TOYOTA NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS)
Carl Edwards – Notes & Quotes
Atlanta Motor Speedway – February 26, 2015
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Is Atlanta one of your favorite race tracks?
“Oh yeah, that picture is a little hidden with the coffee machine and the donuts over there, but that was a turning point in my life, that moment (beating Jimmie Johnson to Atlanta’s finish in March 2005). This place is just fun and it’s as good as ever. It’s fun to drive here and I like it.”
What makes Atlanta a good track?
“It’s a fast track with a lot of character. The corners aren’t perfect – there’s bumps and seams and spots with no grip and spots with a ton of grip. It’s not perfect, it’s got character. You throw the car down in the corner here and you toss that thing in sideways at 195 mph and you have to manage your tires. It’s just a real fun race track. If you don’t have the fastest car in one area you can make it up somewhere else and you just have to drive the whole way. It’s a good place to race. To me, we could race here every week and I’d be happy. I love it.”
Is there a preferred line at Atlanta for a late-race pass?
“It’s going to be tough because what happens here is you go out there right now or this morning and the track is green from top to bottom. It’s got a ton of grip. As we run, the rubber fills in and it gets slicker the more people run in certain areas. The groove migrates around and I think by the end of the race there are enough guys now that will go run the top that the top gets a little worn out. You have to really search around and find grip. It kind of depends on the cycle. When you start the race, everybody will run the bottom then they will move up and if everybody moves to the top, they’ll get that worse and then everybody will move down and it kind of cycles through the event. I’ll tell you this, if I’m second driving under the white flag, whichever lane the guy goes in turn one, I’m going to go the opposite lane. That’s what’s neat about this place is you don’t have to follow a guy. There is no perfect, preferred line. You can make things work anywhere.”
How does this new package feel in the car?
“The car feels great. I’m still getting used to the seat and the wheel in the right position and getting my steering box the right speed and all that stuff, but it feels good. The new package is a little bit different – it feels like we have more on throttle time. We’re not out of the throttle as much, so I have to get used to that a little here – it changes the way you drive this place being on the throttle a little more. It also looks like we’re being real hard on tires right now, so we’ll have to manage that and watch how that goes in this second session. Everything seems pretty good.”
Do you expect the speeds to increase or decrease through this session?
“Right now, it’s cool and the track is pretty green. I think you’ll see this afternoon the speeds will drop off quite a bit just because it will get rubbered up. Everybody can make fast laps right now running the top. These cars just get faster and faster and they still have a big splitter and a big spoiler and real sticky tires. Even when you take away a little bit of power, we’re making so much speed in the middle of the corner, it’s really fast there. I think NASCAR is heading in the right direction by cutting the spoilers down. I think the farther we go in that direction, the better it’s going to get.”
Have you spoke with Kyle Busch and is there any plan for you to fill in for some XFINITY races for Kyle?
“I haven’t talked to Kyle (Busch) – I texted him. I saw the Twitter picture of him being loaded into the airplane just like everybody else. It looks like he’s in as good of spirits as he could be in. I think he’s handling it really well from what I can see. As far as the XFINITY races, I told him that I would do whatever they needed me to do, but I don’t know if they need me to do anything yet. It looks like they’ve got a pretty good plan.”
How did you feel about your performance at Daytona?
“I was real disappointed in the finish, especially because I thought we finished about 12th and somebody said we were 24th or 23rd. It felt like we ran better than that all day and that final caution, everybody started wrecking and I was fortunate to get stopped basically and not be in it, but I think quite a few guys kept rolling and ended up in front of us when NASCAR set the field. I don’t think I could have done anything differently, but overall the performance was really good. We had a fast car. I picked the wrong lane there at the end a couple of times and ended up shuffled back, but we had a really good car and I was real happy with the whole effort.”
What is your comfort level with the car?
“I’ve been really looking forward to this day because this is the first day I’ve really been able to compete against the field in this new car. We aren’t as fast as I’d like to be yet, so we’ve got to go out in this next practice and really focus and then tonight hopefully I can sit back and digest and pick a couple things out that are going to make me better tomorrow. I wanted to be at the top of that board this practice and we weren’t, so there are a couple things that we need to work on. Comfort level is not real low, it’s not real high, it kind of in the middle right now.”
Were you excited to find out David Ragan would fill in in the No. 18 Camry for Kyle Busch?
“David (Ragan) has a lot of experience. He’s a great teammate and when his name was brought up – a lot like when they brought up Matt Crafton, I thought, ‘Man, that’s a great guy to be in that race car.’ So, yeah, my vote was to put David in the car and the way I understand it, everybody felt the same way. It’s not a good position to be in to have to go find a driver, but everybody is really excited about having David here.”
How do you mentally approach the race after Daytona?
“Daytona is so different and we’re there for so long, you get used to that style of racing, so the first couple of laps here are pretty exhilarating to be honest with you. You’ve got to catch your breath, because you drive down the corner here and you’re not flat on the floor just picking the best line – you’ve got to drive the car down in the corner, manhandle it, slide it sideways and deal with all the balance and things like that. It takes a couple to get used to this place and get comfortable. It’s a big, fast, scary race track and there’s no place to be comfortable here, so it is kind of an eye opener.”
How does your Camry change during the course of a run at Atlanta?
“Man, you could write a book about how the cars change not just through the course of a run, but through a race. This place – whether you’re on the high line or the low line, the cars change a lot. It depends on which tires you’re abusing the most, but I’ve had cars that have gotten extremely loose off the corners here. I mean, as you run, you just feel like your right rear is flat. That’s something you’ve got to manage. Your right front, you can definitely – if you’re tight, you can definitely abuse your right front. It’s just – it’s a really tough place to manage the tires and this, to me, this is pure racing and when you add that dimension of tire management and understanding how to balance how aggressive you are with the tires, you put that in the drivers hands and it makes it more fun I think. It gives you another thing to try to be good at during the race, but, yeah, you can definitely upset any of the tires you want to and make things harder for yourself.”
How important is this test day for your team?
“This was a big deal to have this day. I think it’s a good way to structure it. NASCAR has – to allow everybody to come here and run on the race track we’re going to race on this weekend, we get to put a little more rubber on the race track. But for us in particular, it’s a great test. These few hours are – they’re worth a lot to us just because it’s a new team and all that for me.”
Did you get to play with the adjustable track bar?
“Yes, I did. It doesn’t move fast enough, so I was going down the straightaway watching the numbers and I wanted to move it about two inches and I thought, ‘Well, I guess I’ll just keep the button down,’ but then I couldn’t look at the number anymore, so I was driving through the corner with the track bar going up. To be honest with you, I think that’s going to be an opportunity for us drivers to screw ourselves up more than it is to help us. I ended up playing with it for a few laps and then put it right back where it was, because it wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted it to do. My switch is on my steering wheel, which I want it to be easy to get to. The one thing I’m nervous about is inadvertently laying on it during the race. That could be disastrous. The other thing that makes me nervous is the switch sticking or something and have your track bar go all the way to one end or the other, so I probably will not mess with mine too much.”