|Edwards scored in Phoenix|
Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing, won Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway and said he hopes for another trip to Victory Lane Sunday in Las Vegas.
“It was a great win for a number of reasons,” said Edwards. “Not winning for 70 races is really frustrating. Even though it was a 70-race drought, we did have an awesome 2011 season with nine second-place finishes or something. So it wasn’t 70 races of frustration, but 2012 was a long time. It was a full season of pretty lackluster performance for us, so it felt good to get that turned around and have a real solid day.”
Edwards said there have been times in the last two seasons where he questioned his own ability and that of his team.
“Specifically during the 2012 season, it was very frustrating,” he said. “I told you guys often that I was a lot happier when I was winning than when we were not winning or running well. It is (tough) when you’re not doing well, when you’re not getting the results you want. It is tough to just keep doing what you know is right, keep working hard and keep moving forward.
“As we stood in Victory Lane the other day, the first person I said `thank you’ to was Jack Roush because he’s the man who has seen the ups-and-downs of business life. Throughout the entire 2012 season, he never once wavered. He said, ‘I believe in you. You just keep doing what you’re doing. We’ll build the right team around you. We’ll make this work.’ Hopefully, we’re there now. Hopefully, we can go out and run like this on a regular basis.
|Jimmy Fennig has made a big difference|
“I guess what I’m saying is I never really doubt myself, but I do look and make sure I’m doing everything I can do to win.”
Edwards said he believe the pieces are all in place for a successful 2013, and even a possible run for the Sprint Cup Series championship.
“I believe the ingredients we have right now -- the pit stops are fast, (crew chief) Jimmy Fennig’s experience, the cars seem to be running really well, the engines are fast -- I think all of those things are good this season. I think we have a lot of great things to look forward to, but a win right off the bat is really, really good for us.”
He said veteran Fennig has a specific plan in place for this season, beginning the moment the team unloads its cars off the transporter.
“Jimmy specifically told me before the season started that he wants me to make sure I understand the changes they have planned for practice. (He said I need to) make sure to be there and be available to the engineers after practice, and that I’m actually sitting there engaged with them so we don’t miss something.
“I thought that was pretty cool for him to just lay it out there,” he said. “He didn’t say, ‘How did you do it last year?’ He said, ‘This is what I want. This is how I’m gonna do it,’ and I think that leadership and knowing what he wants is something that’s gonna pay off a lot.”
Edwards said Fennig’s attention to detail will also pay dividends this season.
|Edwards had `em covered in Phoenix|
“The first time I sat down with Jimmy Fennig, when Jack (Roush) told us we were going to work together, it was before the Homestead race last season. Matt Kenseth was the driver of Jimmy’s race car at that time. I went into his office at the shop, which is right next to the surface plate where they do the final scaling of the race cars. We talked a little bit about the upcoming season, we talked about each other’s families and then we talked about our way of doing things and looking at racing.
“I said, ‘Hey, let’s go look at the race car.’ We walked out there and I started to look at the race car he was preparing for Matt Kenseth to go to Homestead with. I was like, ‘Hey, that’s really neat.’ I started to look under the hood a little bit and poke around, and he said, ‘OK, OK, that’s enough.’
“I’m like, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘Well, we’re still racing against you this weekend. This isn’t your race car.’
“I was like, ‘Seriously?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, let’s go look at something else.’
“He’s really serious about making sure his cars are the best they can be, that everything on the car is the best it can be and all of the guys on the team are that way. It’s been really interesting to see what each individual is working on.”
Edwards said he also has warm feelings for former crew chief Bob Osbourne, who was forced to step down due to medical issues.
“I am very, very grateful to Bob for everything that he’s done and everything that he still does for our team. We won 18 or 19 races together (and) the All-Star Race, so he’s the man. The biggest thing I appreciate about Bob is that when he wasn’t able to crew chief anymore, there was absolutely no ego involved. He stepped aside, Chad Norris came in and Bob moved to a different position in the company.
“Right now, he works hand-in-hand with each crew chief,” said Edwards. “He’s developing things for the future of the team and he may arguably have a bigger influence on our success than he did on the pit box some days. So I guess I don’t feel like I lost Bob, I feel like I gained Jimmy Fennig and Bob still works on our team, so it’s a pretty cool situation for me.”
He admitted surprise that Phoenix was track that hosted his return to Victory Lane.
“I didn’t really have Phoenix marked on the calendar as the one we were going to go win,” he admitted. “I was looking at Vegas as the race that would be a really good one, so I’m really excited about Vegas. After seeing my pit crew perform at Phoenix, I’m going to Vegas to win this thing this weekend. I think we’re going to be real tough at Vegas.
“I have a real high expectation there (and) I hope we can meet it.”
Photos: Jerry Markland/Getty Images