us manage that and allowed us to help them manage it, and Goodyear to have the foresight to have enough tires.
We know, and I think everybody in this room knows, that we'll do different things, and we can't take anything for granted when we come back next year.
Q. You obviously are right when you talk about how it's easy to look at it in hindsight. Seems to me the operative thing here is foresight. It's a perfect storm of the tire, the car, the surface, new car. Where do you go from here to prevent a disaster like this from happening again?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, what disaster might you be talking about? Next year at this time or the next race?
Q. If this is a particularly racetrack to have all this, would you do a lot more testing? Would you have an open testing? Would you have more Goodyear testing?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, let's look at it this way. It's fair to say we won't do the same thing next year we did this year. And it would be fair to say everybody will put their best foot forward and try to do a better job. But we've also been here 15 times, all right? And in 15 times, the only other problems that we've had is having to really regulate low tire pressures and make sure the teams didn't beat the tire up. We're 1-15 in the loss column. That coupled with having a new car, that coupled with people didn't think we were going to need to test here.
You know, everybody's got a little skin in the game here. You know, I think everybody knew that. The teams knew it. We knew it. Goodyear knew it. I think that's why you saw everybody working together on pit road today, in the tower and in the Goodyear building, to do everything we could to manage the tire, put on the best race we could for the fans.
So, you know, we've got one time we didn't do the right thing. We tried to put our best foot forward and make the best judgment calls that we could getting prepared for this race. For sure, it didn't come off the way we wanted it to.
Q. This is a unique track. Looking forward to the rest of the season, all the tracks you have either been to or they're similar to tracks you've been to. Do you feel confident assuring fans we're not going to have another race like this?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Yeah, we do, because we've been to every racetrack. I think the only one we haven't been to with this car yet is maybe Kansas City. So, you know, as much as we thought Pocono and here is the same, it is for a lot of things. But it's obvious there's not enough margin in the tire. We used to run the same tire at Pocono and here. We can't even do that any more. A lot of tire groups have been separated out for different racetracks.
There are no guarantees. I can say that. The only thing we can guarantee is a lot of hard work by everybody to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Q. Can you recall another race in NASCAR history that a track didn't rubber up like this? If there was one, what did the sport do to fix that the next time?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: I can't remember it not rubbering up either. I do know we've seen other tracks. I don't think Dover rubbered up in the spring like we thought it was going to. You know, you don't know what makes the track take rubber sometimes, you really don't.
You don't know the weather that has been through there, how clean it is, whether the track has been washed or anything, a lot of rain, whatnot. I have not seen this in a long time. I've seen issues that were similar to this, but it wasn't because of the track rubbering in or not.
Q. What do you tell the fans who may be disappointed they didn't see a lot of green-flag passing, side-by-side action that they normally see in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, you know, if they're good fans, they know that occasionally something like this will go on and not all -- you'd like to think that all of our races have something for somebody, right? Not everybody's driver wins. Not everybody's pit crew has the best stops. And not every race is a barn burner.
But the fact of the matter is we've got 43 teams that are competing at the same time. It's okay. If you're a good fan, you don't get what you want, it's okay to be disappointed. You know, we can be disappointed right along with you. You know, we're here to put on the best races we can, and we do a damn good job of it most of the time. Everybody inside of these walls works real hard to do that, all the competitors, all of our partners, Goodyear, the manufacturers, all of our officials do the best we can.
You know, there's times that you may be disappointed. And that's okay, too. That's what makes us try to do a better job next time around.
Q. Would you consider running either one or two support events to help the track get seasoned in time before the Sunday big show?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, support events, that's a different group of people, not me. I'm nuts, bolts, tires, all that. But on the other hand, yeah, if you look at what happened, we just ran a 400-mile race with 43 competitors and we didn't rubber it in. I don't think a Nationwide or Truck Series race would have helped us today.
HERB BRANHAM: Robin, thank you very much for joining us.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: No problem.
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