AJ ALLMENDINGER - No. 43 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion
"The U.S. Air Force Ford is really quick. I'm proud of Mike Shiplett and all the guys and I think we've got a good race car. The mile and a half program hasn't been our best. We've been struggling with it a little bit and haven't been as good as our teammate, Marcos, and a lot of the Fords, so I thought last week in the All-Star Race we got better. We still weren't as good as we wanted to be, but we learned some things. We came back here with a different plan to work on setup and, so far, at least in qualifying trim, it was pretty good. That will at least get us in the top five or top six, which, for 600 miles it doesn't really matter at that point. You just want to start up front and now we've got to work on Saturday to make the car better and then stay there on Sunday."
MARCOS AMBROSE - No. 9 DeWalt Ford Fusion
"We're just gonna pay the price. We're not gonna qualify well. We just didn't get it right this afternoon when the track was hot and it is what it is. It's a long race, but every spot counts."
AJ ALLMENDINGER AND CARL EDWARDS PRESS CONFERENCE:
AJ ALLMENDINGER - No. 43 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion
"I'm really happy with the race team and everybody over at Richard Petty Motorsports and Ford in general. Our mile-and-a-half program for myself on the 43 side of it, that's probably been our Achilles heel just over the last year struggling a little bit to get the right package. I felt like the All-Star Race last week was a good building block for us. We weren't quite as good as we wanted to be and went here today with a little bit of a new package and been pretty quick all day in qualifying trim. For me, I got everything I could out of that lap. There wasn't much more that I could have gotten, so I was proud of the lap, proud of everybody on the team and hopefully Saturday we get here and build on a good setup and have a good race on Sunday."
CARL EDWARDS - No. 99 Scotts EZ Seed Ford Fusion
"The car is very good. Bob and I were a little frustrated with our lap and then we realized that's OK to qualify third considering where we were a year ago. I think AJ said it well. We've been working hard at all of this stuff and the cars are fast. I think at least one of those Fords is gonna be a threat to win on Sunday, so I hope it's our Ford. It looks like we've got a great start."
"If you win, will you spin out through the grass again?" CARL SAYS: "No. I don't want to have to deal with Jack."
YOU WERE INTENTLY WATCHING THE END OF QUALIFYING. DID YOU THINK THE 21 HAD SOMETHING TO KNOCK YOU GUYS DOWN?
"That 21 car has obviously been fast all year with Trevor and now with Ricky in it. He was 12th in practice and with everything that happened in qualifying, it's been 20-25 minutes since we were out there and the track is cooling down a lot, so he had a shot at it. I've been in that position before, where you know you have a good car but you still have to make the race, but he had a chance at it."
"I was getting ready to walk in and I met AJ outside and he said, 'You're gonna go in there? Ricky still has to go.' So I figured I would walk all the way down here and then he would knock me out of the top three and I'd have to walk back to the motorhome, so I was kind of curious to see if was gonna embarrass me or not. He almost got it, too. I think if he had another shot at it, he could be on the pole."
CAN YOU SPEAK TO HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU DO IS INSTINCT WITH THE TRACK COOLING DOWN AND YOU TAKE IT IN THE TURN DEEP?
"That's the difference is I don't trust myself at all, so that's the problem when I sail it down in there (joking). You sit there and you watch all the lap times and in practice you think you're going as fast as you can and you're looking at everybody run and they're running six or seven-tenths quicker than they run in practice, so it's tough. You've got to go down there and hope it sticks. I think last year I ran a .20 in Showdown qualifying, so at that point I kind of knew what that was supposed to feel like and what I had to run. It's fun going out there and knowing if you hit it right, you have a chance to be on the pole. I spent a couple years knowing that I didn't have a chance to be on the pole, so it's a lot more fun like this."
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED
HOW STRANGE IS IT TO HAVE THE UP AND DOWN SWINGS YOU'VE HAD THE LAST FEW YEARS?
"I don't know exactly what you're asking, but I agree with you, it is kind of weird. I don't like it. I like this part. I don't like the 72 races without winning, but it is kind of interesting because myself, along with you guys and everybody else, you look for reasons for that and it's tough to find them. It's like I got married and then everybody said, 'He hasn't won a race because he got married.' Now I'm running really well and they go, 'He's running so well because he got married.' So it's hard to determine what is a factor in that, and I think that's something we've been talking a lot about at Roush Fenway - understanding why we've turned this around, understanding what is better so we can keep doing that. For a driver, all you can do is just keep doing the best you can and hope that it works out."
"I think it's just you keep popping out kids, so you've got more mouths to feed, so you've got to go out there and win."
CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED
IS IT A CASE WHERE YOU'RE AT THE MERCY OF THE CAR?
"I think so. I think AJ might agree that there are a lot of the tracks that because of how close the competition is, the aero dependency of the cars, NASCAR's rules, which have done a good job of keeping everybody close - if your car is just a little bit off, there's not much you can do sometimes. You can't just try harder and make the thing go faster, so you really do rely on the team as much as I've ever seen it. I've only been doing this for seven years now, but it seems that the car is more important now than ever."
HOW MUCH GRIEF DID YOU GET FOR WRECKING THAT CAR?
"I'm sure it will never cease. As long as there are people like AJ around you're gonna be frustrated."
"I've got nothing else to talk about. I didn't even make the All-Star Race, so I've got to give him crap about something. He wins every race now, so."
"That was pretty stupid, but I guess in my defense I had no clue that would happen. I just thought it would be a nice slide, but there's not been a lot of grief. I think the win kept Jack from getting too upset, so that's good. I noticed there were a lot of people at our autograph session today had parts of a car, and I think they paid a lot of money for them, so I don't know that it was a total loss there for Jack. I think it might have worked out. I actually had to buy one of the parts back because I really wanted it, and they were nice enough to sell it back to me."
WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES FOR SUNDAY?
"I look at it as we're still building a race team here. We show up every race weekend with a plan to try and win. If we didn't do that, we shouldn't be here, but sometimes I look at it as maybe I'm a pessimist or I look at it as a realist. These haven't been our best race tracks, but we're gonna keep working on it. Fortunately enough, Carl keeps winning most of them so we've got good notes to work off of. I'd love to go out there and win the 600, but, for me, if we go out there and run inside the top 10 all day and have a solid top-10 finish, for us, that's a big step in the right direction. I know that our race team has the capability to go there and be a chase-contending team. Dover hurt us a lot. That was a great race track for us and with what happened there hurt us in points, but we have the capability of doing it, we've still got to be better. If we can have a great run here at Charlotte and build momentum and go to Kansas and have another great run, then everything is gonna be good. I know where our race team is and I know where we need to get better at."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT KANSAS NEXT WEEK AND REPRESENTING THE 43?
"It's cool. Being at the shop today during the fan day and seeing the car up close and personal, you're definitely not gonna miss it on the race track. It's really cool looking. It looks exactly like the King's car used to look. I feel fortunate everyday to wake up and, A, just be in the Sprint Cup Series. I worked so hard to try to stay in it and now to be in such a famous race car and to one weekend represent the Air Force on Memorial Day Weekend and have them put their faith in me, and then the next week to have STP come back and be on the race car and, more importantly, for the old school fans of Richard Petty to see that car on the race track - last year when we did the throwback when the King was being inducted into the Hall of Fame, you see the fans get real excited about it. I just love being a part of this and being able to go out there and represent the King and everybody at the team the best way possible. Every weekend I feel fortunate."
Credit - Ford Racing