Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, took the checkered flag in the last race at Pocono in the fall. Biffle took time to talk with media Friday afternoon after the first practice session.
WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGY THIS WEEKEND? “Just coming off a good run here in the fall last year we are just trying to get our race car driving good. We weren’t that great for a major part of that race but we got good at the end and a little rain shower and got track position. We are trying to duplicate that and be a little better than we were in the first half of that race last year. We worked on qualifying a little bit. We are getting ready to work on some race trim stuff here in the second practice and see how we can get it to drive.”
WITH THE SHIFTING, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL BE DOING AND WHAT OTHER GUYS WILL BE DOING? “I think everybody will have a little different strategy. Some guys will try to shift in every corner, some guys in one and some guys in one and three. The main thing is that we are shifting again like we need to be at this race track. I am still not clear on why we stopped shifting here originally. I know there as a rule that came into affect but we also still road raced and we shifted there. At this race track in the middle of the run you would go so slow in turn one and two that shifting will make it a lot more exciting and make some more passing zones and a little more side-by-side.”
DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE BEST PLACE FOR YOU TO GET YOUR FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON? “Yeah, I think any of them are good, but as far as opportunity we feel like this week or especially next week at Michigan, which is a great track for us, we think that one of those race tracks or we keep saying that. Last week at Kansas, I had the best finishing average of anyone there at that race track. Darlington, you know. Dover has always been a good place. We have come up a little short so far. We are running pretty good and good enough to win, we just have to be in the right position at the right time.”
YOU HAVE HAD FUEL ISSUES. DO YOU FEEL THOSE ARE BEHIND YOU? HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT THE PROBLEM AND DO YOU FIND IT CURIOUS THAT 13 RACES IN WE ARE STILL HAVING PROBLEMS WITH FUELING? “Yeah, we are going to always have fuel issues as long as we have this fueling system because it has a few down sides to it at the same time as it has upsides. With an improvement comes maybe a set back or something that could be negative. The one negative thing is that it is very important, from what I understand and I did a lot of research on it, the way you plug it in. If you get fuel on the air side, where the air returns, it is like a straw that has a bubble in it and the air won’t come out so the fuel won’t go in. No matter what you do, you have to get rid of that can and get another one because it has that air lock in it. The other thing that this thing does that the guys are getting better at is that it spills gas on the ground. They are trying to minimize that as well. When the connection comes apart it has a void area where there is some excess fuel. It doesn’t seal up right when it disconnects. It is just part of the changes that we have to face and deal with to get the best we can. If a guy doesn’t get it perfect in there, any one of these teams are going to have that issue.”
IF SOMEBODY OFFERED YOU THIS DEAL BEFORE THE SEASON, YOU COULD WIN ANY THREE RACES AND NOT MAKE THE CHASE, OR NOT WIN A RACE AND MAKE THE CHASE, WHAT WOULD YOU TAKE? “Do I get to win the championship? If I get to win the championship then I am going to take no wins and win the championship by far. Nobody knows who won the three biggest races compared to the guy that owns the title a few years from now. We all know that Jamie won those last year, but we also know who won the championship. Like I said, it is very important. Winning races is important. That is how we measure each other. How many races have you won? When was the last time you won? Where did he win at? That is how we justify whether you are a good driver or team or have the talent or ability to compete at this level. On the other hand, the 12 guys that make the Chase are kind of the icons of the sport so to speak. They go to New York and do the thing. They do the banquet. There is a poster and this and that and media events. Those 12 guys and those 12 sponsors take a leadership role for 10 weeks and then somewhat the next season prior to the Chase again. That has a lot of importance as well.”
HALF WAY THROUGH THE REGULAR SEASON YOU ONLY HAVE ONE TOP FIVE FINISH. DO YOU FEEL MORE BEHIND THIS SEASON BASED ON HOW WELL CARL AND MATT ARE RUNNING? “Yeah, we definitely feel like we are further behind. A lot of those races have been circumstance. We have run good enough to win. We have led a lot of laps and we were leading at Charlotte and probably would have won. We potentially could have won at Vegas but had a fuel issue. There are a lot of places where we should have top-fives for sure and don’t. The team is feeling the pressure because we are running good enough to get those finishes; we are just having crappy stuff happen to our cars and track position with throttle linkage falling off and can’t get gas in the car. We have fouled up this or that and I have come down pit road when I shouldn’t have. We have made a lot of miscellaneous mistakes. We have been competitive enough with the two other cars, we just don’t have the finishes they do.”
DO YOU THINK NOT GETTING ALL THE FUEL IN THE CARS IS AFFECTING THE OUTCOME OF RACES? “Absolutely. 100-percent. The issue is that the teams are faster than you can fill the car with gas. It is that simple. The pit crews have gotten so good and the guys have gotten so good and trained and worked so hard that they can get the tires on the race car faster than you can get the car full of gas. Congrats to them for how hard they have worked and what they have accomplished. With the new fuel connection or whatever you want to call it, has slowed up the fueling of the car enough to where you can literally change tires faster than you can fuel. Not by much, but it doesn’t take much. You know, when you are filling 18 gallons in 12 seconds, one second, you do the math on how much fuel that is. It is over a gallon a second. So if you are two-tenths of a second off then you are talking about almost a half a gallon of fuel or probably over that. It is very important. The thing doesn’t flow very well when the can gets low, which makes it worse. You know as well as I do that when you start dumping something out that has a lot of fuel it it, it has a lot of pressure. When it gets lower, it doesn’t want to flow as fast.”
If it is not broke, don’t fix it ...
ARE THERE WAYS THAT TEAMS CAN START WORKING ON THESE FUELING SYSTEMS? CAN YOU LOOK TO ADVANCEMENT OF THE SYSTEM? “They have done a tremendous amount of work on this and the connection and different o-rings to give you more clearance or if you happen to not be square on it that it doesn’t shoot fuel into the air part of it and lock the can. NASCAR has let us kind of do what we want on the inside of the mechanism but the reality is the mechanism is kind of what it is. There are small things they can do and I know they have worked like heck to optimize them. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know if it is having a gallon more gas in the dumb cans or what it might be to speed it back up just a little bit. It puts the emphasis back on the pit crew a little bit.”
YOU HAVE HAD A FEW DIFFERENT FUEL GUYS THIS YEAR HAVEN’T YOU? “We switched guys and had an intermediate guy for a couple of races and now we have a guy that is doing it. We have had two or three times where we haven’t been fuel. I don’t think it is because he did anything wrong. I think it is the timing. We are a gallon and a half short and at the mercy of the caution coming out and have to stop six laps short of the field. I think lots of teams up and down pit road have had that happen, even with the old system. The reality is that the emphasis now unfortunately is on the fuel part of the pit stop and that is the function of it.”
AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING POLITICALLY INCORRECT, THIS WHOLE FUELING SYSTEM WITH CORN BASED ETHANOL AND THE PRICE HAS GONE THROUGH THE ROOF WORLD WIDE. WE HAVE THIS FUEL YOU REALLY DON’T NEED AND A FUELING SYSTEM YOU REALLY DON’T NEED THAT HAS COST A LOT OF MONEY. ARE WE SOLVING A PROBLEM THAT REALLY ISN’T A PROBLEM? “Yeah, I am going to reserve my comment on all that. If it is not broke, don’t fix it, you can always take that approach. Or you can always take the approach of trying to be ahead of the curve and innovative. We are trying to recapture the vapor or the fumes inside the fuel tank. When we first started messing with these things we are dumping a half a gallon of gas on the ground. I am not a physicist but I would have to say that probably makes as much fumes as what was inside the fuel tank. I was kind of scratching my head as you were at the beginning and asking if we were making it better or worse. We have gotten better about not spilling gas now and it has started to function more like it was intended to. The reality is that it is slower than the old system. Until we find a way to speed that up a little bit then we will be faced with having to wait a millisecond or half a second on the pit stop on the fuel.”
-source: ford racing