Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards was made available to the media at Darlington Raceway:
CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your memories from last year’s win at Darlington Raceway and changing the track name to ‘Carlington’?
“That was really cool. I guess the last time I was sitting here was that night as the winner and that race is – that was a really fun one. It was fun for a lot of reasons and it was special just because it is the Southern 500 and hopefully we can do it again. We struggled a little bit in this first practice, but Denny Hamlin, my teammate, is extremely fast. We’ll lean on his notes a little bit and then looking forward to the next practice. The track is driving really well. It’s aged a little bit more you can see from the color. The cars are sliding around all over the place, so I mean this is as good as it gets for me.”
Is day practice useful for a night race?
“As whatever I am on the chart – 25th or something, 22nd – I’m going to say it has nothing to do with it. It’s going to be – no, it is going to be a lot different. We’re starting the race a little bit earlier. They’re going to be more daytime laps if I’m not mistaken. It is starting a little earlier, right? Still once the sun goes down, once the rubber builds up – I’ve already seen a lot of rubber on the race track from this Goodyear tire. I don’t think the compound is different, but seems to be laying down quite a bit of rubber, so I don’t know. I think this next practice will be more in indicative of the race – more like it – but still you’re going into the night and just got to adapt.”
Would it have been a benefit to have had a practice at night?
“Well, with what happened with the weather, I don’t think it was really an option, which I will say I applaud NASCAR for just saying, ‘Hey, take the day off,’ yesterday instead of coming here and staying in the rain. That was neat, but then the other side of that is even if it was an option to practice at night, I don’t mind the challenge. It’s kind of nice to – it’s really nice to have a challenge like that where you’ve got to really – you’ve got to think harder about what’s going on. You’ve got to build a little adjustability in the car. We don’t have to practice in perfect conditions. I think that just makes it tougher, which is fun.”
What cool throwbacks have you seen in the garage?
“I didn’t get a lot of time to walk about yet, but all the cars are neat. I mean, it’s cool and what’s really neat to see is the crew members in all the different uniforms and the old trucker hats and it’s just cool. It’s a fun weekend and now I get a little more time to walk about, look at everything, but just all of it’s pretty cool. Even the fans are walking up and got old Cale Yarborough t-shirts on and stuff like that. It’s just overall a really cool atmosphere.”
What do you think of the classic paint schemes?
“Yeah, I saw I think it was the 7 car went by with Alan Kulwicki’s paint scheme and I thought, ‘Man, that’s so cool.’ It’s just neat. I didn’t get a chance to – obviously be on the track with a lot of these race cars, but I’ve seen them like we all have growing up, so it’s just cool to be on the track with those paint schemes.”
What are you favorite memories at Darlington?
“The event last year for me. We went two laps down. We thought we had no chance and we got it back. My pit crew was amazing – they put us out there in the lead. We had an amazing restart at the end, but I guess for me just overall that was a real adventure – the race – it was a roller coaster. We felt like we had a pretty good car and then, like I said, we ended up in such a big hole and then to come back there was a ton of pride in that and then to cap it off it’s the Southern 500. I mean, it was just a really special night and I came and I brought a couple of my friends from home and one of them was here last year and just to kind of talk about what it was like in victory lane and all that, just to remember that when we pulled in the gates was pretty cool.”
Will you do anything different heading into the Chase for motivation?
“So Dave Rogers is a really great team leader – my crew chief – and we talk a lot about how to prepare for competition, how to be mentally prepared and mentally strong and tough and Coach (Joe) Gibbs (team owner) is an amazing leader. Every week, he injects something that reminds us what we’re here to do and I’ve really enjoyed that and then I guess as we head into this Chase we’ll just kind of see how it plays out. We all know what we have to do – we have to go win races, we have to be fast, but there will be some tough times. I’m sure there’ll be some moments where we’ve really got to dig deep and make some things happen and I wouldn’t want to go into these races with a different group. I’ve really got a good group of guys.”