SI.com: First off, you had a racing incident with Michael Waltrip in the Nationwide Series race last Friday night (April 17). You made contact with the No. 99 car, and Waltrip ended up crashing out of the race. For this one, you apologized immediately in an interview afterwards -- what happened, and are you happy with the way you handled it?
Carl Edwards: Well, it's real simple. You're racing hard, and every once in a while something happens and somebody's not happy about it. All you can do is say, 'Hey look, I wish that wouldn't have happened. I feel bad that it did.'
Hopefully, when you say that, the other person understands. If they don't understand, then there's nothing you can do to make them understand. It happens to all of us... how you deal with it is each person's decision.
SI: If the shoe's on the other foot (where you're the one who ends up wrecked), how do you usually like it handled?
CE: This is the way my dad taught me. If someone tells you, 'Hey, that was an accident,' and they apologize and they try to make it right, then you do your best to respect that and move on. And if they don't say anything about it, then you just assume that they did it on purpose and take advantage of them when the opportunity comes up. To me, if something happens and someone doesn't say something, I always assume that it was intentional. That's my code.
SI: Well, let's talk a little bit about the pit crew changes as of late. You ended up losing a friend, Corey Quick, the front tire changer ... how hard was that from a personal standpoint?
CE: It's tough to lose him. Corey Quick is a hero of mine in a way. Not a lot of people know this, but he's a Missouri guy who came around about the same time I started racing locally. He moved to North Carolina and really made a name for himself in NASCAR. He's someone I really looked up to as a guy who did on the crew side what I wanted to do on the driving side.
So, to lose Corey is disheartening to me. Hopefully, Brandon [Hopkins] can do a good job. Talladega will be a good run for him -- we have to have a team that's strong enough to win the championship. We can't have these problems on pit road.
SI: You're only close to a handful of people in the Sprint Cup garage. So, what happens when something like this does come up? Do you call the guy? Or do you just let things settle a bit?
CE: I haven't talked to Corey since the Monday after Texas. Like any business, any sport, there are people that you're closer to, and it's harder when something happens to one of them. But it's a big sport, and you never know what's going to happen six months down the road or a year down the road. You might be working with people that you never thought you'd work with again.
The friendships I have in this sport, they transcend whether or not they're on my team or on someone else's team. Corey will do well.
SI: In terms of the plus side, it seems like you had the best car from a handling standpoint at Texas. Can you take that with you as you move forward?
CE: Yeah, the race was definitely positive. The reality of the year is, as long as we're in the top 12 by the time the Chase starts, problems on pit road or that engine trouble or something like that -- it's not a big deal. We can't get hung up on those bad things that turn a great day into just a mediocre day. Instead, we have to remember that as long as we're fast and we're working on those little problems and building towards the perfect team -- that's good.
So, I take from Texas that we passed the guy that won the race. We were leading the race, and both Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle were good enough to win. And if we just didn't have those problems, one of us would have probably won that race.
SI: There's a lot of publicity recently surrounding the arrival of the White House puppy. Do you and Kate have any pets? If not, what would be the pet you'd most like to have?
CE: Yeah, my trainer Dean (laughs).
I didn't used to have a pet. I felt like I didn't have time for a pet, that I would be the worst pet owner ever with my schedule. But when I started dating Kate, she had this little dog, Stanley. And I used to make fun of her, because she's always like, 'Hey, I gotta feed my dog, I gotta find someone to babysit my dog, etc.' I used to call it a cat, because it's a little white, fluffy dog ...
But now, Stanley and I are cool. I've completely fallen in love with this dog.
SI: What breed is it?
CE: I don't know. It's one of the ones that has a strange name, like a Lhasa Apso or a Pomeranian or something. But her parents like the dog so much that we end up fighting over it. So Stanley will stay at their house for awhile, and then he'll come stay with us. It's a big mess. We need another dog!
SI: Are you going to try and take him to the track?
CE: We're not taking him to the track yet. He's cool, though. Not only does he do the five, where he gives you five and he puts up the paw, but also he's able to do two high fives. He gives ten.
He actually can do all sorts of tricks. Smart as hell. He's a real house dog, too -- doesn't get out much. The happiest I've ever seen Stanley is when we went to my buddy's farm. It was kind of nasty raining, and we were just out goofing around and we let him run around in a plowed field. He got all muddy, and we had to end up putting him in the bathtub and washing him off. Happiest little white dog you've ever seen.
(Looking for your chance to chat with Carl Edwards? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with what's bothering you, and you might just see your question pop up the next time!)
"Carl, I've always had this fear of flying ever since I was a little girl. But you fly all over the country all the time like it's nothing. Did you ever have a fear of going up in the air, and how would you recommend trying to conquer something like that?" -- Tammy Joseph, Riverton, IL
CE: The first time I ever flew, my dad stopped at this little airport north of Columbia where we live. And he paid this guy 50 bucks, and he took the whole family for a flight in this little Cessna. And I remember that like it was yesterday. Looking down at all the houses and the river. It was the coolest thing ever for a kid. My dad and the family were literally driving by and he decided to see if this guy would give us a ride.
About a month later, that same guy died in an accident in the plane. And for me, I was six years old or seven years old. I made the connection of, "Wow. That could have been us!" So it scared me, made me a little bit scared of flying. So I understand people's fear of flying; but I think why I'm not scared now is because I know more about it. So, just like anything in life, the more you learn about something, the more comfortable you will be. I would recommend buying a private pilot's handbook and learning the principles of flight. If after you understand that, you don't want to fly, then don't do it.
Today's Topic: Sports
Pumping Iron: Basketball.
I've been watching a lot of basketball lately, with the Final Four and Missouri making it as far as it did. I've really enjoyed this college basketball season. That's been the coolest thing lately.
Losing Steam: Cricket.
I know it's not big in the states, but it's big around the world. I don't understand it. I don't get it. I might be dumb, but I watch, and I try to get it, and I can't. We were in Australia a while back. And I'm talking everywhere you went, it was cricket, cricket, cricket, and everybody sitting outside in the sun for 10 hours. And we tried so hard to understand it.
SI: Take us around a lap at Talladega.
CE: The race at Talladega is the last half a lap. That's the race: maybe three quarters of a lap. So as long as you are around at that point, you have a good chance of doing well. But you have just as good of a chance of getting involved in a wreck or have any type of crazy thing happen to you. It's not a race in the classic sense of the word "race."
SI: What did you learn from last Fall that will help you this time (In the Fall, Edwards' bump triggered a multi-car wreck that eliminated several cars)?
CE: The biggest thing is unless you can coast to the finish line with the car demolished and sliding against the fence, you have to be very careful. Until you're 100 yards from the finish line ... if you wreck or you make a mistake, it's over. Our whole day could be for nothing.
So, that's what I learned. I've been involved in a lot of wrecks at those places, and I've caused a couple. But I don't want to cause any more, that's for sure. I just want to keep my nose clean and make sure that I have a chance to win. (Editor's note: Edwards was leading on the last lap, but finished 24th after getting caught up in an accident.)
The dirt track at Talladega. That's the hot spot, where we go at the end of the day. You're sitting there in the motorhome and suddenly you hear that noise ... and then you go, "Oh, yeah! It's the dirt track!' It's always fun.