Charlotte Motor Speedway
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session in the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield media center after Thursday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session.
“I’m really excited. We ran extremely well in the All-Star Race and we brought our car that we finished fourth with in Texas. I feel like we have a really good race car. The car was decent in practice. We went a little bit early there for the final run and then a big cloud kind of moved in, so, unfortunately, we got bumped down the list quite a ways by all the guys that went late with about two minutes to go. So we have a little bit of an early draw. It’s really hot, so a late draw is gonna be really important here, but it’s a 600-mile race and I don’t know that it’s super-important on where we start, but pit box is important as well, so I’m feeling a little pressure to try and put down a good lap here in a little bit. I think we have a great opportunity to run 600 miles here and be pretty good at the end.
THE NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES WILL HAVE ITS 400TH RACE AT KANSAS AND YOU WILL BE DRIVING THE PACE TRUCK TO THE GREEN FLAG. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? “I’m more nervous about that than racing here on Sunday night for 600 miles. It’ll be the first time I’ve driven a pace car to the green flag, so, hopefully, I won’t make any mistakes. I learned so much in the truck series. They gave me my start and gave me my opportunity. I really miss the truck series and all the people there, so I’m looking forward to going back and getting an opportunity to visit with the officials and spend a little time with them before bringing the field down to the green. I’m pretty excited about it. I can’t wait.
We feel the pressure, the 16 team of winning.
YOU GUYS HAVE FOUND SOME ADDED PERFORMANCE SINCE THE START OF THE YEAR AND IT LOOKS LIKE TEAMS LIKE RCR HAVE FALLEN OFF A BIT. IS THERE ANY REASON TO EXPECT YOU WON’T BE THAT GOOD AGAIN THIS WEEKEND? “I think you’re gonna see that again, although Jeff Burton was the fastest in practice, so they’ve got their car going good here in qualifying trim. He ran pretty good in the All-Star Race, so I think teams are picking it up. I still feel like we’ve got a little bit in the fuel tank. We’re getting better and better, and I think we’re gonna continue to get better for the next month or two with our cars. We’re going to some of our really good race tracks coming up. We feel the pressure, the 16 team of winning. We know we have to win. Let’s face it, we show up every week and try to win – all drivers do – but it’s important for us to get that win. We’re trying every week, but we know we need it to get in the chase.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY GOODYEAR IS BALANCING THE TIRES? “Not many people pay enough attention to come to that analogy you came to and you hit it on the nail head. What’s changed in our sport, I’m not gonna say the old days but about five years ago, if you had too much camber in the right-front, the car is too tight, you were too hard on the right-front tire, it would blow out. You would have problems or issues. The driver had more responsibility inside there behind the wheel. We cannot make it to where it is absolutely childproof inside that car, where you can do anything you want and nothing is gonna happen. I understand we kind of painted and pushed Goodyear into a corner. People don’t want to see on TV a Goodyear tire blowing out. The general public says, ‘Oh, that tire failed or blew out.’ Well, it’s not always the tire’s problem. When you hit a curb or something in your passenger car and break the wheel, it’s not the wheel’s fault, it’s your fault because you hit something. They don’t want tires blowing out. It’s a safety issue. We can’t just say, ‘OK, if you drive too hard your right-front tire is gonna blow out and you’re gonna go in the fence at 200 miles an hour.’ So that’s not safe either. You’re right, there is a balance there. Some of these race tracks we’re getting a softer tire back. They tried at Bristol and Bristol is a good example. Goodyear brought a soft tire. The thing had a ton of grip. It slowed down, but it ran out of rubber too soon, so they brought in a different tire for the race, changed the Nationwide cars 25 laps into the race onto a different tire – an unprecedented change – so they’re working as hard as they can to try to bring us a tire that is as absolutely competitive as they can make it. But these new surfaces and new cars, the way they’re designed and built, who would have ever thought they’d be two-by-two at Daytona? Nobody anticipated that when they repaved it. It just so happened to when we showed up, so I don’t think anybody has really planned what has happened, but I agree that some of the tires used to be softer, they’d run fast at the beginning and then start falling off, and when that green flag came out, you had to come and get tires, or at least two, and not just whoever is out front was the fastest car. It’s put a lot of pressure, and when you make all the cars the same. When everybody is the same speed, all cars through the field, the top 15, it’s hard to pass. Before, you’d have a couple fast cars and then this guy is not as fast and not as fast. When you make them all the same, it’s really hard to get one guy in front of the other guy because he doesn’t have enough speed difference to be able to pass him. We’ve always been aero-tight, always. But the cars are so sensitive now and we’re so close to the same speed that when you get within five or four car lengths of him, you can’t really get any closer. That is a difficult thing. Nobody is playing it that way, it’s just evolution with what’s happened.
HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED A SPEEDING TICKET? “That’s a loaded question (laughing). In my younger days I have driven a little faster, probably, than I should have a time or two. I never got pulled over or never got a ticket for doing that, but the fastest I’ve gotten stopped is maybe 85 or 90 – something like that. I think I got pulled over going 90 out in California. I was on my way to the desert one time, going through the desert with tumbleweeds and was on Highway 8 or something like that. That was probably the fastest I ever got a ticket for, but there is obviously a time and a place for going a little bit faster than we should at times. You just have to watch your P’s and Q’s.
DO YOU WATCH IT MORE CAREFULLY BECAUSE YOU’RE A NASCAR DRIVER? “I do. I will always make sure I take advantage of the nine miles an hour over the speed limit, but, beyond that, you have to be careful how fast you go. Certainly, you don’t want to cause an accident because that’s probably the worst thing to have in the newspaper being a NASCAR driver, so you have to take a little precaution when you’re on the road around other cars.
HAVE YOU BEEN IMPRESSED WITH COLE WHITT IN THE TRUCK SERIES? “Yeah, I have. He’s done a great job and performed exceptionally well. Again, a lot of it has to do with the equipment. You’ve got to be in good equipment. I was fortunate enough and Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards to be in good equipment, but I am very impressed. He’s doing a good job.
CAN CARL SWEEP THIS WEEKEND? IS THERE MORE PRESSURE ON HIM? “I can promise you I’m gonna make it very hard on him. That’s for damn sure. I thought I had a car probably as good as he did last week and I didn’t capitalize on it, so I’m gonna take advantage of capitalizing on it this week and not make that same mistake. A lot of it is track position. He got out front and seemed to be the guy, but he’s got a fast car. They’ve got the setup that won and we know he’s gonna be tough. We know the 18 is gonna be tough. There are about four or five cars that were fast in that All-Star Race. The 00 came on at the end, so we’re gonna have to beat those guys as well.
IS THIS IMPROVEMENT MORE THAN JUST SIMULATIONS? “Yeah, we talk about this so much and it’s so many things. Every time we come to the race track it’s like, this is the lightest car we’ve built. And then two weeks later they’re like, ‘This is better.’ And not necessarily just lighter, but aerodynamics, components. We found this or that or some new whatever. We changed some products in the car. We’re building new dashes. We’re using less wiring or smaller wiring. We’re able to move some things around inside the car. We’ve got the new engine. Doug and those guys are working on the engine every week trying to make more and more power. We’re running stuff now that was R&D’d in the All-Star Race a year ago and during the All-Star Race, and by the 21 car that was raced a few times earlier this season. Now they’ve implemented it into our engines – maybe a couple more horsepower here and there. It’s just a combination of things. It’s the power.
“It’s getting the weight down in our cars, getting the center of gravity lower, getting better aerodynamics, understanding the suspension and bump stops better. We know so far up to this point is it’s never one thing. One thing can screw you up, but not one thing can make you go fast, it’s always a combination.”
KANSAS IS NEXT WEEK. WHAT ABOUT THAT TRACK? “Kansas is a really fun track to me. I like it because it’s a little bit less banking, it drives a little flatter and there’s a little more technique involved. There’s a little more difficult for a mile and a half. I like the way it’s laid out. We’ve run really good there. I’ve been able to run up the race track, down the race track and it’s just suited my driving style – kind of like Darlington and a few of the other places. I’ve really taken a liking to that race track and these mile and a halfs. We haven’t been that good at Charlotte over the last two or three years, but this year in the All-Star and so far we’re really running good here and I’m happy about that.”
-source: ford racing