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Ford Pocono Friday Advance (Carl Edwards)


5-Hour Energy 500 (Friday Advance)

June 10, 2011                                            

Pocono Raceway

Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Kellogg Ford Fusion, talked with media members after the first practice session of the day at Pocono Raceway Friday afternoon. Edwards is a two-time Cup winner at Pocono.

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT LEADING THE POINTS AND YOUR STRATEGY HERE THIS WEEKEND.  “It is nice to be leading the points and coming here without a lot of pressure and just going for the win. We have a pretty fast race car and practice went really well and it is a fun race track. We were racing at Eldora on Wednesday night and coming here is so much different. That first lap in practice is an attention getter, driving down in that tunnel turn especially. It is one of my favorite race tracks to drive on. I am glad we are here.”

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED WITH THE SHIFTING AND WHAT IS THE GAME PLAN THERE?  “We have some different ratios for third gear. I tried shifting there in practice and I went the same speed shifting and not shifting. I think that will be something you can use maybe on restarts when the cars are bunched up. Right now with my limited race trim practice I don’t see myself shifting very much. There are a lot of cycles on the engines here and a lot of up and down on the RPM. Three times per lap and then if you add another shift in there it makes a lot of opportunity for mistakes. To me, I am going to do the best I can to not shift and have the car set up for that.”

CAN SHIFTING IMPACT THE FUEL MILEAGE HERE?  “Yeah, I think you use more fuel shifting and getting into third gear and then lifting and standing on it again going into fourth you burn more fuel shifting. If it becomes a fuel mileage race there won’t be guys shifting that last run. You just never know. There have been a couple of fuel mileage races here that I have been a part of and it is a tough place to save fuel at. There are a lot of bumps and the car moves around a lot. It is really hard to run really smooth laps.”

HAVE YOU GUYS HAD ANY ISSUES LIKE GREG (BIFFLE) HAS HAD WITH FUELING THE RACE CAR?  “That is a good question. I think there were a couple of times we had issues, but we haven’t had them lately. At least if we have, Bob hasn’t made a big deal about them with me. For a couple races maybe two months ago we had a little trouble.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THAT CHANGES THE PIT STOP FOR YOU GUYS HAVING TO WAIT AROUND?  “Sometimes you have to wait and that last little bit of fuel can impact a race hugely. If you look at our Nationwide race at Chicago, it was full but that was a race that showed you that six more ounces of fuel and you can win the race or be the difference between winning or losing. The gas man is a bigger part now than I think they were before. It is hard to wait on pit road. It is hard for everybody.”

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LEARN TO NEGOTIATE THE GARAGE? SOME GUYS COME IN AND HAVE TO REALIZE YOU HAVE TO CARE WHAT OTHERS THINK ABOUT YOU.  “I don’t know. I think I might care less now than I used to (laughter). At the end of the day you have to just respect one another on the race track. It doesn’t really matter what you think of each other off the race track as long as you have a good relationship on the track and respect one another as drivers and competitors. That is the most important thing.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED … WHAT DO YOU THINK THE GENERAL PERCEPTION IS OF KYLE BUSCH IN THE GARAGE?  “I don’t know about the general perception because I try not to talk with other people about someone else. My perception though of Kyle is that he is a very hard racer and we have gotten into it before as you guys all know. We had our deal at Phoenix this year and I felt that he really was trying hard to set things straight after that.  Even last weekend he raced me extremely clean there at Kansas. He is just a hard racer and we have a very good working relationship on the race track I think, other than that deal at Phoenix which he came over and apologized for. To me, we are fine and we race hard and it is fun to race him.”

RESTARTS ARE CRAZY HERE. DO YOU STILL SEE SHIFTING HAVING AN AFFECT HERE?  “I forgot until you just mentioned that how crazy those restarts are here. They are crazy. There is so much room and everyone can draft and really make things hard on one another. I think what will happen is that I don’t think the shifting will affect the first lap of the restart, but that second lap there are going to be guys who will go down into turn run and think, ‘okay, do I stick this thing in third gear or leave it here and try to run this in fourth.’ I think that is going to change a lot. As you stick it down in third gear you can miss that a little bit and upset the car and make a mistake. I think it will make the second lap on restarts a little harrier.”

I THOUGHT YOU DID A REALLY GOOD JOB ON REGIS AND KELLY AND SEEMED VERY COMFORTABLE, DID YOU ENJOY DOING THAT?  “It was a lot of fun. Leslie from NASCAR New York called Randy and said that there was an opportunity to go on the show. That was at about noon on Monday and we went on Wednesday. I thought, ‘well, sure, that sounds like fun.’ My wife and I were out on a walk and her mom said ‘Regis and Kelly, no way! I can’t believe it.’ I told her to tell her she could go, so she went and my mom went and we went up there on Monday night and it was really fun and we had a good time. They are really nice people. The coolest thing about that show is when the camera shuts off, nothing changes. They are the same folks and they were interacting with the crowd a bunch and having a lot of fun. Marc Anthony is a really cool guy too. I talked to him and I didn’t realize that he and Jeff Gordon are such good friends. He is a huge race fan and I never would have guessed that. He knew all about NASCAR and was pumped to get to talk about it a little bit. It was a good experience overall. I hope we go back. Kelly did throw me off by asking me what the car smelled like after a race. I had such a great opportunity to plug my Avon Turn 4XT and I just missed it.”

WHAT WORKED WELL FOR YOU IN PRACTICE, WHAT WILL YOU WORK ON IN THE SECOND SESSION AND WITH THE NEW SET-UP YOU WILL GO LAST IN QUALIFYING.  “We took a little gamble here because qualifying starts right around 11 and we think that going in early is going to be an advantage but with the chance of rain and cloud cover that is supposed to be here. We gambled and went out and set the fastest lap we could in qualifying. We achieved our goal, which was to be the fastest car, but we might have actually done the wrong thing though because if the sun is out and qualifying goes off this plan we will go at the end and have a disadvantage. We gambled and some other guys gambled that qualifying would go as planned and the sun will be out so they are going to go early. There are a lot of different strategies being played out behind the scenes that may not be obvious. If it rains we will look great. It would be wonderful to start on the pole but we will just see what happens. We will do some cloud seething or something. This is the game now. You have to set yourself up based on when qualifying happens, what you think the cloud cover will be. You try to run your practice to put yourself in the front or back of the order if you can.”

“Are those all of your 5-Hour Energy’s there Mulhern? That is like 45-Hours of Energy. (laughter) You guys are screwed. Oh, and you have a Red Bull and a banana. Well, I see you are on a health kick there. You need a cigarette or anything?” (laughter)

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ISSUED A SECRET PENALTY?  “I haven’t had a secret penalty yet. I don’t know if you can believe that statement inherently, but I haven’t had a secret penalty. I have had some good public penalties. I don’t know. Due to their secret nature I don’t know what they are or what they were for, so I don’t know what to think about that. I guess you have to be careful what you say around here.”

DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT WITH THE NEW QUALIFYING PLAN THAT DRIVERS CAN MANIPULATE THE SYSTEM BY SEEING HOW SLOW THEY CAN GO?  “It is a little bit strange, the way the qualifying procedure has an impact on what you try to do. I think it is a neat idea and has been working for the most part very well, what NASCAR has been doing. I think it is exciting for the fans that the faster cars go toward the end. But you get these races where qualifying occurs earlier in the day and all of a sudden people don’t want to go fast in practice. It is an interesting thing. We talked a little about it this weekend. It is another opportunity for you to apply some thinking and strategy and I think it is another part of the race weekend that is kind of neat for the fans. I don’t mind it.”

AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON DO YOU THINK WE ALREADY KNOW WHAT GROUP OUR CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS WILL COME FROM?  “That is a really good question. I have not been paying that close attention to the points but I have noticed that the group of winners, we have had a lot of different winners. I think that this season has shown us that we are more competitive, all of us are with one another, than ever before. I don’t know. I just think there is a lot of time left. You look 13-15 races ahead and there are guys rolling out new cars and guys coming up with strategies and guys getting wins and making their way into the Chase that we might not be thinking about right now. I think it is too early yet. I think that this season you have had enough surprise winners to prove to me it is possible to have a surprise champion.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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