Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 19 Stanley Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing met with the media earlier today at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Below, is the transcript.
What would it mean to get the win here Saturday night and advance to the Eliminator round of the Chase?
“Winning here would be great. This is going to be one of the toughest rounds – we talked a little bit about it this week. It’s good to be driving a JGR Toyota though. We’ve been working really hard, the cars have been faster, we were fast in practice and we all feel pretty good – the balance feels pretty good. The tough thing is just to balance the car for the night race and right now conditions are so much different. Definitely a win would be huge. I do believe this round is going to be a real tough one."
How aware are you of the JGR teammates through the Chase rounds?
“I guess eventually we’ll hopefully be battling one another, but right now we’ve done so well working together. I still feel like the more we can share with one another and the more we can help each other with anything the better off it is for the group. I guess that could be a problem later, you never know. I hope it’s a problem, I hope we’re having to race one another, but really right now because Talladega looms out there you just have to focus on being as fast as you can these next two weeks and we’re just getting our car as good as we can get it and try to get a win."
Do you feel like Kevin Harvick is dominating competition right now?
“I think honestly what the first round showed us was that no matter how fast you are and no matter how much confidence you have, no matter what the history has shown – anything can happen and you can be out of this thing. Really to me the story from the first three races, the part that stands out is that you have a team like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) team out of it and a team like the 4 (Kevin Harvick) team as fast as they’ve been almost not make it out of the first round. If that doesn’t tell you how tough this is then I don’t know what else could. I really think right now it’s tempting to focus on a fast car and somebody is doing well, but really you just have to go out there and do your own thing and just not be in a bad position. It’s really going to be tough."
|Edwards celebrates his win in May's Coca Cola 600|
How much better are you now than you were in May?
“I think we’re a lot better than we were in May. That win was a gift, Darian (Grubb, crew chief) just made it happen and I think we would have been about a 10th or 12th place car if I remember correctly. Coming back, we are markedly better than we were at the beginning of the year and I think that’s good. I think to advance you not only have to have a lot of good luck, but you’re going to have to run up front the way everybody is able to step it up in this Chase is pretty amazing."
What do you see specifically being better now with the team versus here in May?
“I don’t think there’s one thing, I think overall just every little part and working together and just getting the setups better and the cars better and what’s been amazing is to watch how the whole group and the whole organization just keeps marching forward. Even if it’s just little things, we’re always moving forward and making the cars faster. It’s fun to be a part of that and it’s fun to see throughout the year just the increase in speed maybe not every week, but if you go month to month we seem to get faster and faster."
Was it an eye opener for JGR to see the speed from the 4 team at New Hampshire and Dover?
“Those guys have been so fast just the last couple of years. They’ve done a great job and I think they are just plain and simple, they’ve been really fast almost everywhere we’ve gone. We expect that. The great thing about our teams right now, focusing on that is that we just seem to have all the parts together. We work well as a group, we’ve got fast pit stops, we’re able to overcome things throughout the race and knock on wood, so far we haven’t had any big mistakes or failures of parts or anything like that. It’s been really good. So I feel like we have a real strong group and that’s why you see all four of the cars in the position they’re in points. If we keep adding a little bit of speed and working, I really believe whoever wins the championship, if it’s not a JGR Toyota, they’re going to have to beat at least one or two of us at Homestead. I really believe that. It just feels real strong right now."
Will you base the success of your first season at JGR on how far you go in the Chase?
“I think so, yeah. We started the season with one goal and that’s to win the championship and so it started off not really according to plan and not looking great and steadily it’s become better and better and faster and faster. If it continues this way, I guess right now I feel like a realistic goal is the win the championship. We have the speed, we have the team, we still need to get just a little bit faster, but it’s getting better every week. If we win it, I’ll deem it a success and if we don’t, that was goal so in a way it would have to be disappointing yeah."
What has Jeff Gordon’s impact been and what will it be like not having him on the track after this season?
“As fast as he (Jeff Gordon) always is, it will be nice to not have to race him, but definitely the fans are losing one of the icons of the sport. He’s obviously a great competitor and I think him coming into the sport the way he did opened the door for tons of short track racers all across America. It will be a lot different without him out there."
What would it mean to win Kansas next week?
“Kansas, for me there would be no race bigger to win and even the Daytona 500 or the Brickyard 400, it would be very, very special for me personally to win there. I’d really like to get a win out of the way here on Saturday so I could just go there and let it hang out and not worry about anything that would be the perfect scenario. I still think about that race in 2008, we were just so close. That’s a special one for me."
Does this feel more like a two-race series with Talladega such a wildcard?
“Yes, exactly. We have three-race series, this one’s a two-race series really. I think you have to look at it that way. I guess Brad Keselowski went and called the shot and won at Talladega, but man, I don’t know that anyone wants to have to be in that position. If you have a shot and you can see the win at one of these next two races, you’re going to see some really tough racing for that win because nobody wants to go to Talladega with uncertainty. There’s going to be a lot of nerves at Talladega."
What impact did Jeff Gordon have on you coming up through short tracks?
“If I could have grown a mustache like that, I would have. Jeff Gordon to me growing up, he was a sprint car racer, a dirt guy and he went and raced stocks cars and had massive success and it was really cool for me. I grew up going to the dirt track with my dad and it was neat to think that a guy like that could come have success in the stock car world, which to me seemed like a different world. I’m not sure, but I always got the impression that owners recognized that maybe guys who aren’t stock car racers could drive these cars. I’ve got to think that gave a lot of us opportunities coming from dirt tracks or open wheel stuff. That’s pretty neat."