Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards was made available to the media at Talladega Superspeedway:
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Subway Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
How challenging is Talladega Superspeedway?
“This track has been challenging to me since the first time I came here, but this race is pretty simple for us – we brought very good race cars, we’re hoping to qualify up front, race up front all day and try to get a victory, you know? There’d be nothing simpler than just winning the race and not worrying about anything else. I’m also proud to represent Subway – especially proud this race. Subway is going to donate – they’re going to do a promotion and during the day, there’s a day in which every sub they sell, they’re going to donate one sub sandwich to Feeding America to feed folks, so it’s a huge, great thing Subway is doing and hopefully we can get the word out on that, but, yeah, for us we want to get through this race with the car in the general same shape as it is right now and hopefully get a win and move on.”
Why not drop to the back of the field?
“Because I have wrecked racing up front, I’ve wrecked in the back and I’ve wrecked in the middle and I can tell you it just feels better to be up front. I don’t know that you can have plan. I’ll tell you this, I know that you can’t make a plan that is foolproof here and I know that every one of us is built to race and we build these race cars and we build them as fast as we can and we definitely don’t want to get wrecked riding around in the back, so if – especially if we can start up front, we just want to stay up front all day.”
Can you tell that your Camry has already had some of the 2017 rules changes instituted for the floor board?
“No, I didn’t know that, but that’s good. You’re on it, man. We’re going to have to cover up the windows at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) better. No, that’s cool. No, that’s great if he said – well, because I’m very fortunate and I have been throughout my whole career to have guys at the shop that are building the very best and very safest cars that I can race and my job is to go out and drive them as fast as possible and not to get really get caught up worrying about too much of that. This week for example, we focused 100 percent on Kansas and then Homestead and now Talladega and so, yeah, I’m not up to speed on it. I should be, but there was one superspeedway race – I believe it was here – where I actually ran into a car that was pulling off of pit road and I hit that car so hard and went up in the air that looking at it afterwards, seeing what could have possibly happened with that foot box, I’m really excited to have more shielding there. I think that’s a good move on NASCAR’s part and if we have that in the car, that’s good.”
What is your situational awareness of the point standings as you drive?
“Mine’s never been very good. I always underestimate our position. I always feel like we need to go, go, go, so we’re not going to worry about that too much. Our mission is to just run well, be smart, not get caught up in that. We’re aware that anything can happen, but Dave Rogers (crew chief) – we started talking about it and he’s like, ‘Basically, look, let’s just go try to win the race and whatever happens happens.’ We’re all racers. We’ve done this enough that we don’t want to overthink it, so I think that general idea is evidenced with the new cars and the best effort we can bring to try to win this thing.”
How do the Toyotas plan to work together prior to the superspeedway races?
“I feel like Daytona was just a once in a – everything aligned and that was unbelievable how well it worked. I wasn’t at the meeting this week, so hopefully someone will clue me in as to what the plan is, but more often than not even if you have a plan, man, they fall apart so easily here. I think you have to really, really be conscious of the developing race and different circumstances, so, yeah. We had a really good plan at Daytona. It worked. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to do that again, but that would be neat if we could put something together.”
What caused you vibration today during practice?
“The car first of all we had a couple issues. I think as I left, I think we’re going to change the rear end gear. Not sure if they decided finally on that, but we’re going to try that. We just had a vibration and these cars – these JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) Toyotas – normally, they are glass smooth. They’re really nice, so I just want to be careful that we don’t have another something bigger, so don’t want to ignore that problem. We’re going to address it and go through a bunch of things and then decide. I could race it like it is, but I think we’re be able to smooth it out and then, yeah, it’s be nice to get a win at one of these tracks. We’re been really close. Just throughout my career, there have been some races that I felt like we had one and then things would happen – some spectacular things – but I really felt like we’ve been really close. I’d like to get a couple victories at these places. It would be nice.”
How do you feel about Talladega Superspeedway’s 2017 date change?
“I think Talladega being in this round, I think it makes all of the races crazier just because you know this one’s slightly less predictable, so it puts a pressure on regardless of where it’s at. I guess if it were the first race, there’s a chance you could come out and everything will go smoothly and then your next two races might be more normal, but heck I don’t know. I feel like truly Talladega gets a lot of attention, but as this – as being a real ‘wild card’ – but as people get better at this Chase and understand how important each lap is and each position is, the intensity has just been ramping up the last couple of years and it seems like it’s there for sure this year.”
What is the most frustrated you’ve been leaving Talladega?
“Man, we’ve had some – it’s so hard to choose between the – we’ve had some bad races and some wrecks and we’ve also had some really good races where we did what we needed to do and almost got a victory the one time when the rain came and Ricky (Stenhouse) and I were racing and we timed everything right and we were leading when it rained and I felt like we did a really good job controlling that race. I think we ended up leading it down to the back straightaway before the Davids got by me, so those have been good. But we’ve had some bad ones. I’d say the best race I’ve ever had here was over across the street. Stacy Holmes’ dirt car won a race over there once – that was good – but this place has just been tough, you know? You really – but I think the trick is having a really fast car, being up front, having luck go your way and it’ll happen eventually, but we’ve just got to keep digging.”
Is this race as unpredictable as the media says it is?
“I think it’s true. I mean, I think if you look back a couple – I think it was a couple years ago – Dave (Rogers, crew chief) mentioned it and he doesn’t like to talk about it, but I guess he and Kyle (Busch) came here basically leading the points or really close to leading the points and got knocked out running 42nd and were out of the Chase, so that’s a pretty big swing in fortune. I think all of us are aware that can happen here and it’s not just that it can happen – I mean that can happen anywhere, it can happen at Charlotte, we saw a lot happen there – but it can happen and it’s not your fault so to speak. Outside circumstances – you’re just so close and you’re in a pack and I think that’s what makes this race interesting to watch is that truly anything can happen. I mean, I’ve been staring at the checkered flag thinking I was going to win and then been upside down in the fence. I mean, it’s – and that was just the two of us messing around. If you get the whole pack in there, it can get crazy.
Do you ever think that plate racing is insane?
“Yeah, it is. It’s a crazy style of racing and there are times at the end of these races where you think, ‘This is just – this is truly insanity.’ All the cars are torn up, everybody is limping around, but I think NASCAR – aside from completely changing the race track and the style of racing – I believe NASCAR does the best job they can do keeping things as safe as they can. We’ve got the best technology that we can have to keep the walls soft and the cars safe and monitoring everyone and keeping us from bumping too much and all that, but it is – it’s a crazy style of racing. That’s all there is to it.”
Is Toyota offering any special prize if you win their 1,000th combined NASCAR national touring series start?
“I didn’t – I don’t know. I could announce something and then if I win, they’d have to give it to me, right? That’s the – I’ve done that before, so, yeah, I hear it’s a new LFA for whoever wins the 1,000th race. That’s great. Toyota’s been really amazing. I’ve had the chance – through my years with Ford, I learned a lot about their company and how they ran things and that was really an honor to represent them and upon switching over to Toyota, it’s been an amazing experience. I’ve learned a lot. I just got the chance to visit their new headquarters in Plano, Texas and the way that Toyota treats their employees, their customers, guys like me that represent them, it’s second to none. I mean, they really are amazing and the way that they contribute with the team is not just write a check. We’ve talked about it a lot, but the way they do things through TRD (Toyota Racing Development) with actually building our engines, owning the equipment that we use, the simulator – all this stuff that truly is a part of our team – it’s a true team. It’s not a sponsor or a logo on the car and then as far as the people at Toyota, they’re just a ton of fun. We really have a good time and I feel like I’m part of the family, so it’s been a cool experience.”
Are you joining Twitter if you the championship?
“Yes. Yeah, it’s going to happen. Yeah, by the time I join Twitter, Twitter will be like out of fashion probably, but that’s my plan – hopefully tweet from – oh really, it’s been down all day? I haven’t noticed. Anyway, so, yeah, that’s the plan – tweet from victory lane at Homestead. That would be good. I don’t know what my Twitter handle would be. Yeah, I don’t know. What am I now? What did you say? Do you have any questions or anything? Nothing? Alright. So Twitter – the entire Twitter – is down, huh?”