Top Three Ford Drivers Talk Michigan

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Top Three Ford Drivers Talk Michigan

Carl Edwards is the most recent Ford driver to claim victory at Michigan International Speedway with his 2008 3M 400 win. That victory was the historic 11th owner win for Jack Roush, tying him with the Wood Brothers for the most by any car owner at MIS.  Edwards meet with the media Friday to discuss where he feels his team is headed, driver interaction, the new FR9 engine and more.

TALK ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE RUN – “We worked hard on race trim and Bob tried a couple things, then we made two qualifying runs … now we are watching it rain. I am not sure if we will get qualifying in or not, so we felt like we balanced our practice pretty well either way.”

HOW CLOSE DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE TO REALLY BEING COMPETITIVE AND UP FRONT?  “If you take the best car at each of our races, including the RPM guys, we have been very close. If you look at one individual car and look at how we’ve run through all the races, we are still pretty far off. I guess that is what we have to hope for in having all these teams to lean on, taking the best car in each race and looking at that to apply it the next time.  I am hopeful that we are close, but I can’t quite tell. Our best race was Richmond and I felt we had a top two or three car. Our team hasn’t been that fast, but our teammates have at times. I just don’t know, but I hope we are close to figure something out.”

WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER THAT THERE WAS AN ISSUE WITH DATA SIMULATION?  “I don’t know that there is ever a time where you say, ‘Oh, we discovered an issue’.  The evidence is the performance. That is where we are focusing our energy because Jack feels like that is the issue. I am not the person to say here are the procedural problems we have. What we are doing is not working as well as some of the other guys and considering we don’t have the opportunity to go test makes simulations hugely important. We’ve got that and a bunch of other things, that if they were better, we would be faster.”

WHO WEARS THE FIRE SUIT IN YOUR FAMILY?  (Laughter) “I’m wearing it.”  IS IT MORE IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO TRY TO WIN A RACE TO PROVE YOU GUYS CAN DO IT, OR ARE YOU MORE CONCERNED WITH TRYING TO STAY IN THE TOP-12?  “We’ve already proven we can win races … not right now we can’t, but we have in the past. I know what it is like to win more races than anybody in a season. I know what that feels like and I know we can do it, so for us the important thing is to be in the Chase.  If on Sunday we had to take a huge risk to try to win the race, or we could be guaranteed a third place finish, we would have to take the third place finish so that we can be in the Chase to try to win a championship. I don’t want those types of choices, but that is where we are at.”

IF YOU WERE KEVIN HARVICK, WOULD YOU EXPECT TO GET ONE FROM JOEY LOGANO, AND IF YOU WERE JOEY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?  “I am not either one of them. It is just racing. What is going on between them isn’t for me to comment on, it is between them.”

JACK SAID EARLIER THIS WEEK THAT THE NEW ENGINES ARE MARGINALLY BETTER, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THAT?  “Here is the deal, everyone at Roush Yates Engines works very hard and they are doing a very good job. It would be nice for us to have an engine that everybody else is trying to catch up to, instead of us trying to catch up to them. I think one of the things we have been trying to do is not to think of how we can catch up to everyone because that is not going to work. We have to figure out how to be the guys everyone is trying to catch. It is a lot easier when you are in that position. The new engine seems to be very reliable and makes great power. I can only hope that the future is that it will produce more power and we can run more tape and the rest of the guys will be complaining that we have too much motor.”

YOU LEFT OUT THE WORD FAST. YOU SAID POWERFUL, BUT IS THE NEW ENGINE NOT AS FAST AS IT NEEDS TO BE?  “I didn’t leave out the word fast because an engine isn’t fast. It produces power so that the car can be fast. It seems to be powerful, maybe even a little bit more than our other engine.  That is a separate thing.  A lot of people come up to us and talk about how the new engine is coming and you are going to be faster, but the problem isn’t our engines. The problem is how fast the car can go through the center of the corner and the balance. The engine is a separate thing. Right now it looks like it is as good as or better than the old engine. We are all hoping that in the next couple of months that we can gain 10 or 15 horsepower. That would be great. Then we would be faster for sure, regardless of if we fix our handling problems.”

CAN YOU LOOK AHEAD FOR US TO NEW HAMPSHIRE?  “I like New Hampshire. I almost won my first time there in the trucks. I have won Nationwide there, maybe two. I felt like we were going to win the race when we had the Red Sox car. I enjoy that race track. It has been one of those tracks that we have struggled with as a group. That and Phoenix have not been our strong points. I am optimistic because we ran well at Richmond and I think that some of that thinking could be good at New Hampshire. It is a little flatter, but it is smooth and has smiliar speed as Richmond. For us as a team, having Fenway Park right up the road, there is a lot of pride for us to run well there.”

DOES THE RAIN TODAY IMPACT YOUR DOUBLE-DUTY SCHEDULE?  “I have no clue what my schedule is going to be. We always try to figure it out about two weeks in advance but I can’t make a decision to be honest. I was going to ride with Joey, but we go out 45th and he goes out fourth, so he said we have to figure out our own way to get there. It frustrates Angela, my assistant, because I can’t make a decision what I want to do.”

I UNDERSTAND YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF NOT TRYING TO CATCH-UP, BUT TRYING TO GET AHEAD. DO YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT WHAT OTHER TEAMS ARE DOING?  “Yeah, I am not saying we aren’t trying to catch up. We are looking at other teams. If we could go copy the fastest car we would. What I am saying is that within our team, our culture, you don’t think about being as fast as the others because it won’t make you faster. A couple of years ago when Jack figured out the axle housing, that got us ahead … and that was nice. When we were that fast, we still didn’t win all the races. We won a bunch, but not all. We aren’t going to settle for being as good as everyone, we want to be better.”

“We still go testing. I don’t think we do less work than anyone. I think why we are pointing at the simulation is because that is what determines what you are going to work on once you get to the race track. It is the interface between the work and the output on the race track. That is the formula that may or may not be right, if that makes sense.”

GOING INTO THE 2010 SEASON, DID YOU HAVE ANY INKLING YOU WOULD BE IN THIS SITUATION?  “Yes I did. We were worse in 2009 I think. I think we are doing better now. I thought things could be worse now I guess. When the season started I thought we might be in real trouble. Now we have three cars in the Chase, we are able to run top-10 … it’s not terrible.  I am not pleasantly surprised, but not surprised the other way either.”

WHAT WAS YOUR DEFINING MOMENT WHEN YOU SENT THE MESSAGE YOU WOULDN’T BE A DOORMAT ON THE RACE TRACK?  “I don’t know if there is a defining moment. I am simple. I don’t mind confronting anybody about anything. I hope people know that if they are going to wreck me, or take advantage of me, that I am going to address that.  I hate to talk about other people’s deals. I will speak for myself and say that as a person, you have to stick up for yourself. I don’t see anyone in the garage that doesn’t stick up for themselves. I think we are all pretty clear about that stuff. I thought last weekend went just like it should have. I don’t think there was anything out of the ordinary.  It’s not my fight though. Those guys are their own guys.  It is tough. Everybody has to deal with it. I am sure you all deal with it in your business too. Everybody does it, you just don’t have cameras and everybody’s opinion interjected into it. I am sure if somebody steals your parking space, you might have some things to say that if a camera was right there, we would all be like ‘wow!’  That is just part of being a person.”

YOU MADE IT A POINT TO CONGRATULATE BRAD KESELOWSKI AFTER HIS WIN LAST WEEK, WHAT WAS THE IMPETUOUS THERE?  “Brad and I had our issues, but like we have talked about a bunch, I did not mean to flip him over into a fence. I was just trying to spin him out. That is behind us … it is done. Brad and I get along just fine. Me going over to congratulate him was just me saying he had a heck of a race. I know I had him nervous a little but he kept his cool and won that race. I thought he did a good job, so I just wanted to congratulate him like I would with anybody.”

DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS SHOULD CONTINUE TO RESOLVE THINGS ON YOUR OWN, EVEN IF IT MEANS ON THE RACE TRACK?  “I think we should be able to resolve things on the tracks, or in the pits, or wherever. You have to be able to tell guys that things don’t fly. I am normal. I grew up in Columbia, Missouri. If you had an issue with somebody, you go and take care of it. You can’t let it be because it won’t fix itself. What is different now is that you are on television and everybody has an opinion and it gets twisted around. That is one dimension of it. The second part is that some of the participants understand that very well and manipulate it. They don’t act like normal people and use you guys to make whatever reality they want to be. It becomes very difficult as a driver to decide what to do. You think it would be great if you could pull a guy aside and work things out. If you can’t work it out then whatever, but you can’t do that now. It is like this big mess now.”

ARE WE GETTING TO THE POINT LIKE HOCKEY WHERE THEY SETTLE THINGS WITH A FIGHT?  IS THAT WHAT IS COMING NEXT?  “I don’t know what to say about that. Every situation is different and you just have to do what you have to do.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE INTENSITY RATCHETING UP EACH WEEK?  “It is crazy. It is incredible really. I think it is hard for people to understand who aren’t in the cars. I heard a lot of talk this week about give and take and racing hard all the time. As a race car driver when you are in the car, there is stuff you realize like risk versus reward. Some of those restarts were just crazy. People are taking chances. I think that is a function of a couple things. The double file restart puts you in a position there to do that. Also, with the cars, it is so tough to pass that sometimes when they drop the green, guys with less to use just say ‘screw it’ and they go for it. Everybody else just gives them a wide birth and watches to see how it goes.  I can drive down in there and go three-wide and door slam someone just like the next guy. It is a tough balancing act on how hard to go on the restarts. In the end, as long as we get through without wrecking it is exciting for the fans.”

DO YOU THINK THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED POSSIBILITY WILL TAKE AWAY THE FUEL MILEAGE ISSUE HERE?  “That is a good question. I thought about that a lot at Pocono. I guess you just have to have a brace crew chief if he is going to stretch it to the very end. It depends on what everybody else is going to do. What is going to end up happening is that the last time everybody stops, lets say there is that caution but the best guy is one lap shy, of course everyone is going to get fuel there and save for that last lap. If a caution comes out before we get to that white flag … man there are going to be a lot of things going on. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it will be different.”

Matt Kenseth, is one of four two-time winners at MIS, with his most recent Michigan victory coming in the 2006 fall race.  Kenseth, who ranks fourth in driver points heading into Sunday’s race, meet with media members Friday to discuss Fords success at MIS over the years and where the Ford program is at right now, among other topics.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PAST SUCCESS HERE? “In the past, this has been one of our better race tracks, but you still have to show up and do the work. You have to have the car and execute. I like coming here though, it is one of the better tracks we run and I enjoy coming here.”

IS PART OF THE REASON THE END OF RACES ARE SO CRAZY BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE ON THE LEAD LAP THAT DON’T HAVE ANY BUSINESS BEING THERE?  “I don’t know. It happens because that is what the powers that be want. If you keep putting guys into two-way restarts and have three green-white-checkers and do that over and over, going three or four wide on the last few laps, there is no time for patience. There are a lot of guys on the lead lap lately … that is just the way it is these days. We have to figure out the best way to make it work for ourselves.”

HOW DID YOU SET A TONE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER SO THAT GUYS DIDN’T COME AFTER YOU?  “I can’t even remember when I was Joey’s age. Every situation is different. Most of the time, if you try to respect people and race people the way you like to be raced, you will get that respect back. Throughout a career you will have people that you just rub the wrong way or vice versa, but you just have to try to get it worked out in your own way. I think everybody handles it their own way and everyone does it a little bit differently.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE NEW ENGINE AND WHAT YOU HAVE NOTICED FROM IT SO FAR?  “Hopefully we are getting better. I haven’t had a very good day today myself. My teammates seem to be running okay though. I don’t really have any warm and fuzzy answers for you right now because we were so bad in the car today. We have some work to do for this weekend to get competitive. Hopefully it will stop raining so that we can get a couple hours of practice in tomorrow to get things figured out.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR SON ROSS FOLLOWING IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS?  “Yeah, Ross is doing really well.  It is his first year moving up. He won a couple of races lately and it has been a lot of fun to own that team. I really enjoy having the cars for Ross to race and he has been doing really good. He has been getting really good grades and behaving well and loves racing. It has been fun to watch him learn and have success.”

HOW IS THE SPOILER AFFECTING YOUR PROGRAM, AND DO YOU THINK IT HAS HAD ANY IMPACT ON THE SIMULATION PROBLEMS JACK TALKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?  “I don’t know. I haven’t noticed a big change between the spoiler and the wing. We started the year pretty strong.  I don’t know if it has changed our team. I think it has changed racing and track position, but it hasn’t been a huge change. NASCAR tried to match everything up and they were wise to do that. I can’t tell a huge difference though.”

HOW BIG IS THE GAP BETWEEN FORD AND THE REST AS FAR AS TRYING TO CATCH UP?  “I think it depends on the day. I hate when we say it is a Ford thing because most of Fords eggs are in one basket with Roush and RPM as one big group sharing. We seem to be a ways off more times than not. You do want to pass all those guys, but right now I would be happy if we were the same and able to race them like that. There have been times in the past where we stumbled on things first and were able to parlay that into wins. There have been times where we got ahead, but it is much more difficult now.”

COULD YOU EVER PICTURE YOURSELF HAVING A TOM LOGANO MOMENT IF ROSS WERE IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT?  “Absolutely not. I think that is a hard thing. As a Dad you want to be involved as much as you can. With Ross being a minor it is a little different, but once you are 18 and an adult, if you are out there racing with adults you have to be able to take care of your own situations and your own problems. A few weeks ago Ross made a mistake and got into a guy. I guess I could have called and smoothed things over, but I had Ross do it. He talked to the guy and apologized for it and tried to work through it.  That is part of growing up.”

Greg Biffle won back-to-back races at MIS with wins in the 2004 fall race and 2005 spring event.  Biffle, who currently sits 10th in driver points, talked with media members about what it takes to be successful at Michigan International Speedway.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT COMING TO A RACE TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE ENJOYED SO MUCH SUCCESS OVER THE YEARS?  “I am certainly excited to be back here. It is my favorite race track to race at. It was almost three wins last year, it was close. That is what makes this place fun. There is a lot of strategy and we can race three wide. We have lots of room to race. Our car is running decent. I think we could be better in qualifying than in practice, but we have to wait and see what the weather does.”

JOEY LOGANO IS THE BIG STORY TODAY. IS THERE SOMETHING GOING ON WITH JOEY AND EVERYBODY?  “Yeah, it does seem like he is the common denominator in the deal. I would have to gather that it might be some of his doing, if I had to guess. I have had a few run-ins over the year. There are times where you race and times where you have to give just a little. I wanted the Nationwide race and I watched him chop off Kevin Harvick for 15 laps. Kevin had his nose in there two or three times and Joey chopped it to the bottom. I knew that was only going to go on for so long. I could have written him a letter and put it in the mail and sent it to him to let him know.  He was going to have a problem eventually. On the last lap, he had a problem and doesn’t understand why.  If you don’t understand why you don’t have a problem, then you have a serious problem.  If you understand that you probably should have given some racing room, then you lick your wounds and go onto the next week. I didn’t see last week. I saw Kevin not give him any room getting into that corner there, but I am willing to bet if you watch the laps before that, Kevin was quite a bit faster than the 20 and may have been beside him a couple times. At Kansas I had the same issue. I had a run on the bottom of whoever it was and had a car that was competing with the No. 18. He dropped it down there and door slammed me and I finished ninth. He felt like there was nothing wrong with that.  Joey is a great race car driver. He has a lot of speed and a lot of talent. We have all been in those situations. He will come around.”

DO YOU EXPECT ANYTHING DIFFERENT WITH THE WAY YOUNG GUYS RACE VETERANS OR DO YOU WANT THEM TO RACE YOU THE WAY EVERYBODY ELSE DOES?  “The way everybody else does. I admit that I give the young guys in the Nationwide series the benefit of the doubt because they don’t have that experience.  You have to develop a rapport with racing around guys. I just expect them to race me the same as any of the veteran guys. If you mirror drive somebody and chop them off … run them out of room for 10 laps, they are going to spin you out and put you in the fence. That is just the way it has always been in this sport. You have to give the guy room to race. You don’t have to pull over and let him go by, but you have to find that middle ground and figure out when a guy showed up in your mirror. He didn’t just plop down out of the sky. You have to determine if you can hold them off.”

“What happens is, if you get a run on a guy and move to the bottom, then you get to the corner and he is entering in a different groove than he did the last 10 laps. That tends to start to wear you out. I will drive it in and go down there and hold my line. Everybody naturally moves down to try to crowd a guy, but it has to be within reason.”

YOU HAVE HAD RUN-INS BEFORE, HOW DO THEY USUALLY SHAKE OUT? “What usually happens is that you have some kind of crash like this, you are cussing at each other or slinging mud and then you race each other fine from then on. A lot of times it isn’t an issue. Normally that is how it gets resolved. It goes from an extreme to treating each other with respect. That is most of the time how it pans out, believe it or not.  I get along with Kevin fine. We both understand that we have to race each other and give each other room.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE NEW FR9 ENGINE AND WHAT IT WILL DO FOR YOU GUYS?  “The engine is just one part of the equation. This engine runs a little better after the corner. We were getting beat there before, but this engine has a tad bit better cooling and we can run a little more tape on the grill. On restarts it goes through the gears a little bit better. It is more about handling though. It doesn’t matter how much power you have if you don’t have the handling. It is one piece of the puzzle that will make us better.”

LAST YEAR HERE THERE WAS THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT MANY MANUFACTURERS WERE SCALING BACK THEIR INVOLVEMENT WITH NASCAR PROGRAMS. WITH THE RECENT SUCCESS OF FORD AS A COMPANY, HOW HAVE YOUR TEAMS BENEFITED FROM THAT SUCCESS?  “They never veered from the course. I was at Ford yesterday and got to see the new technology and got to drive all the new cars. It is no wonder to me how they are the industry leader. I think that will continue into the future. They are building such great product while the other companies are trying to get back at it. I wish we could hold our end of the bargain up. We are carrying that banner out here.  I got lucky that the leadership had the insight to move the company in the right direction and that just happened to be who I was driving for. I couldn’t be prouder.”



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