Biffle and Ford drivers talk about qualifying at Bristol

Ford Racing press conference

Greg Biffle, No. 16 3M Ford (Qualified 1st) – “The sun just went behind the clouds. It was cooler earlier when some of those guys went and then the sun came out and it looked like the track lost a tenth and now the clouds are out again. I don’t know if it will stay. The car was really good. The guys did a great adjustment late. It is unfortunate that the clouds came back out. Now the sun is behind the clouds and it is cooling down a bunch right now. I just hope that holds up for a top five. I think the track is really going to speed up right now. Nobody has done it yet.”

Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Carl Edwards, No. 99 Kellogg’s Ford (Qualified 8th) – “The last thing my crew chief told me was to drive the hell out of it, so I drove it too hard. I just drove it too hard. The car is really good and the car is very fast for Sunday. It is going to be fun. It isn’t Bob’s fault though, I am just joking. I just drove it too hard and that is it. We will be fine for Sunday, it is a really fast car.”

Aric Almirola, No. 43 Charter Communications Ford (Qualified 7th) – “It was a good lap. I was proud of that. We made some changes before qualifying that I think made our car a little better. I felt like I left a little bit out there on the race track and it shows. We didn’t get the pole but I am really proud of Greg Erwin and the guys on this team. They gave me a really good car for this weekend.”

David Ragan, No. 34 Long John Silver’s Ford (Qualified 31st) – “We picked up a little bit there but not as much as we would have liked to. That was a good run for our Front Row Motorsports team we just really need to work on unloading faster. We seem to have really struggled the last couple weeks on unloading and had to change and work on a lot. We’ve made some steady progress but started too far back. I look forward to more practice Saturday.” HOW ABOUT IN RACE TRIM? “We didn’t spend a whole lot of time in race trim today. We made a couple runs to get an idea for tomorrow’s practice so that is still to be determined.”

David Gilliland, No. 38 Taco Bell Ford (Qualified 26th) – “It was a good lap. We picked up from practice which is good. We are still just a little too tight. This place historically frees up quite a bit so we tightened it up. We probably over adjusted a little bit. All in all its not bad. It’s the first time all year we have picked up in qualifying. I am looking forward to Sunday. I think it will be real good.” TALK ABOUT THE RACING HERE. “I think it is going to be good. It is hard to pass and qualifying is definitely important. With the new surface you can run higher and lower and you have options and I think that is a good thing.”

Casey Mears, No. 13 GEICO Ford (Qualified 24th) – “I think we were really tight in practice and we definitely freed up the back and it helped me but we still didn’t pick up the front grip we needed to turn well. I really feel like the pole will be a few tenths faster than that for sure. It will at least be a 30 and we ran a 50. We improved from practice but we needed to improve another tenth.”

Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Best Buy Ford (Qualified 21st) – “We were just slow basically. We were loose too. We couldn’t really get going and haven’t had much speed here today. We need to work on it. We haven’t been very fast either way. I don’t know. We have been on both sides of it but we still aren’t very fGREG BIFFLE POLE WINNER PRESS CONFERENCE

GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – NOT ONLY WILL YOU START OUT FRONT BUT YOU QUALIFY FOR THE 2013 SHOOTOUT AT DAYTONA. IT IS A GOOD START FOR YOU AND THE 16 CAR. “Yeah it is. I just couldn’t be more proud of how hard my team is working. I know a lot of people say that but we got in line with about nine minutes to go to make our bonsai run with sticker tires. Puccia called it the money lap but I still wasn’t happy with where the car was and I wanted one more change. My guys got me out with about two and a half minutes left. I got one more run in and that made the difference today of being on the front row. This is a team effort. They are working super hard and I am happy to have 811 and 3M and all the partners and Ford and everybody working hard to get our team up front.”

YOU KEEP MENTIONING MATT PUCCIA. AT WHAT POINT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP DID THINGS REALLY START TO CLICK? WHEN COULD YOU TELL A DIFFERENCE THAT THINGS WERE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? “Yeah, it is a turnaround. This is the last week I am going to mention his name. I am going to take all the credit after this week. Anything that happens from here on is all going to be about me. No. You know, I just needed the right combination and you can ask, it sounds simple, but you can ask a lot of these drivers. When guys are running good and when guys aren’t it is not normally all the driver or all the team or all anything, it is a combination. All you ever ask for, all I ever ask for as a race car driver is the opportunity to compete and win. You hope to have that every week. Some weeks you have it and some weeks you don’t. You have to suffer through those as a team. So far this season, I have had four weeks that I’ve had superior cars. I know that this isn’t going to last all season but I am enjoying the hell out of it right now. Matt is the reason and Robbie Reiser and Jack and Doug Yates and all the guys at the engine shop are the reasons why we are as competitive as we are right now. It is all their hard work.”

IS WHAT MATT IS DOING THAT DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOU WERE DOING BEFORE HE CAME ALONG? “Yes and no. I haven’t talked a lot about Greg Erwin but he did a great job as well. We made the Chase three out of the four years he was the crew chief on my car. There were a lot of things going against us last year. We weren’t really prepared as a company with the whole fueling apparatus and we had a lot of trouble and so did the 14 team and some others who had the same issues we did. The 16 team had a tremendous amount of issues with it. Not just Las Vegas. Las Vegas was well documented but there were several races we weren’t full of gas. We changed gas guys twice last season and that stuff went under the radar because we weren’t sitting in here talking about it. We had a ton of issues. Fuel mileage was another issue. You put those two together, not getting full of gas half the time or 25-30 percent and then not great fuel mileage. When you did get full you couldn’t make it. It was like we couldn’t win, you know? That wasn’t all of it. That was the surface of it but it went deeper. Man, the deck was stacked against us last year tremendously. Matt has prepared. There isn’t a rock that is not unturned on that car. When you say he sleeps with them or baby’s them, he is at the shop late making sure these cars are 100-percent. He won’t settle for everything not being perfect. He will make the guys go back and do it over again if he doesn’t like it. He wants it to be perfect and they want it to be perfect too. I am happy to have that group.”

WAS LAST YEAR SO FRUSTRATING THAT IT’S STILL HARD TO BELIEVE FOUR WEEKS IN THAT YOU ARE DOING THIS WELL? “A little bit because in ’05 I won more races than anyone in this series and in ’99 I won nine races in the trucks and nobody has beaten that record yet in a single season. Every time you pull into victory lane or qualify on the front row or something you just cherish that moment because it may not be that way next week. I am not surprised but to be perfectly honest with you here we were mediocre in practice and didn’t quite get where we wanted to be at the end. We were 11th and so I knew we had a little bit more to go and I was hoping to qualify in the top-10. I thought if I cut a really good lap I could be in the top-five. I knew it was up to me to make a perfect lap today and I made dang near a perfect lap by one-one thousandth of a second. If you put, I don’t know how many inches that is, at the start finish line but my goodness it’s not much. If I would have blinked my eye before I put the gas down we would have been third.”

WHAT SORT OF LATE PRACTICE CHANGE DID YOU MAKE THAT GAVE YOU THAT EXTRA BURST? “We were going back and forth on some front geometry. We were switching some things back and forth for a little more turn versus a little less turn. We were adjusting that balance so that the car front to rear grip was equaled. My last run of the day I was a little bit too tight. So we came back part way to where we were. We got out and the tires were hot. The thing went a tenth slower but I thought the balance was better and I liked it and I wanted to go with that. We were going to go somewhere in between those two runs and that is what we did for the setup. We just happened to be right perfect.”

HOW MANY PEOPLE DID YOU CHANGE ON YOUR PIT CREW? “Every one.” SO THE PIT BULLS ARE ALL FRESH? “Yeah. We brought the entire 6 team over. That was Matt’s decision and Robbie or whoever. We have all the 6 over the wall guys and the PR person.”

WHEN DID YOU REALLY START SEEING THE CHEMISTRY CHANGE FOR YOU AND MATT? “I got a fair amount of pressure at the end of the season to, not a fair amount of pressure but people wanted me to think long and hard about staying with Matt as opposed to going with Drew. Drew was a more senior guy at the company and knew the Cup level better and had won races with the company. I decided I wanted to stay with Matt because I saw something in Matt that I have seen in some of the other crew chiefs I have won races with, Randy Goss and others. Matt really cares about his cars. I see a lot of myself and Roger who was a crew chief for me growing up. I see a lot of that in him. I see us being a lot alike when it comes to racing and what we think about cars and race cars and stuff. But right at the offseason I was going Christmas shopping and I stop by the race shop and four of them are there on holiday break on their hands and knees with bondo dust on the floor working on the Daytona car. I knew before that but I knew for sure then that it was going to be a good season. I went back and took all my new guys to lunch once they got assembled and we’ve had a few team activities. I took them all to my mountain property and some team building stuff. I am still learning all the names and working on that still because it is 20 new guys, but they are a good group of guys and I am happy to have them. Just the over the wall guys are from the 6. The other ones are from all around, some from Nationwide, the car chief is from Carl’s Nationwide team last year.”

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE LAP ITSELF. IT LOOKED LIKE A THRILL RIDE. “It was a huge thrill ride. It is only a good thrill ride if it turns out to be good. I saw Kyle’s lap and he had a thrill ride but is probably not happy about it. I learned a couple of things. Don’t overdrive one. The key is to not overdrive it and as soon as the car turns in the corner you have to get back to the throttle. I went back to the gas fairly early and was a little worried about it making the rest of the corner. It got loose up off both ends because I went to the gas so early in the middle of the corner. I was just pushing the envelope as much as I could. If you ask me to do it again I probably can’t. I was on the edge and like I said, one one thousandth of a second I beat the 22 car. That is not a lot.” ast so we definitely need to work on it.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR SPRINT CUP
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Carl Edwards , David Gilliland , Eric Gilbert , David Ragan , Aric Almirola , John Long , Greg Erwin
Teams Front Row Motorsports , Roush Fenway Racing
Tags almirola, biffle, edwards, ford, roush