NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: UAW-Dodge 400
Topics: UAW-Dodge 400
March 2, 2008
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thank you.
We're joined in the infield media center today by today's winning driver and winning crew chief of the UAW Dodge 400, driver of the 99 Dish Network Ford, Carl Edwards.
Carl, tell us about your run.
CARL EDWARDS: It was a great car. We just had a great, great Ford Fusion. I'm starting to agree with Jack. He told me this week he's going to start making Bob wear a helmet. I asked him why. He said, 'Cause the stuff that's going on between his two ears is really important and we need to protect it.
Bob's a smart guy and I'm just proud to be driving this racecar. We had a little bit of trouble on pit road. Got a penalty, you know, had to start at the end of the longest line. Then there at the end, I was extremely nervous. I thought we were going to receive another penalty for a tire that got away. But NASCAR made a judgment call in our favor that, after looking at the tape, I believe was the right one. I'm just very grateful for them looking at that and giving that to us.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by today's winning crew chief, Bob Osborne.
Bob, tell us about your day from on top of the box.
BOB OSBORNE: It was a little nerve-wracking. You know, it started out pretty good. But, like Carl spoke up, we had that pit road penalty that put us to the back. That really wasn't in our game plan. We planned on trying to stay in the top five, top 10, and ride around. We felt like we had a strong racecar. Didn't want to have to abuse it too early in the race.
But that changed our plan. Carl did a great job coming through traffic, as he normally does. And he got all those positions back for us. Lo and behold, the same thing, looked like it was going to happen to us, another tire rolled off of pit wall. But turned out it ran into one of the innocent bystanders that was standing next to our pit stall.
It was stressful (laughter). But, you know, the results are what we were looking for, and I'm happy to be here.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by today's winning owner, Jack Roush.
Jack, your comments on today's race.
JACK ROUSH: I'm just glad that I have the opportunity to hang around with really fast people. I know Carl will give Bob a lot of credit. But Bob made a good decision today on when he could take two tires and when he had to have four, and of course the changes they made in the car were right on time.
I asked Bob this morning what he thought about the cooler temperature, what he thought about the wind. He said, Well, we had a little trouble in one of the corners yesterday, and he said the wind is going to help us with the corner. He said he thought the cooler temperature was going to work right into the balance he had in the car, front to rear, for traction. As it turned out, he was right. But Bob's been right a lot of the times, and that's really helping Carl. They work really well together and I'm just glad to be able to run with them.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions from the media.
Q. Bob, were you about to ring somebody's neck? Go through that. You saw the tire bounce across pit road, you have to be thinking, Not again. How did you discover what happened?
BOB OSBORNE: Right away I saw the tire rolling. I mean, where we were pitted on pit road, it was obvious it was ours. The crew member that was supposed to catch it right away ran up into the box and said what happened. I jumped down and spoke with the official about it.
In that situation, when you think that you didn't actually break a rule, you got to try to keep a level head. So I did my best to do that.
But, yeah, I wanted to go ballistic for sure, yell and scream, kick and punch, do whatever I had to do to get my way.
Kept a level head the best I could. The officials were very good in the situation also. They did what they had to do and reviewed the film and gave us a judgment call in our favor.
Q. Carl, with everything that went on in the race today, the first incident with the tire, falling to the back, then the second tire until you figured out you weren't going to get nailed for it, the red flag, how do you try to maintain your focus and your composure when you're kind of doing an emotional yo-yo?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, for me personally, there's nothing else I can do in my life that gives me that feeling of anticipation and anxiety and excitement. I just enjoy it. I mean, that's it. That's what we do this for, is for the challenge. Man, I just -- I really like it. It's fun for me. I like those moments when, you know, it's really cool to come off turn four, see all those fans standing up. You know you got the best drivers in the world behind you. That's when it's on the line, with two laps to go. I mean, I like it.
Q. Carl, what were your feelings during that period when the tire got away? You sounded pretty calm on the radio, but were you? Bob, what happened on the first penalty? Was it the same thing?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I try really hard to stay calm. I'm not the best at it sometimes, we all know that. But I try really hard. There's not much you can do to fix that stuff. You know, I can hear the jeopardy song just playing, just waiting for Bob to tell me everything's going to be all right. This time it worked out.
Q. Carl or Jack, talk about the Car of Tomorrow program, where you were last year, where you are now. You now seem to be setting the pace. Jack, you might be more qualified to talk about that since you discussed other problems with the program.
JACK ROUSH: I'm sure everybody's tired of hearing me talk about testing. But we got behind on testing last year because I misjudged what NASCAR was going to do with regard to the stated test policy. They indicated they were going to start us off with the Car of Tomorrow, which of course is the car of today today, with four or five tests. And everybody was going to have the same opportunity and it was going to be a level playing field.
Well, a number of the teams went off and got tires that were sometimes non-Goodyear tires, went to tracks that were not NASCAR tracks. When we went to Bristol, it was real clear we were way behind, yet we'd done the testing according to the plan. When I went to ask the guys, you know, how did that happen, they said, these other folks have been testing for thousands of miles and we haven't been there yet.
So starting right after Bristol, we designated a tractor-trailer unit. We hired people. We had a test team. We went to Iowa. We went to Wisconsin. We went to Nashville. We went to Virginia. We put the first focus on the road races. When we got to Sears Point, we weren't as far as behind as we were at Bristol. By the time we finished up, you know, in the Chase, I felt and the guys felt that we pretty much caught up.
But the year was behind us. I had wasted it because I misjudged what I needed to do. So I listened more carefully and I watched more carefully over the winter. I think that we're caught up. I certainly don't feel that we have an advantage. I think on any given Sunday, you know, there's probably 20 cars that could win the race. Four or five of them are our cars. I'm real proud of that.
Q. Could you have foreseen this kind of success right now, especially today, with four cars in the top 10?
JACK ROUSH: Boy, it will be real interesting to sit down and read everything that everybody is going to write about domination, what the state of competition is in Sprint Cup racing. I'll do my very best not to read that (laughter).
We need to just maintain focus. We aren't as good as it would appear to be for having won the last two races, and we weren't as bad as it looked like we were when we couldn't win a race for part of last year.
Q. (No microphone.)
BOB OSBORNE: What had happened on the left rear tire, when he pulled the tire off, normally it would roll back to the wall. One of the behind-the-wall crew would grab it, pull it over. This time it came over, hit a hose, changed directions, rolled away from pit wall. I really can't blame -- obviously it's the tire changer's responsibility that it goes to the wall. But it was a freak incident in that case.
I don't know if it's public knowledge, but the 99 crew has been going through a lot of injuries here recently and our starting tire changer is our car chief. He just had knee surgery right at the beginning of the season. Jason Meyers is our car chief. Carl is helping me out. He just had knee surgery. Houston is standing in for him. He's an up-and-coming tire changer. He's a little light on experience.
With the 26 being in the position they were in, we swapped the two guys out. We put Houston on the 26 and brought in Kyle Lewis to change rear tires.
It was not because of the tire incident; it was because of experience levels and what we're trying to accomplish here as a total unit at Roush Fenway Racing.
THE MODERATOR: We'll cut you loose, Bob, and you can get back to teardown.
BOB OSBORNE: Thanks a lot.
Q. Would you clear up one thing for us? Is it true or not true that you simply did not believe the Car of Tomorrow would ever become a reality and that you slowly began to move into it once you were persuaded it would be a reality, or was it simply just a testing question?
JACK ROUSH: No. The answer to your question is I believed that there was going to be a Car of Tomorrow and I believed that NASCAR would have their way, as they always do.
I was not in favor of obsoleting. We obsoleted 20 cars per team and about 15 show cars per team. They all had to be replaced at one time. Okay, so we replaced our 20 cars, four of which were beset with demons that the guys didn't want to drive, with 16 cars that are now all the same. We didn't have to replace one for one. We replaced 80% of what we obsoleted.
But that's a huge, huge cost. And, you know, I'm a farm boy from Southern Ohio and I just hate wasting things that have got use left in them. I straighten nails in order to be able to use them again. So that was against my upbringing. It was fundamentally against my business principles to have to do that.
But I believed it would happen. And the reason we didn't go testing wasn't because I was reluctant, it was because NASCAR had indicated that they were going to organize a test. You couldn't have tires. You could not own your tires. So you couldn't take the current tire and make plans to go test it someplace. You had to have obsolete tires from the year before or tires from other manufacturers.
Well, the other manufacturers, two other manufacturers, made tires that were okay for testing. And tracks like the track in Nashville and the track in Iowa and other tracks around the country, you know, opened up their gates and says, Y'all come, we'll rent you time.
By the time we got to Bristol, we were thousands of miles behind the information that a number of other teams had on the car. It was my fault for not hoarding tires. It was my fault for not testing NASCAR. If I had been the first team to go test, been the only team out there, I'm sure I would have been penalized for it. I expected other teams to be penalized. NASCAR didn't do that and we got behind.
Q. What are you most proud of today with this win? You would appreciate having that belt as a trophy.
CARL EDWARDS: What did you say? The thing I'm most proud of?
CARL EDWARDS: Just the way we've been running, you know, the hard work that Bob's put in, you know, everything that Jack's put into it, stuff he was talking about there. You know, the idea that we are, I think, close to the form that we were in 2005, you know, where it just seemed like a Roush Fenway car would win every week. That's what I'm really excited about.
And, yeah, the belt's going to be cool. John Cena (phonetic), my buddy, is going to be a little jealous I got that one. It might let him wear it sometime. But this one's going to Joe. We call him Hoss. He's a really good guy. He's our gas man. He's not going to be with us for a couple weeks. He's getting some medical stuff done. The whole team is behind him a hundred percent. It's really cool. This is his last race he's going to be with us for a little while. While he's resting up, this will be his. So it's cool to be able to do this today. Joe is a big enough guy. He can win one of these belts legitimately. They don't call him Hoss for nothing.
Q. You're going to go to the fastest track in the series, Atlanta, then after that the new Bristol. Kind of forecast about the struggle to run this car there, the things that you might have to do differently or anything like that.
CARL EDWARDS: Well, I think Atlanta's going to be a little bit different than California and Vegas. Obviously it's a different racetrack. But the pavement is a little different. The bumps there, the things that make it so much fun, make it Atlanta, are going to be hard. I think it's going to be difficult for all of us to get ahold of. I know when they were there for the test, we were not very fast last time we were there. So I'm hoping we're a little bit faster. I'm really looking forward to Bristol. We had a great race there last time. That place is really neat now that you can run three-wide. That's going to be a lot of fun.
A little bit nervous about how fast we're going to be at Atlanta. I think, you know, I mean, you guys are aware, everyone is aware, anyone in the sport can go there and be dominant. There's just no telling. But I think we'll be all right. That's just an unknown right now.
Q. Only three races in, but you have two victories, you're leading the points. Talk about the start to your season. What does it really mean, or nothing at all?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I mean, we do this to win. I mean, that's the thing, you know. Winning these races is the greatest part of this whole thing for me. You know, winning a championship would be the ultimate. What we're trying to do is, you know, to win the championship this year. That's our No. 1 goal. The greatest part about winning these races is that we get the 10 points per race that will help us out if we make the Chase.
That's really good, but, I mean, really, truly, it's just the feeling of winning. That's an amazing feeling.
Q. Jack, you kind of got your butt kicked last year. You vowed you were going to come back, get your revenge. Who has helped you the most back at the shop to do this? Robbie Reiser move, adding Chris Andrews? A whole group of people?
JACK ROUSH: Well, you know, we've added, in anticipation of the additional manufacturer coming into the sport, what their reputation has been, I'm not going to name the manufacturer, but there's expectations they would smother us, they would drown us with engineering, they would drown us with technology, they would come and recruit our best people, that they would leave us in the backwater. I was determined not to let that happen.
I had contact with my friends at Ford, Edsel Ford, and of course Dan Davis, and Doug (indiscernible), about what the challenges were. And Ford Motor Company has put into our program at least 30% more in 2008 than they did in 2007. I'm sorry, 2007 they put in more than they did in 2006. That allowed us to get the tire engineer we needed. It allowed us to get the staff behind the seven-post. It allowed us to more effectively utilize our K and C machines. It allowed us to make the preparations internally.
The guy who is right on top of that of course is Chris Andrews. And Robbie Reiser on the heels of Max Jones is doing a great job in the shop organizing it. But we've got the resources now for the level of commitment that I'm aware of that the other manufacturers have made. We've got the resources to be competitive. Without Ford's support, we couldn't have done that.
Q. Carl, last year you had to ask on the radio at Michigan if you had won. Were you saying the same thing this time around after all that went down today?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah. I mean, I make sure to stay up there, make sure it's a checkered flag, and I always ask, Are you sure it's over? 'Cause, I mean, I was running at Capitol Speedway one night and I swore the race was over. I pulled over, it was not over. That's about the dumbest you can feel as a racecar driver. You know, so I always ask.
You know, there's a lot of emotion going on there, you know what I mean? You don't want to miss something.
Q. Seeing the belt there in front of you, did it feel like a heavyweight fight?
CARL EDWARDS: No, it didn't feel quite like a heavyweight fight. I wouldn't know what a heavyweight fight feels like other than a little bit of training I did with the mixed martial artist guys. I didn't mind the wrestling part too much, but when they started hitting me in the head, I was not for it. I don't know if I could do the boxing thing. This is probably a much simpler, less painful way to win a belt.
Q. We haven't asked you about the final two restarts yet. You got one. Junior comes behind you. He spins his tires. Two cars are splitting. The whole world wrecks behind you. Talk about the last two restarts. Were you confident? Were you worried about anything?
CARL EDWARDS: I was real worried. If it wasn't enough, Bob and Jason, my spotter, both reminded me how good he was on restarts all day. That didn't help. I felt like we got a gift with that one restart where it looked like Dale spun the tires. But I knew it was going to be pretty tough, the second one. I felt like I got a perfect restart and he got one that was just as good. I mean, he was right there.
Definitely, that's a high-pressure situation. Doesn't get any tougher than that. But, you know, it was fun. It worked out.
JACK ROUSH: Bob and I were real nervous about the restart because we thought we didn't maybe have enough fuel in the tank to be able to have fuel in the pickup when it restarted. We know how dumb it looks to start off into turn one and have your engine quit because you don't have fuel in the pickup. So I gave Bob the choice. I says, You got the choice here between running around the middle of the racetrack and having your tires in good shape or running around the apron and maybe picking up trash, but knowing you're going to have fuel in your tank.
So they had a discussion about it and agonized over it, as I was. Carl did a nice job of scrubbing the tires and throwing the fuel to the right side of the pickup. I think if he hadn't have done that, he might have had trouble on that restart. Anybody could have had trouble. But we were certainly nervous about the fuel.
CARL EDWARDS: I didn't know how nervous you were about it. That's good (laughter).
Q. Carl, Greg Biffle said this was like the best car he had had in maybe two years. Do you kind of feel the same way? What kind of driver, what type of driver favors the Car of Tomorrow?
CARL EDWARDS: Boy, I don't know. Yeah, Greg's car was really, really good. It was amazing at one point in the race. There's nobody out there that can drive a car as out of control -- nobody can do it better than Greg Biffle. So today I felt like the way the cars drove, as slippery as the track was, the wind blowing, I mean, this was a pretty good battle inside the cockpit, you know, to try to keep the car going fast in the right direction.
For me, I really enjoy that kind of racing. I think all the drivers do because it gives us -- you know, I was surprised by it, I still am. But it's a pleasant surprise, because it gives us the ability to do things in the car, you know, and move the car around, pitch it a little bit sideways or, you know, do things with the throttle and make it faster. So it leaves it a little bit more in our hands, and that's fun.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thank you.
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