We met NASCAR race car driver Carl Edwards when he was in Manhattan recently at the London Hotel.
Are you afraid or nervous driving at high speeds?
I don’t get afraid or nervous riding really fast. What I think makes me nervous is making sure I do my job right. I guess I get a little bit nervous is when it gets close to the end of the race, and I’m leading the race and I think I can win. We’re pretty safe.
Would you rather win the Daytona 500 or a cup Championship?
I would prefer to win the Championship. The Daytona 500 would be spectacular, but the trick would be to do both in the same season. Like what Jimmie Johnson’s done. That would probably be cool.
How many tires do you usually go through in a race?
You go through a lot of tires in a race. A lot. They recycle all of them now, so it’s good we’re not being wasteful. Let’s say it’s a 500 lap race and we change the tires every 50 laps or so. That’s 10 sets. I’d say we go somewhere between six and 12 sets every race. So between 12 and 24 tires. That’s a lot of tires. They’re pretty expensive too.
Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket on a regular road?
Yes. I’ve gotten a speeding ticket on a regular road. Not lately. I’ve been pretty safe lately. The biggest thing is if you’re going to drive on the road just always wear a seat belt no matter what. So just pay attention and wear your seat belt and you’ll usually be pretty good. Be nice to the officers. That helps.
When you were a teacher, what did you teach and for how long?
I was a substitute teacher. I would just come in for like a day or an afternoon and sub. You should always be nice to subs. It’s a lot harder job than it looks. You usually come in and a lot of people joke with you a lot. They’ll change seats and stuff. So always be extra nice to subs. Teachers really have a hard job. I learned a lot doing that. You guys are really hard to deal with. I was hard to deal with when I was in grade student. So it’s kind of my coming back to get even.
Have you ever crashed?
Yes. I have crashed a lot. I’ve probably crashed a lot more cars than the average person. The biggest thing in a crash is that if you’re prepared for it is to make sure you have your seat belt on. The best thing is to have a helmet. Hitting your head is the worse thing. We always have our helmets and then fire is another thing you worry about. So you have a fire extinguisher in the car. I’ve had some pretty wild wrecks. But I always come out OK.
Does the car actually have a door or do you have to go through the window?
Yeah, there’s no door because the inside where the door would be there a roll cage and everything. It’s all welded so you can’t open it. So if you get hit in the door or somebody hits you in the door, it’s the most dangerous thing. So that part of the car is like a tank, it’s really, really sturdy. You have to climb through the window. The steering wheel comes off. Because if the steering wheel doesn’t come off you wouldn’t be able to get down in your seat. You take the steering wheel off and then you get into the car and they put the steering wheel back on.
Where are you originally from?
I’m from Columbia, Missouri. That’s where I came from this morning. Have you guys ever been? You’re from here. Missouri is a place you would fly over when you’re going to California. It’s a real nice place. I like it there a lot.
How many sponsors does it take to make a team?
That’s a good question. You just need enough to pay for everything. So it could be one sponsor or 15 different sponsors. It’s good to have one good sponsor, and AFLAC has been my primary sponsor and they’re super cool people. You guys know the AFLAC duck right? So they’re my sponsor and they’re really nice.
What got you interested in racing and what’s the most exciting part?
When I was your age my dad raced at the local dirt track and so I’d go watching. That looked kind of scary to me and it kind of interested me a little bit because I thought it was a real challenge. I started racing with my dad when I was about 15 and I don’t know it’s just really fun to do. I don’t know if you guy’s ever rode like go-carts, things like that. So it’s fun to be able to drive something real fast. That’s what I like about it.
What is the fastest speed?
The fastest speeder is probably 206 or 207 mph. To qualify on the big tracks that’s about the fastest you can go. It goes pretty fast too.
Besides the tires what else gets replaced in the pit stop?
In the pit stop what we do is we pull in the pits. They change the wheels and the tires. The wheel is the hard part, the tire is the rubber part. So they take the lug nuts off, the wheels come off, they throw those to the side and they put the new wheel and tire on and then put five new lug nuts and they fill the car with fuel. I can’t remember how many gallons of fuel it takes. Eighteen gallons? They fill the fuel tank and then we just take off again. It’s like starting fresh and you’re ready to go.