Carl Edwards, who stands 43 points outside of 10th position in the Sprint Cup standings, is the most recent Ford driver to win at Michigan International Speedway in 2008. Edwards met with members of the media Friday afternoon after the first practice session.
TALK ABOUT COMING BACK HERE TO MICHIGAN AND YOUR EXPECTATIONS THIS WEEKEND. “We are coming into Michigan with our guns blazing. We have a very fast race car and have been working very hard on it. Chad and all the guys have pulled out all the stops. We had a very good practice and I am excited about racing. I brought Lance with me. He is my personal Geek Squad double agent for the weekend. I could lend him to you guys if you need him. I don’t know if you have any trouble with your laptops or phones or connectivity issues. He can take care of it though. He has been around the hauler and motor home. We are having a lot of fun with it. Ryan Friedlinghaus from West Coast Customs designed the race car, so that has been a neat project. For Best Buy, for Geek Squad, we are having a little bit of fun and hoping we can get that win we need. We don’t feel there is a better race track on the circuit to come to when we need a win than Michigan. We have had a lot of success here. I got a call from Jim Farley this morning from Ford and everybody is pumped about our prospects this weekend. I hope I can pull through and do my job and get the result we want this weekend.”
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NASCAR AFTER THE LAP ANNOUNCEMENT IN LAS VEGAS BEING ANNOUNCED TODAY? “I didn’t realize how lucky I was last year until now that I am on the outside looking in. I am hoping I don’t have to go to the .com to get tickets. I hope I am invited on behalf of NASCAR for my spot in the Chase. I am sure some of you have been to that event. I don’t know if that is on television because it seems a little bit R rated, and it is a lot of fun. I think everyone at Ford is excited about it. I know the fans are excited. Yesterday we were at the F-150 plant in Dearborn where they build almost all the F-150’s and got a tour that was spectacular. They showed us the F-150 they are going to give away to one fan at that event. I think last year they gave away and Explorer or F-150 or something. Ford has been a huge part of that event and it is a lot of fun. I think last year Jeff Gordon was break dancing so who knows what will happen this year. That Ford plant was unreal. That was really cool to get to see that and be a part of that.”
WE HAVE HEARD THERE WAS OIL ON THE TRACK LAST WEEK. CAN YOU GIVE US SOME INFORMATION ABOUT THAT? “I heard the same thing. It wasn’t that bad when I drove through it. We were 14th or something and a bunch of cars in front of us that ran through that oil. It was still a little slick. I went back after we got home and pulled up NASCAR.com to watch the final lap. I was screaming at my wife to come in and look because it was unbelievable. I watched the thing so many times that I – I don’t wan to offend anyone – but I have that silly ad before the video stuck in my head because I watched it about 10 times. As frustrated as it was for some drivers to not have the caution thrown it was very, very entertaining. I really enjoyed watching it. That is a rarity for me. I don’t usually go home and watch videos of the race I was just in 10 times in a row. That was a very exciting race. I think that in the end for the sport, NASCAR did a good job letting everybody figure it out on their own. I don’t know all the things that led up to that decision or lack of decision to throw a caution but I think it worked out in favor of good entertainment.”
WHY DO YOU THINK ROUSH HAS LOST ITS EDGE HERE? DOES THE RESURFACING PUT EVERYONE ON A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD? “I think there is so much happening in the sport right now technically with people trying to get the cars positioned the way they want and the splitter just right that I think once you repave it like we have and it is very smooth and a very uniform surface that now people are making leaps and bounds technically with the cars and getting them faster. Before, it seemed like when the track was rough and worn out that guys that could hang the cars out a little like Greg Biffle, or guys with big horsepower ran really well.”
WE HAVEN’T SEEN A SEASON SWEEP HERE IN 17 OR 18 YEARS. YOU SEE THOSE AT BRISTOL AND DOVER AND PLACES YOU THINK THERE WOULDN’T BE. DOES THAT GO BACK TO HOW IT CAN BE TOUGH TO MAINTAIN HERE? “I don’t know. I think that this race track it just takes a perfect engine and body and driving and good strategy and there are so many things that happen at these big race tracks. I just think it is hard, even if you have a really fast car, to just dominate here repeatedly. Somehow Jack and those guys have done a really good job over the years – all the drivers at Roush. I don’t know though, that is a really good question.”
IF YOU ARE IN THE TOP FIVE SUNDAY WITH A FEW LAPS TO GO, WHAT CAN YOU DO BEYOND THE NORM TO WIN THE RACE OR CAN YOU DO SOMETHING ELSE? “I think with the groove being narrow as it is – I don’t know if it will be like that by the time we have the last restart – but if it is narrow there may be opportunities to be aggressive on the restart and go outside the box with your line. You might not be in the preferred groove but you could make something happen. If you watch some of the restarts at this place, guys sometimes will get a run and it will be three or four or five wide into that first corner. I think you might see a lot of that. Those are the things we are willing to risk on more right now than we have in the past.”
WHAT DID YOU DO YESTERDAY AT THE FORD EVENT? “We didn’t crash anything. I rode with Jack and he almost ran off the course one time. We were driving really fast. It was neat. We got to drive a lot of the new vehicles, the new Lincoln MKZ and the 2013 Fusion. We drove the pace car that will be the pace car for the Ford 400. Trevor and I got to race around an autocross course. I was in a Mustang and he was in the Fusion. That was a lot of fun. The neatest thing was to go to the truck plant and see how that whole operation comes together. They have all the way from the boat slip to pull the materials in to make the steel, the steel plant to the assembly line that puts together the trucks. It is an unbelievable operation. The land was bought almost 100 years ago by Henry Ford – it is amazing. That was pretty cool. A lot of times we spend and put a lot of effort forth in marketing these vehicles and talking about the way they drive but that was the first time I had been to the factory and seen the folks that put them together and I thought that was great.”
TALK ABOUT GOING BACK TO BRISTOL NEXT WEEK AND THE CHANGES THEY HAVE MADE THERE. “I haven’t seen the race track so I am not exactly sure what to expect from the changes. If I understand it correctly the top groove is the only groove that has changed. I would say about one out of 10 laps I spend in the top groove so it will change it just a little bit for me. Who knows what will happen. Anytime you change a track like that there is no telling. It might make it a completely different race and I guess in the end that is what they are trying to do> I give credit to Bruton and those guys for trying to make the racing as good as they can and not afraid to make changes. I think all of us go there hoping for a really good race. We have had some success there so it is a track I feel like we can go there and win and that is what we need right now.”
CAN YOU COMPARE THE VIBE YOU GET VISITING FORD NOW COMPARED TO THREE OR FOUR YEARS AGO WHEN THE CONVERSATION WAS BAILOUTS AND CUT BACKS? “It is hugely different and they talked a little about that on our tour yesterday. They said at that plant they produce 377,000 F-150’s per year. That is a F-150 every 50 seconds. We were standing up there on the walkway looking down and the gentleman that was in charge of our tour said he remembers very vividly times when there were no trucks being produced right there. He said that was very scary. I think that we can all be proud of what Ford has done, how they have run their business. I think it is a good example of sacrifice and responsibility and I think the success they are having now is well deserved and I am proud to be just a small part of it. Three or four years ago Jim Farley pulled us in and gave us the state of the automotive industry and it was a very sobering meeting. We walked in there as racers that were going to Ford to learn what was going on and after about 20 minutes it was clear to us that the domestic auto industry was in big trouble and that Ford was doing the very best they could to make sure they weathered the storm but there were no guarantees. I think it says a lot about their leadership, their ability to sacrifice and make tough decisions and I am proud to be a part of Ford.”
BERNIE MARCUS ISN’T HERE THIS WEEKEND. DO YOU SEE THAT AS A DISADVANTAGE TO YOU IN THE EVENT YOU NEED HELP ON THE AERO SIDE? “Bernie is a big part of this. They have been working so hard, all the guys at Ford on the 2013 car, I think they are probably ready to take a little break. It is probably good for him to go up there and have some fun at the Nationwide race. They really have spent a lot of time with NASCAR and the other manufacturers trying to make this 2013 Fusion the best it can be. We all know when you submit a vehicle that you are going to have to race for a long time that there is a huge amount of responsibility to make sure that things is right. Our test at Martinsville we got to validate some ideas we had and some things we were working on. I think the 2013 car will be very good, not only for racing overall, but I think our car is going to be really good and Bernie and all those guys have done a good job with it.”
DOES IT CHAP JACK THAT YOU GUYS HAVEN’T WON HERE IN THREE YEARS? “I didn’t realize that. I am sure it does. For me personally it bothers me any time we aren’t winning. We got to spend time yesterday at Jack’s museum up there in Livonia and it was really neat and it was a lot of fun. There are so many people here that are passionate about Jack Roush and what he does for the sport and what he does for just cars in general. There are so many neat Roush Mustangs out there and Jack has built his business here and has a lot of folks here that are supportive of him. I can tell you this, when we are in victory lane, of all the ones I have been in I have never seen Jack happier than the one here at Michigan. Hopefully we can do that this weekend. It would be huge for us and for Jack.