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August 10, 2009
WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK
KERRY THARP: We are pleased to be joined in the media center here at Watkins Glen by our third-place finisher in today's race. That is Carl Edwards. He drives the No. 99 Aflac Ford for Roush Fenway. Carl, certainly a lot of excitement, a lot of give and go out there today. You wound up third.
CARL EDWARDS: From 33rd to third, that was a good, solid day for us. Really proud of my guys for the strategy. It was great. Bob did a great job. Ran out of fuel really on the last lap. The light was on, it was missing. Guys did a great job.
Just perfect day for points for us. I wanted to win this thing really badly. That was one of my goals this year, is to win a road course race. I really, really wanted to win today. But third place, we'll take it. To finish in front of Kyle, who was 13th in points, that's good for us. To finish behind Marcos and Tony, closing on them at the end, that felt good. If you were saving fuel, I don't want to know about it (laughter).
KERRY THARP: We also have our race runner-up, quite a weekend this weekend, Marcos Ambrose, second-place finish for the No. 47 car. Marcos, talk about your performance out there today. You had quite a weekend. You were in contention for the weekend.
MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, just a great weekend for us. We didn't quite have enough to get Tony there at the end. I threw everything I could at him. We got off strategy for some run the way the race rolled for us. We got stuck. We got stuck in the back of the pack, had to make a gamble. We came in and splashed off fuel, didn't put tires on it. I think that was the difference between first and second here this afternoon, was just the extra laps I did on my tires, probably eight or 10 more laps than Tony.
I could close in on him, I could see him starting to make a few little mistakes, locking tires, but not enough for me to catch him. Just really proud of my team. We didn't quite close the deal, but it's just been a great weekend for us. Really excited for our future.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Carl or Marcos.
Q. Yesterday Darian Grubb was talking about for him and Tony this race might play right into their hands because it was going to be a hot, slick track. Carl, did it play into your hands in the sense that the hot track was to your liking? Marcos, do you agree that the hot, slick track played into Tony's hands?
CARL EDWARDS: For me, the slicker it is on the racetrack, the hotter it is outside, the better off we are, our 99 team. I really like that a lot. I can only assume Tony's leaning on his dirt experience, all the open-wheel stuff he's done to driving that kind of racetrack.
I know that I really enjoy it, when it's like that. It's a lot of fun. So it was good for me.
MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, we missed it just a little bit. I thought our car in practice on Saturday was better than what we had today. It was on the edge the whole time. If I had the perfect line, did everything just right, I could get away with it. But the track was slick. We were slightly aggressive on our setup for it. We didn't really get a chance to tune on it either. I think we only changed a quarter pound of tire pressure all day because we were pitting under green, didn't have time to do anything to it.
All in all, it's just a great track for us. I'd love to see better brakes because it's very hard to pass when your brakes are so hot.
CARL EDWARDS: When you go in 200 feet deeper than anybody else... (Laughter).
MARCOS AMBROSE: Maybe (laughter). That's all. I think it's a great track for us. The track was slick and hot. But it makes it a challenge. That's why you see the good guys tend to get to the front.
Q. Carl, when you made that move on Kyle Busch, were you aware of what had already happened to the 24 car, the 48 is far enough behind you that you're going to have a decent points day?
CARL EDWARDS: I hadn't really thought about that. I couldn't see Denny. I know I'm close with him. I didn't know where Jeff was as far as -- I don't know where he is in front-of-us in points. I don't know how big a gap it is. All I knew is I wanted to be in front of the 18 because coming in he was 13th in points. The difference between fourth and third, it's not a lot, but it's the morale for the guys to open up that gap a little more.
Going into Richmond, I know I need all I can. I'm assuming Kyle is still 13th in points. It's got to be close.
KERRY THARP: I believe so.
CARL EDWARDS: To make ground on 13th, other than win races, that's the mission for the 99 team right now. That's all I was thinking about. I did think about Jeff's wreck because I was underneath him. I wanted to make sure I was clear of Kyle before I moved up. That's the only thing I was thinking of in regard to Jeff.
Q. Marcos, what is the practical effect of you having tires that were about 10 laps older? Couldn't go deeper in the turns or what?
MARCOS AMBROSE: Well, the grip gradually drops. It's a fairly linear graph. Tires wear, they get hotter. Forward drive becomes an issue, brake performance becomes an issue. Flat spots, you got to look after your tires because you're bound to nip them every now and then. That's the difference. Just nor grip available to you if the tires are new. We all love the feel-good tires that we put on after each pit stop. Our race, the way it rolled, we just couldn't afford to spend the time to put tires on that last splash.
It worked in our favor. We jumped a lot of spots, were able to work forward once we got ourselves in the top five to pick off a couple more. I think the strategy for us after halfway was the right one. I think we did the best we could.
Q. Marcos, at what point I heard a crew chief say they thought you were a second quicker than the rest of the field. Was that just the clean air or do you think you were that much quicker? Does that make this second more frustrating?
MARCOS AMBROSE: No, no. Not at all. We were very fast in practice. Unfortunately, you know, the track was hotter and slicker than what we wanted. We just didn't quite have the grip we had on Saturday. I talked the team into making a couple of changes for me that I thought were better. They were on Saturday. With the hot, slick track, we were slightly aggressive. We'll learn from it for next year and hopefully go one more spot up the sheet.
Q. You mentioned your pit strategy earlier. Sounded like on the radio you and Frank were torn early in the race when to come in. Is that when you got off strategy or was it later on?
MARCOS AMBROSE: No, it was the first stop. We were third. We stayed out. Everybody pitted, except for three cars. Then our destiny was set. We couldn't then, you know, pit with everybody else because we were off sequence. We had to just try to then run our own race and just have the shortest pit stop we could as soon as we could make it home. When that caution came out, that 10 laps shy of our number, our lap number to make it home, we stopped, got tires, got fuel, then we splashed after 10 laps and came in and took off.
That's the difference, was right there, the very first caution flag is what set our course for the day.
Q. Could you please talk about the double-file restarts today.
MARCOS AMBROSE: I thought they were good. You have to be very careful to look after your campadres. It's easy to get into somebody. I bumped Carl yesterday, getting a bet greedy into turn one. I learnt my lesson. Today I don't want to ruin Tony's or Kyle's Race for the Chase. I was mindful who I was racing up there. I think we looked after each other reasonably well. Plenty good dicing and passing, skill level up there to keep everybody off each other. I think it's good. I think it's great for the fans. It makes it tough for the drivers, no doubt. This sport wasn't meant to be easy.
CARL EDWARDS: It went very well. I thought everyone did a great job. I mean, there was one point where I drove down into turn one, they were screaming three-wide, guys on the inside. Clint Bowyer was in there. We went through turn one touching. We got aggressive. I think everyone did that all day. Everyone was really, really good.
KERRY THARP: Appreciate it, Carl and Marcos. Congratulations on good finishes out there today.
Our top finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, he came in eighth place, had a great showing out there today, that's Max Papis.
Max, certainly you were up near the front all day. Talk about your performance out there in the No. 13 car.
MAX PAPIS: We had a game plan that was attacking from the first lap, respectfully. I think that's what we did. I got awesome restarts in the beginning. I think I put the GEICO car in the position to be able to be a contender. My guys did an insane strategy. We were fantastic on fuel. The Toyota engine was really well calibrated today. I was really saving a lot of fuel. I used a lot of those days of sports car racing where fuel mileage is everything. I used it all today. We ran out of gas 300 feet after the start/finish line when we got the checkered flag. That's not luck; that's calculation. My guys told me, I think you're not going to make it around after the checkered flag.
Besides that, I had my best ever finish so far in my NASCAR career. Actually not really. I had a third in the Nationwide. That's the difference between Nationwide and Cup, is like minor league and major league. These guys here are tough. I'm really proud of that.
KERRY THARP: Congratulations. Questions for Max.
Q. '97 you came from a lap down to win. What means more to you, this race today or the race in '97?
MAX PAPIS: I enjoy every race I do. I don't live in the past. I live in the present. I always say that I'm looking forward for the best win to the one that is going to come. Of course, that day opened my career in America. Today I feel we proved everyone that we deserve some respect, both as a team and as a driver.
We take it from there. These guys are definitely the best of the best I've ever raced against in my life, point-blank. Better than Formula One, sports car, IndyCar, everything put together. When people say NASCAR drivers are not that good on road courses, I would definitely tell them to shut up because they're pretty damn good.
Q. Could you talk about such a great finish, the family is from the area, how ask it feel to do so well from them?
MAX PAPIS: We are a small organization. The GEICO team, we are just a small family. Every success is felt through the skin of everybody. Everyone in the shop work really hard. We maximize what we have. GEICO gave me and the team opportunity of our life. I'm proud that I paid them back today because you need to capitalize in these moments.
Spinning off in turn one, it doesn't take that much. It's a calculated aggression. I was proud that I learn a lot. I mean, I made a really good restart. At the end I drove the whole off the car, but the best I could do was finishing eighth. I took the car home.
But I can tell you that I never cruised one lap. I went hard, hard, hard every lap.
Q. The double-file restarts?
MAX PAPIS: I love it. I mean, I think double-file restarts, I don't see anything wrong with it. That's what I've always done in my career. I found it a little different when I came here, single file. Maybe you were 20th and you were getting the green when you were further back, so you didn't have much chance to fight hard.
At the end of the day, these guys are all professional. If they want to punt you off, it takes nothing. They can do it any second. I think is a give-and-take. They know just take a second to ruin the race of someone else. I was pleased that nobody abused me in a way. I pushed them around a little bit, and I felt that was just great, great.
Q. How much do days like today make you want to do more of this? Do you know what your schedule is from here out for the rest of the year? Could this impact it at all?
MAX PAPIS: This is what I want to do, and NASCAR is going to be the last thing I'm going to do in my career. You're not going to see me racing anything else, not seriously. Maybe go-kart, something like that. I am dedicating all my life and my family, too, is dedicating, making a lot of effort. Without my wife, Tatiana, my kids, I would never be able to do what I'm doing. I put them through a lot to help them to achieve my dreams.
A day like today, I think it's a little special present coming that tells everybody sometimes David and Goliath things. We were so small, we came up with so much. It just make me remember that all the help, all the advice from my dad, all the people that helped me on the way here, they're all riding with me. When you are there and your arm are burning, you have 10 laps to go, you dig deep because this is your chance.
To answer your question, I really would like GEICO to bring me to a full season because running a partial season is very difficult. Being out of the top 35, that pressure you have going into qualifying, it's something that's insane. It's insane. You slip a little bit and you go home. I really hope that we can grow this program. For sure next year it's not going to be 18 races, but I hope that I get a call from my friend Doug Barnett and my friends at GEICO saying, Hey, we decided we want to do 18. That would definitely I don't want to say make my life easier, but I could be a little more in the rhythm and my team would be more accepted in a way.
Q. Even with all your road course experience, to come here and run like this, what did you learn today? How do you feel like you took another step forward as a road racer?
MAX PAPIS: As I told you, I used a little bit of different things I learned. Saving fuel. Had a good meeting with Andy yesterday from Toyota. He told me what was the best way to save fuel, and I did it. I was trying to keep the engine as cool as possible during restarts because we know we have more power if we are below 200. All those little things that makes a big difference.
To me today, you know, I come out of this knowing that this is a very, very tough form ever motorsport, point-blank. Every time I call back to Italy, I say this is like endurance racing and rally driving at the same time because you need to improvise because the cars move around. They don't always do exactly what you want. But at the same time you need to have stamina, endurance, you're in the car for a long time. I mean, it's tough. It's tough.
Q. You've known Juan Pablo a long time. Nobody is dismissing his talent. We knew he wouldn't be an overnight success here. Did you think once he got it that he would be points racing to such a conservative manner like he is now?
MAX PAPIS: Juan, even if people think he's an ass, is a great guy. He's a good friend of mine. He's one of those guys that has a lot of determination. He growed up a lot through the years.
To put it in simple term, is like when I was behind him, we spoke a little bit before the start. He told me that, I want to finish in front of the 16 and the 17, something like that. I remember the 16. We came into turn one. I touched him a little bit. Came out of turn one, I bump-draft him because I thought it was going to open up a gap as well. But that comes down to that little respect you need to have. I could have punt him off every day, or he could have punt me off. But that's not part of the sport.
I think you need to race hard. At the end of the day to win you need to be intelligent. If you are just aggressive, you are a sporadically winner. I feel everybody grows up. He doesn't need to prove anything. He's much more mature than what he was when I met him 10 years ago.
Q. Can you compare Sprint Cup to Formula One.
MAX PAPIS: I don't want to do that because that would be an offense to NASCAR racing.
Q. Just the difference between them.
MAX PAPIS: The difference between the two? The main things here there are people that race, they live for the sport. There is just the politics. At the end of '95 I retired. I had a dream. I went to Formula One. I spend all the money I made in all my career. I wrote a check for $400,000. They took my dream, they use it, they throw it away. That's the memory I have for Formula One. Disrespect the dream of a young kid. The dream and the work that everybody did to take me all the way there.
For me I have some friends there. I love them, especially some people in Formula One. But I didn't enjoy it at all the lack of respect for the human being. Here instead, that's why I fit a lot better, because I think I'm a good human being and people accept me for that. There they look first at your wallet and after they look if you are a son of someone famous, I don't know. If you are not one of those, they give you a kick in the butt and they let you go.
Q. You do understand the dog-eat-dog, eat you alive NASCAR? You have to be tough.
MAX PAPIS: In NASCAR?
MAX PAPIS: I'm a tough guy. The difference is that here you cannot buy the results. You need to create it. The human being in the team are creating your success. There you can buy the results because you can make a new front wing, you can make a new rear wing, do different stuff. Here it's very much left up to the people. That's why I love it because there is no excuse here. My guys messed up my car, my car is not fast this year. Tony Stewart has the same car I have. So there's no difference with that.
That's what I love about it. It brings the best out of it. At the same time there is so much respect for the human being here. You guys need to be very proud of being here. I'm proud every day when I walk into this garage because it's a special thing, it's very special to be able to be together with athletes like Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, people that make 20 times more money than most of the people in Formula One, but they're more humble. That's my opinion. Maybe I've been a little too hard, but I always talk what I think.
KERRY THARP: Max, congratulations on a great performance out there today. We look forward to many more. Thank you.
MAX PAPIS: Thank you, guys. Thanks for the support and for understanding the human being that is behind the racecar. I appreciate that most than anything. Thanks to my family.
End of FastScripts