Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion, moved up to ninth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings after a fourth-place finish at Infineon Raceway last weekend. Biffle spoke about what it would mean to tweak the point...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion, moved up to ninth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings after a fourth-place finish at Infineon Raceway last weekend. Biffle spoke about what it would mean to tweak the point system as well as how he recovered from some bad luck early in the season.
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion
BRIAN FRANCE TALKED ABOUT TWEAKING THE POINT SYSTEM TODAY. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? "I don't know what they're talking about doing with the point system, but they're the ones that created it to make the race more exciting and to get more people ganged up and put back together again. I don't know what else you could do with keeping a point system without totally throwing it away. I don't know what they want to do -- put everybody equal with 10 races to go? That doesn't seem like that's good, but we have talked about stopping the points -- like everybody from 30th place finish on back gets the same. So if you have a bad day -- you get a flat tire or your engine breaks -- you're not out of the points race completely. Even now leading up to the chase, if you have a couple bad races you're in the gutter and it's hard to get back going again. They've talked about that. I think that would be something to consider. And another thing it was is when you get wrecked or you get involved in an accident, you've got the guys back here in the garage thrashing on this car trying to patch it back together and get it out on the race track. Half of the cautions we have is from sheet metal laying on the track, metal coming off the cars. They're probably not safe, so to get that five or 10 extra points, to go from 40th to 36th if a few guys fall out. But if you give the same points from 30th on back, there won't be the reason for that guy to come in here and thrash on their race car and put it back on the race track if it's not 100 percent. I'm not saying just give up, but it gets pretty dangerous in here when they're trying to put panel back on, so that tweak to the point system could help that as well."
DESPITE YOUR PROBLEMS EARLIER NOBODY QUESTIONED THE INTEGRITY OF THIS TEAM. "No, it wasn't. We knew what we had to do. We're a pretty tough team. It's so easy to get down. It's so easy to say this isn't our year, we're not gonna make it. It would be real easy to do that, but I never once thought about not making the chase or doing anything different than what I was doing. 'I'm not gonna change a thing. I'm gonna show up at the race track. I'm gonna drive exactly the same as I've driven for the last three years and I'm gonna do my best. I'm gonna lead every lap I can for the most points and I'm gonna try to finish the race well.' I never veered from that at all. I just kept doing the same thing and it turned around. Our engine program is really good. Our pit stops are really good and by doing that it just turned around and it's going like it needs to go."
HOW DID YOU MAINTAIN SUCH A GOOD ATTITUDE? "Not that I'm some wiley veteran, but I've been doing this for nine years now and I've seen a lot of stuff. My rookie year in the trucks to my third year in the trucks to my second year in the Busch Series to being my fourth year in the Nextel Cup Series. I've been through a lot of stuff and I've seen a lot of stuff. I've seen it happen to teammates and different teams and different drivers and I knew I just needed to stay positive -- just concentrate on what I needed to do every week. I knew that our luck would turn around. When I won five of the first 15 races last year, I was thankful for every single win I got and cherished it because I knew it could be the last one for two years, or I could win next week. That's the way you've got to take this sport. It's very, very tough on you mentally. Sometimes you feel it's not fair, getting a flat tire with six laps to go or the engine breaking when you have the best race car. It's really hard, but you just have to stay the course."
HOW DID YOU STAY IN IT MENTALLY? "My thing was, 'We'll show up next week.' That's the great thing about this sport is every week we get a chance to prove ourselves. Our engine blew up at Talladega, 'Well, we're going to Richmond next week. We run well there. That's my opportunity to go and show these people that are writing he's out of the chase now because of this, this and this,' That gave me a chance to go to Richmond and sit on the pole and finish fourth. We had a great week and came back from a lot of adversity again, being a lap down and all those things. To come back and finish fourth -- you've got a chip on your shoulder when you show up. 'Look at our team. Look at how well we are.' We were 24th in points, but I felt we were a top-five team and by feeling that I think you can go out and produce that. If you feel like you're a 24th-place team, then I think you've got the deck stacked against you, where we felt like we were a top five team. We went to Richmond and proved that; we went to Darlington and proved that; we went to Charlotte and proved that; and on and on. We've continued to prove that we are a top five race team. Just because you have a couple bad weeks in a row, the way I do it is very simple -- whatever happened yesterday, I don't care about. If lightning struck a tree and it fell on the house, that was yesterday. Today is today. Whatever happened yesterday happened. We can't fix it and can't change it. If we got a flat tire, we got a flat tire. This is my race to showcase my talent and the team's talent."
YOU'RE IN THE FINAL 10 TO GET TO THE FINAL 10 AND IT'S JAMMED FROM 7TH TO 12TH. HOW HEATED WILL IT GET TO MAKE THE CHASE? "It is tough and I've felt the pressure now for weeks, but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm just gonna concentrate and try to get a top five finish every week and try to win races. Jeff Gordon won last week and catapulted him right back up in there. That's what we need to do. We need to do that same thing. We need to go to Chicago and win. We need to come here, get a top five and try to win. Our chances of winning here compared to Chicago aren't the same. Our chances of getting a top five, top 10 here are decent. Our chances of going to Pocono again and doing well and then Loudon are really good. Those are race tracks we're looking forward to and feel we can just stay consistent."
ANY OF THESE TRACKS FOR YOU THAT AREN'T IDEAL? "Not at all. These are great race tracks for us."
ARE THERE ANY CHANGES YOU'D LIKE TO SEE IN THE SCHEDULE? "If I got to cherry pick, obviously, I would take Talladega and Martinsville out of the chase. We don't run as good at Martinsville as we do at Chicago, so I'd put Chicago in there. And then Talladega is a halfway roll of the dice. I've been caught up in other people's wrecks and a lot of times the driver feels like he can't do a lot about that to avoid that, so you hate to be vulnerable in that situation. I'd rather see a road race or something than a restrictor plate race because we have more control of our outcome and it's showcasing our ability as a race team to keep a gear box all day and do all those things. But if I was gonna get to select, I'd put a couple of Michigans in there two or three times because I like that race track. I love that place."
WHAT ABOUT THE FORMAT? "You want your cake and eat it to is what it comes down to. Yeah, it's exciting to have 10 drivers shooting for a championship. The thing is before we had one or two and now we have 10. Now we want more to have the opportunity? I don't know. Are you gonna open that point barrier up and say it's gonna be the top 15 now? I don't know how you'd do it. One thing that I talked about earlier that would tighten the point race up in the last 10 is if you take those 10 races and finish 40th or worse, you're done. You're out of the 10. Your chances to win the title are slim to none, meaning if you got 30th place points from 30th to 43rd, that would in effect, if you had an engine failure or something else happened, you're not totally out of the chase race. Kurt (Busch) got wrecked the very first chase race on the very first lap and you could almost count him out because he's starting at such a deficit already. That's a big point barrier to make up in just 10 races against good guys. I made up from 28th in points to ninth, but you weren't taking the 10 best in the series and trying to finish in front of them every week."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT HERE WITH THE SOFT BUMPERS? "I kind of think the same thing. You can lightly bump draft. I think you can still bump draft a little bit. I think it got a lot of guy's attention (at Talladega) and people are thinking about it a little bit more. I expect it to be the same thing, although we can still bump draft a little bit. A lot of times where the accident came from was pushing on the guy in the wrong spot getting into the corner -- not quite off the corner, getting into the tri-oval. You can still bump a guy there, but those wrecks from slamming into the back of the guy are probably gone. But a lot of times it was just a little push, the guy got a little sideways, went over and hit that guy and then there's 20 of us involved. Those little gradual pushes, we can still do that, but I think it got everybody to think about, where it was getting out of hand and let's pay more attention about pushing guys."
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT HAVING GUYS THAT WIN A RACE AUTOMATICALLY MAKE THE CHASE OR HAVE A WILDCARD SELECTION? "I would definitely be in favor of a wildcard -- for a reason. If a guy won four races, but had some terrible luck at the beginning of the season. I feel like that would certainly be an eligibility thing to get in, but to have several? I don't know what the changes are gonna be. Is it to get one guy in or two guys in? I don't know, but much over 10 I don't think is the right way to do it. Maybe make it nine and a wildcard, so there are still 10 guys. Or possibly 10 and a wild card or something."
SHOULD EVERYBODY WHO WINS A RACE MAKE IT? "Then how many guys would you have in it? I don't know. That's a free pass into the chase. A guy that's 20th in points gets a shot at the title. And reality is are they going to win the title? I'm not saying anything bad about anybody that's won a race, but that doesn't make you a championship contender automatically -- one win. So would it even affect the points race? It might not even affect it. Let's just say you did that last year and had everybody that won a race. Did it make a difference in the outcome? No, because we still get the same amount of points awarded whether you're in the chase or not. If Joe Nemechek finishes third and I finish fourth, I still get fourth-place points whether he's in the chase or not. So if he was in the chase last year, it wouldn't have affected the outcome. I still would have been second."
IS IT A BIG DEAL THOUGH TO TELL YOUR SPONSOR YOU'RE IN THE CHASE? "That's a big deal. You've heard me say before that if you're not in the chase you're nobody. Those are kind of harsh words, but that's what everybody wants. They want to be in the chase. I was not in the chase the first year and I was in the chase the second year and it was a big difference for me."
BRIAN FRANCE THOUGHT MORE PEOPLE WOULD GET IN UNDER THE 400-POINT BARRIER BUT THEY HAVEN'T. WHY? "The consistency at the top level by Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart. If those guys hadn't had such good, consistent runs, we would have more people in there. A lot of luck has been on their side as well. Jimmie Johnson was one lap away from going two laps down and a caution comes out and saves his bacon, and he comes back to get a sixth-place finish out of it from almost being two laps down. If he did go two laps down, that automatically locks him into a 35th-place finish and starts to creep that margin back. But that team has been in the right place at the right time, luck has been on their side, and I think if you don't see all of the stars line up perfect, you'll see more guys within that 400-point margin. But that team has had extraordinary luck and they've been very good at all the race tracks they've gone to and it's just kept people out of that area."
WHAT'S DIFFERENCE FROM BEING IN THE CHASE AND NOT BEING IN IT? "Recognition. Who is the 16 team? I mean, I finished third at Kansas and automatically a storm of media goes over to Jeff Gordon's car because he got fifth. We finished third and you're like, 'I'm over here.' That's the big difference. You're somebody if you make the chase. You know what I'm saying? You get recognized. They talk about you. You go to New York to do the big announcement. You've got a big cap that says Nextel Cup Chase with a 16 on the side of it. You're part of the series. Those 10 drivers are the top level of the sport."
WHAT ABOUT THOSE GUYS THAT DON'T GET IN? "I was that guy. I finished 20th in points that first year of the chase. It's a motivating factor to be back there and to try to do the best you can do. That's the drive. That's what makes our sport so media friendly and all the coverage we get. There's a lot of drama involved in this. There's a whole lot of excitement and it goes on every week of who finishes where. That's what makes this sport so great is the media coverage we get and the excitement it produces every week because there's a lot on the line every week. There's a lot going on. There are races all over the race track for position."
IT'S BEEN THREE YEARS SINCE YOU WON HERE. "This is my three-year anniversary, so it's time to re-up. I want another Daytona 400 trophy. It's been a while, but a Daytona win is a Daytona win. They're not gonna take that that away. It was an awesome victory. Certainly I would trade a 400 win for a 500 win, but I'll take any win I can get."
WAS THAT THE PERFECT STORM WHEN YOU WON AND WILL IT TAKE A SIMILAR THING THIS TIME? "Absolutely. It's gotten tougher and tougher. We were able to run with the DEI cars that particular year believe it or not. I was running right behind Junior and right in front of Waltrip and then they peeled off and left me out there by myself when they went to pit road, but I still feel like we had a chance to beat the 8 car heads up. I was extremely happy with that race car. We came back and sat on the pole for the 500 the next year. I wish I could have that car back, but this is a new year and we think we've got pretty good stuff and a chance to win here."
IS IT THE SAME SUSPECTS TO CONTEND WITH? "Yeah. The 20 team, it's no secret that they've got their car down on the race track lower than anybody else. It's clear. You can see it with the naked eye. You can see their car is lower than the car they're beside. It's obvious to us. Whatever they're doing or however they've gotten that worked out, they're gonna be one of the toughest teams to beat and there are several more."
ARE YOU TALKING ILLEGALLY? "No, no. That's the whole thing. Everywhere else from here it's how low we can get the front valance and keep it on the track, and here, how low can you get the back and keep it down. That's stuff we work on -- spring angles, pinion angles, all kinds of weird stuff, downforce, no downforce. There are things to make that happen and they've got it figured out to get their car down and they're very fast like that."