28 June 2011
Busch, Gordon and Edwards savour road success
"The problem is turn 11," he said. "There's two places you can pass on this track, going into seven and 11. You couldn't really pass going into seven today. It was so slick, you had to be so careful. So everybody gets to turn 11. Because you're racing one another, it seems like guys really block the inside lane and force guys to go around the outside lane.
"You get in a position where this is your only shot for that entire lap to try to make a pass ... Either somebody gets aggressive and drives in there too hard, makes contact, or they just get frustrated and start using the bumper. It's hard to say. But it was pretty crazy from where I was sitting. I know that.
He didn't really see what happened with the 'payback' moment when Brian Vickers sent Tony Stewart climbing into the tyre barrier. "Throttle stuck or brakes went out," he said, "That's what I thought ... You got to be traveling at a high rate of speed going backwards to get up on the tires over there and keep it there." Then he added with a laugh: "From what I heard, he had a little help getting there. "
Avoiding trouble on the racetrack is a large part of succeeding in any motor sport, and Carl Edwards revealed that "My spotter [Jason Hedlesky] does a good job of letting me know who is mad at each other."
Not only did Edwards stay out of trouble, but he thrived - turning around a horrendous Friday practice into a third place finish on Sunday that has extended his Cup lead to 25 points over Kevin Harvick. "I think this is a huge weekend for us," he said. A key moment in the turnaround came when Edwards decided to pull out of his scheduled appearance defending his 2010 race win in the Nationwide Series at Road America, which would have meant flying to Wisconsin and missing both Saturday practice sessions.
"We started out terrible. We changed plans right at the end of practice on Friday. We all got together and talked about it. I called the CEO of Fastenal. We decided for me to stay here and practice on Saturday and Billy Johnson would run the Fastenal Mustang up there in Road America. That was the call of the weekend. Ended up giving us two hours of practice. We got to really work on the car, and that's what made this a good day for us.
"I would have much rather gone over and raced over there," Edwards admitted in the joint press conference with Gordon, who was then prompted to get in on the questioning of his fellow driver.
"I have a question for Carl: I want to know what you were thinking when you decided that you were going to fly all the way across the country from California during the middle of the season for that race!"
"I like to race a lot, okay?," laughed Edwards in return. "We had so much fun last there, man. Have you raced there?"
"No!", said Gordon, reaffirming that road courses were just not his sort of thing. "When you left [Infineon to go to Road America] last year, I was like, 'He's crazy!' So I take my hat off to you for doing that."
The two Saturday practice sessions gave the team the team the on-track time they needed to gather critical extra data and refine set-up and strategy. "Bob [Osborne, crew chief for the #99] did a great job with the strategy. Early in the race we were terrible. We were back there mired in the back, all the other terrible race cars - like Jeff Gordon's!" he added, to more laughter from the press conference.
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