Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards was made available to the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway:
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 STANLEY Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your expectations entering the ‘Round of 12’ with Talladega Superspeedway looming?
“Somebody’s going to leave here really happy and I hope it’s me. This is – this round I believe is probably the toughest one just with Talladega out there and these mile-and-a-halves. It’s so competitive right now. We saw it with the first round. You’d think that making the 12-out-of-16 would be easy. It’s actually – it was a pretty good battle there, so we hope to get a victory here. We’ve got a pretty good car. The car felt really well – or felt really good – drove really well in the first practice here in race trim, so hopefully we get to practice a little more and try some other things, but, yeah, you need to get a win.”
How important is it to enter Talladega not needing a win?
“Because of what can happen at Talladega – because so much is – less is in your control, yeah, you don’t want to go to Talladega having to win. I’m glad you asked that question. I think, ‘Man, it might be a little easier to go into Talladega just having to win.’ It makes it pretty simple, so, you know, for us the plan is to get a win before Talladega and just be able to go have some fun there.”
Can you ask crew members to be more conservative in this format given the risks of a mistake?
“No, I don’t even want to think about that stuff. Everybody just has to go do their jobs the best they can and you can’t give up any speed. This is – it’s so competitive that you a lose a spot or two on pit road being conservative, I mean that’s at the end of the day could be as bad as being fast and just having one bad pit stop, so I don’t know. Right now, it just truly is so competitive. We went to Chicago, we had an off day and ran I guess 14th or 15th and that wasn’t that hard to do, so you can’t give up. You can’t be conservative I guess is the short answer. I don’t think you can. No, I think, man – I have to think about all the math of it, but I guess with less people and arguably faster people, there’s less room to give up any spots. I mean, this round could go the – especially this first couple of races – the 12 guys racing for these eight spots could be first through 12th in finishing order in these first two races and so against that competition if you’re a little bit conservative, it’s really easy to run 10th and you just can’t do that, so I don’t know. We’re going on – we’re planning on being as fast as we can be. We have not – the word conservative hasn’t come up at our shop this week.”
Do you feel like you have to step it up after finishing 10th in the ‘Round of 16’?
“Yeah, absolutely we do. We’re really where that we know that first round was – that’s too close. We need to run better. We need to have better finishes and we can. That’s the good part is we have the equipment and the engines, the pit crew, you know? The experience with myself and Dave Rogers (crew chief) both – we’re pretty calm and confident here. We’ve just got to do a little bit better job and it’s pretty neat this week to hang out with Dave and talk about stepping it up a little bit, focusing on what we need to do and now we’ve just got to go do it.”
Do you feel like this is where the Chase really begins?
“I agree with that. I think you’re going to see these 12 guys really step it up. It’s every lap of practice, every pit road entry, every pit road exit, every restart, you have to step it up. You have to get every point you can and we talk about Talladega a lot, but you can lose a lot of points at these places or gain a lot of points by being on your game and making things happen. Yeah, it’s going to be intense and I think this – it just feels to me – I said it at Chicago on our media day, it feels like this Chase is more competitive. It feels like it’s going to be tougher and, yeah, I agree I think it starts now.”
Are the Toyota teams still sharing information as freely with the success Martin Truex Jr. has had?
“I’m not sure. No, we are. If we didn’t know what engines and chassis and setups those guys had, it’d be really easy to say they’ve got something – they’ve got something special that we don’t have – but knowing what they have and knowing what they’re able to do with it, that’s a motivator and I’ve been telling people this week I really believe you’re going to see the other four JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars – the four JGR cars – really step it up because Martin (Truex Jr.) is that – he’s that rabbit out there that we’re all chasing and we know it can be done and I think in the end that’s a gift to have somebody in your camp or close to you that can do that.”
How crazy is the Kansas Speedway Chase race for you as your home track?
“It’s a really cool week for me to go to Kansas and I’ve already got a lot of people talking about coming and watching the race – people that I know and people that have helped me a lot – so a win here would be great because then I can go to Kansas and have a little more fun and hangout with people a little more. But a win there like I’ve said a bunch, that’d be as big as the Daytona 500 for me. That place and the people there are so special to me. Hopefully we can get it done.”
Is this a track where you are more comfortable than others?
“I feel like I’ve had the gift of really great crew chiefs here and this place is tough to manage throughout a night and throughout a race as it changes, so for me I don’t come here – this track doesn’t feel any different. I don’t have any more confidence here, but I just – we’ve always been able to run well and I really attribute that to some really great crew chiefs and calls that they’ve made, so I’ve got that right now with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) plus we’ve got the great cars, we’ve got the engines, we’ve got what it takes, so we’ve just got to manage everything and go do it. I mean this is a pretty cool thing that we’re doing – it’s everything we’ve always, all 12 of us right now, it’s the ultimate prize in motorsports and we get to go fight for it and I guess it’s just – yeah, you say everybody is optimistic I think because we are and it’s fun, so hopefully we can get it done.”
How much faster is this surface when its cooler?
“What’s interesting to me is it’s not the speed that’s the biggest factor. I think what you’re going to see is if it does rain – if we get this rain they say could happen – it’s going to be a change throughout the night with the rubber building up and the way the track responds to the tires and I think managing that is going to be interesting. I think it’s going to be difficult. The more these cars get on edge and the more perfect you get the setups and everything gets really close, I believe it becomes tougher to manage them throughout a changing night like we’re going to have and I think a big part of that is not – a big part is what you said. It’s the temperature, but another part will be if the track is clean as it takes rubber all night it will change.”
What’s a reasonable expectation for the number of Toyota drivers who will advance to the ‘Round of 8’?
“I don’t see any reason why we can’t all five make it to the ‘Round of 8.’ We’ve really – we’ve got great cars, great engines, really good teamwork. If we could get Cole (Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr.) to tell us everything, that would help, but I mean seriously those guys are so good that it gives us a lot of optimism, because there’s no – everybody’s looking up, looking forward. We really feel like we can step it up a little bit and run really well, so I don’t think there’s any concerns in our camp.”