Carl Edwards scored his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the season in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 99 Scots Kellogg's Roush-Fenway Ford met the media afterward with his crew chief Bob Osborne and car owner Jack Roush.
Carl, congratulations. This is your 19th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, your second win here at Las Vegas. Certainly the way you finished last season and the way you've started this season, you are currently third in points, you've got to feel good about how the 99 team is performing.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, we've been performing really well. It's just a joy to drive these racecars right now. I mean, if you look at the way we qualified and the way we ran, the Fords are back, and we're strong. That's due to a lot of work from these two guys next to me and the guys back at the shop, Robbie Reiser, everyone has worked really well together, and it's just great to drive these racecars.
Bob, the crew was certainly very, very good on pit road. Talk about how the team performed.
BOB OSBORNE: Thank you, first of all. I think the team performed well, but I don't believe they performed their best. There's more to come. They did do what they had to do at the right time, which I was very happy with, but I think they're going to get better from here. I believe all the programs probably will, but I know there's more potential in the crew that goes over the wall for me and the crew that works on these racecars for me. So I'm very excited about that.
Bob, were you taking notes there when Tony Stewart and his crew chief Darian Grubb took two tires and just ran away from everybody, and then when everyone had to stop again, was that a signal to you that two tires was going to work at that point?
It definitely didn't hurt the decision-making process to see them run extremely well with two tires. So yeah, I guess I was taking notes. Their car was very good regardless, and I thought our only opportunity was to leapfrog them on the racetrack and hope we were able to hold them off.
Carl, you almost won at Daytona; you obviously had a good car last week; you have a great car here. Could be 3 and 0. Have you started the season more forcefully than this before?
CARL EDWARDS: No, this is the best start to a season that I've ever had. You know, Daytona could have gone any way. There was a lot of luck involved with our good finish at Daytona. But Phoenix, that was a very strong performance from everyone. They had a little bit of bad luck there.
Today I felt like we had a solid top-three car all day. That's three different types of racetracks with success on all three. I'm really excited about this season. This is a great start.
Q. About the racing today, I'm sure it was very exciting for you in the car, but they've rebuilt this whole track, and all the changes made to the car, after two races where you set track records for number of passes, didn't see much passing out there. Is it just the nature of the beast with one-and-a-half-miles or can anything or should anything be done to kind of pump up the action a little bit?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, I can tell you from the driver's seat, there are no more exciting racetracks to drive on. This place has a lot of character. You slide the car 200 miles per hour into the corner. There are multiple grooves. And I think that striving to deliver some sort of product that really is impossible to deliver in auto racing, I think that's foolish.
I think we need to be NASCAR. We need to be what we are. Some days we're going to have races that are a little more single file and some days we're not. But the true sport of auto racing is making your car fast, driving it perfectly, making sure the engine makes tons of power, and all those factors I think the fans can appreciate without having to be in a giant pack with restrictor plates and things like that. I think the savvy fans understand what's going on.
Carl, if my stats are correct, the last time you won this early in the season, it was here in 2008. Of course, you went on to finish second that season in the points. What's the difference between 2008 and right now?
CARL EDWARDS: I think we're making it through tech, aren't we? (laughs) That would be a big difference, if we can come out of here with the points lead on Tuesday, or wherever we're at in points now, third. We did not mean to cheat that day. (laughs)
But I guess the biggest difference between then and now from my perspective is I feel like I have a better understanding of how the sport works, and I think that I'm more prepared to use these fast racecars and do a better job to try to win this championship. It's something that Jack and I have talked a lot about over the years. You know, there is definitely a process to becoming the best you can be at this level because all the guys are so savvy. So I feel like I'm in a better position now than I was three years ago to get all the points we can and all the wins we can this year.
What went through your mind when you found out that Tony had the penalty and would be starting from the back? And secondly, was there something wrong with the engine, five to go? You said, "I think I'm hearing something at the top end," or was it just those gremlins that come in your head when it's so close and yet still so far away?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, the second part of the question, we'll find out when we take the engine apart. But I definitely heard a little bit of a different sound at the end of the straightaway.
We're turning these engines really hard, and I was trying to be careful with our engine all day. It very well could be just the five-laps-to-go jitters when you're leading, but we'll find out about that.
And as far as Tony, the first thing that went through my mind, I said it on the radio, I said, "We'll see him here again in a minute," because that car was spectacular. He did a really good job driving it, too. That was really a gift for us for him to have that penalty. And in the end it really put him in a position where he had to take two to get to the lead and had to take four when we took two. So it may have been the difference in the race there.
I don't know exactly what the penalty was for. What was it?
Dragging equipment out of the pit box.
CARL EDWARDS: That's something we actually talked about on the radio. You know, I didn't know exactly what the penalty was, but I knew that and my guys knew that those kind of things can just ruin your day. Even if you don't have the fastest pit stop, we always try to do everything we can not to get any penalties, but it's tough. I felt for him as much as I could as a competitor. But that was pretty nice to start in the lead.