This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stays home to run in what is basically the backyard for most teams on the circuit — Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at CMS is the longest race of the season. Roush Fe...
This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stays home to run in what is basically the backyard for most teams on the circuit — Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at CMS is the longest race of the season. Roush Fenway Racing drivers Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle participated in NASCAR’s weekly teleconference earlier this week to discuss the upcoming race. Edwards heads into the weekend second in the championship point standings behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Biffle is 13th in points. Here’ss a transcript of the teleconference:
Q. Greg, what makes the Coca-Cola 500 so challenging to win?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, certainly the timeframe that you go through for a 600-mile race and how much the track changes, the temperature changes, all those things create a huge factor. The start time ends a little bit into the evening.
Charlotte has been one of the more temperature-sensitive racetracks we race on. Literally five or ten degrees temperature swing in the track will create a lot different speed. That’s the one thing that’s really challenging.
Normally a guy that’s fast in the beginning won’t be the fastest car at the end of the night. That tends to be probably the most challenging for the crews and the drivers.
Q. Carl, how do you prepare differently for the 600-mile race than one of a much shorter distance?
CARL EDWARDS: Specifically I don’t prepare a lot differently physically. But mentally I think all of us have to prepare a little bit for the extra distance. It is a grueling event. If the temperatures are high the whole weekend, everyone starts the event hot and worn out already.
So 600 miles, you can look at it and say it’s only 20% longer than the other race we run at Charlotte, the 500 miler, but there’s something about that last 100 miles that makes it a lot more mentally tough.
I think also from the mechanical side of everything, the engine department has to make sure that everything is going to last. You worry about hubs and drive plates, transmissions, all those things that wear out. An extra 100 miles is a long ways, especially with how hard we’re pushing these cars. Last week we saw how tough this track can be. Mentally and mechanically it’s a tough race.
Q. Greg, if not for a couple of races here, your points situation would be drastically different. Are you okay where you are right now heading into the middle part of the season? Where do you assess yourself?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, certainly it was disappointing at Richmond. We had a shock failure. Then getting caught up in the wreck in Talladega. You can never predict what’s going to happen at Talladega, for sure.
Darlington, we finished 13th. Wasn’t the run we were really looking for, but wasn’t that bad. At least that felt like we were getting back on track.
It is disappointing ’cause we were up in fourth in points, had a little cushion to work with so if we did have some kind of issue, it wouldn’t drop us down so much.
But it’s a long season. I hate using the same old analogies, but we still have time to claw our way back up in there. If we get a good couple finishes in a row, a couple top fives, win one of these races, I certainly think we’re going to be right back in the hunt.
We need to continue to get our cars better is where we’re really working. We feel we’re a little bit behind the competition, not far. But getting competitive and winning a couple of these races, points will take care of themselves.
Q. Carl, you won the pole for Saturday, but didn’t lead a lap. No Roush cars led a lap. Curious where you think your program is at, especially at the intermediate tracks.
CARL EDWARDS: It’s not where it needs to be, where we want it to be. Everybody in the shop is working as hard as we’ve can. Trust me, we’ve sat down and had some meetings where we’ve had tough conversations about what we need to do to