Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion, finds himself 149 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson with four races remaining in the season. Biffle spoke about his position in the standings this afternoon at Atlanta...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion, finds himself 149 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson with four races remaining in the season. Biffle spoke about his position in the standings this afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
YOUR THOUGHTS THIS WEEKEND? "This place definitely could be tricky and can be a lot of fun to race on. Obviously, a lot of drivers look forward to coming here. This is a wide race track that we can run right up against the fence, we can run across the middle, we can run across the bottom of the race track, so this is a place I look forward to coming and racing every season. It's unfortunate that the weather, for what seems like the third week in a row, is playing havoc on us. I'm looking forward to seeing what the forecast is gonna be like in Texas and Phoenix, but it is what it is and we can't do a lot about it, but we look forward to getting on the track and getting some practice in the Turbo HD Ford Fusion. We think we've got a great car. Greg and I sat in his office and talked about how we ran here in the spring and what we've learned since then and looked at some of the data and then came up with an idea of how to start here, so we'll just look forward to getting on the track and see what we can get our car to do."
IS THERE A BETTER WAY OF DOING QUALIFYING? "We can all sit and look at it and try to figure out a better way of doing it, but the reality is there really isn't. We have so many hours that we can use this race track without coming a day earlier. There's really no way in guaranteeing that we're gonna be able to get qualifying in and it's obvious that we cannot race a 500-mile race without having any practice, so that is the most important thing. We have got to have practice, otherwise we're not racing. So we can either qualify or we can race and a lot of the fans and TV come to see a four-hour or a four-and-a-half hour race and not where everybody is gonna start on Sunday. Obviously, they're both important, but there's nothing we can do about the weather and qualifying. The thing that does stink about it is, obviously, Jimmie Johnson gets that first pit box and it's a distinct advantage on pit road to have that first pit box. I'm not saying he wouldn't qualify there, but somebody else might, but that's the only thing that I can see as a disadvantage. I don't care if I start second or 10th or 12 here, I mean, Martinsville is probably a bigger issue, but here I wouldn't say with how wide open this track is it's as much of an issue."
THE WINNER OF THIS RACE THE LAST THREE YEARS HAS GONE ON TO WIN AT TEXAS. WILL WE SEE HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF AND WILL THOSE WHO RUN WELL HERE BE AN INDICATOR OF WHO WILL RUN WELL THE REST OF THE CHASE? "I think so, definitely. Whoever runs good here is bound to run good next week and at Homestead, and I feel like we're gonna run good here. We know the 99 is gonna run well and we know the 48 is probably gonna be strong. We know the 31 will run well. We expect to see the same guys run well that have been running well, and I think it's gonna be a direct indicator to see who runs well next week and the rest of the chase, really."
WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN FOR JIMMIE NOT TO WIN THE TITLE? "We're gonna have to have four flawless races is what we're gonna have to do and it could be a little bit each race for him. Obviously, if you do the math, 149 points divided by four, that's obviously what we need to pick up per race -- it's got to be those positions or more -- but we know if he slips that we have to capitalize and if he has a problem that we have got to finish well in that event. We have to finish well the next four in order to win it and we know that he's gonna have to have a little slip. That could be not running well here, maybe getting a lap down somewhere. He was a lap down at Talladega. He was a lap down somewhere else or not running well and ended up coming back at the end, so it's possible. It's certainly possible. We're just gonna do the best we can and see where he ends up at the end of the day."
HOW FRUSTRATING IS IT TO BE SOMEONE WHO IS SO GOOD AND SO LUCKY LIKE JIMMIE? "You have to be good and lucky in this sport for the right things to happen. I feel like we're gonna be both in the next four races. We'll just have to wait and see if his luck continues is probably the biggest thing. Certainly luck wasn't on Carl Edwards' side the very next race after Talladega with both of his ignition boxes failing and ending up 16 or 17 laps down. We'll just have to wait and see if his luck continues. Certainly raining out qualifying is some advantage to him, but it's an advantage to all of us because I could get a bad draw and not have a great lap and start 20th or 22nd. Qualifying is not rained out yet and they're drying the race track, so it's perfectly possible we're talking about something that may not happen. I understand there's more weather coming, but let's wait and see."
DO YOU FEEL LUCKY TO BE WITH A TEAM THAT LOOKS LIKE IT CAN WEATHER THIS ECONOMIC STORM? "Yeah, I have empathy for every business across the United States. My parents own a small business that has probably six or seven employees and I had a small business. I had about five people work for me when I built cars in the Northwest. I know a lot of people that are in business around Mooresville and Lenoir and other places like that -- an excavating buddy of mine I just had lunch with a day before I came down here -- I met him at a coffee shop to talk to him about it and the same thing we're seeing MSNBC and we're hearing the candidates talk about, everybody is in the same position. It's a tough economic time and I am glad that I'm with an organization the size that it is, but I think we've seen that anybody can be susceptible to these big issues -- like the big banks and all the things -- so I don't think anybody is safe, but I feel bad for those people in those positions that are trying to get bad. The only saving grace I think that we have is that the oil prices keep going down, which, essentially, is gonna effect our economy straight through. They said $20 a barrel is like $640 billion in consumer spending that they get, so if oil continues to go down that's one thing that's gonna help us. But it's tough for everybody. Everybody is struggling."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT THE 48 TEAM HAS DONE THESE LAST THREE YEARS? WOULD THE TERM DYNASTY BE OVERDRAMATIC FOR WHAT THEY'VE DONE? "First of all, I promise you it's not over. Secondly, NASCAR does a tremendous job to make sure that there is parity in the sport and those guys, like the question earlier, those guys have been very, very lucky. Don't take anything away from them because Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson and everybody on that whole team has worked really, really hard and they've had a lot of success and they've learned a lot and they've learned not to make mistakes. They've learned to weather the storm when it comes. They've learned not to be overleveraged or anything else when it comes to the decisions they're making, and they had a rough Charlotte race and finished sixth, but he was going backwards two cars a lap. He was in trouble, so they have just got out of this thing by the skin of their teeth. If that race was 10 laps longer, he's gonna finish 15th or 12th or something and lose that many more points. I think he's been in the right place at the right time and I think that NASCAR has a real level playing field. You can't punish somebody for winning inside the rules. Now we're all gathering that he's playing inside the rules, and I feel like he is, but I remember when I was winning the Northwest. I won a tremendous amount of races and I was playing inside the rules and people get tired of the same person winning all the time. There were a percentage of people that booed when I pulled into the race track and a percentage of people that were excited to see the race and see if I could win again. So I know what it's like. I've been on both sides of that deal, but I feel that they've got a real fair thing. Yeah, I know that people want to see somebody else besides the 48 team in there, but we're gonna do all we can."
DO YOU LIKE THE FORMAT OF THE CHASE? "I call it a huge success. I applaud the man that thought of it inside of NASCAR that's moved on and done other things. He did a tremendous job coming up with an idea that everybody has been able to weigh in on and improve and then implement inside NASCAR. That's a great thing. The bonus points for winning kind of hurt us. Obviously, us not having a lot of wins coming into the chase put Jimmie Johnson and Kyle and everybody a long ways ahead of us. We've been able to make up some of that deficit, but we haven't been able to get all of it -- and that came because of all you folks and all the fans saying, 'They're just out there driving around in circles. They don't care about winning. They're just points racing. Let's give them more points to win so they'll want to win more.' So they did that and I think it was a good thing to give bonus points for wins and it's changed it, but I really don't know that you could change this format any to make it anymore competitive, really. People have talked about the losses of a 43rd-place finish. If you get one or two of those and you're technically out of it, so is there a way to put a stop loss basically in your finishing position so you're still in the game. In one way that would help and in one way that would hurt. What if Jimmie Johnson blew up on the fourth lap on Sunday. He finishes 43rd. I stand to gain the most amount of points. If his worst finish was say 25th, well then I don't get that advantage, so it can go both ways and I think they have a great format right now."
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE TIRES HERE? "I think every weekend that we go to a race track we're not necessarily worried about tires, but we're thinking about it and we're concerned with the performance and how everything is gonna work. The thing you've got to remember is they're working within such a narrow margin of the tire being too soft, the tire being too fast, the tire being too hard, the tire being too slow. It's such a narrow margin and if you think about it, just the weather and it raining on the race track and washing the rubber off can change the way the tire and the way the race car is that they have to throw a mandatory caution to make sure that the tire doesn't wear out. When you're working inside such narrow margins, man, it's really, really hard to get right on and I think that Goodyear does a great job at trying to balance all those things out. They've got a new car, a lot of new things that have been thrown at them and they weighed on the side of conservative here in the spring. You've got to think that we want them to weigh on the side of conservative. Now if the race would have looked the same at Indy as it did here, the tire was too hard, Indy probably would have been a better race and people would have been happier -- them being too soft. So I think that they weighed on the side of conservative. We beat them up over that and when they went to Indy they were standing there and got slapped, so they're in a difficult position. I think the tire they've picked for here is gonna be perfect."
IF SOMEBODY SAID AT RICHMOND THAT KYLE BUSCH WOULD BE LESS THAN 50 POINTS FROM BEING 500 POINTS BACK WITH FOUR TO GO, WHAT WOULD YOUR REACTION HAVE BEEN? "I'd have asked you to go get your temperature checked because I would have never thought he'd have been that far back. I would have thought you were crazy, but that's the same thing about luck. I mean, the right place at the right time, execute properly, things happen, and I tell you when the wheels start coming off this thing, it's hard to get it to stop. Then you don't give up, but if you relax your guard a little bit like, 'I can't win anymore, or I can't win the title,' things can compile and have a snowball-effect on you, but it's that hard to get momentum and it's that easy to lose it. It's a difficult spot. I wouldn't have thought that he'd be that far back, certainly, but it's a tough sport."
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT YOU COULD DO IF YOU CAN KEEP THIS RACE CLOSE GOING INTO HOMESTEAD, WHERE NO ONE CAN COMPARE WITH YOUR RECORD AND HOW CLOSE DO YOU NEED TO BE? "I think that we need to be within probably 50 points going into Homestead. I think that is a reasonable amount of points to make up. Certainly we'd like to see it less than that, but 50 points -- it depends on whether he leads a lap -- but roughly 12 or 13 spots, that would be feasibly possible for us to win and him to have an average day. I think it needs to be more in the 20-30 range probably to have a safer bet at it, but I think we're gonna be competitive at Homestead for sure. We've already looked at Homesteads setup a couple days ago when we were talking about Atlanta, but I think we'll be there. I think that we can put some ground on him over these next few races and get closer to him."
CAN YOU COMMENT ON IF THERE IS ANY SPECIAL PRESSURE BEING A TOP CONTENDER AND WOULD YOU RATHER BE CHASED OR CHASE YOURSELF? "I predicted that I would have a lead -- to myself I suppose, I was talking to the guys and Erwin about it -- that we would have a lead at Phoenix going into Homestead of about the point lead that Jimmie has right now, so the shoe is on the foot, I guess. I'd rather be the guy that's being chase, obviously. That makes it much easier because, literally, all he has to do is finish in the top 10 and we know if he's gonna finish that or better and he's gonna be looking good for a third title. So you'd rather be in that position, but we're at a deficit. We're gonna race as hard as we can and we're gonna take some chances and hopefully be able to narrow that margin up by Homestead."
-credit: ford racing