Q & A with Carl Edwards
After a few days testing tires at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last week, Carl Edwards hopped the pond to compete in today’s Race of Champions at Wembley Stadium in London. Then it’s on to Thailand for some sightseeing before his wedding on Jan. 3. He squeezed in some time for a phone interview with Tribune sports editor Joe Walljasper to discuss the 2008 season, in which he finished second in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, as well as his hectic offseason and his upcoming marriage to Dr. Kate Downey.
|Carl Edwards after his Nationwide win at Milwaukee this season|
Q: Now that you’ve had a few weeks to reflect, what are your thoughts on how your season turned out?
A: Well, it’s second, you know. It’s better than third, but the goal was to win both championships. Overall, the feeling for me is motivating. You’re so close in both series, and it makes it a real possible goal.
Q: In the Sprint Cup, you won nine races, which was more than anyone else, and also had more top-fives and more top-10s. Are you satisfied that the Chase for the Sprint Cup format is a good way to determine the champion?
A: If there weren’t a Chase, I think someone said that we scored the most points. But the fact is, there is a Chase and it’s the format. I guess if there weren’t a Chase, we would have won that, and if there were a Chase in the Nationwide Series, we would have won that series. So it could go a number of ways. The Chase, the way it is, Jimmie (Johnson) has won three in a row, and if there weren’t a Chase, he would have won one. If I was in Jimmie’s position, I wouldn’t want anything to be different.
As a fan, I think the Chase is really neat. It’s more like a playoff system where you get to start fresh and finish the season and see who’s the champion. I think it’s pretty cool for the fans. Overall, I’m happy with the format. It’s fine.
Q: For most of the regular season you and Kyle Busch were dominating. There was some debate when he got upset after you beat him at Bristol that you two were becoming heated rivals. Are you rivals?
A: It’s tough to have a real good rivalry because you have so many fast guys. When you’re racing 1 and 2, like Jimmie and I at the end of the year, I thought that was a friendly rivalry but it was a really good competition. I think Kyle and I were in the same position earlier in the year. I don’t think it was really any more than just a good on-track rivalry. We just shot a commercial together the other day for Gillette.
Q: After you won at Pocono, your boss, Jack Roush, said that he didn’t think you were ready to win a title until this year. What did you make of that statement?
A: I understand where he was coming from, but I did not completely agree with him. Let me put it to you this way: It takes a lot to win a title. I would say I’m the best now as a driver that I’ve ever been. I’m learning more every year. In that respect, yeah, I’m probably more prepared to win a title. But we were only 35 points from winning a title in 2005. That’s pretty close. You can go back and change some calls on pit road or things like that and get those 35 points pretty quick without the driver having to do anything different, so I think it’s a whole team effort. Our whole team is more ready now than ever.
Q: When I was talking to your publicist about setting up this interview, he said you were testing in Las Vegas, then racing in London, then going to Thailand, then getting married, so maybe you would be available in the middle of January. It doesn’t seem like your offseason is very off. Do you like it that way or would you like to take a month to just chill out?
A: I get quite a bit of off time here and there throughout the season. Mondays and Tuesdays are usually pretty easy. Everyone does a really good job of scheduling so that I can get time off when I need it. I can’t just sit around for more than a couple days. I’ve got to go do something. I would say this offseason is pretty much perfect for me. I’ve got a lot going on that is going to be really fun the next few weeks. I’m getting married, so January is pretty open. January is really going to be my time to relax a little more.
Q: How did you get involved with this Race of Champions rally-car race in London?
A: I got invited, which is an honor. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have done it, and they say it’s a lot of fun. The chance to go race head to head against Formula One champions and rally-car champions is really neat.
Q: What was the appeal of a vacation in Thailand?
A: We went to Australia a couple years ago. It was really neat. I had never been out of the country overseas — I had been to Mexico and Canada. It was cool to go somewhere different. While we were in the airport going to Australia, there were some airlines that were going to Thailand or Hong Kong. The people and everything going on seemed so different. So we decided in the airport that the next time we go on a big trip we were going to go to the East and see a place that’s a lot different than we’re used to.
Q: What are you going to do when you get there?
A: We don’t know yet. We don’t have a plan. That’s part of the fun.
Q: Have you learned any of the Thai language or are you just going to wing it?
A: I’ll try. I’m sure we will out of necessity. I don’t have a book or anything.
Q: Speaking of different experiences, you’re about to be married. Did you come up with an original way to propose to Kate or were you straightforward?
A: It was straightforward. I honestly think the pure shock of me proposing was enough. I don’t think that she expected it. It was very cool. I’m excited about that more than anything else I’ve ever been excited about.
Q: Was it important for you to find a woman that had her own career and wasn’t just going to be Mrs. Carl Edwards?
A: She’s amazing. She’s just a great person, and that’s all there is to it. She’s the most kind person I’ve ever met.
Q: You fly yourself all over the country in your private jet, back and forth from races to Columbia. Do you ever just want to let someone else drive for a change?
A: It works out great for me. I feel like I’m proficient enough at it that it’s relaxing. It would probably be more work for me to manage another employee than it would make up for in time in the airplane. For me, it’s the greatest freedom in the world.
We’re in Vegas right now. My dad and I took off this morning at 6 a.m. and were in Vegas at 7:45 a.m. here.
Q: Do you foresee Columbia being your home for the long term?
A: Yeah, I plan on living in Columbia my whole life. I hope it works out that way. I grew up in Columbia. When I got hired by Jack Roush, I was excited to leave. I had gone to school there, went to college there, and I thought it would be great to go out and find some better thing. Man, I traveled all over, and I don’t believe there’s a better place to live than Columbia, Missouri. Columbiatribune.com