Edwards looks forward to ROC challenge

Will Carl Edwards be doing backflips in Wembley England this weekend?

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, enters the off-season having won more NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races than any other driver in 2008. Edwards, who won nine times, including three of the last four events, finished second to champion Jimmie Johnson. Edwards is looking forward to representing the USA team in this weekend's Race Of Champions at Wembley Stadium in England.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS COMING UP AS FAR AS TESTING GOES? “I don’t know what we’re gonna do about testing. So far I haven’t planned any farther until right after the New Year. We’re gonna to London and do the Race of Champions over there, which I’m really excited about that, and from there we’re gonna go to Thailand and have a vacation until Christmas, and then I’m gonna marry my fiancé on the third of January, so after that, now January is really wide open. I don’t think we’re planning on testing anywhere, but it should be a fun month whatever we do."

WHAT WILL YOU DO FOR CHRISTMAS? “Christmas is usually with family and this year I guess it will be with my family and Kate’s family, so that will be really fun. I don’t know exactly what we’re gonna do."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU FUNNEL YOUR INTENSITY ON THE TRACK? “The hard part for me is not being passionate or focused in the race car, it’s stopping that once I get out of the race car. You can ask anybody close to me, I’m like, if I get on something like, ‘This is what I’m gonna do.’ That’s it. That’s something I’ve had to work on is balancing competitive life with regular life and this year, I think, was pretty interesting. I learned a little bit about myself. It seemed like the more that was going on or the more pressure, it made the racing easier for me in a way. I think that’s why the end of our season was so great and so strong is we had all these things going on and once I got it the car I felt like I could let it out and that was a really good feeling."

IT WAS A GOOD YEAR. “Yeah, it was a great year – a really good year. I believe we scored as many or more points than anyone. The Chase format has its plus sides and down sides for everybody involved. I think it’s a good thing and the race with Jimmie was really exciting for me. I wish we would have been a little bit closer at the end, but, still, we put the pressure on him at the end. It was extremely satisfying to win that last race and know that we won more races than anyone else. There’s a lot of pride in that, I think, and overall I think our team just got really strong and that’s a good feeling."

CAN THAT MOMENTUM CARRY OVER INTO NEXT YEAR? “I always say I don’t believe in momentum, but I’m gonna believe in it a little bit this winter because it’s comforting. I believe that it will help a little bit because we’ve got some real exciting things going on around the team, guys that want to come and be a part of this because of how well we’re doing. I think for that reason this year could positively effect next year."

FRUSTRATING ABOUT BEING THE NATIONWIDE RUNNER-UP TOO? “Some people asked me about the Chase in the Nationwide Series and if there would have been a Chase format, we would have won the Nationwide Series, and if there wasn’t a Chase format in Cup, then I guess we would have won that. It’s cool, though. It’s not doubly frustrating. Yes, it is a little frustrating but it’s more motivating. It’s this sport. You just give it all you can and if you win the thing, you win it, and if you don’t, you’ve got to be happy for the guy that did. I’m fortunate that the two guys that won are guys that I truly respect as people and as drivers and it’s cool to see them succeed."

RICHARD PETTY HAD RUNNER-UPS BEFORE HE WON A CHAMPIONSHIP, SO MAYBE THAT’S AROUND THE CORNER FOR YOU. “Yeah, I hope so. I plan on doing this for a long time, so hopefully we have a lot of good seasons like this. If we have seasons like this every year, we’ll win a lot more than we lose."

HOW DO YOU GET OVER THE HUMP AND BEAT JIMMIE JOHNSON NEXT YEAR? “What we have to do to beat Jimmie Johnson the way he runs right now is we have to just continue to grow as a team in our ability to solve problems. They can come back from a bad race. To come back from a lap down running 25th like they were at Atlanta and to finish second is harder than probably any race that I won this season. I mean, it’s hard. So we have to be able to do that as well as them. Nobody in this sport does it better than them. They just fight until the end and they can always turn things around. That’s what we have to do."

HOW DO YOU EVALUATE WHAT JIMMIE HAS DONE WINNING THREE STRAIGHT? “I can sit here first hand and tell you how hard it is to attempt to win a championship. Three in a row is spectacular. I believe what he has done, if the sport stays as competitive as it is, it’s probably that it will never happen again. I just can’t imagine. I would say that he would probably tell you that winning next year is going to be just as tough as it was the first, second and third time, so if you multiply all of those slim probabilities, it’s real tough."

WHO WOULD YOU VOTE FOR FOR DRIVER OF THE YEAR? “What do they say, you always vote for yourself, right? (Laughing). I ran for student council and voted for myself. That was like fourth grade."

DID YOU WIN? “Yeah."

WHO WOULD YOU VOTE FOR? “I don’t know. I think you have to take different parts of the season almost. What Kyle did early on was – we were all standing back going, ‘Man, this is unreal.’ I think that overall, though, Kyle’s performance in all three series, I’d have to say that he won the most trophies as a driver, so it would be hard to go against him. But Jimmie did it when it counted and we tried our hardest. I’d say that if we all started the Chase again and went at it again, I’d say it would be a toss-up. There’s no telling who would win it."

HOW DO YOU FEEL THE ECONOMY IS GOING TO EFFECT THINGS NEXT YEAR? “I think the thing the economy is gonna effect the most will be the fan’s ability to come to the race track and enjoy the sport. I believe that our marketing partners, especially the long-term ones, they’re committed, but I think for the average guy to get his family together and to take off work and pay the fuel bills and all that to get to the race track, that’s where we’re gonna suffer a little bit."

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