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Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99
Office Depot Taurus, will be trying for his third straight NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup Series win this weekend at Phoenix International
Raceway. Edwards, who is third in the point standings by 77
points to leader Tony Stewart, spoke about the chase before
Fridays practice session.
CARL EDWARDS No. 99 Office Depot
Taurus CAN YOU BELIEVE THERE ARE ONLY TWO RACES LEFT?
My whole career, starting at the short tracks, the season
was 18 race long or 22 races long. To run a season with 74 races
or something between the Busch car and the Cup car seems like a
long season, so, to me, its one of those where it feels
like three or four regular ones, but I cant believe there
are only two left. I dont know what Im gonna do in
the winter time.
DO YOU STILL FEEL THAT IF YOU DONT
WIN THIS TITLE THAT ITS BEEN A GREAT SEASON? Absolutely.
Theres only one way to approach this kind of competition, I
think, and that is to just go into it 100 percent and give
everything you can and see what comes up. So far, its going
great. Weve had a blast. Weve been winning races, but
just because were coming down to the last two races were
not gonna change anything. Im still going into Phoenix this
weekend with the number one goal being to do our very best and
have the best race we can have. If we end up winning it or
running really well and closing on the points leader, thats
awesome. But as soon as you start thinking about the other
variables and you get that feeling like, Hey, I have to win
this championship, I think thats not as productive as
just going at it with the intent to have fun and do your very
HOW IS YOUR CONFIDENCE AFTER WINNING TWO
STRAIGHT? Winning two races in a row is unbelievable. At
the beginning of the season I didnt think wed win two
races period, so to win four and two in a row and to be third in
points right now is unbelievable and it does help my confidence.
A lot of times out here, especially at the beginning of this
season Id be running along and Id start to feel like
were a bad run or a bad tire run or people are passing me
and Id say, Man, this is bad. Id almost
panic. Now I have a little more of a sense that, Hey, we
can do this. We can win these races. If we can do our best, well
be fine. Im getting better at not panicking and
having a little more confidence in general.
WHAT IS THE STRATEGY TO CLOSE THE GAP?
As odd as it is to say, the strategy is to almost be a
little bit conservative. The only way were gonna win this
thing, really, is if Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson have a
little bit of trouble. They have to have a little bit of trouble
and we have to run perfectly. If we have any trouble at all. If I
run over the curb and spin out. If I bump into somebody and cause
a wreck or damage my car, were gonna be out of this thing.
We dont have an opportunity to do that, so 95 percent of
these last two races are gonna be just getting to the finish,
getting the car right and being conservative. That being said, in
the last tire run if weve got a chance to win, were
gonna go 100 percent, but we have to be there. Thats the
number one thing.
HOW DO YOU RACE AGAINST JIMMIE AND TONY?
Honestly, I just race them the same way as you race anyone
just try to beat them. Thats all you can do. I
definitely would be more careful around those guys. As awesome as
it would be to win a championship, the last thing you want to do
is win and have some sort of asterisk next to it where you bump
into a guy or something. Thats not how you want this thing
to go. I wouldnt want them to race me like that, so I think
we did a good job the last few weeks. Everyone in the chase has
done a great job. I dont think there will be any bumping
WHATS IT LIKE HAVING THAT THOUGHT IN
THE BACK OF YOUR HEAD? I dont know that it changes
anything racing a guy that youre racing for points. It just
makes me a little bit more aware. You want to treat these guys
how you want to be treated because its just too delicate.
One bad day or one bad lap can ruin your whole championship
hopes, so I definitely try to race these guys exactly how Id
like them to race me.
IS THERE A DIFFERENT DYNAMIC WITH YOUR
TEAMMATES NOW THAT ITS CLOSE TO THE END? No, I dont
think anything has changed between my teammates and I. Theyre
so awesome. Two of the greatest phone calls I got in the last
couple of weeks were from Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth just
congratulating me on how well things are going for us. Everyone
has good times and everybody has times where they struggle and were
having an awesome time right now, but Texas could be the last
race I win for three years. You never know how this is gonna go,
so its really awesome. I feel like my teammates have given
me a ton of support and nothing has really changed. I think
everyone is real excited.
HOW IS IT TO GET AROUND THIS TRACK? Bob
Osborne and I were just talking about it. It is a tough place,
but its a lot of fun. Luckily, the good run that we had was
the last time we were here. Weve got those notes and I
think we have a pretty good strategy. Its gonna take track
position and were gonna have to qualify well. It is a
little bit hard to pass. Late in a run its not that bad,
but its a short race. Its relatively short and the
track is relatively small, so its gonna take a perfect race
car. You cant make mistakes. You cant bump into
people. Things like that cant happen.
HOW MUCH HAS HAVING MARK AS A TEAMMATE
HELPED? Having Mark as a teammate has helped me a ton. From
my first couple of weeks at Roush in the Truck Series until Texas
the guy is just a class act. Hes one of those guys that he
treats everyone just like they treat him. If you treat him fairly
and you race Mark in a respectful manner, he will return the
favor more than enough. Hes a great guy.
THIS TRACK DOESNT RELY ON AERO AS
MUCH. WHAT WILL SEPARATE THE TOP GUYS HERE? Thats
right. In this sport there are tracks where the car and the
engine and the aerodynamic package can carry a team a lot farther
than the driver can. Im definitely aware of that, but at
the same time I really enjoy short track racing. I havent
won a short-track race in the Cup Series yet. We won a few in the
Busch and Truck Series though, and its just tougher to come
to these places. It will take not only a great race car, but you
have to drive the car very well to run well at these short tracks.
The car cant make up for as much of it. The shorter the
track gets, the more the driver plays into the equation.
WHO HAS THE EDGE AMONG THE TOP THREE?
Honestly, Tony Stewart probably has the advantage. He ran
his first race here, I think, in 1993 in a Silver Crown car and I
had never raced a car in 1993, so hes got an advantage but
races can go any way. We were faster than him in the spring. Its
probably just because we had our car set up better, but I would
say Tony probably has the advantage coming into Phoenix. Thats
just the way it is.
ARE YOU SURPRISED TO BE HERE AT THIS POINT
OF YOUR CAREER? Absolutely. I never thought Id really
get paid to drive a race car. Everything past some go hiring me
to drive his dirt late model is above my expectations. To be
standing here talking to you guys and be coming up with a way to
win this championship is definitely a dream come true.
SO WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS NOW? Honestly,
I feel like if we do our jobs correctly we can win this race this
weekend. We had arguably the fastest car on the race track at the
end of the last race. Kurt Busch may have been a tick faster, but
if we can just repeat our performance that we had in the spring
and not get the flat tire, I think well be all right. If
that happens and then we can do it again at Homestead, we can be
fighting for this championship. But like Ive said 100
times, its gonna take perfection and it might actually take
a little bit of bad luck on the other guys part because
they deserve and probably will run just as well as us at these
THOUGHTS ON HOMESTEAD. Homestead is
great. We just tested there the other day. I think its a
fun track and it definitely plays to our strong point. We have
great race cars and a great aerodynamic package and I love those
mile and a half race tracks. Thats a great place to finish
up and it wont be over until its over.
IF YOURE 30 POINTS OUT OR SO WILL
YOUR STRATEGY CHANGE? No, the strategy wont change. I
dont see any way we could change. Were just gonna go
as fast as we can, period. If we were 190 points ahead going into
Homestead, thats the only way we would change our strategy.
Thats the only way.
ANY NERVES SETTING IN NOW THAT ITS
CLOSE? Just the regular level of nervousness. I used to get
so nervous going to the local Saturday night track for a race
eight years ago that I couldnt hardly deal with myself. Ive
just learned how to deal with that a little bit better. I dont
really have anything to lose, so I dont see any reason to
be nervous. Yeah, it would be the greatest thing in the world to
win this championship. I would be the happiest guy, period, in
the world, but at the same time this is my first full year. I
havent probably earned, really, the right to win a
championship yet. This is my first year, so Im not gonna
put extra pressure on myself to try to do something this
extraordinary. If we can go out and perform really well and do
this, it will be spectacular. And if we dont, Im
still gonna have a smile on my face.
Jamie McMurray will be joining the Ford Racing stable next season
when he takes over as driver of the No. 97 Ford Fusion for car
owner Jack Roush. McMurray held a Q&A session in the PIR
infield media center to discuss his move.
JAMIE MCMURRAY No. 97 Roush
Racing Ford Fusion WHAT DOES THE CAR CAP MEAN AS FAR
AS YOUR DEAL WITH ROUSH RACING? I talked to Geoff Smith and
Jack and it doesnt really pertain to me. Theyre
grandfathered in, I guess, through 2009 so my contract runs
through 2009, so Im good as long as Im there so far.
Thats not something Im really involved in anyway.
Thats pretty much up to the owners and NASCAR.
THOUGHTS ON DRIVING THE 97 AS OPPOSED TO
THE 6. This has taken so long to see exactly where Im
gonna be and where Kurts gonna be. Obviously, that was a
big deal to get to get in the 6 car and to have Mark personally
come ask me to replace him when he retires and things just didnt
work out that way. The 97 obviously won the championship last
year and has won races this year and Roush Racing has been so
successful, not only this year but for the last two or three
years with the championships theyve won. Thats hard
to answer because if you say youre disappointed not to go
to the 6, I mean its a really good organization and Im
looking forward to going and obviously being with whats
currently the 97 team.
ANY STRESS IN ALL OF THIS? Yeah, just
because I wanted to know. I made the commitment to Chip and I
spoke with Chip two or three weeks ago and I told him. We talked
about that there was a possibility that this deal might get
accomplished this year, and I just wanted to know exactly where I
was gonna be. The winter time is when you start building new cars
and you want to know what team youre gonna work with. If
that was gonna be the 42 team, then I was OK with that because I
had made my commitment to driving for Chip through next season,
but at one point I thought that it was all gonna get worked out,
and then there was a point where it was not gonna get worked out
and I just wanted to know where I was gonna be. The guys that Im
working with now, theyre my best friends and it wasnt
gonna be that bad of a deal to have to stay with them. But when
you know your future is with another organization, you want to
move on. The biggest thing is you just want to know exactly whats
gonna happen, and it wasnt in my control. It wasnt a
situation where they said, What do you want to do?
They knew that I wanted to move on and go to Roush Racing, but
there are so many other things that were involved with that
not just my future and Kurt Buschs future.
WILL YOU RUN SOME BUSCH RACES NEXT YEAR AND
THINGS LIKE THE ROLEX? I think that actually theres
already been a little talk about running the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Thats a fun race and were ready to get back in cars
by the time that rolls around. As far as the Busch deal, I have
every intention of being with Rustys Busch team for next
year. Rusty has become probably my best friend in the garage area
as far as drivers go. We hang out a lot and whether youre
playing golf or just talking about racing, hes one of my
best friends and hes a great name to be involved with. Hes
somebody Ive always looked up to and weve made a lot
of changes to the Busch team. We ended last year winning at
Darlington and running second at Homestead and really felt like
this year we had a shot to win a lot of races and things just
havent gone well for us. Its been a struggle, so weve
made some changes internally with crew chiefs and everything and
right now the Busch team is as fun as its ever been and
everybody is getting along really well. I know that Top Flight is
coming back next year. Im not sure how many races theyll
be back, but Top Flight is coming back and I think theyre
looking for some other sponsorship, so I have every intention of
running as many Busch races as I can next year with Rusty.
WERE YOU KEPT UP TO DATE ON THE SITUATION?
I was kept in the loop, but the deal was people would call
and they didnt have any information. They just kept telling
you the same thing that you already knew, so I just pretty much
told them that unless you have something that is gonna be of any
significance, dont call me. It doesnt do any good to
talk about it unless something is gonna happen. So I was
definitely kept in the loop. Like I say, I think most of you know
whats happened. The best way it was put together was there
was a lot of pieces of the puzzle and we kept thinking we had
some and then we didnt have those and then wed get
others. So it took a long time. Honestly, I just kind of tried
not to think about it. As hard as it is to do, you try not to
think about it but its your life and your future and
everything that youve worked forever for and its
tough when its undecided and you dont know what youre
gonna do. So you try not to think about it, but obviously you do
every day when you wake up.
HOW EXCITED IS IT TO GO TO ROUSH? Im
certainly not gonna get up here and bad mouth anyone because
Chevron Texaco has been wonderful to work with and I won with
Chip and Felix in our second race. It looked like a very bright
future, unfortunately it just didnt work out. We havent
won a race. Weve had a lot of success. Weve run
second I dont know how many times and we ran really well,
we just never got back to Victory Lane. Thats the reason Im
leaving. Ive talked with Chip about this numerous times, it
has nothing to do with personal feelings. I get along extremely
well with everyone at the organization, including Chip and Felix.
Its certainly a business decision and Roush has won two
championships. Right now I think theyre as strong as theyve
ever been with five drivers in the chase, so Im looking
forward to that. This is my decision and this is what I want to
do and Im very excited about moving on.
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOURE JOINING A TEAM
THAT HAS A BULLSEYE ON IT WITH THIS LATEST RULING? I really
dont have an opinion. Thats not gonna effect me and
my racing next year. You need to speak with people that are in
upper management at Roush because I dont really have an
opinion on that and thats not something I even want to
DO YOU TRY TO STEER CLEAR OF CONTRACTS AND
THAT KIND OF THING OR ARE YOU HANDS ON? I think contracts
are wonderful things when everything is written out on a piece of
paper with what exactly the rules are of the agreement. When you
dont have a contract is when people get confused and they
assume things. So I think its wonderful that we have
contracts for both sides. If a better opportunity comes
along for a car owner with a better driver, every driver wants to
know that theres some security in that hes not gonna
be let go and vice versa for car owners. So I think its
great. Do you want to be involved in them? No, because to be
quite honest if anybodys ever read a contract they dont
make sense. It has a lot of where as and what is and
that honestly doesnt make a lot of sense to me. I believe
every other driver would be lying if he said it made sense to
him, but I think its wonderful that we have contracts and
thats the way it should be. As long as everybody honors
those, then its great.
HOW INVOLVED WERE YOU IN THIS DECISION?
Its a tough decision because you make a decision
based on performance and on the business side of it, not on your
personal feelings. If you did this based on personal feelings, Id
still be at Chip Ganassi Racing because you develop relationships
with your team and your crew chiefs and with everyone around the
organization. Whether its the secretary at the front desk
you become friends with them and its tough because you know
in a month those arent gonna be the same people that you
work with. I cant even give you a comparison, but its
hard to move on and go somewhere else. Theres 350
employees, I think, at Chip Ganassi Racing and I was almost to a
point where I knew everyones name, and now Im moving
on to another team and gonna walk into a shop on Monday and maybe
know five people. So its tough, but you move on because in
this sport you want to win. All the drivers and crew members and
owners, every one lives to win races. You wake up every day and
thats your goal. When you go two or three years and you dont
win, you look at that and you have to figure out whats best
for you and where you need to go to try to win. Thats what
I based my decision on.
ANY ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE ANOTHER DRIVER IN
THIS SITUATION? I dont know. Its not something
thats really in your control. When youre (Multbox
cuts out at this point.)
Guys, honestly, last Monday when I
spoke with Chip, I really felt that I was gonna be in the 42 car
next year and I was fine with that because I had signed a
contract that said thats where I was gonna be. So I kind of
mentally was prepared to stay in the 42 next year and be fully
content with that. If things worked out where I could go to the
97, then that was gonna be great. Yeah, you somewhat hoped that
things would get worked out, but I wasnt counting on it.
WHAT ABOUT HAVING MARK AS A TEAMMATE AND
THE OTHER GUYS? One of the things I based my decision on
with going to Roush Racing was the teammates I was gonna have
because I knew that Reid and David were gonna be coming to
Ganassi. I still feel that Im young enough that I need to
learn from people that have been around for a long time and it
was gonna be tough to learn a lot from two guys that felt like
they were gonna be learning from me. One of the things that Ive
thought about in the last week or so is that I was supposed to go
replace Mark Martin someone that I looked up to forever
and I talked to him this week and I said, Man, Im
gonna get to be your teammate now. Its like a bonus.
So I look forward to that. And Matt and Greg and Mark, and
obviously Carl has had a lot of success the last two weeks, are
really smart drivers. The one thing about all of the Roush
drivers, I think, is that theyre really into their chassis
and everything it takes to make a car go fast and I love that.
Thats one of the things I really get out of racing is
learning on what makes a car go faster. There are a lot of
different types of drivers in our series. There are some that
could care less, but they can drive and they seem to be able to
tell a crew chief what they need in order to make it faster. The
Roush guys are all pretty hands on, so I look forward to that
part of being at Roush Racing.
NASCAR released a statement Thursday afternoon stating that car
owners would have to adhere to a cap of no more than four teams.
Jack Roush, who currently has all five of his Ford Tauruses in
the Chase for the Nextel Cup, spoke about the new rule in a group
JACK ROUSH Car Owner, Roush
Racing Tauruses THE DETAILS OF THIS ARE SKETCHY.
There are no details. It has the feel that were going
to make it up as we go.
THEY SAY THIS IS AIMED TO HELP A GUY COMING
IN WITH A SINGLE-CAR TEAM, BUT YET HE CAN HAVE FOUR TEAMS. HOW
DOES THAT CHANGE GOING FROM FIVE TO FOUR? I dont
think it changes at all. The thing that they did by picking on
five rather than four is they singled me out. Im the only
guy with five viable teams and the worst of all scenarios is we
put all five of them in the Chase and, of course, that gave the
bonus to our sponsors for the exposure that they got from being
involved with us rather than somebody else and they want to
diminish it to an extent. The WWF has their ways of determining
who is going to win and what the ranking is and maybe NASCAR
behind the scenes is trying to do the same thing.
SO YOU TAKE THIS PERSONALLY? I take
it personally. I do take it personally.
WHAT DO YOU DO FROM HERE ON OUT? I
get up every day. I put on my pants like I do the day before and
I do the best I can, and every day has a surprise an
opportunity and a challenge.
DO YOU SEE WHERE THEY CHANGED ANYTHING?
LIKE YOU SAID AT KANSAS IS IT JUST GET SHORTY? They
tell me its not personal, but Im the only guy
standing here with five teams that is making them work. Theyve
brought it out just at a time when we were starting our Chase. If
they wanted to cause distractions to my teams; if they wanted to
create anxiety among my drivers; if they wanted to create a
question in my sponsors as to my viability and my commitment and
the prospect for Roush Racing going forward, they would do
exactly what theyve done.
SO ARE THEY GOING DOWN TO THREE EVENTUALLY
AND THIS IS JUST A START? No, theyve told me that its
four. But they havent said that they would never, never,
never consider anything less because you could start that slide
and then you could say, Well, its got to be one team,
one owner. But Im not sure in the light of day, Im
not sure with the interstate commerce laws that are on the books
steadily and with the right to work laws that are in the various
states around, Im not sure that what theyre doing is
right. Im not saying Im the guy to go take a position
and to unearth it right now, but Im not sure what theyre
trying to do is legally right or is defenseable in a court of law.
But I want to be in this business. I dont want to
jeopardize my sponsors and my drivers and our prospects in the
near term and too much distraction through an adjudication
process would certainly not be in NASCARs interest and
would almost certainly not be in my interest and would very
likely not have an outcome that I could be happy with under any
certain area. I choose not to fight that right now, at least not
when its at four. You get an animal cornered, he can be a
pretty meek animal but hell fight pretty hard when hes
in a corner. I think that through this that they really didnt
want to corner us. Even though it was about Roush and it was
about Mark Martin and it was about Matt Kenseth and it was about
Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle that even
though it was about all that, they dont want to put us out
DO YOU FEEL THE MEETING THIS MORNING WAS A
WASTE OF TIME? The meeting I had this morning, you didnt
ask me about the press release but it was on the matter of the
press release. I guess there was only half of you that got the
WAS THE QUOTE IN THERE FROM YOU? No.
THAT QUOTE DID NOT COME FROM YOU? No.
WAS IT PARAPHRASED OR DID THEY MAKE IT UP?
Wasnt my quote. There were words in there that I use.
I speak the English language and there are words that Ive
used in this interview that could be taken out of context and
applied at sometime in the future to suit somebodys purpose
to a mean that would be contrivance and I made no such comment.
GEOFF SMITH President, Roush
Racing DID THIS CATCH YOU BY SURPRISE? WHEN WERE YOU
NOTIFIED OF THIS DECISION OF HAVING TO EVENTUALLY CUT BACK TO
FOUR TEAMS? There were different levels of surprises
throughout the process and the discussions. We had assumed over a
period of time that our opinion would be solicited and we would
have an opportunity to discuss the intellectual side of what
prompted the thinking for a cap, and at what point did a certain
number of teams make sense. So the thing that caught us by
surprise was the press conference at Kansas City when it seemed
like it was a done deal that in fact there was going to be
a limit that was going to affect us as opposed to a limit that
stopped with us. That was the first official alert that we had
and then from that point on we began, based on what we heard, to
marshal up all of the data over the last 15 years in an attempt
to publicly illustrate that the reasons being given to the public
as well as us werent valid. The culmination of that was a
recent meeting on Tuesday when we were officially informed that
there was a policy. We received a preview of that policy
informally within seven days prior to that meeting and were
instructed to be prepared to discuss the consequences of going to
four and how you would do it and how long it would take and that
they were open to that. In the meeting on Tuesday we were told to
expect a release on Thursday that announced the policy, and it
would also announce that we were going to be grandfathered for
some indeterminate period based on rules to be officially