Biffle on winning Michigan: We were so good out front

An Interview with Greg Biffle, Jack Roush and Matt Puccia

GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion –
THAT WAS A WILD RACE AND GREAT WIN. YOUR THOUGHT? “Yeah, that was a wild race. I tell ya, we struggled with our car throughout the weekend. Friday we were good and worked real hard on it through the eventing. We looked at what the 17 was doing and what we did here last race. We were much faster in the Saturday practices and got it going fast. The race today, my car was super good at the beginning of the race when the track was kind of green and we got going there but once I got on restarts and in traffic I wasn’t that good. I just kept working on it and trying different things, dragging the brakes in the corner to get it go a little better. We were so good out front. I told Matt (Puccia) that is we could get out front we could win with this car. Once I passed a car I could run the next guy down by a half-a-second a lap. I knew once we got out front we would be tough to beat and that was the case. That pit cycle put us back. That was really bad. I got a great restart though and made up a bunch of those spots. We were able to close in on the 48 there on the end. I moved my line around in three and four and moved up getting in the corner and drove it in the corner a lot further and it held and I could go to the gas early. That was the only end he was beating me on and I got it turned around and was catching him and then he had the engine failure. It was going to be a great race no matter what. I felt like I could catch him but we will never know. Passing him might have been a different story but I certainly think with seven to go I could have probably pulled up close to him.”

Victory lane: race winner Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Victory lane: race winner Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

YOU HAVE BEEN QUIET ALL YEAR LONG, WHAT DOES THIS WIN MEAN TO YOU AS THE COUNTDOWN GETS SO CLOSE? “Well, I know that a lot of people don’t expect us to win the championship and don’t expect us to compete for the title but I don’t care what they say or who they want to talk about or what they want to talk about. We will be a factor when it comes down to Homestead. I promise you that.”

JACK ROUSH, Owner – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion –
IS MICHIGAN THE MOST IMPORTANT PLACE FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE A NATIVE HERE TO WIN AT? “It is fun to race in front of the home crowd. We have two suites here and our biggest hospitality of the year for the two Michigan races of any race track venue that we do hospitality on for Roush Industries. That is important. My most important race is my next one and I will go to bed tonight not thinking about what happened today but worrying about what will happen at Bristol when we go into that crash fest we are going to have down there.”

IT HAD BEEN SEVEN RACES SINCE YOU HAD WON HERE. DOES THAT MEET YOUR DEFINITION OF A DROUGHT AND WERE YOU STARTING TO GET FRUSTRATED? “Well, there are rhythms that go through this thing. There was the year we won nine races with Mark (Martin) and another year we won eight or nine race with Carl (Edwards). We weren’t probably good enough to deserve all that but we have had many other years we haven’t won many times or as often as we should have. You have to suffer through the rough times to enjoy the good times. We are due to have a good run and hopefully it will be in the Chase with one of the Roush Fenway drivers. I never really lost faith in the organization or in myself or the engines we have or the hardware we have built. It is the best we can do and it is good enough. On a day like today when Greg has trouble or one of the drivers have trouble they will hoist us up on their shoulders and carry us farther than you might think they could. That happens more times than not and most of those times are when you win your races, not when you have the dominant car.”

YOU SAID THAT YOU WERE GLAD IF PEOPLE WEREN’T PAYING ATTENTION TO YOU. DOES THAT HELP AT ALL? “I approach it differently. I know in my heart what our team is capable of and what I am capable of as a driver on the race track and I focus on that. I don’t really put a lot into what people talk about and the drivers they talk about and what the stories are. I will go home kicking rocks like I did last week. I was disappointed with myself and I left that race track without the point lead and it was totally my fault. I gave up two positions on the last lap at Watkins Glen and handed the point lead to the 48 car. That went under the radar. Nobody said a word about it, nobody mentioned it or knew about it except me because I was driving the car and knew I gave up those two spots and was one point behind the 48 coming here. I pay attention to what we need to do as a team and not make mistakes and do what it is going to take to win this championship. If it is not a story and they don’t cover it then that is fine but they will be forced to after Homestead.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI JUST RAISED THE ISSUE OF THE SUPPOSED TRAVEL OR IRREGULARITY IN THE REAR ENDS OF THE HENDRICK CARS. WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON THAT SUBJECT? “When the 24 car put a left rear tire through the battery at Darlington that was kind of a wake-up call for some of us. It took us awhile to figure out what they were doing but we have been working at it and have assurance from NASCAR that it is okay and within the rules and not the reason that we were able to win today. It certainly is hard to win if you don’t have a competitive aero package and chassis mechanical grip package.”

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED – “To follow that up I think more what people are working on today is NASCAR cut an inch and a half off the right side skirt and so that threw us all for a loop right in the middle of this thing. So we took our notebook and what we raced here even just last time and threw it away. It completely changed the way we race these cars compared to the way we used to race these cars. It is all rear suspension related. There is a lot more to it than this thing that these guys think is going on with the rear end. It is more of the entire package and getting the car down and sealing the right side down. Every team is doing it. There is a lot more to it I think. I have been reading some stuff about it and it isn’t any one thing that we have figured out as a team to get our cars down out of the air and sealed up on the right side and going around the corner better.”

MATT PUCCIA, Crew Chief – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion -
DID YOU SAY ANYTHING TO BIFFLE WHEN JIMMIE’S ENGINE BLEW UP? “I just told him basically that we weren’t out of this and I knew we had a fast car and we were capable if we could just get to him and get around him. When that happened to Jimmie there I think we had a good enough car to catch him and pass him normally but when that happened we took advantage of it and were able to get around him.”

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED – DID YOU HAVE TO THROW EVERYTHING AWAY BECAUSE THE CAR HANDLES DIFFERENTLY OR BECAUSE YOU ARE TRYING TO GET THE BODY OF THE CAR AS LOW AS POSSIBLE? “Yeah, you are exactly right. With these cars you want to seal the air out from under them. You want the splitter as low as you can in the front and when the car goes around the corner it goes a little in yaw. We have a little skew in the axle housing with what NASCAR allows us. With that skirt cut up high it allows a lot of air under the car in the back of the car and it takes down force away. We try to get our cars down on the race track and everybody does it but it takes a whole different package. It takes different sway bars and different springs and angels on all the stuff. It took a tremendous amount. Some guys were kind of racing like that already and we weren’t as an organization. We tried a little and hit on it a little. I ran a car like that at Kansas in the second Chase race a few years ago and ran third. We were softer in the back and down a little bit then. We weren’t able to really perfect it. When the side skirts got cut up we were committed and had to go work on them and figure it out. Some guys just got it figured out faster than us.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – A LOT OF ENGINE BUILDERS WERE NERVOUS COMING INTO TODAY. WERE YOU NERVOUS OR DO YOU PLAY THIS RACE CONSERVATIVE WHEN IT COMES TO ENGINES? “I am always nervous about breaking a part because I assume the responsibility when something breaks. I wasn’t figuring that there was anything that was particularly similar with the Hendrick engines. We have our own valve spring package and connection rod package and don’t share any parts with them. There was no reason why I would be more nervous than I would normally be but I had my fingers crossed until we were within cruising distance of the start-finish line.”

HOW SWAMPED ARE YOU AND THE ORGANIZATION WITH THE FACT YOU ARE DEALING WITH THE REAR END ISSUE, TRYING TO RUN FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH AT LEAST TWO CARS AND WORKING ON THE 2013 CAR? “We probably don’t have the most people per team but we do have 100 people that stand behind every one of our cars. Those people are talented and resourceful and ambitious and able and do a lot. I try to lead on being engaged with the management by consensus thing but we have a lot of capacity. I asked a question the other day and shouldn’t have asked it because the answer didn’t make me all too happy. We were talking to someone in the interview process about how many trailers we have for R&D. We have four and don’t run them all at the same time but if we are in a situation where there is a test or a need to go with all three of our programs and a satellite program we can support four R&D teams. There is a lot of capacity there. Our brightest people are dealing with it and split with the concern over making the hardware as competitive as can be for 2012 but also focusing a certain amount of time on 2013 as well. We haven’t had the sheet metal and be able to build righteous 2013 bodies. We have done some testing with the 2013 composite bodies that have a lower CG than the cars will have. The rubber really hits the road in September when we get the sheet metal together and can build real cars. The real deal will occur in the Chase when we need to run the ’13 car and also make the most of our Chase opportunity but we have a lot of capacity.”

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED – YOUR WIN TODAY ALLOWED JACK TO PASS THE WOOD BROTHERS FOR THE MOST ALL-TIME WINS AT MIS. HOW DOES THAT FEEL? “That is exciting for me to be a part of the organization and to give Jack the most wins at a race track or what not. I am happy for him. He is great to drive for and hopefully he will get a third championship this year and be able to celebrate that along with the most wins at Michigan.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “The Wood Brother family is one of the friendliest organizations in the garage and they did a lot to help us when we got started and we have built cars for them today and do things that help them benefit with the mass number of cars we build and engineering we have going on. It is a close relationship and they were involved for decades before I got involved. This is my 25th year but I think they have been involved for more than 60 years. I look up to the Wood Brothers and I certainly am respectful of all the sacrifice they made as a family and a business organization to create the platform that we enjoy racing in today and the business that goes with it.”

MARK MARTIN WON A RACE HERE A FEW YEARS AGO WHEN YOU RAN OUT OF GAS. TODAY HE GOT CAUGHT UP IN SOMEONE ELSE’S SPINS. CAN YOU ADDRESS HOW YOU RECONCILE AND DEAL WITH THOSE KIND OF THINGS THAT HAPPEN OVER THE COURSE OF TIME THAT YOU DON’T HAVE CONTROL OVER? “It is really tough to do. It is probably the hardest thing in the sport, to do that. You are faced with so many things each week and the way I do it now is when I get on the airplane to go home I quit thinking about this race and I start thinking about the next race because if it lingers with you like last week making that mistake sliding in the oil and losing those two position, if you let it linger it will break you down. It can ruin you self esteem and emotion and what not going forward. So what you do is take a positive away from it that he had a fast car, was on pole and ran good and he knows that when he comes here next time he will be competitive. You have to look at the positive and move on. It is hard to do to forget about it and walk away when something like that happens. That is the only way to succeed in this sport.”

Source: Ford Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR SPRINT CUP
Teams Roush Fenway Racing
Article type Press conference
Tags biffle, ford, michigan, puccia, roush, winner