NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Mouthing Off: Drivers’ Shock And Awe At Sleepy Charlotte

_Welcome to Mouthing Off! Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all of our own stuff to give you a first-person account of the best reactions from teams, drivers, and all the major players after a given NASCAR race weekend. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what they all were thinking following the All-Star Race in Charlotte, NC:_

*Best Quote:*

“Anytime you have grass on the windshield after the race it’s not good. I’ve got to thank Aflac. They are now hiring. If you didn’t notice, they’re hiring. It’s a great place to work. I thank Ford. Our Fusion was great. Kellogg’s, Scotts. Fortunately, I can have Scotts send some seed and grow some grass back. I had no clue that drain was there and I guess NASCAR is mad. They think we’re hiding something with that car, but that was a pretty big accident. I want to thank Subway, the fans, and especially Sprint for putting this on. That’s a million dollars. We just won a million dollars. It’s unbelievable.”- _Carl Edwards, race winner, on destroying his car post-race._

At least Carl Edwards can smile about destroying his race car after winning a million dollars in the Sprint All-Star Race. Granted, while the race was, admittedly, as anticlimactic as the Sprint Fan Vote this year, one still has to be impressed with the dominant performance Carl Edwards put together Saturday night. It was clear to the fans that his car was the class of the field and, outside of Kyle Busch, no one could consistently hold a candle to Edwards. The scary thing is the car Edwards will be driving in the 600 is supposedly better than the car he drove to victory Saturday night. If such is the case, the other 42 drivers in the field are going to be in for a very long Memorial Day weekend.

*Most Controversial Quote:*

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Tony Stewart didn’t have much to say about anything related to an uneventful All-Star Race on Saturday night.

“It was a pretty tame night, at least from an All-Star Race perspective. You get this group of guys out there and you’re racing with the best. You’re racing with guys you’re comfortable with, and guys are pushing the envelope a little bit more than they would on a normal night, but everybody knows that going into it.”- _Tony Stewart, fourth, on how tame the All-Star Race was._

For a race that was heavily hyped to have controversy with the scuffles of Ryan Newman Vs. Juan Pablo Montoya and, of course, Kyle Busch Vs. Kevin Harvick, this was, in terms of excitement, as much of a bomb as Charlie Sheen’s Violent Torpedo of Truth tour. Even the most controversial quotes were far more tame than usual. One would think a guy like Tony Stewart, who’s usually not afraid to give an honest answer to an honest question or criticize something, would be a bit more vocal on how the race seemed to be a bit too tame, but even he kind of side-skirted the question, which is out of character for Stewart.

*Crew Chief Quote Of The Week:*

“We really didn’t make a lot of changes during the race. We made a couple changes for the last 10 laps and it seemed like it worked for us. Carl got a fabulous restart and got out front there, and seemed to be able to do the business he needed to do.”- _Bob Osborne, crew chief for Carl Edwards, on the race._

Bob Osborne and company had that No. 99 Aflac Ford on a rail Saturday night, without question. The tear this team has been on since the start of the season has been nothing short of impressive, and Edwards has a great rapport with Osborne and his decision-making. The Sprint All-Star Race was no exception, as Bob Osborne is quickly becoming to Carl Edwards what Bill Belichick is to Tom Brady in terms of teamwork and faith in his star driver’s abilities.

*Owner Quote Of The Week:*

“It’s a testament to the hard work everybody has been doing. There’s a lot of discussion about hard work in this business, but the Roush Fenway guys have really suited up for it in the winter, and the manufacturer part is working well. Carl went through a manhole cover there in the celebration and damaged the car. Most people would look at the car and say that car had to go to the 600, but Bob assures me he’s got a better car waiting back at the shop to go. The unsung hero is Doug Yates and the engine tonight. I watched the way that engine handled down the straightaway and it was really, really good. It’s a long time since we’ve seen our engines run as good as they did tonight. I’m glad to have Ford here with us tonight. We had a big contingent of Ford people. Albert, the great great grandson of Henry was here and then the great grandson of Henry, Edsel, was here as well. So we had a really good Ford showing and at the same time we had great performance from all the guys that work behind this thing. I’m just amazed at the calls Bob makes. I generally want to make a change that’s twice as big or half as big and he always has it right.” – _Jack Roush, car owner for Carl Edwards, on winning the race._

One year ago, “The Cat In The Hat” was a non-factor much of the time in the Sprint Cup Series, with his team in danger of becoming as obsolete as Windows Vista as all of his teams across the board had their struggles. But look at Roush now. He’s got Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards starting their seasons strong, Greg Biffle seems to finally be coming around after a slow start, and David Ragan has shown flashes of brilliance as well. Roush is also one to give credit where credit is due, as he credited Bob Osborne with all the calls his team has made over the past several weeks to get Edwards in this position.

*Best Of The Rest:*

“A top 10 and it was certainly a fun race. I felt like we had a car that could have contended for the win, it’s just all about that track position but everybody is trying to get that track position throughout the race. Our UPS We Love Logistics car did a nice job. We can’t complain. We got a top 10 and raced our way in, and I think you better watch out for the 6 car next week.” – _David Ragan, 10th, on his night_

“If we could have been up there in fifth or sixth at the start of the last 10-lap segment, we might have been able to pull something out. But starting back as far as we did (12th), it was a case of our car getting too tight too fast and we just had to hang on for all we could get.”- _Kurt Busch, 13th, on his night_

“I think today, once I got here and got to racing around and went through this whole process, I think being in the All-Star Race meant more to me than I even thought myself. I was appreciative that the fans voted me in. I was a little bit embarrassed that we didn’t have enough car to get in there. A little bit ashamed that we haven’t run well enough over the last several years to avoid this process. But the fans did that for me. I would not be doing none of this without them. I probably wouldn’t even want to be racing without the support of the fans. They make this sport what it is. It is such a cliché but it is so true when you get down to the bottom of it. Probably wouldn’t be doing all of this without them supporting us. I was glad they got me in that race; got me a little more fun and I’ll have to pay them back somehow.”- _Dale Earnhardt Jr., 14th, on winning the Fan-Vote_

“We had a great race car most of the night. We just needed one more break to get us back on the lead lap there at the end. One more yellow and I think we had the car to really do some damage. I’m so proud of the recovery we had, getting five out of six laps back including one on the track. We’ve got something to be proud of. The Miller Lite Dodge was fast. We just got behind early and ran out of time before we could make up the deficit. My guys gave me a good car tonight. If we keep working, we’ll get there.”- _Brad Keselowski, 18th, on being six laps down at one point and gaining back five of them_

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