Edwards Defends His Actions

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Edwards Defends His Actions

Ford Racing currently has three drivers in the top 12 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings in Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. All three participated in a Q&A session in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield prior to Friday’s practice.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TO THE PENALTIES? “Immediately after the race last week I felt like what I did was right and it was a fair outcome to the race, and I felt like it was within NASCAR’s boundaries that they had set.  I think NASCAR felt the same way right then, but then as the week went on, I had the chance to talk to Mike Helton and I understand and respect that those other teams that were caught up in that wreck that Brad and I had initiated, I mean, those guys are working hard. I’ve been in that position, working hard for sponsorship and working hard for finishes, and I feel that NASCAR’s penalty is fair. I talked to Jack and Geoff Smith and I don’t plan on appealing it. I think it’s fair in that respect. I sincerely apologize to those guys that were caught up in that wreck. I would rather finish second in a good race than have to win a race the way I won the race. Now, I’m not gonna finish second in a race the way that one was going, but I respect NASCAR’s decision.” 
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW WOULD YOU DO THE SAME THING NEXT WEEK? “Both of us are on probation. Let me put it this way, I don’t think there’s one championship-level driver, one winning driver, that can go along in their career and let someone forcefully take wins away from them. I don’t think that’s built into any of us. We’ll see what the future holds. I’ll tell you, I race hard and I’m not gonna let somebody take advantage of me, that’s for sure. I’ve proven that, and I’ve been consistent about it, and I’ve been honest about it, too, which, I don’t think has helped me any, but I’ve been honest about it.” 
IS IT PERSONAL BETWEEN YOU TWO? “There’s nothing personal between Brad and I – from my side there’s not. I have a lot of respect for him and what he does on the race track, but the problem is that he can’t just run into me to get an advantage, especially for wins. That’s happened way too much between us. The part I’m real happy with on these penalties, I can accept my penalty, but I’m happy that NASCAR recognized that Brad needed to be penalized too – that my race car could have been the one turned around, run into by people behind me, all in pursuit of a win. I think it’s important that NASCAR recognized that.” 
IF IT WASN’T BRAD IN THE OTHER CAR, WOULD YOU HAVE FINISHED THAT RACE THE SAME WAY? “If that were somebody in that car that we hadn’t had all the trouble before, then that finish would have turned out differently, that’s for sure. Because I maybe could have accepted that it was unintentional, but Brad is a really good race car driver and he knows what he’s doing. I know that and he knows that, and that’s why that race went the way it did.” 
DO YOU BELIEVE THE OUTCRY ALL WEEK PLAYED INTO THE PENALTIES AT ALL? “I don’t hear the public outcry. I went home and had a really good week. I rode my bike and hung out with my daughter and my family, and, to a person, every single person that talked to me personally thought it was the right outcome for the race. Like I said before, I would have much rather it not gone that way, but it’s funny how people say whatever they say, but the people who I talked to seemed to think that that race went well.” 
DID YOU GET ANY PUSHBACK FROM JACK? “If we start from the beginning when NASCAR said, ‘This is it. You guys regulate on the race track. You guys take the gloves off. Have at it. Go race.’ I still think that’s the best way to do it and I still think NASCAR accepts that that’s the best way. There are unintended consequences to that and the torn up cars that weren’t mine or Brad’s, that’s a bad result. It really struck home for me. We were in the meeting this week with all of our teams and they go from the lowest finisher and go up to the top and I listened to all these guys say, ‘Yeah, we were running well and we got caught up in that wreck at the end,’ and they all look at me at the end of the table. So I understand that and I respect that, and I apologized to those guys that were caught up in it.” 
DO YOU FEEL HE MADE A MISTAKE OR DO YOU FEEL HE INTENTIONALLY WENT IN THERE KNOWING THAT WOULD BE THE RESULT? “I believe that he did not make a mistake. That was an intentional, I mean, he moved me out of the way to gain an advantage and it almost worked. He almost won the race, so that’s what he did. It doesn’t really matter what my opinion is. NASCAR knows what happened and he knows what happened and that’s why they penalized him.” 
IT MATTERS BECAUSE HE SAYS IT WASN’T INTENTIONAL AND THAT HE SLIPPED. “I’m telling you that as a race car driver, and any other race car driver will tell you, that that wasn’t a slip up, and if it was a slip up, which, hey, he might convince himself that it’s a slip up, you have a little bit of insurance that you leave yourself when you go down in the corner like that. And on the last lap, you might not say, ‘I’m gonna drive down in this corner and hit this guy,’ but it’s real easy to say, ‘I’m gonna drive down in this corner a little bit harder than I have and consequences be damned and this guy is gonna be the one that pays.’ So it’s reasonable that he’s not lying, but I believe he’s not being completely honest that that was a mistake. He’s too good of a race car driver and I know that.” 
WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THOSE WRECKS AND THE AFTERMATH? “Let me be really clear on this. Our actions are not very different. The outcomes are different. I respect that it’s dangerous. Relatively, our sport is very safe. Someone showed me a statistic that no driver has missed a race due to injury for seven years in the Cup Series, and compared to the NFL, which I think they had 400 people on the injured reserve last year. So, with that in mind, I don’t go out an initiate – not anymore. I have before and I’ve learned it’s better not to go out an initiate contact to gain an advantage. It could just as easily been my car that was turned around sideways and me getting hit in the door in turn one. It just comes down to am I willing to accept somebody putting me at risk like that over and over. I’m not the one initiating these instances. I just did a better job of keeping my car under control.” 
HOW WOULD YOU HAVE RACED HIM TO GET THE LEAD IF THE POSITIONS WERE REVERSED ON THE LAST LAP? “I would not have hit his car, if I could. And if I did hit his car, I would like to think I wouldn’t take advantage of it as much as he did. So, it’s like I said a minute ago, I would truthfully rather have finished second in that race, and had a good race, which, I think if he wouldn’t have hit me, he still would have been able to beat me. He had a stronger car. I would rather that than the way the race went. I mean, we had an unbelievable race 30 laps previous to that. We raced side-by-side. It’s just a little bit coincidental that at the last lap he, oops, he accidentally messed and got the winning advantage.” 
IT’S NOT OKAY TO MOVE SOMEBODY OUT OF THE WAY? “It’s not okay to move me out of the way. If somebody else wants to let people move them out of the way for the win, that’s okay with me. They can do whatever they like, but I can’t allow myself to be run over like that. I’m not gonna win championships like that.” 
HAVE YOU EVER MOVED SOMEONE? “Let me put it this way, the times when I’ve moved someone out of the way for whatever reason I thought was okay at the time, I have fully expected retaliation and every driver that’s in here knows that feeling. When you’re like, ‘Oh boy, I got that one the wrong way. Here it comes.’ That’s part of our sport, and NASCAR has said that they believe that’s the best way for this sport to believe and I think that’s true.” 
IS YOUR SCORE EVEN WITH BRAD NOW? “My hope is that going forward, if we can go to ORP tomorrow night and battle it side-by-side in an honest, good race and the best man wins, that’s the best case for Brad and I, and it’s the best case for our sport. That would be great. That’s what I’m looking forward to.” 
DID YOU LEAVE THE TRACK SATURDAY THINKING THERE WASN’T A PROBLEM, AND WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN SATURDAY AND THE OTHER DAY WHEN THE PENALTY WAS ANNOUNCED? “There’s a lot of opinions about that. When I left the race track, Joe Balash and the other NASCAR folks that we talked to, everything seemed okay – like that was just a race and that’s how it went. And as the week went on I think some other things were brought to light about the other teams and maybe this was a gray area that they needed to address. I was surprised initially by the penalties for both of us, but I can understand it. The deal is I appreciate NASCAR taking two-and-a-half days to really think it through and explain it to me. And the way I understand it is we’ve had a run-in before. We had one that required them to address it and since then what they do is they ratchet up the penalties. So I had probation before and Brad had nothing. Now, he’s got probation and I’ve got probation and some points, so I understand it.” 
WAS THERE ANY DISCUSSION IN YOUR LAST MEETING ABOUT HOW TO RACE EACH OTHER FROM THAT POINT ON? “Yeah, the idea was we were supposed to go forward and race one another clean. We drove down into turn one on the last lap of that race and that didn’t happen. It’s tough. Any driver that’s being honest will tell you that when you’re put in that position it’s very tough to decide what to do. But when you’ve repeatedly had trouble with somebody, it becomes not so tough.” 
HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED BY THE STRONG FEELINGS FANS HAVE HAD, AND YOU’RE KIND OF THE GUY IN THE WHITE HAT ALL THE TIME. IS THERE MORE OF AN EDGE NOW? “I’m me. I’m Carl. I go out there and I didn’t get here by allowing anybody to run over me. That’s another thing, I’ve got to say thank you to my fans that understand what happened there and understand how that race went. I’ve got to say thank you to those folks for understanding what’s going on and not trying to turn this into something bigger than it is. It’s simple. He took the win away from me and I took it back from him. That’s what I said after the race and the only bad part is that other people were involved, and I apologize to those people and I accept my penalty for it. But, as far as understanding me, my fans understand me and the people that I’ve talked to – it’s funny how you go around and people – to a person – people felt like that race went the way it should have.” 
ANY DRIVERS SAY THAT TO YOU? “Yes, multiple drivers.” 
PEOPLE SEE ALL THIS STUFF AND WONDER WHO IS THE REAL CARL. CAN YOU UNDERSTAND THAT? “I can understand that, but the people who know me and the people who take time to look at the entire picture understand that it is very possible to be kind, but not be weak. There’s a big difference, and I feel as a person it’s my job to be kind to people, treat everyone the way I’d like to be treated, but I will not be walked on. I won’t be stepped on. The people who are my fans and the people who know me respect that, and the other ones, if they don’t respect that, it’s either they can’t understand it or they don’t want to, and that’s a good enough reason for people to not like me, I guess, and that’s okay.” 
WHAT COULD CHANGE THAT? “What am I supposed to do? Overwhelmingly, the response I’ve gotten is I should have got out of the car and made up some sort of story about what happened. That’s not me. As much as people would like that to be me, as much as people would like for me to be something other than I’m not, it’s right here. I’m who I am.” 
THERE’S A FINE LINE BETWEEN BEING WALKED ON AND BULLYING AND A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS WEEK THAT YOU’RE A BULLY. DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT AND HOW DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE LINE IS BETWEEN STANDING UP FOR YOURSELF AND BEING A BULLY? “In competition it’s really easy to determine that line. Saturday night was a perfect example. Somebody takes something from you in competition and they take it unfairly, then you either accept that and you can go on and live with that, which, Saturday night I couldn’t, or you go get it back. That’s for other people to decide. I just go do the very best I can. When I was done, I walked out of that race track with my head held high.” 
HE SAID THERE’S NO REASON TO TALK. “I don’t think we really have much to talk about. I don’t.”
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion – ABOUT THIS RACE AND IT’S PLACE IN NASCAR? “I think if you just look at NASCAR history books, they haven’t run here that long so, obviously, Darlington and Daytona certainly trump that as far as NASCAR history. But, certainly, this is one of the most historic race tracks there is probably in the world. There’s a lot of history here with the Indy 500 and running those cars, so it’s neat for me to be able to come to these tracks and be able to participate because they never had stock cars on it until whenever they came here in the early nineties, so it’s pretty special to be able to compete here. But you also realize, at the same time, it’s not really home. It’s not like going to Daytona, where NASCAR racing started and was founded. You realize that this is somebody else’s home and they’re nice enough to let you come and visit.” 
WHY DOES IT SEEM YOU CAN’T SNEAK IN A WIN HERE AT INDY? IT SEEMS DRIVERS WHO WIN HERE WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS. “I don’t know if part of that is coincidence or just that those guys who win championships are really good. I don’t know, but it is a difficult race track. You have to do everything right. Track position is really important. You have to obviously have a fast car and a fast pit crew and it’s a very unique track. There’s not really another one like it, so I don’t know why the reason is that some people haven’t been able to sneak in wins. Although, through the years, I’ve seen a couple that have been won by pit strategy or staying out or that type of thing, but it does seem like the good cars still figure out how to get to the front here and win.” 
WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE FR9 ENGINE AND HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET IT FIGURED OUT? “I think they’re trying to improve it all the time. They took a long time to get it implemented getting parts and doing all the research and development, and trying to make sure they get it right when it gets rolled out on the track, so we’re excited to have the new stuff. We think it’s a little bit better than the old stuff, and I’m sure they’re gonna keep improving it.” 
HAS THE NOVELTY OF THIS RACE WORN OFF? “It’s always really exciting for me to come here, but the first time you come here is probably the most exciting by far because of the history with Indy cars and all that stuff. So that’s the most excited you ever are and you hate to say it goes down, but you get more used to it as you keep coming back. I think it’s a great race track. Obviously, it’s a challenging race track for any cars to pass, whether it’s an Indy car or a stock car. It’s a very narrow, fast, challenging race track, but I think it’s exciting. If I was a race fan, it would be one of them on my list to just come and see because it’s such a historic track. It’s so fast and so unique. There’s no other race track like it.” 
CAN ANYTHING BE DONE TO MAYBE MAKE THIS RACE MORE EXCITING? “It depends on what you want. I’ve watched the Indy 500 on TV and seen a guy win by a straightaway or have only five cars on the lead lap. That’s part of racing. When the fastest car gets in the front, unless things go wrong, hopefully he’s gonna win. The way I like watching racing before I even raced is I like to see the fastest car win, so, hopefully, that happens. But I think NASCAR has done a lot of things the last few years to ensure that the finishes are more exciting under most circumstances than what they could be. Very seldom to we have long runs to the end. We always have two-wide restarts, multiple attempts at green-white-checkers. We’ve got so much stuff going on that I don’t know how much more you could really do there.” 
IS THIS THE TOUGHEST PLACE TO PASS OTHER THAN A ROAD COURSE? “Honestly, I’ve been here before with some cars that have been really easy to pass. I’ve had some really fast cars here in the past. We haven’t been able to win here, but there have been a couple races where we’ve been unbelievably fast and I could pass at ease, and then there have been other times like last year where we came out of the pits and I couldn’t pass anybody and nobody could pass me. We’d wait until we pitted next time and see where we end up, but there have been times where we’ve been able to do pretty good.” 
WHEN DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM WILL GET BACK TO WHERE YOU USED TO BE? “I hope we’re gaining on it. I’d say that Michigan was a little bit encouraging and Chicago was really encouraging. I thought as an organization all of our cars ran really good and the Petty cars ran good, so we were probably behind those guys a little bit, but Greg ran pretty competitive. Carl ran great at the end. Kasey ran good again, so that was encouraging, so, hopefully, we can keep going in that direction.” 
IT TAKES TIME DOESN’T IT TO GET BACK INTO THE TOP 10. “I don’t know if you ever feel like you have it every week. Things change. Rules change.  Tires change. Track surfaces change. It’s a constant moving target, but, certainly I think once you get close and you’re a top 10 runner consistently then it’s easier at times to hit it right where you’ve got a chance to win and if you’re off a little bit, you can run in the latter half of the top 10. But you’ve got to get in that group first.” 
HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU KNOWING WHERE NASCAR IS DRAWING THE LINE ON PENALITIES AND HOW DOES THAT COMPARE TO YOUR PERSONAL CODE FOR RACING? “As far as what NASCAR does as far as taking the gloves off or penalties, honestly, that hasn’t changed my outlook or how I race. Two good guys to probably talk about that would be Mark Martin and Jeff Burton. I’m not gonna change the way I race because of what the rules are. Now there have been times where I’ve stepped over the edge and lost my mind and ran into somebody and got penalized for it, and knew I was probably gonna get penalized for it, but whether there’s a penalty for something after the race or not, it’s not gonna change my code or my ethics, or how I’m gonna race somebody, or how I expect to be raced. I’m still gonna race the same, so that doesn’t really matter to me. Whether it’s so strict that I’m gonna get in trouble for something after the race, or it’s so loose that I wouldn’t, it really wouldn’t change how I race because you’ve got to race these people each and every week. It’s a long season. I think that if you respect people, most of the time you get that respect back and that’s what I’m gonna try to do no matter what the rules are.” 
CAN YOU DESCRIBE DENNY HAMLIN’S DRIVING STYLE? “Denny’s been awesome since he showed up on the circuit. He’s been real competitive in that car all the time and, like any team, I’m sure they’ve gone through highs and lows, but they’ve been really competitive. He’s one of those drivers that most of the time when he wins those races he doesn’t make a lot of noise, which is a good thing and a compliment. He’s pretty smart. You don’t see him do dumb things and take himself out of races or anything like that.” 
IT’S BEEN AN UPHILL BATTLE SO FAR FOR YOU. DO YOU FEEL THE HILL IS FLATTENING OUT? “I don’t know. There are times it feels it’s going a little better, and at times it seems like it’s not, but we keep working on it. As an organization, it seemed like Chicago was a pretty good weekend for the Petty organization and the Roush organization. They all seemed to run pretty well, so, hopefully, we can continue that.” 
IS THE NEW ENGINE MAKING A DIFFERENCE? “Honestly, it’s hard to tell for me. I think it’s probably a little bit better, but we haven’t had our cars going through the corner the way they need to, so it’s really hard to tell for me if the motor is a little bit better or a little bit worse. It’s pretty tough until we get our cars right.” 
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE HERE AT INDY? “Passing. Last year, it was really difficult to pass. Track position was very important. You had to have your car right, for sure, but even if you did have your car right that track position was just unbelievably important.” 
HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO KISS THE BRICKS ON SUNDAY? “I don’t know if kissing the bricks would be that cool, but to win the race would be pretty cool – to be in Victory Lane and have the trophy and do all that stuff. But I’ve seen a lot of pictures of a lot of people kissing those bricks that I don’t want to kiss.” 
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE BRAD AND CARL SITUATION? “I don’t really have much of an opinion on what’s going on with those guys because I don’t really know the whole history. I haven’t been in the car or in conversations they’ve had afterwards. I mean, there are probably a lot of things that maybe we haven’t seen that we’re not thinking of that led to the boiling point. Certainly, if you just look at the incident on Saturday and don’t think of anything else, it seemed like it was pretty extreme and over the top, but I think there has probably been a lot that led up to that.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – ON A PROPOSED CHANGE TO THE POINT SYSTEM. “It’s kind of a wild idea out there. Our sport, historically, has been rewarded for consistency and being there every week and competing, and not just one race. But, on the flip side of the coin, you’re not just gonna fall into being in the top five at Homestead. You’re gonna have to be in the top 15 or have to be in the top 10, or whatever the proposal is for how it would shake down. So it’s still gonna have the best cars competing for the title. It’s still a fairly kind of wild idea as far as a Super Bowl or a playoff, where one team wins just one event. That could be pretty interesting.” 
HAS THE ATTENTION SPAN OF AMERICA MADE IT TO WHERE THERE HAS TO BE MORE DRAMA? “Well, let’s face it, I think in the last five-seven years, the reality-based TV shows of everything we see on TV – it started out with Survivor – people want to see dramatized, real-life things play out. We’re hungry for that. The Bachelor. The Bachelorette. All of this drama and these what’s gonna happen next. You want to make it exciting and interesting. It has to be, so that’s part of it, I think. People don’t want to see the same old thing. I think a lot of people don’t like to see change, but then when you do change you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good.’ So I don’t know about the point format. I guess if we want to go back to 2005 and implement it, I’ll be great with it because I’d be the champion. I was third in points going in and I won the race and Tony finished 15th. I could put that notch in my belt for a first championship, and then the second year I won the race but wasn’t in the top three, so it’s definitely an interesting concept.” 
ARE YOU MORE ACCEPTING OF THAT IDEA? “I’ve convinced myself a little bit of the idea solely for the fact that Homestead is one of my good race tracks. As long as they don’t move it to Martinsville or someplace like that for the champion to be decided, my chances have to be fairly strong to be in the top five going into Homestead and then win the race. Or I actually don’t have to win, I’ve got to beat the other five guys.” 
HOW DID THEY PRESENT THE IDEA TO YOU? “I think they’re floating ideas, and, certainly it’s probably not the only one on the table. There are several ideas of, ‘How do we ramp up the excitement a little bit?’ At first I thought, ‘Well, that’s dumb because you’re gonna put the champion in one race.’ Well, you’re really not if you think about it. You’ve got to be, and I’ve said it with the chase format, if you’re not in the top 12 at the cutoff, you’re probably not in condition to win the championship anyway. So, you could technically have every car in the chase, the whole field in the chase, and the outcome is gonna be the same. Jimmie Johnson is gonna win the last four times. You could have had the whole field in the chase and reset the whole thing. So, does it really matter? The best cars are gonna win the races and the championships, so, under those ideas, I think that it could work.” 
IS THAT THE ONLY IDEA YOU TALKED TO THEM ABOUT? “No, I think the whole Nationwide issue with Cup drivers running for a championship and scheduling. There was a lot of miscellaneous and housekeeping type of stuff. It’s nothing real important, but the points idea and testing was a topic, so there was lots of stuff.”  
HOW IS THE FR9 ENGINE COMING ALONG? “I think the Ford engine is coming along good. Yeah, I’m disappointed we tested the limits of it at Chicago and found a failed valve spring, but that’s gonna happen. You’re gonna have issues with new engines and there are gonna be growing pains, and we found one of them. But, overall, the engine runs great off the corner and has lots of power. I feel pretty good about our engine shop building good parts.” 
HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WITH WHERE NASCAR IS DRAWING THE LINE AND HOW IT COMPARES TO YOUR PERSONAL CODE? “As far as me personally, I think the line is in a perfect spot because we want to race hard and we want to push and shove a little bit and do what we need to do to put on a good show, and, when it gets down to it, race for a win. We also know that they’re not gonna tolerate spinning a guy out on purpose. They’ve kind of made that statement with what they did, so I think we all know where the line is at and I think we’re all happy with it, honestly.”
WAS THERE ANY TALK ABOUT EXTRA POINTS FOR WINS THROUGHOUT THE FIRST 25 RACES? “No. I don’t think they’ve got it that refined. I think they’re just kind of floating ideas to get our reaction right now. Maybe behind the scenes they’ve mathematically kind of mapped this thing out, but, really, they were just saying, ‘What do you think about having more guys and then have a cutoff and another cutoff.’ That’s about all they’ve said.” 
THEY DIDN’T GIVE YOU PRECISE DATES? “No, they didn’t talk dates, number of points. They didn’t talk about wins within going for the cutoff. I’d imagine it would be the same, just 10 points bonus for winning.” 
THERE WAS TALK ABOUT HOW THEY DO PODIUM FINISHES IN F1. “They didn’t talk anything about that. The discussion a while back, and I’ve heard a lot of discussion – whether it’s media or drivers – but I’ve heard a lot of discussion about having the Chase drivers top 12 get 1-12 points. So if you blow up and finish 43rd, you get 12th-place points technically and that guy gets 11th and so on. To me, I thought that would be the change they would make, so then in one race you’re not dramatically behind.” 
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THEM OPENING THE GATES AND NOT LETTING CUP GUYS WIN NATIONWIDE OR TRUCK TITLES? “I agree with it, but there are pros and cons to it. You can make cases both ways. I agree that we need to build up the Nationwide Series. We need to build some stars in that Nationwide Series. I also feel like there has to be an age limit that goes along with the Cup guys not being able to compete over there because if you still have the 18 year old kids coming into the Cup Series, you’re still not gonna build any stars in the Nationwide Series and that’s your point. I don’t think it has to be 21 years old, make it 20. So get a Nationwide young guy to go over there, win a championship, he’s got a full season – make it either 20 years old or a full season. So if he’s 18, runs a full season, wins the title or finishes third  in points – whatever he does – then let him come into Cup. At least get one full season so you can start building that Nationwide Series up, and the same goes for not letting the Cup guys go and win the title. Let the other guys win the titles. Yes, we need to be in the series to compete against those young guys. A perfect example was Brad Keselowski. Would Brad have a Cup ride today if it wasn’t for his performance in the Nationwide Series? No. If he didn’t beat Carl, didn’t beat me, didn’t beat Kyle Busch for wins, and won Nationwide races and ran up front, he wouldn’t have gotten a Cup ride, he just wouldn’t have and that’s what the series is supposed to do. That’s exactly what it’s for, and I understand that’s what they’re trying to get it back to, but, without the age limit or keeping somebody there for at least a full season to compete, you’re kind of missing it still, I think.” 
DO YOU THINK TO RUN UP FRONT YOU CAN BE THE GENTLEMAN DRIVER LIKE JEFF BURTON AND SOME OF THESE GUYS WITHOUT BEING MORE AGGRESSIVE TODAY THAN MAYBE 10 YEARS AGO? “I think so. I do because Jeff Burton is pretty damn aggressive. He doesn’t give up. These cars inherently take a little more abuse than the old car does. This thing is built, I don’t want to say like a battleship, but it’s built a little tougher than the old car. The old car, if you got in the fence a little bit and scraped it up, you’ve got problems. Kurt Busch ran it against the fence for 200 laps at Atlanta and won, so, that being said, this car can take a little bit more and keep going. Here’s the thing, if I know I run down in the corner and I put my fender against that guy, I’m done. My stuff is going to the back because I’ve bent the fender in and it changed the aero of the car. The fenders on these cars aren’t as sensitive as they once were. The old Nationwide car still is. I remember Kansas last year I was passing for the lead and Joey Logano drove down in the corner and came up and door slammed me in the left side, smashed my fender in and pushed me against Kyle and I dropped like a rock. There was 20 laps to go and I finished eighth, so you couldn’t run into stuff with the old car and banging those fenders in and continue to go. Now you can a little bit more.” 
HE WAS JUST SAYING HE FEELS HE HAS TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE JUST TO STAY IN THE TOP FIVE. “Yeah, he has to stay more aggressive but yet the competition is a lot tougher. It just is. You’ve got Kyle and Denny Hamlin and Tony is still there, Ryan’s there, I’m there, Jeff Gordon’s there, Matt’s there. There are just more guys. You not only have to be more aggressive, but you’ve got to drive harder, getting on and off pit road, double-file restarts – you’ve got to go – so you have to be more aggressive, but I don’t think you’ve got to run into stuff.” 
DO YOU THINK THE SCHEDULE WILL BE DIFFERENT? “I really don’t know because we didn’t talk a lot about the schedule. We just had a little Town Hall Meeting and we didn’t talk a lot about the schedule, so I don’t know how different it’s gonna be and, actually, I haven’t even heard any rumors about it. I don’t know. I just don’t think you can go and just change it dramatically because of our TV package and tracks. I think there’s a lot more to it. If you’re gonna shorten some events to two days, instead of three, or shorten them to three, instead of four. I think there’s so much that needs to go into that packaging if you’re talking about that.” 
WHAT ABOUT ADDING KENTUCKY? “I definitely think Kentucky is a great place to race, but I would say moving a race from Pocono or Martinsville – or one of those race tracks, some place we go twice now that we can’t fill the grandstands and don’t have the TV ratings – I would say those would be opportunities to move races to Kentucky or another place.” 
ARE YOU INSIDE OR OUTSIDE ON DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS HERE AT INDY? “I think I’m gonna be on the inside. It’s a little easier to get a run down there, but, at the same time, no matter what, we’re gonna be four-wide or five-wide because these cars draft a bunch and you’re gonna get a push from somebody. It’s a crazy place for double-file restarts.” 
WILL IT BE DIFFERENT WITH THIS TIRE AND THE SPOILER? “I think it’ll be a little different, but I don’t think it’ll be dramatically different.”



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