Edwards Fired Up About Mustang NASCAR Debut
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 60 Copart Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, participated in a fan and media Q&A session in the Daytona International Speedway FanZone in which the new Nationwide car and other issues were addressed.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 60 Copart Ford Mustang (NNS) and No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion (NSCS) – THAT MUSTANG NATIONWIDE CAR IS A SWEET RIDE. “I love my Mustang. I love driving it and it’s got a lot of people excited. There are people that don’t follow NASCAR that are pumped about watching these Mustangs run out here on the race track, so, for me, it’s really cool as a Mustang owner. It looks great. The only track we’ve really run it at so far is here at Daytona. It’s got a ton of front downforce, so the racing you’re gonna see tonight is gonna be insane. There are gonna be cars 30 degrees sideways, sliding around. We’ve got plenty of front grip, so it’s gonna be wild. And it just looks good. I’m excited about. I’m excited about it for Ford and Ford told us if one of the Ford drivers win tonight, they’re gonna give us a brand new 2011 Mustang GT. That’s a pretty big deal. I told Ricky Stenhouse that if he would just stay behind me and push me, I’ll work out a deal on that Mustang because I already have one. Maybe I could give him that Mustang (laughing), but that’s a heck of an incentive and it’s just gonna be a fun race tonight.”
DOES THE NEW CAR FEEL DIFFERENT FROM INSIDE THE CAR WHEN YOU’RE ON THE TRACK? “Yeah, I definitely know if I’m following a Dodge or a Chevy or a Ford. It’s just more fun. It’s neat to be out there and see some neat-looking race cars and it’s fun to drive them. It’s cool to walk through the garage and even see some differences in the cars. To me, that’s one of the neatest things about racing is to see neat-looking race cars. I think whatever comes from this, the safety or the aerodynamics stuff, the coolest part is just to have a neat car.”
HOW DOES THE NEW CAR FEEL FROM A SAFETY STANDPOINT? “My head is farther away from the hard stuff outside the race car and that’s all that matters to me. I’ve got kind of a big head anyway and I’m tall, and when I sit in the other car, your head is essentially resting against the rollbar out here, so if one of your good friends were to bump into you and something were to happen, you don’t want your head out there next to that wall or anything. So that’s a big deal to have a little more room in there. That’s important to us as drivers, and we appreciate that.”
THE NEW CHASSIS IS SIMILAR TO CUP? “I was surprised to learn that the car I’m driving here I’ve driven before in the Sprint Cup Series. I didn’t realize that, so I don’t know if it will save us a little money because as racers you can always spend money, but I think that’s pretty cool that it can be the same car that races in the Cup Series over here on the Nationwide side.”
BRIAN FRANCE WAS TALKING ABOUT POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE CHASE AND NATIONWIDE SERIES. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IN BOTH? “That’s a big question. When Justin Allgaier beat me at Bristok, I just didn’t think he needed anymore exposure or a chance to beat us Cup guys. I feel like the Chase, at first I didn’t like it, but then I realized as a fan that it’s a little more exciting at the end of the year to have 10 or 12 guys who have an opportunity to go win the championship. I believe, like any playoff system, the Chase gives an opportunity for a guy – let’s just say next year our team goes out and wins 26 races in a row, the best season ever in the history of the sport, and then we have a couple of blown motors, hit a deer – anything can happen at a race track – and we don’t win the championship, it would be pretty tough to have a 26 or 28 win season and not win the championship. So that’s the downside of the Chase, but, if you accept that, then you move on and say, ‘Hey, is there anything else we should do differently?’ And I believe that we should keep things as simple as possible. We should keep them the same. I think that if you change things over and over, and this is just my opinion, but if you constantly change things, then it makes it harder to believe in and feel comfortable with. So I think whatever it is we do, at the same time, we ought to come up with a rule that says, ‘we’re not gonna change the point system but one time every 10 or 15 years,’ because I think it’s hard to look at even what Jimmie has done the last four years. It’s hard for anybody to say, ‘Hey, how does that compare to the greats like Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.’ How does that stack up? Because when you change things it has the potential to diminish their value. If Brian France tomorrow said, ‘We’re gonna take the same rulebook we were racing in 1975 and we’re just gonna race that,’ that’s fine with me. Or, if we change things, let’s just make sure we change them the right way and not change them as a knee-jerk reaction.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE ‘HAVE AT IT BOYS’ PHILOSOPHY AND DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS IN RELATION TO THE RESPECT FACTOR FOR EACH OTHER? “This is a zero sum game. My gain is going to be a loss for someone I race against. If somebody else does worse, that gives me a chance to do better. So it’s not like you’re out there working together for some common goal, it’s every man for himself on the race track. What’s happened are a couple of things. NASCAR has done such a good job of making the cars so similar that when you line all these drivers up and we’ve all sat there for the last hour of a race thinking, ‘Man, I just can’t get by this guy in front of me because we’re just all so close.’ You line them up double-file and you can see the leader. You might be running 20 th , but the leader is right there and you’re like, ‘OK, it’s on. I’m gonna get me some right now.’ But that’s what everybody is thinking, so it turns into a total free-for-all on these restarts. It only takes one person to say, ‘All right, I’m going for it.’ And everybody looks at that guy and goes, ‘Well, if he’s gonna go for it, I’m gonna go for it, too.’ I think that’s where some of this comes from. I believe the ‘have at it boys’ and double-file restarts is good. It’s not a procedural change in how you count points or how you rank people, it’s just a way of saying, ‘We’re gonna let loose of the reins a little bit and let you guys go race.’ I think those are really good changes and I applaud NASCAR for those. I was saying something about a double-file restart the other day. I was mad because something happened and my little brother said, ‘You can say whatever you want, but I’m at home watching on TV and it’s awesome.’ So that’s good for the fans, I guess.”
BRIAN SAID SOME NATIONWIDE CHANGES MIGHT BE TO TILT THE GAME TOWARD YOUNGER DRIVERS. WHAT KIND OF CHANGES WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE TO GIVE THOSE GUYS A CHANCE TO SHINE? “What are the things that us Cup drivers have an advantage on. Full-time Cup drivers have more track time. We’ve got more experience and some of us have teams that might have more resources and things like that. So, I would hope that if they’re gonna make some changes, that they address those issues. And the way I would do that is I would say, ‘If you’re a full-time Cup driver or in the top 25 in points in the Cup Series and you want to come race in the Nationwide Series, you get hardly any practice.’ That would be the first thing. I would say you get 20 or 30 minutes of practice. Go out and make a couple runs and get your car as good as it is and then go park it. Then I would also say that no matter where you qualify, you start in the back. So Kyle Busch and Keselowski and me, we all start dead last. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a 300-mile race or whatever and if we can’t make it to the front, we don’t belong there. That does a couple things. For me, as a fan, I’d like to see some fast guys start in the back. That’s kind of exciting. Some drama is gonna happen and there’s gonna be some passing, and it also gives those guys a leg up and a head start. The guys that don’t have that Cup experience get to start up in front, they get clean air, and it gives them, I think, a little more recognition and TV time and experience racing up in the front that maybe they wouldn’t get – maybe they would. But I think that’s what they need to do. I do believe that it’s important to still let us race for a championship. I know my team and my guys, if I’m driving the car or Ricky Stenhouse is driving the car, those guys still want to win the championship. They don’t want to get stuck on a team where they can’t win a championship. Right now, this year, it looks like it’ll be Brad and myself racing for this championship and that’s the fun of it for me. So, greedily for me, I’d like to retain that ability to race for a championship.”
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO YOU TO ENSURE THIS CAR WAS AS SAFE OR SAFER THAN THE CUP CAR? “It is really important. We see a lot of wrecks and it seems like we always walk away and everything is okay, but there have been a couple wrecks I’ve been in where I thought, ‘Man, that was close,’ or something bad could have happened. The more space these guys at NASCAR have given us in the race car, and the farther we can get from the door, the farther we can be from the roof, the crumple zones – all that stuff – that’s really a big deal. It means a lot to us that they are focused on that. I whine about my motor and about the downforce and about all these things. I’ll always complain about stuff, but I don’t ever complain about that because we really appreciate that.”
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