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BRISTOL -- Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, takes momentum from a solid four-week stretch with him to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend where he was a back-to-back winner in 2007 and 2008. Edwards talks about what it takes to succeed at Bristol, changes in the track over the years, and career milestones.
Q. WITH BACK TO BACK WINS UNDER YOUR BELT AT BRISTOL, YOU ARE PRETTY QUALIFIED TO TALK ABOUT WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN THERE, RIGHT?
A. Yeah, but with the new surface at Bristol it is extremely competitive. Your car has to be perfect. You have to qualify well and it is hard to pass. It is a grueling race because there is a lot that can happen. If we can go into Bristol with a big points cushion, then we can be more aggressive there. If not, we have to race smart and conservatively there and get as many points as we can. Bristol is the battle, but the war is The Chase. We need to be in The Chase.
Q. HOW HAS THE RESURFACING OF THE TRACK CHANGED THINGS AT BRISTOL?
A. Well, now there are three lines and you can run anywhere on the race track. It used to be everyone was fighting for the bottom of the race track and now everybody can run side by side. It makes it more competitive in that you just can’t get away from somebody. They can always hound you.
Q. YOU USED TO BE ABLE TO MOVE PEOPLE OUT OF THE WAY THERE, BUT WITH THE WAY THE CARS ARE NOW YOU CAN’T DO THAT AS EASILY CAN YOU?
A. Yeah, it is a lot different race because of the multiple lines and the way the bumpers line up. You see a lot more aggressive racing because a little bump here or there doesn’t lift the car up in front of you off the ground. The double-file restarts and everything makes it all very wild. They drop the green on those restarts and both lines are doing the same speed, bumper to bumper, it is pretty insane.
Q. YOU ARE CLOSING IN ON YOUR 50TH CAREER WIN, SITTING ON NUMBER 49 RIGHT NOW. HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT 50 WINS WILL MEAN?
A. It is like I was telling someone the other day. If you had told me 10 years ago when I was at my local dirt track racing that right now I would have 49 NASCAR wins, I wouldn’t have believed you. It is pretty surreal.
Q. AT BRISTOL, EACH DRIVER HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO PICK A SONG TO BE INTRODUCED TO, WHAT DID YOU PICK?
A. You will just have to wait and see. I haven’t completely decided yet. We will see what it is when I come out. I can’t give the song up; it has to be a surprise.
Q. THE ATMOSPHERE IS PRETTY AMAZING ISN’T IT?
A. Yeah, it is like a coliseum or rock concert or something. It is a lot of fun. Coming out to a song is neat and they make it pretty exciting there. Racing is racing, but to be able to put on a show like that is really neat. They do a great job putting on a show for everyone and it is really cool to be a part of.