Carl Edwards Takes 2013 NASCAR Fusion to Victory Lane For First Time

March 3, 2013
Carl Edwards snapped a 70-race winless drought and took the all-new 2013 NASCAR Fusion to Victory Lane for the first time by taking the checkered flag in Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Ford Finishing Order
1st — Carl Edwards
4th – Brad Keselowski
14th – Casey Mears
15th – Aric Almirola
16th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17th – Greg Biffle
18th – Marcos Ambrose
26th – Joey Logano
37th – David Gilliland
38th – David Ragan

· Carl Edwards captured his 20th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win with today’s victory.
· The win is the first for the Gen 6 Fusion and Ford’s 613th all-time series victory.
· This also marks the 130th NSCS victory for Roush Fenway Racing.

2013 NASCAR Daytona Media Day February 14, 2013, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA .Carl Edwards, driver of the Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion.(c)2012, Nigel Kinrade.Autostock

2013 NASCAR Daytona Media Day
February 14, 2013, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA .Carl Edwards, driver of the Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion.(c)2012, Nigel Kinrade.Autostock

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Subway Ford FusionVICTORY LANE INTERVIEW — IT’S BEEN 70 RACES SINCE YOU WON A CUP RACE. “Thank you and thank you to the fans, too. It’s so cool to see the grandstands packed here at this race track. I thought for the last few laps it was gonna be easy and then they had that caution. It was an awesome restart. Brad Keselowski pushed me and that meant a lot. He stayed in line there and he pushed and we got a Ford to Victory Lane, so I’ve got to thank Brad. I’ve got to thank my crew. These guys were unreal and Subway, this is the Subway Fresh Fit 500. We just won the race in the Subway Ford Fusion. This is insane, very cool.” THOUGHTS ON THE LAST CAUTION BEING CLOSE ON FUEL. “Fords get great fuel mileage, so I wasn’t too worried about that, but I was really worried about Jimmie Johnson and Brad and all those guys behind me. It’s just so cool to win this race. I can’t tell you how cool this is. I love Phoenix. This is a blast. I love it. I’m glad to be here.” BEFORE THE RACE YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD THE SECOND-BEST CAR HERE TO MARK MARTIN, BUT YOU WON. “I try to be real honest about how fast my car is, but sometimes I’m a little too optimistic, but today I felt really good about it. Jimmy and the guys did a great job. The pit crew is unreal. Every time we came on pit road we would pass a bunch of people and that’s what won this race. Track position was key.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – “I just gave Carl a good push into turn one. I wish I would have used the run to try and make a pass, but I don’t think I could have pulled it off without wrecking Carl, and then I was running side-by-side with Jimmie and Denny it was a good battle to the end. Those guys fought hard and we fought hard and there was a lot of desire. It’s early in the season, but I feel like there’s a lot of passion and that’s a good thing.” A LOT OF BUMPING AND BANGING TO THE FINISH. “That’s how it’s supposed to be, right? That was cool. We had a really great Miller Lite Ford today. I thought we had the car to win, but I could just never get that track position towards the end that we needed. If you could get to the lead, it looked like you had it covered, but it just wasn’t meant to be.” HOW IMPORTANT IS CLEAN AIR WITH THIS NEW CAR? “I think it’s probably more important than ever. I think these cars probably drive easier than any race car I’ve ever driven in my life by themselves, and probably the hardest to drive of any race car I’ve ever driven in traffic. I think we can get that a little bit better and probably make them a little more difficult to drive by yourself, but a little easier to drive in traffic, we could have even better races than what we had today.” WAS YOUR BEST OPTION TO PUSH CARL ON THAT RESTART? “Yeah, I knew it would help him win and probably move my lane. It certainly didn’t hurt him.”

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion – “I think we’re still learning. I’m still learning on exactly what I need during practice to make it good for the race and tell them what we need to change between practice and the race. All in all, it was an OK day. When we were out front we could run really well and run some good lap times with those guys. On one pit stop we got boxed in leaving. We got kind of pinched and I had to lift or we were gonna crash and I lost all of our track position. We were sitting on two tires with a bunch of guys behind us on four and they ate us up. We were never able to get our track position back, but I felt like we had a top 15 car. We finished 16th and I think we passed six or seven cars on that green-white-checkered, so that was cool and that got us a decent finish. We still have a lot to improve on, but the guys worked very hard. We had a decent qualifying effort. You have to look at the positives and learn from the things we need to make better, but for the second weekend together I think we’re definitely heading in the right direction and I’m looking forward to Vegas.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 Farmland Ford Fusion – “We had a solid top 10 car, but track position was so important. We know that, but it seemed like whatever you could get in the first three or four laps was really important because then it got so hard to pass. But we got track position early and ran up in the top two or three. That’s when we had a pretty good car, but when we lost our track position the handling just went away really bad and it was all we could do just to hang on. I’m proud of all the guys on this Farmland Fusion team. Everybody does a great job. Todd Parrott made some great calls to get us some track position early and if we could have kept that throughout the race, I think we would have had a solid top-five car.” IT WAS A TWO-TIRE VS. FOUR-TIRE DECISION ALL DAY WASN’T IT? “Yeah. Early we stayed out and got our track position, which was key for us. We took two tires and that was good because we were able to keep it up there, and then the one stop when we took four tires it seemed like a lot of people still took two tires and we came out twenty-something. We lost our track position there and kind of hung on after that.”

CASEY MEARS – No. 13 Geico Ford Fusion – “It was a good rebound. The guys worked really, really hard on Friday night and we definitely had a much better piece starting on Saturday. We chipped away at it and got it better, and then today we just really ground it out. We just stayed disciplined all day and tried not to make any mistakes and then at the end we had a car that was faster than a handful of them and we got five or six guys at the end. I’m real proud of them. We got a couple guys on that last restart as well, so our last run was really good.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion – “We made a lot of improvements to our Front Row Motorsports Ford during the race and we were probably the best it had been the whole race long. A lot of people were having tire issues. I saw the 10 blew the tire, and I never thought she’d come across the track that fast. Typically when you cut a tire you kind of ride the wall. Just unfortunate being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but nothing we could do.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford Fusion – “I don’t know if we ran something over or what, but we ended up blowing a right-front tire. We’ve seen a lot of that today. Our car was fine for over 200 laps, so I don’t really get it. Our brakes were good. Everything felt good, but it’s really disappointing because we were running really well. It’s probably the best we’ve run at this style of race track in a long, long time, so we’ll take the good out of that and go on and build on it. But this really puts us behind with two more torn-up race cars.”

CARL EDWARDS WINNER’S PRESS CONFERENCE

CARL EDWARDS – “I’m very excited. After I left here this afternoon I said, ‘I’m gonna quit being so nice about when people ask me about this losing streak,’ because it is very frustrating. Not that it makes me mad that you ask, it makes me mad to not be winning races. I cannot say enough about Jack Roush and all the folks he has at Roush Fenway Racing. Bob Osborne and I won 18 or 19 races together and when Bob couldn’t crew chief anymore, Jack put Chad Norris behind me and Chad picked up as much slack as any man could being put into the first last year. And then when the season ended Jack put Jimmy Fennig behind me and let him build a team around this 99, and it just seems like Jack and Robbie (Reiser) and everyone just keep pushing this 99 team forward and it means the world to me. So being in Victory Lane this early in the season, to have a car like we had today, is really, really great. This win feels as good or better than any win I’ve ever had, so I’m very excited about it.”

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – “It’s great to be here with Carl. We were holding Carl back last year without meaning to just because we didn’t have the right chemistry around him, but Jimmy Fennig – when we asked Jimmy if he would take Carl and he would take me for another year and do this thing he had his requirements. He wanted to change a few things. He didn’t want to see as much of me as I’d shown to Bob.” CARL INTERJECTS: “Tell him exactly what he said. ‘I’m not having Jack sitting on my damn box looking over my shoulder the whole race.’ (Laughter) And then when I saw you (Jack) on the box today on the pace laps I thought, ‘How did Jack weasel his way up there?’ JACK CONTINUES: “I was on your box at Daytona too. Jimmy held a spot for me.” JIMMY INTERJECTS: “If there was a wreck you would have been off the box.”

JACK CONTINUES – “Anyway, Jimmy is well studied. He works as hard behind the scenes. I know Carl really got in his way a little bit last night. Carl was a midnight caller on Jimmy and he had some questions and issues he wanted to be reassured about, so he came and knocked on Jimmy’s door last night, but Jimmy puts his night’s work in on the car and working with the engineers and he really put a good plan together. He didn’t plan to take four tires all day, I think, and it worked out. Other people got on the two-tire program, but Jimmy was there first.”

JIMMY FENNIG, Crew Chief – “Every win means a lot, but this is a pretty special one winning the first time with Carl Edwards and the 99 team. It feels good. I can’t say enough about the guys back at the shop, especially with what we struggled with a week ago. We put that all behind us and nobody put their head down, we just kept working forward and hard work pays off. Here we are.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – DENNY HAMLIN SAID YOU’RE RELEVANT AGAIN. HOW DOES THAT FEEL? “At least he didn’t talk about my irrelevancy when I was irrelevant, but it is hard to explain. A lot of people that have been in sports, and definitely Jack and Jimmy understand this, but when you’re struggling it seems like time slows down, you’re working harder, you’re trying more, you’re questioning yourself more. Kyle Petty asked earlier when we were being interviewed and he said, ‘Where were you last year? You were gone.’ And I said that I was there. That’s one of the longest years of my life to work that hard and to not get the victories, so I’m very, very happy to be back in the mix. A victory is huge for so many reasons. Last year we didn’t make the Chase. I mean, for me to sit home while everybody was at the Chase stuff in Vegas was a little bit of a shock to me and I did not like that at all. So to get a victory helps us be in better position for the Chase. It just feels good to win. I’m just very glad to be here, so I hope Denny is right. I hope we’re relevant or more than relevant all year. I hope we dominate this thing.”

HOW MUCH DID IT MEAN TO HAVE BRAD PUSHING YOU? “That was huge. We all know that Brad and I have not had the best history. It was pretty bad at one point, but we’ve worked a lot through Ford in the off-season. We did our media day and Brad and I talked a little bit about how we planned on helping one another this season, and I think that was an amazing example of what we can do together to make sure Fords get to Victory Lane. We talked a lot about it at Daytona. We weren’t able to put something together, but, hopefully, this season the things that Ford has been talking about – One Ford. All the way from Jim Farley to Edsel Ford. Jim Farley and Edsel Ford came to that media day at the Hall of Fame just to sit us in a room and say, ‘Look, we want to win as a team. We want to do what we can to help one another,’ and that was very cool of Brad to push us. I knew if we made it to turn one first we were gonna win that race. He could have gone three-wide. He could have made that a heck of a lot harder, and that was pretty big.”

WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN THE CAUTION CAME OUT? “You always think you have a chance, but, to be honest, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Now if we win it, we’ve really earned it.’ Because we did have a great pit crew and great pit strategy today, so we got out front and I felt pretty good with two or three laps to go that we were gonna walk away with that race, and when the caution came out I thought, ‘OK, we’re gonna have to earn it,’ so it made me not real nervous, but it made me really buckle down and work hard. The heart rate monitor on me would have been pretty interesting probably at that point because I knew it was gonna be tough.”

TO WHAT DEGREE DOES SELF DOUBT COME IN THE MIX DURING A STREAK LIKE THAT? “I’m not a psychologist or anything, but I can tell you that my little bit of experience with race car drivers is we all have pretty fragile egos. That’s probably one of the things that makes us perform so well is you’re always questioning yourself, you’re always working hard. I never feel like I’ve had a perfect race or a perfect year. I’m always trying to be better and I think all of us are like that, but when you’re not getting that positive reinforcement and you’re not winning, it is tougher. You have to really be objective, as objective as you can ,which is hard to do when you’re thinking about yourself, but you try to think, ‘Am I doing the right things? Am I working the right way? Am I being a good team player?’ Jack has helped me a lot with that. Jimmy, I asked him for the last month or two every time we’re talking I’m like, ‘What do you need from me? Is there anything I can do?’ And both of these guys have helped me a lot just to make sure they tell me what they want from me, but, basically, yes, it is tough and you do have to question yourself constantly, even when you’re winning you have to do that, but it is hard when you’re not.”

JIMMY FENNIG CONTINUED – WHAT WAS THE FUEL SITUATION BEFORE THE CAUTION? “Basically, I was just telling Carl to watch his gauges because if that thing started bouncing we would have been in trouble, but it was gonna be close. We had to maybe conserve a lap or so, but we were also gonna have to run hard because Jimmie was right there, but Carl did an excellent job with that. We ran some laps in the seventies and when he had to take it back he brought it back down to the fifties, so he did a good job, but it was close.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHANGES YOU MADE OR YOUR APPROACH WITH THIS TEAM? “I don’t think I’m the missing link. I go about my work a little different than some people do. I’m a hard worker. We sit there and pay attention to detail on our race cars, and that’s about it. I do the same thing I did with Matt as I did with Mark Martin in ’98. That’s the way I work. We still have 85 percent of the team left from the 17 that’s still there and everyone knows the way I operate and what I want, so we’re just trying to deliver it to Carl.”

DID YOU FEEL VICTORY THIS MORNING? “You don’t feel victory. I don’t feel victory. The only thing I know is yesterday I felt pretty good about the race car looking at our lap times and studying what we did and the adjustments you had to make. We make adjustments every Sunday morning, but we didn’t have to really dig deep in the bag because we thought our car was pretty good, and it ended up to be OK. We made one air-pressure adjustment and one other adjustment and Carl did the rest.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – “The pit crew, I think, was the key today too. I think that was huge. I’ve kind of felt more confident, like a victory is closer since the first meeting I had with Jimmy at the shop – to see the attention to detail that he has on the car and to see the intensity in all the guys’ eyes. But yesterday after final practice my trainer came with me from CTS – Dean – and we were talking after practice and I’m like, ‘Man, I’m in a really good mood. I feel good,’ and I realized it was because I felt that speed in the race car and the thing drove like I wanted it to. That’s a really good feeling, so I was more optimistic than I had been for a long time this morning getting ready to race.”

WHAT DOES IT DO TO YOU WHEN YOU EXPERIENCE WHAT YOU DID AT DAYTONA? “I try real hard to put the past behind me very quickly, so when things go poorly I try to just turn my back to it and look forward, but I know other people don’t do that. It’s hard for a lot of people, so the one thing I was most nervous about coming to Phoenix was having another problem, having a wreck or a parts failure or something like that. I actually missed a shift in practice, I over-revved the engine a little bit and I thought, ‘Oh man, we can’t have another problem like that,’ because I knew if we had two bad races to start it would be hard for some people – not Jimmy or Jack or me – but there might be guys on the team or guys at the shop that would start hanging their heads because it is very difficult to come out of a hole like that. So I’m very grateful we came right back with a win here this weekend.”

WHAT WERE BOB OSBORNE’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE WIN TODAY? “Bob is still here at the race track. He’s in all the meetings. He doesn’t seem as stressed out. He’s a little easier to get along with, which is nice (laughing). I think Bob and I are gonna be better friends now than we were before, but that’s the thing that’s amazing about Roush Fenway and what Jack is able to do – I don’t know how he does it, but it seems like every time we make a change we don’t actually lose a person, a person just goes into a different part of the team. I don’t know if you enjoy paying all those paychecks, but I appreciate all the good people.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “We actually started, with Bob’s initiative, a new department to work further out. Instead of working on two races out, Bob and three or four young engineers are working a half-dozen races out to try and find things. I asked Bob when the fruit of his work was gonna kick in. I asked him yesterday and he said, ‘Well, by Fontana we should be really good.’ We will have hardware that reflects what he’s been working on by Fontana, but Bob has been there for Jimmy and he’s been there for me and he’s been there for Carl, and he’s bringing his considerable knowledge to the benefit of all the programs.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – YOUR LAST TWO WINS AT PHOENIX BROKE 70-RACE WINLESS STREAKS. THAT’S QUITE A COINCIDENCE. “That’s kind of strange. It’s stranger that I’m even here driving these race cars. If you guys had known me 10 years ago you’d be laughing right now, so it is pretty wild. This place, to me, it’s a little more coincidental because this place is so special to me. This was my first pavement race I ever ran was here in 2001 in the Copper World Classic, so each time I come here I really enjoy this race track. It was a huge turning point in my career and there was a lot of good fortune that happened that weekend. I missed about the biggest wreck of my life in the first lap of the con-c and we made the feature and that was huge, so, hopefully, we don’t have anymore 70-race losing streaks in my career, but if they were to happen, I’ll look forward to Phoenix again sometime.”

HAS THE PIT CREW BEEN AN EMPHASIS? “Those guys are just bad to the bone. Those guys have frustrated me on pit road for years and it’s neat to have them doing pit stops for the 99 team now. It’s pretty awesome.”

IS SUBWAY BEING THE SPONSOR OF THE RACE MORE PRESSURE OR INCENTIVE? “It’s an honor to come to the track and be driving the Subway car and have Subway as the primary sponsor of our car and title sponsor of the race. There is pressure. Those guys are as competitive as anyone. I know you guys have been to the banquets and met a lot of the sponsors and talked to them, but all of my sponsors are that way. They want to win. They didn’t sign up with Jack Roush and the 99 team to be on 70-race losing streaks. They signed up to win and win a lot, so I wouldn’t say it’s more pressure because I put a lot of pressure on myself, but it is very nice to win this race for them. It’s really great. After everything they do for me, it’s cool.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – DO YOU FEEL LIKE DENNY DID AS FAR AS WINNING TODAY AND FEELING YOU’RE BACK? “That is interesting. Until you mentioned it I didn’t realize the parallels there between the two of our situations, but he must have felt good that day because I feel really good right now. I feel like I could jump over those grandstands right now. This is neat. I’m more excited to go to Vegas than I have been in a long time. I’m very pumped.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “I’m just glad we didn’t run out of gas and glad you could still do a backflip. Those are the two things I was worried about the most.”
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – “I was a little nervous about that too. I haven’t done one of those for a long time.”

YOU AND JUNIOR WERE SIDE-BY-SIDE ON PIT ROAD AND CASEY MEARS WAS IN FRONT OF YOU. JUNIOR HAD TO CHECK UP A BIT TO GET IN HIS PIT. DID YOU SEE THAT DEVELOPING AND HOW IMPORTANT WAS THAT MOMENT? “It was hugely important and I’m glad you brought that up. There were a couple of things that happened there. First of all, I think we came onto pit road fourth. We came out first. I was in front of Dale. He must have had the timing lines figured out really well because I was at the max speed that I could go and he shot up there. I thought, ‘Oh man, I can’t go any faster. I’m gonna get a penalty.’ And Casey was up there and I thought, ‘I’m not exactly sure how this is gonna work out,’ and he turned left. Dale could have run me up into the wall and spun Casey out and I could tell he thought about it. I think he did because there was that little pause and I thought, ‘He’s gonna do it.’ And then he stood on the brakes and kept from tearing all the cars up, so that had to be very difficult for him because I think we all knew right then that that could be the race. I’d like to think I was gonna pass him anyway, but I was a little nervous.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FINAL RESTART. JIMMIE THOUGHT YOU KIND OF SLOWED DOWN A LITTLE BIT BEFORE STARTING UP? “That’s interesting you brought that up because I thought, ‘Man, he’s playing some sort of trick. He’s speeding up.’ I was like, ‘What’s he doing?’ Usually, the guy in second hangs back a little bit and tries to watch, and he pulled up there and I thought, ‘Why is he doing that?’ So, yeah, maybe I was slowing down, but I wasn’t trying to. I thought he was speeding up and I thought it was pretty genius what he was doing because he kind of got me off of my game, but then when I went I think maybe he wasn’t looking at me or something because it seemed like he waited just a little bit too long to go. But, truthfully, that was not by design. I was not trying to do anything tricky. I thought he was.”

DO YOU THINK THIS COMBINATION WILL BE THE SOLUTION TO YOUR UPS-AND-DOWNS? “I hope so. It’s really interesting because I have fought you guys on that stuff. You guys say, ‘Well, you had a good year and then a bad year.’ That’s just chance, but it really has been happening. I don’t know what that is. How many more years are you going to do this Jimmy?’ Let’s put him on the spot. I don’t think he wanted to do it with me this year (laughing), so maybe if we do well enough we can keep him around and we won’t have any more bad years. I do not like those droughts. They’re terrible, but hopefully the floodgates are open and we can go out and do some good.”

Posted in: Events, Motorsports
Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson

About the Author:

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson is the founder and Editor of Beach Carolina Magazine. Living along the coast of North Carolina, Mike has a passion for the beach and loves to bring news and events of the Carolinas to others around the world.

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