Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session in the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield media center before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. TALK ABOUT YOUR SCHEDULE AFTER THE RACE IN LAS VEGAS AND THE TESTING IN...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session in the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield media center before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice.
TALK ABOUT YOUR SCHEDULE AFTER THE RACE IN LAS VEGAS AND THE TESTING IN PHOENIX AND YOUR MINDSET COMING TO RACE AT ATLANTA THIS WEEKEND. "It's been a busy couple of weeks because I know a lot of drivers and a lot teams went to California and stayed for the Vegas swing. We elected to do that, so it made it a long event from California to Vegas to the Phoenix test and finally back to the shop. We made the decision yesterday, my pilot told me the weather wasn't going to be great this morning and asked if I wanted to go Thursday night. I said, 'No, I want to stay home one more night in bed,' so we came in this morning. I'm glad to be here. This race track is a lot fun to race at and hopefully this weather will get cleared up and we'll get on the race track and see how our car runs. I'm just really excited about being here, we've had a great couple of weeks and I can't wait for this race this weekend and to get some more of these mile-and-a-halves, although we're gonna go to a short track coming up. It will be a while before we get back to mile-and-a-half tracks."
YOU'RE ALSO RUNNING IN THE NATIONWIDE RACE THIS WEEKEND. "Yeah, I just picked up an opportunity, or a kind of reunion tour, I guess with the Curb team now, that used to be the former Brewco. Cub Cadet came back on board for this race here in Atlanta, this is a big market for them. It's getting to be close to time to be mowing grass with all the rain we've had. Everybody's grass is turning green, I know mine is, so certainly if you need help in that area, go visit the Cub Cadet store and support our program."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GUYS ARE COMING UNDER UNFAIR SCRUTINY BECAUSE OF WHAT HAPPENED IN VEGAS? "No, not at all because each team or car in an organization runs under technically under those kind of situations that couldn't be team wide. That's something specific with a certain part of the car. Now, if they said that the bodies weren't legal and the outside of the car or something that would affect all of us. But if someone has an infraction for an illegal spring or something like that or a piece of sheet metal that didn't come off inside the car, that's specifically just that car at that race. Everybody knows that it is no advantage. Everybody knows the fuel tank lid for years has made a difference. We used to have quarter turn fasteners that hold the lid on and sometimes those would come loose. In these cars we've had a severe vibration problem with the new car, which is mind blowing why we've had a vibration problem. You've heard us talk about it in Daytona. Most of the tests, they've worked on it. At Vegas, my leg was going to sleep. When we tested in Vegas, my lower calf hurt because the car was vibrating so bad. So, we've worked extremely hard on our transmissions, the drive shafts and rear gears to find this vibration and try to eliminate it. They think that's what caused the lid to come off Carl's car was the vibration. It's better than it has been. In fact, my car wasn't that bad, but they think that's a contributing factor to why it possibly came off. Obviously a vibration will loosen a bolt or make it break. What happens if a bolt is too tight and then if it vibrates or what not, it will pop its head off. I don't know. I haven't seen Carl, his car or talked to any of the guys back at the shop or anything. I came home from the test and came straight here. I haven't really made contact with the some of the people, so to speak. I went to my shop and caught up on everything and everything personally that I had to do and figure out my schedule for the next three weeks, sponsor commitment and things. I did a media call for NASCAR, so I've been pretty busy the last couple of days. I don't know what exactly the prognosis was on it. But I do find the article kind of interesting that was in USA Today that they had been testing their cars with the oil tank lids off and the fenders pulled down. The Toyotas leaked that, I guess.
"That's at least what they claim when I read the paper. I don't know why they've been testing that, but that might be an interesting question -- how they know what all these things do. Obviously we've been testing in the wind tunnel and see what they do, and I don't think we've been doing that. It's one of those things that happens. It came off. It's not legal, whether it meant to or didn't mean to, it's irrelevant. He got a penalty. We all knew he was going to get a penalty. They deserve it because it's against the rules to have the oil tank lid off. No matter how much we hate to say the bolt broke or whatever else, it doesn't matter. We've had springs fail. No matter how much we want to kick and scream about the springs, they can't fine or give a spring a penalty. There's nothing we can do about it."
HOW MUCH HORSEPOWER CAN THAT CREATE? "It doesn't. It's kind of confusing. A lot of people don't understand exactly what it is. And it's hard to understand for the general public or people who don't know exactly what it is. It's confusing because it talks about the engine because it covers where the oil reservoir lies or is mounted in the car. It has nothing to do with the engine whatsoever, or the oil cap or anything like that. It doesn't do anything to the engine. What it does do is there's a high-pressure area underneath the car. It lets the air out underneath the car and puts it obviously with the air coming in the cockpit of the car and go out the window. So what it does essentially, if you think about it in layman's terms, is it would make the car be lower to the race track, if you will. Because it takes the air from underneath car and puts it out on top of the car. I remember a long time ago in Indy cars, when we street raced, they would go over the manhole covers and the suction or the downforce would suck the manhole cover out of the ground. That's the kind of air we're talking about that's underneath the car and it gets that air out from under the car. Now, would it be a measurable amount? Probably not. If you physically would be able to measure the amount of distance the car was lowered the amount of downforce, not really. It will make a difference in the wind tunnel. When you throw air on it and take that thing off, but would you be able to go out on the race track today and make five laps, come in, take the oil tank lid off, go back ouy and make five more laps. We can do that very easily and see if the car picks up speed. Nine times out of 10, you didn't get the stuff noticeable. We move fenders in and out and change spoiler angles for years and its very hard to feel 20, 40, 50 pounds of downforce. I don't know that I believe the 170 pounds I read in the paper. That may be a little exaggerated possibly."
WHEN YOU COME TO A TRACK AS FAST AS THIS, THERE A LOT OF TALK LATELY ABOUT THE WALLS. HAVE WE REACHED A POINT WHERE THERE NEEDS TO BE ANOTHER LOOK AT THE WALLS? "I think so. I think one thing that we should do is take that Jeff Gordon crash and Tony [Stewart] and another driver crashed, we need to take that and make an example of it. Even though he wasn't hurt in the accident, thank God and everything is okay, but we should take that as serious as the accident we had in 2000, and say, 'What we can do to ratchet our safety stuff up even more?' Take another look at it. I'm not saying we should stop working on it, but what else can we do to possibly make these race tracks safer? I definitely think there is something to be done. There's two issues, the first issue is SAFER barriers. The SAFER barriers need to be everywhere, inside and outside the race track, every single track we go to, I don't care what size it is. Secondly, we've got to fix the openings where the safety trucks come out of around the race track. Drivers get hurt in auto racing sports, not from the normal crash, got a flat tire, a guy bumped him and he wrecked. Drivers get hurt from exotic accidents or freak accidents, if you will. The car got turned just the right angle, made it through the opening or whatever happened. Those are the kind of things we need worry about. I think it would be a different story if Jeff Gordon would have hit that wall with the drivers' side of his car, going the same speed and the same direction in the same spot, it would be a whole different outcome than what the outcome was, so that's why we need to fix the openings. We know that Kentucky has some bad ones. Two people wrecked there severely bad.
"Just where the wall turns, it comes back out and lines up. It's a necessary evil because you've got to have safety equipment to get out to the driver quickly and fire trucks and what not, but we've got to figure a way of getting it so we can get out on the race without having that flat spot wall. You know the one at Charlotte? It's exactly the same on the backstretch at Charlotte. Kentucky has one, I don't know where else. Everywhere has a hole in the wall. You've got to get the safety equipment out, so it's just how that's designed would be the question. What happens, is if you drew it on piece a paper, you've got the wall, a continuous wall. What they do is break the wall and then they start a wall in here, they run it and then they turn it and make it come back out and make it even with this wall. Where it turns and comes out, if you look at that angle compared to your approach angle, all of a sudden, it's head on now. But if he hits the wall where it's going straight before or after that particular opening, it's not straight it would be at a 45. So if you turn the wall at a 45 to catch the opening back up, so we need to separate those two walls and make them parallel somehow with an alley way in them and not have that flat part where it comes back out. If you draw it on a piece of paper then draw the outside of the track, you can clearly see how if he turned in the right direction, he would have hit that thing flat."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT IS EASIER NOW THAN IN THE PAST TO BE AT THE TRACK WITHOUT A CREW CHIEF SITUATION LIKE CARL IS HAVING TO GO THROUGH THIS WEEKEND? "Absolutely, 100 percent. Not to say that crew chiefs don't do their job, but this new car has changed the way we race so much. It's so much engineering based and everything is so scienced out when we show up. Now, calling the races, that's something I believe Robbie Reiser is still going to call the race this Sunday because that still takes the crew chief's decision-making at game time. He's like the coach, but up until that the crew chief's role has changed dramatically. Four years ago, it was the driver and the crew chief and they were the cowboy and Indian show, they did the whole thing, then you had the ants working on the car. Now, it's just so different with the engineers involved, it's so much more scientific that I think the crew chief plays a little bit less role than he has in the past, but certainly they're still important as a leader and to keep things functioning. The teams with a lot of depth like Roush Fenway are probably going to suffer less from Bob [Osborne] being gone because we're organized. We do have a guy that can step in and help us this minute at every race. Chris Andrews is definitely gonna be able to fill those shoes until Bob is able to return."
HAS THE RIVALARY BETWEEN MATT KENSETH AND CARL EDWARDS BEEN RESOLVED? HAS EVERYTHING IMPROVED? "Yeah, I was wondering if anyone was going to ask me about the 16 car, I'm a wealth of information. It's funny. Always a good comes from a bad -- always. What came from that tiff that those guys had is a more open forum, a more open relationship between all of us, together. And we've got a little thicker skin, we can give each other a little crap, you know. I was giving Carl a little bit after the race because he came on my radio on one of the cautions and said, 'Hey, did you see how loose I was?' and this and that. What he was meaning is that you drove up on my bumper and got me loose and I was already loose and you didn't need to do that, is kind of the PG version of what he was trying to say. I said, 'Yeah, I saw you were really loose, but I had a way faster car than what you did and needed to go and needed to get by you.' He was racing with the 44, which the 44 was pretty fast, and I was way faster than both of them and I needed to get going. It was kind of funny. I just told him on the radio that I had a faster car than you do and I need to get going. He was too loose at that time in the race. But I did have a very, very fast race car at Las Vegas and I just screwed up big time as a driver. I made some mistakes. I drove from a long ways back to catch Carl under that green flag pit stop. I was two car links off his bumper to take the lead and had come from a long ways behind. When we came back on the track, he was half a straightaway behind me and I drove all the way back to the front again. We had a great car and I was giving him a hard time, then he called me after he won and asked what happened to my faster car than he had. So we were giving each other a little stuff over it, but that wouldn't have happened prior to Matt and his incident. Since then, it has really strengthened all of us as a group. We're able to talk with each other and give each other a little crap here and there. We're a lot better at it."
-credit: ford racing