Whenever Carl Edwards landed a ride with Roush Racing prior to the 2003 season, he had limited experience racing on asphalt. He adapted quickly, however, by winning three races and finishing eighth in points as the top rookie in the series. Edwards spoke with Stock Car Racing prior to the end of the Craftsman Truck Series season.

SCR: Let's start with the serious stuff, like the back flips you do after winning a race. How did that come about?

EDWARDS: I saw Tyler Walker do that after he won a World Of Outlaws race somewhere. I could do a back flip off a diving board or whatever and so I thought, man, that would be cool to do if you won a race, to stand up on the car and do a back flip off it, and I started doing it. I won that first race at Kentucky--our team won that first race at Kentucky--and I got out of the truck and thought, well, why not? So that's how it started.

BIO

Date of birth: August 15, 1979

Birthplace: Columbia, Missouri

Hometown: Columbia, Missouri

Residence: Mooresville, North Carolina

Family: Single

Racing Involvement: Driver for Roush Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series over the past two seasons, garnering three wins each season; ran USAC Silver Crown cars in 2000; was dirt track champion near his hometown of Columbia, Missouri.

SCR: Your dad, of course, if very familiar to racers in the Midwest, where he's won a bunch of races. Talk about him.

EDWARDS: My dad has raced a bunch of different kinds of cars. I would say the thing he's most proud of is running the USAC Midget races. He never won a USAC Midget feature, but he ran real well in them. The thing I remember the most about Dad's racing is going to local tracks around home and racing Modifieds. He raced 4-cylinder Modifieds and IMCA type Modifieds. He's a really good racer. He's just never had the money to compete and have the best equipment. He's won a ton of races and I think he's the smartest racer I know. Very intelligent.

SCR: How old is he?

EDWARDS: We just talked yesterday. Fifty-five, maybe.

SCR: So he's still competes?

EDWARDS: He ran a couple of races this year for a guy named Ron Dye that I drove for a little bit when I was back in Missouri. He ran some Modified races.

SCR: Sounds like you had a typical son-of-a-racer upbringing and spent a lot of time at the track growing up.

EDWARDS: When I was real young my mom went to every race and drug my brother and I along. We sat at the bottom of the grandstands and played with cars in the dirt while Dad was racing the whole time. As I got a little bit older, I started going with Dad into the pits and helping out a little bit. I just remember being at the races in Pevley, Missouri, and being at the fence and watching Dad hot-lap it. I remember the day real well because I could see his hands real well in the car. The sun was still out and the track was pretty dry. I remember watching him and hearing the car. I thought, man, I could do that. So I started bugging Dad, you know, like every racer who has bugged his parents. I wouldn't quit talking about it so finally they got me a little 4-cylinder car. For a few years Dad and I went with two cars on one trailer, and we both went racing.

SCR: How old were you?

EDWARDS: I would say I was 13 or 14 when I really decided that's what I wanted to do.

SCR: Had you raced go-karts or anything?

EDWARDS: We didn't really have the money to go race go-karts or anything, or Dad didn't have time. For whatever reason, I always wanted to, but never did. We had a couple of dirt bikes that my dad got at an auction when I was real young and I rode those every day it seemed like, but never in any competition. The first time I ever raced was in a regular race car at a local track when I was 15.

SCR: The 4-cylinder?

EDWARDS: Dad owns a Volkswagen garage so it was extremely economical to run. It had a dune buggy frame with a body on it that looked kind of like a Dirt Modified. We ran Volkswagen engines and Midget tires.

SCR: So you cut your racing teeth on dirt?

EDWARDS: Yeah, they're awesome. They're fast little cars. The first time I ever drove on pavement was in 2001 and I only drove a couple of times. I never raced a pavement stock car but maybe a couple of times before I got in a Cup car. I was in the trucks, but that's it.

SCR: So, basically, the seven races you ran in the Truck Series in 2002 was your first significant pavement experience?

EDWARDS: I ran some USAC Silver Crown races and I ran a few Baby Grand stock car races. But, really, I don't have very much pavement experience.

SCR: Obviously the dirt experience paid off.

EDWARDS: I guess so. I really like dirt racing a lot. I really like the pavement tracks that drive more like a dirt track, where you can run a little bit higher line and stuff like that. Those are more fun for me.

SCR: So the dirt background gives you more car control, greater set-up ability, etc. Tell me the advantages.

EDWARDS: I think so. The biggest thing I think dirt racing helps with is looking for the most traction on the race track. You have to move around to find the line. I would say the thing that really turned my career around and made me really a better race car driver is probably that USAC Silver Crown car, just because it has so much power. And you're driving the thing the whole way around the race track. I think that's when I started focusing in and became a better race car driver.