Sprint All-Star Race Advance

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Sprint All-Star Race Advance

            Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, and Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, are both currently out of the Sprint All-Star Race. Each has a chance to drive their way in by finishing first or second in the Sprint Showdown or winning the fan vote. Both drivers spoke about their situations in the media center this afternoon.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY TO RACE IN? “We just have to go fast. There were some pretty fast cars in the Shootout practice, but I felt like ours was pretty good. We could run some pretty fast laps and I just watched the beginning of All-Star practice and it looked like we’d be fairly competitive with a lot of those guys, at least on their first runs, so I feel pretty good about it. It’s just like back at the dirt track, we’ve got to race our way into the feature here and, hopefully, we can do it.” 
HOW PAINFUL WOULD IT BE TO MISS THE ALL-STAR RACE? “We ran really well. I think we led most of the Showdown one time and finished third, and that was tough. That was really tough, so to sit back and watch this race is not what any driver wants to do, but that’s part of what makes it so special is that it really is an elite group of drivers in the All-Star race and if we earn our way into it, then we’ll go racing. If we don’t, we’ll move on to the next weekend. I’ve been on both sides of it, but I can tell you it’s a lot more fun to race in that All-Star race than it is to watch it.” 
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT POCONO IN A FEW WEEKS? “I really enjoy racing at Pocono. It’s fun. I was just describing it the other day to someone. You drive down into turn one and you go in extremely fast and then you come off turn one and there are big bumps. You go down that back straightaway that has the tunnel turn and that’s one of the most difficult turns in the series, and then they put that new patch of pavement in turn three. That makes it a driver’s corner down there because you can drive around and make some things happen, so I think all the drivers would agree that Pocono is pretty fun to drive. I know a lot of people knock it and say it’s not that much fun to watch, but if they were sitting in my seat, they would enjoy it – that’s for sure.” 
IS IT POSSIBLE THE REASON THIS SHOWDOWN FIELD IS SO STRONG IS THAT A LOT OF DRIVERS LIKE YOURSELF HAVE A PERFORMANCE DISADVANTAGE? “Maybe that’s true. You’ll hear this a lot on race day. They’ll say, ‘Hey, should we pit or not pit?’ And they say, ‘Just do what the leaders do.’ If you feel like you’re competitive, you’ll do what the leaders do because those are the guys you’re racing. So if you race that way, and you’re not quite fast enough to win, you’re always gonna be doing what the fast guys are doing. That’s a good question. With the way the sport is going now with these three attempts at a green-white-checkered and all the chaos at the end of the races, the race can be flipped over with some strategy change, so that’s maybe why you see some of the results you see.”
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – YOU HAVE TO RACE IN TOMORROW NIGHT. WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGY? “I think everybody has the same strategy. That’s really the only thing we’re gonna be able to do is have a fast enough race car and it looks like we’re about fourth or fifth on the speed chart, compared to run log, and we just have to be a little bit better and track position to beat those other three cars. We need to finish first or second. I really don’t know if it’s gonna come down to three laps of speed, or if it’s gonna come down to a 15-lap run at the end, all green, and whoever’s car can stay running fast enough is gonna win. I don’t know what it’s gonna come down to. We worked on getting our car to drive. Our test was not that good here. I think we’re a little better now. We’ll just keep working on the thing.” 
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE 600 NEXT WEEK AND GAINING POSITIONS LATE IN THE RACE? IS IT A COMBINATION OF GUYS WORKING ON THE CAR, YOU PACING YOURSELF OR ALL OF THE ABOVE? “I really think it’s all the above. We’ve been good at getting our car to drive good throughout the race, trying to stay on the lead lap, taking care of our car like brakes and engine, and trying to keep working on the race car and getting it driving good – and then start working on track position that last 100 or 75 laps of the race and try to close the deal. We’ve been real successful with that strategy. It’s a long race and we know we have to finish. We know people are gonna have tire issues, people are gonna have engine issues, people are gonna have all kinds of things, so we try and be there at the end.” 
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SHOWDOWN FIELD OF DRIVERS? “I already settled with the fact when we didn’t win Dover that, basically, we’re not in the All-Star event. This Showdown race tomorrow night is an opportunity to get in and that’s the way I’m looking at it, so we’re faced with having to finish first or second in that race. I kind of threw out the notebook and was just trying to get the car to drive good, trying to get it fast on a short run, and doing things fairly aggressively – kind of a modified qualifying setup and I’m gonna try and race it. I’m gonna try and do all I can to get the speed out of the race car. I’ve missed them before and the truth of the matter is you really need to win races if you’re passionate or you’re gonna be upset you missed the All-Star race. You’ve got to win races, so we’re gonna continue to try and do that the rest of the year and be in next year, and then we’re trying to race our win in tomorrow night.” 
KYLE BUSCH SAID YOU GO FOR THE WIN IF YOU’RE RUNNING GOOD, BUT THOUGHT YOU ROUSH FENWAY GUYS WOULD USE THIS AS A TEST. IS THAT TRUE OR ARE YOU GOING OUT THERE TRYING TO GET IN THE ALL-STAR RACE AND WIN THAT AS WELL? “A little of both. Anytime you’re practicing you’re trying to learn and certainly we’re learning for next week, and we’re trying different stuff. We’re trying all kinds of stuff. Facts are that we’re sort of using it as a test, but, at the same time, we’re trying to get our cars as fast as possible so we can get in.” 
YOU’VE DONE A BUNCH OF HALL OF FAME EVENTS. HOW HAVE YOU ENJOYED IT AND DID YOU GET TO SIT WITH EDSEL FORD LAST NIGHT? “I didn’t. They ended up moving him up in front. I’m not sure who he sat with, but he sat with some of the NASCAR folks. What I’ve been taking advantage of, I’ve been to all the Hall of Fame activities so far, is that I don’t know as much about our sport as I’d like to know. Growing up on the west coast, coming in real late and not being around it as kind of a southern sport originally and then gained a lot of exposure, so I take advantage of learning a bit about our sport and being around Junior Johnson and some of those other guys. I love hearing the stories. I could sit around listening to that all day, those guys shooting the bull about what they did and got in trouble at the hotel – all kinds of different stuff like how they got to the race track and what kinds of cars they used – so that’s a lot of fun for me to hear that, and just taking advantage of the time I’m in our sport to learn around those guys.” 
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF DRIVING A CAR INTO A SWIMMING POOL AT A HOTEL? “(Laughing) I tell you what, maybe about 10-15 years ago I might have done something like that. To be honest with you, Twitter and Facebook and all the social media and the internet, it’s a little too dangerous to do things like that because it just spreads like wildfire and everybody knows in about 38 seconds what went on. Then, it was probably six months before somebody found out and by then it’s old news. It’s like, ‘Who cares? That was six months ago.’ Now, you find out and everybody knows the next day, and then it’s a big deal, so I think that has a lot to do with it.” 
            Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion, is a former winner of the Sprint All-Star race (2004) and one of two Ford drivers currently in the main event. Kenseth held a Q&A session at Charlotte Motor Speedway to discuss this weekend.
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion – WHAT’S IT LIKE TO WIN THIS EVENT AND COMPETE IN THIS RACE? “That was fun and this weekend is always a fun weekend for us with the way the practice and race schedule goes for the next week or so. It’s always nice to get to race tomorrow night and kind of get a test for the 600 to see what the track is gonna be like at night. It’s usually a fun week.” 
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN THE LAST 10-LAP SHOOTOUT, AND HOW MUCH OF AN EDGE IS IT FOR HAMLIN TO HAVE THAT FIRST PIT STALL? “You want to be leading. I think you want to be leading just about anywhere, except for the way Talladega played out, but, other than that, I think you want to be in the front and have your choice for the restart. You want to be leading. I don’t think the pit stall really matters this week very much. It matters a little bit leaving pit road down there, but I don’t think it matter a lot because every other pit stall is empty, so you always have an opening either coming in or leaving or both. I don’t think the pit stall is gonna be a big deal as much as it would be for the 600 or if the whole field was out there and all the pit stalls were full.” 
WHY IS RACING ABLE TO MAKE ITS ALL-STAR RACE MORE WATCHABLE THAN THE REGULAR SEASON WHEN THE OTHER SPORTS ARE THE OTHER WAY AROUND? “Other sports are a lot different. They’re a team sport, but none of those guys want to get hurt in their all-star game. It doesn’t really mean a lot for winning a championship or going to the Super Bowl. For us, it’s different. It’s not really that physical of a sport. It’s not like we’re gonna go sprain our ankle in the car and not be able to race next week in the 600. Plus, our race is interesting and exciting. It’s a lot shorter than normal and not a five-hour marathon like next week. It’s a 10-lap shootout at the end with a $1 million payday with no championship implications or anything like that. The pit stops are real important. You kind of know what’s gonna happen ahead of time. The pit stop contest Wednesday night is exciting, so I think it’s just hard to compare. It’s just a lot different.” 
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT POCONO IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS? IS IT HARDER TO FIGURE OUT THAN OTHERS? “I haven’t really thought about Pocono yet today. It’s kind of in the back of my mind, I guess. We’ve had a couple of decent runs there. It hasn’t been one of our strongest tracks, but it probably hasn’t been one of our worse tracks either. We’ll just approach it like any other race and go there to do our best.” 
WHAT’S THE ONE MEMORY THAT STANDS OUT ABOUT YOUR ALL-STAR WIN IN ’04? “Just racing real hard with Ryan for the win. That was the year the tire didn’t drop off a lot and guys were winning races on fuel mileage and staying out. He decided to stay out in the All-Star Race and he got that clean air and got away a little bit. I think we had four tires on and I could still barely pass him. I remember we were pretty loose and he was on older tires, and how hard we had to battle for that. It was a really fun race with him.” 
HOW DID PRACTICE GO AND DO YOU VIEW THIS AS A TEST SESSION FOR THE ROUSH FENWAY TEAMS? “I hope that we’re testing today because that means we’ll be better tomorrow (laughing). We really approach every race basically the same. The only time that, in my opinion, this race really changes is like last year when you had three-wide off of turn four and they wrecked. You might not have that in a 600-mile race. Somebody probably would have lifted, but, other than that, it’s about the same. Yeah, you’re out there going for the win, but every week if you’re in position, you’re gonna go for the win. Here, if we don’t get running better, we’re running 14th, how do you go for the win from 14th? You can’t, so you still have to be in position to win and be competitive. I wouldn’t say we really use it as a test. The whole test here, we as a team – just speaking for the 17, I can’t really speak for the rest of the Roush cars – but we ran really poorly. We couldn’t figure it out. We unloaded today and my car actually drove the same, so it’s been a real struggle all day today. I don’t have any idea what to expect for qualifying, but, hopefully, we’ll be able to improve it for tomorrow night.”

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