Daytona 500 media day visit: Biffle and Edwards

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Ford Racing press release

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion

“I certainly think the Bud Shootout is gonna set the tone for this weekend here, but I’m really looking forward to going to Phoenix and Vegas. Those are two of my favorite stops on the circuit – or a couple of my favorite stops. One, I like gambling. Two, I like the desert. Three, I love those race tracks, so I’m looking forward to this season getting going."

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

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

WHAT IS YOUR APPRECIATION FOR MARTINSVILLE CELEBRATING ITS ANNIVERSARY. “We have a love-hate relationship with Martinsville. I either run really good there or really bad, or my brakes quit working. It’s kind of the heart and soul of NASCAR short track racing. It’s one of the slowest places we go with the slowest corner speed, which makes it a more technical race track."

DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE THE CHARITY IMPACT YOU’VE HAD? “No. I could have never thought of that in 100 years, that we’d be able to do the things that we are doing. I haven’t kept track exactly, but probably over the course of when we started the foundation we’ve probably raised $1 million and have helped a tremendous amount of animal rescue groups and animals, Victory Junction Gang Camp, and all kinds of other people’s causes – children’s charities, all kinds of things – so it makes you feel good that you’ve been able to make a difference in things like that."

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE KIDS WHO WANT TO RACE? “I loved racing, and I loved driving anything. I started out riding a motorcycle when I wasn’t tall enough to get it started. I had to have somebody start it for me so I could go, but just follow your dreams and passion and stay focused and stick with it. Things in life take a lot of effort and a lot of hard work and you get rewarded for that. If you work harder than the next guy, in America you’re supposed to be rewarded for that."

HOW MANY TRAFFIC TICKETS HAVE YOU GOTTEN? “When I was a young buck I probably had a lot – quite a few – and, believe it or not – I didn’t have all that many speeding tickets. I’ll bet you I have a total of maybe five in my career of driving, or six speeding tickets. I think if you think about driving a car for 20 years that’s about one every three or four years. I probably had a little bit of an attitude when I was in high school and I lived in a small town, so they liked to pull me over in my car. I got a ticket for not enough tread on the tire. I got a ticket for the car being too loud. I got a ticket for the tail light being out. I got a ticket for the head light being out. The license plate light."

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? “A 1976 Trans-Am. It was canary yellow, so I wasn’t hiding very much."

HOW HAS BECOMING A FATHER CHANGED YOU? “I don’t think it affects my racing. Probably what having my daughter, Emma, has done is my outlook on kids more than anything. I appreciated kids and what they’re about and all that, but it’s just like a dog. Until you have one and they live with you and go everywhere with you, then your outlook is a little bit different. You always liked animals, but it’s just different. It’s no different with Emma. I look at other children now a little bit differently, a little more appreciation and definitely for parents for how much work it is."

DO YOU TAKE ANY LESS CHANCES ON THE TRACK? “I don’t think so. No. I look at what I do on and off the race track and risks and rewards and chances and I pretty much do it all the same."

ANY SUPERSTITIONS? “Not really. I’m kind of quirky about after the driver’s meeting I want to go back to my motorhome and have some quiet time. Eat lunch and kind of get ready for the race. I don’t like doing interviews or autographs or whatever. In the morning, it’s as busy as can be. I think my morning starts at 8:10 on Sunday and every 10 minutes I’ve got something up until the drivers meeting."

ANYTHING SPECIAL TO EAT? “No. I don’t particularly have anything special, but I try to eat bland and light – mostly grilled chicken or a turkey sandwich type of thing. I’m not having chili or stew or a steak."

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHANGE IN NASCAR THE LAST 10 YEARS? “The most significant was this car, the car we have now, and no testing. That changed our entire sport. It changed it completely and it will never be the same. Before, we weren’t spending all the time back at the shop with the engineers and seven-post machine and all engineering-based models. It was more go to the race track and figure out what swaybar was the best, what spring, what shock, and we had data on the cars. We’d go home and look at the data and look at what we learned and what the driver said about it and we would go to the next place. That’s how this sport used to be and it’s not like that anymore."

WOULD YOU RATHER MAKE THE CHASE THAN WIN THE DAYTONA 500 OR BRICKYARD 400? “Yes. Absolutely. They’re huge races, but you can’t win the championship if you’re not in the Chase, and if you don’t have consistency, you’ll never be successful in this sport. You have to be consistent and competitive every week. Winning the Daytona 500 doesn’t really mean that, I’m not saying a competitive team, but for the meat and potatoes of our sport and making the Chase and winning the championship, the restrictor plate races are completely different. If you look at the finishing order for the last 10 restrictor plate races and grab the finishing order for the last 10 mile and mile-and-a-half races. The names are different because it’s a different kind of competition, if you will. It’s not like anybody can do it, but it’s not like the driver has as much input into that. It’s more the car and the speed of the car and the track position, which the driver has something to do with."

YOU ARE JUST MORE FOCUSED ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP THAN INDIVIDUAL RACES. “Right. It’s important to win (the 500) and I do everything I can to win it. Everybody wants to win it, but it’s kind of hypothetical when you say, ‘Would you rather if this or that?’ Because you don’t really choose. I’m gonna go out here and try to win this thing on Sunday and I’m not thinking about the championship, I’m thinking about winning the Daytona 500. Trevor Bayne is a perfect example. He won that race and that doesn’t really reflect on other races throughout the season or the competitiveness of your car or the driver."

THERE’S AN IMPRESSIVE LIST OF GUYS WHO HAVE NEVER WON THE 500. “Yeah. I know there are a lot of people that haven’t. It’s a very, very hard race to win because I’m not saying it’s all about luck, but it’s a lot about luck and the other thing is there are 34 guys that can win it. When we go to Phoenix, there’s not 34 guys that can win that race. There’s probably 40 guys that can win this thing. There’s not 40 guys that can win at Las Vegas or Phoenix."

SO DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A 1-IN-40 SHOT HERE? “I think I have a 1-in-40 shot. We have fast cars, so that helps you, but you’ve got to be there. I’ve finished third and fifth here. I probably had my best opportunity to win in ’04 and got caught speeding at the beginning of pit road and finished 12th, but I had a fast enough car to win. I replay that over and over in my head, but it’s hard to get that position."

DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE AS FAST A CAR AS YOU USED TO HAVE? “No, you don’t. But a fast car has a better chance or a better opportunity of winning because a fast car will typically have better track position because it’s a fast car, so he’s gonna be in the Top 10 or Top 15 easier than a car that’s a little draggy or a little slower."

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO GET OUT OF THE SHOOTOUT? “The Shootout is really gonna be a telltale sign of what this weekend is gonna be like. Is it gonna be a big group? Is it gonna be single-file? How long can we push? There’s gonna be a lot to it."

SO BEING IN IT IS AN ADVANTAGE? “Oh yeah.”

***

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion

WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF A DRIVER DOESN’T WIN THE DAYTONA 500? A LOT OF GREAT DRIVERS HAVE NOT. “I don’t know. I feel that Daytona is one of those races you go to and you do everything you can. You can one shot at it a year and, for me personally, last year was really close. I learned a lot. I feel like I’m getting better at these restrictor plate races and understanding how to maximize my chances of winning because at the end of the day these races still have a lot of chance involved. I think that’s what makes this a special race because you only have one shot at it a year. It’s a race that anything can happen. Look at David Ragan last year. You just never know what’s gonna happen."

Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

TONY HASN’T WON OR MARK MARTIN. HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU LOOK AT GUYS LIKE THAT WHO HAVEN’T WON A 500? “I think Mark Martin is a champion of the sport, whether he’s got the trophy or not. He gives his best every week and that’s all you can do. The fun part about this sport is just going out and doing the very best you can. If you win, it’s a great feeling. I was close enough to know to at least get a taste of how great this race would feel to win and be able to be right there and have a shot at it and then get to talk to Trevor a lot about it, it would be an amazing race to win."

DID YOU EVER JOKE WITH TREVOR ABOUT THAT OUTCOME? “Trevor went down and blocked and he did what he had to do and it worked out. There was really nothing else, after looking at the replay and everything, there was nothing else I could really do other than maybe just go for the top and try to make that work. I thought I’d break them apart and have a real shot at it, but his car was very fast. He did a good job and that’s how it turned out. In hindsight, for Trevor to have won that race and then to go through everything he went through last year, it couldn’t have happened to a better guy to win the Daytona 500."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE DUE? “No, I never feel like I’m owed anything. I go out and do the best I can and if I win I win, and if I don’t, then at least I know I did the very best I could, but I don’t ever feel like this sport owes me anything. I feel that I owe this sport a lot and I feel I have a huge opportunity everytime I get to put on this driver’s suit and go drive the race car. I’ve already surpassed my wildest dreams 100 times over. I never thought I’d be able to do this, so, for me, it’s a big adventure and I go out there and do the best I can and if we win the 500 and win the championship, then that would be unbelievable."

HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE YOU HAVEN’T DONE YOUR BEST? “Yeah, of course I have. I’ve got done with races that I’ve won and I knew I did something wrong or made a mistake. Every racecar driver that’s successful, they know that you have to minimize those things. You cannot make those mistakes. Those are things you have to work to minimize. You have to do your best. You have to get everything you can and that’s really, in the end, what makes you do well. If you do all the things right and you go do your best, it’s only a matter of time – you’ll get the reward. That’s the way I look at it."

DID YOU FEEL LIKE THAT AFTER HOMESTEAD? “No, I felt like we went there, we sat on the pole, we led the most laps, we were leading when the rain came. If they would have had any trouble, if we would have had another yellow, our pit crew was the best on pit road that day. We were ready to pounce, it just didn’t work out."

DID YOU EVER MENTALLY CROSS TONY OFF THE LIST AS A CONTENDER LAST SEASON? “No. We went to Martinsville and they asked who I thought were gonna be the contenders and Tony was I think the first guy I mentioned because I know how good he is and how good their equipment is. There’s a reason why he’s a past champion and, I’m telling you, you can’t count anyone out. Right now, in this sport there are so many people that are fast. The knowledge and the technology and the way people are able to figure things out so quickly and nobody holds secrets very long, and Tony is the perfect example. A guy going into the Chase that really didn’t look like he had any momentum, but they hit on something and they took off."

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO KNOW YOU’RE PART OF NASCAR HISTORY WITH THAT GREAT FINISH FROM LAST YEAR? “I hope they’re talking about this season and how we dominated for the championship, but, in all honesty, if I’m able to put the fierce competitiveness that I have aside and look back at that and say, ‘Hey, it was a neat thing to be a part of.’ To be a part of that championship race and to be forced to perform that way and do the best we could, at the end of the race I don’t know how far Tony and I were ahead of the rest of the field, but it felt like both of us were just on a mission and we raised each other’s game. If either one of us are in the hunt for it next year going into Homestead, I feel sorry for whoever is racing against us because I think we both have a really good experience under our belt."

HOW WAS THE OFF-SEASON? WERE YOU ABLE TO DISCONNECT AT ALL? “Last year, it bothered me after the race for a few minutes, but that’s not how I try to do things. I go out and do the best I can and I’m a realist. There’s a reality in the world and the reality is we finished second, so that’s just it. I didn’t really have much trouble with that, but what I had trouble with was the waiting for this season – just sitting around with no racing, trying to get up in the morning and find constructive things to go do, because I’m ready to go race. I cannot wait to get in that race car next Sunday."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT KANSAS MEANS TO YOU? “Kansas means a ton. When they started building that race track it was a little bittersweet for me because I raced at my local dirt track and we were having a bunch of success and it was always a little deflating to hear people talk about that new race track. I knew the chances of me ever getting to race there were so slim, so it was kind of one of those things I tried to ignore because it was painful to think, ‘Here’s this beautiful facility. There’s so much excitement around it and I’ll probably just go there as a fan if I’m lucky some day.’ For me now to drive over there and be one of the guys racing for the win at that place is a huge honor. There are a lot of people who come support me at that track, so a win there would truly be as big as a win at the Daytona 500. It would be as big as a win as the Brickyard or any of those, so that’s an important race and I’m glad we’re running twice."

YOU WON IN THE TRUCKS. HOW DID THAT FEEL? “That was a huge day for me. That was spectacular. Every win is important, every one of them. In the moment, when you enter a race and you’re racing, that’s it. That’s all there is and when you win, it’s a good feeling. I’m very proud of that win."

WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE BIGGEST CHANGE GOING INTO THIS SEASON? “This is when I used to watch the video every week from the previous year and I’d watch the race and think of everyone driving last year’s cars and it was really hard for me in the racecar, but I think the biggest change we’re all gonna see is that unpredictability – not being able to determine who is a favorite, who is in the hunt and who is not. I think that’s just the way the sport is now. There are 30 guys that can win the Daytona 500. There are probably 20 guys that can win the championship. I think the chances of it coming down to Homestead with three or four guys in the position Tony and I were in last year are very high."

IS THERE A WOMAN WHO CAN WIN THE DAYTONA 500? “Of course. If she’s out there and she’s got a racecar, she’s got a chance."

IS SHE GOOD FOR THE SPORT? HOW DO YOU THINK SHE’S GOING TO DO? “I think she has a really good chance at Daytona. She’s got experience in the Nationwide cars. This race track is its own specific style of racing. It’s not like the other tracks. She probably has a better chance here than she does at a place like Phoenix – anybody in her position would."

IT’S HARD TO STEP UP TO THIS LEVEL. “This level is cut-throat and very, very tough. I’m a confident racecar driver. When I got into this Cup Series I thought, ‘Man, I’m gonna go out here and I’m gonna be awesome,’ and they dropped the green flag in my first race – it was a 400-mile race at Michigan and the way that everybody drove down in the first corner I thought, ‘Holy crap, if these guys are gonna race like this for 400 miles, this is gonna be something different.’ I had won races in the Truck Series and I was not ready, so I think it’s going to be tough."

WHEN DID YOU NOT FEEL THAT WAY? “There’s not a specific time, but you just start getting back to the tracks and getting your confidence up and being able to compete, but when you look at that speed chart and everybody is separated by one-hundredth or two or three-hundredths of a second at the most throughout the field, that’s hard to put into words. You’d almost have to sit in the racecar and work for years and years to be the best you can and then go out there and realize that you’re two-hundredths off and those two-hundredths are the hardest thing in the world to find."

DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH WILL BE A BIG PACK RACE AND THEN THE TWO-CAR DRAFT? “Unless they make a rule that says you cannot touch another car, the race will be won by somebody who utilizes the two-car tandem. That’s it. Two cars are that much faster, but I gave up on trying to figure out a strategy here because I have no clue what the rules are gonna be. I don’t think anyone is gonna know until the driver’s meeting."

THEY WANT TO GET THE ENGINES TO OVERHEAT SO THE GUYS WILL UNLOCK. “I don’t even know what the rules are right now. In testing we went through all those things, so I don’t know what specific package we’re gonna end up with and I don’t want to head down a path thinking of how I’m gonna do this until I know that. NASCAR is in a tough spot. They’re trying to keep this type of racing as safe as they can, keep it entertaining and keep it fair and I don’t know how you do all that at this place."

HAVE YOU CHANGED AT ALL WITH THE WAY YOU ARE IN AND OUT OF THE CAR? “I’ve been criticized for this, but I’m a different person in that racecar. It’s a zero-sum game. I go out there to race, to win and that’s it. If you walk through life like that, I don’t think you get very far, but that’s what’s neat about racing is it’s a competitive outlet. It’s a place you can go and take whatever you can get. But I think just like anyone as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that there is definitely a line between the racing and everyday life. You have to draw that line and understand that they’re different."

WILL YOU CHANGE YOUR STYLE AT ALL ON THE TRACK NOW THAT YOU HAVE A FAMILY AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE WILLING TO DO AND NOT DO? “I think I’ve probably changed the way I drive a little bit, but not to benefit anyone else. Whatever anybody does on the race track, for the most part, is to serve them the best and I’ve learned through a lot of trial and error that there is a lot of give-and-take on the race track. That’s not necessarily always good for the other person all the time, it can be good for you too. You can make it farther sometimes when you treat people with a little bit of respect and give them a little more room on the race track."

WHAT IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE THE LAST 10 YEARS IN NASCAR? “I guess it’s this car. It’s closing the box and making it smaller in regard to the amount of changes you can make on the car and the amount of innovation and things – really tightening up the rules so that what you see out there is you see the drivers, the crew chiefs and the pit crews racing each other. There are very few little tricks anymore and I think that’s the most significant thing NASCAR has done."

WHAT’S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR A YOUNG GUY? “All you can do is educate yourself as much as you can, to learn everything you can about this sport because no matter what, there’s always some advantage somewhere – just understanding the tire or understanding the rules or the way it’s officiated, or your fitness level. There’s always a little something you can learn and I’m really grateful for the time I spent struggling to try to make it in because during that time I learned all these things that I think if it would have been given to me early on, I would not have been as good."

WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING? “No, I wouldn’t. At the time I would have, I’d have given anything for someone to give me a break."

HOW STRANGE IS IT TO HAVE ONE LESS CAR AT ROUSH? “It is strange, but I don’t think that will be a permanent thing and it’s not right now. We’ll have four cars at the 500, so there’s no telling what might happen. If Ricky wins the 500, I have a feeling they’ll be in Phoenix. There’s just no telling."

DO YOU LOOK AT PEOPLE LIKE HORNISH AND DANICA AS CONTENDERS IN NATIONWIDE FOR THE TITLE? “Of course, especially Sam. I saw something out of him at Phoenix. The pressure was on him. Brad was all over him. Brad was second and I was third for twenty-some laps, and the restart, that’s where I started behind him and I said, ‘I’m gonna drive in behind him, force him to drive it real deep, kind of nudge him up the race track and go right by,’ and he drove in that corner about four car lengths deeper than I could and I thought, ‘Nope, he can have it. I can’t drive in any deeper than that,’ so I think he’s got that fire. He’s been through it and for him to settle in and try to compete for the Nationwide championship is gonna be awesome."

WHAT DID YOU DO TO PASS THE TIME DURING THE OFF-SEASON? “We ended up getting a lot of stuff out of the way for the season, so we got production days and photo shoots and contracts. I got a lot of personal things done, tied up all sorts of personal things with my duties at home – all sorts of stuff that I hopefully won’t have to deal with during the season. That was my way of preparing for the season is doing everything I can. Randy can tell you, we’ve been doing a ton so that it’s more relaxing to go to the race track than it was to be off.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags biffle, edwards, ford, roush