There will be four Ford teams competing in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout. David Gilliland, Boris Said, Ken Schrader and Greg Biffle all spoke about the start to the 2007 season during yesterday's NASCAR media day. *** GREG BIFFLE -- No.
There will be four Ford teams competing in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout. David Gilliland, Boris Said, Ken Schrader and Greg Biffle all spoke about the start to the 2007 season during yesterday's NASCAR media day.
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 Ameriquest Ford Fusion
DOES THE BUD SHOOTOUT MEAN MORE TO YOU AND YOUR TEAM SINCE EVERYTHING IS PRETTY MUCH NEW? HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU GUYS? "I think it's really important for us. We have a pretty decent race car, but not our best race car for the Bud Shootout. We wish it was our best race car, but we're saving what we feel is our best car for the 500, but I think we're definitely gonna see how the track handles with this tire that we're gonna be on. I'm not saying it's a lot different, but year-to-year we'll see how this tire acts and get a pit stop and get a little bit of a run on it, see how far we can go on fuel even though it will be different engines, different carburetor, we'll still get a basic idea. So this is important for us."
SO IT'S MORE THAN JUST THE CAR ON THE TRACK. "Yeah, it's pit stops and stuff like that. They can get the bugs worked out and the anxiety. They can get over the wall one time before the big race, so it makes a big difference."
IS THERE A WAY TO CARRY MOMENTUM FROM ONE SEASON TO THE NEXT? "There is. Winning at the end of the season definitely helps it, certainly. We've done that a couple years in a row, so that's helped us. We had a pretty big crash in the winter time. I hate to keep bringing it up, but that took a lot of wind out of our sails -- at least me. It's kind of disappointing that we had a wreck like that and that we lost a good race car, so we've got to recover from that and keep going. But that was our first time together and we had a great test going, so that was kind of disappointing for everybody. The second time we went back to Las Vegas I think we sort of shook that off."
DO YOU FEEL THERE SHOULD BE A FULL-FLEDGED MEDICAL TEAM AT TRACKS DURING TEST SESSIONS? "I think that certainly it's very difficult to make it standard because it's so odd that you're gonna have a problem. Having a crash is not uncommon, but to have a severe enough crash is pretty uncommon when there are only two race cars on the race track or three or if you're there by yourself. We went and tested Rockingham two weeks ago and we just had an ambulance and EMT's, that was it. But, maybe the faster places. I hate to categorize it because you're almost being bias as to where you can get in an accident and get hurt and you can't. Certainly, people have lost their life at Martinsville or Jerry Nadeau got severely injured at Richmond. You can get hurt anywhere, but it's more likely to get hurt at a mile-and-a-half or bigger race track because of the speed. You can get hurt anywhere, so do you make a case that it should be everywhere or shouldn't be everywhere? That's hard to say. That's a difficult spot, but I would have to say if it wasn't a private team test -- if it's anything other than that -- then it's probably a good idea to have at least a skeleton medical team there. I certainly can't speak for Las Vegas, but I had a meeting with them when we went back and that was their indication. They're at least talking about it. They're at least talking about standard minimums or something like that, but I'm sure they would comment on it if you asked them."
HOW DO YOU GET PAST THAT ACCIDENT? "One thing that you've got to remember is that car meant a lot to me. I've won seven out of my 11 career Cup races in that race car. I won at Homestead in it and it was clearly two to three-tenths faster than Mark Martin's fast race car. Mark Martin took his best car and we took our best race car from the 16 team and the car almost drives itself. You know when Denny Hamlin won both of the Pocono races, just wasn't even in the same category? It was that kind of car almost everywhere I took it. We had to have it screwed up a little bit for it not to be that fast, so that was really disappointing that it happened. Plus, I got hurt. That's the first time I've been hurt in a race car."
REALLY? "Pretty much, so that was disappointing. It's just those things and the team was disappointed as well that we had that problem and lost that car. The test was going so good and we had half-a-day left. It's all those things. It's sort of hard to get out of your mind. Other than that, we're good to go. We went back and were third-quick in the Vegas test, so certainly we've still got good race cars. I've got confidence in my cars at the race track, so it's not a big deal, but it's a little disappointing."
YOU WERE REALLY ATTACHED TO THAT CAR. "Well, I won a lot of races in that car. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I really, really felt that I stood a very good chance of winning at California and Vegas, and some mile-and-a-halves like Texas, Chicago in that car. I felt like they had their work cut out for them. I made that statement after qualifying at California that I would be leading on lap five and that was the same race car. The race car was running that fast and it just felt like I had a really, really positive attitude with a fast race car. We figured out a few things that kind of not brought it back to life, but at Homestead we switched around how we were coil-binding the springs and the car really, really responded. We went to Vegas with the same kind of deal and it was really, really fast, so I still feel like we'll be competitive at Vegas and California, but I felt like we had a distinct advantage."
NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY TO DUPLICATE THAT CAR IT'S HARD ISN'T IT? "It's funny. People ask that all the time and I think it's just like every person is different, every race car is different. They're all handmade. We've got all kinds of engineers and money and wind tunnels and all that and one is still always a little bit different than the other. I don't know how many times I've talked to Matt testing or Ryan Newman or any of them and they say, 'We brought two cars that are the same.' Then you talk to the crew chiefs and they say, 'One is a piece of junk and one is really good.' They're over there scratching their head."
HOW DO YOU THINK THE FANS WILL REACT TO ALL THE CHANGES THIS YEAR? "I don't know a great deal about all the changes that are in store. I know Toyota is coming to the sport and I know they've changed the point system around a little bit to 12 in the chase and the car of tomorrow is a big issue."
ALL OF THAT IS HAPPENING AT ONCE. "That's a big change. One thing that I think will make a difference in the short-term is the unknown. People will go out of their way to watch or to see what happens because of it being different. I'll bet you that the ratings for the first COT race at Bristol are gonna be through the roof. They've got to be because everybody in the world is waiting to see what's gonna happen. We've all been talking about it, but we don't know what's gonna happen. After the test we'll have a better idea of how we stack up. It's just like we've got our little mouse trap over here and Hendrick and Childress, they have their little mouse traps over here and we don't get to see how we compare until we're all there on the same day at the same time with the same tire and the same everything. Nobody really knows how competitive you're gonna be. I may be 34th or 40th going as fast as I can go, or we could be two-tenths faster than everybody that shows up. We have absolutely no idea and I think that will intrigue fans the same as what we have to deal with."
HOW MUCH WILL IT EFFECT THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "A bunch. I've been saying that I think you'll see -- not like back in the seventies or early eighties -- but at the opening of the gate of the COT car, I think you'll see the biggest discrepancy in the teams and the competition that you've seen in a long, long time because everybody's got to get acclimated to that. Yeah, we're a lot more sophisticated now. We've got the wind tunnel. We have all the engineers, which they didn't have as much of, but I think you'll see a bigger spread right at the beginning and then we'll quickly bunch back together. Remember when a person would win a race by two laps or three laps? I don't think it's gonna be that extreme, but I do believe you'll see a bigger disparity and discrepancy."
IT WON'T BE A QUICK FIX EITHER IF YOU'RE BEHIND. "If we're way off, we're not gonna be able to just flip the light switch. What we've been working on for six months or a year now is not working or is not close enough, so we're really, really gonna have to find our sweet spot quick."
BORIS SAID -- No. 60 Sobe No Fear Ford Fusion
THIS IS YOUR SECOND SHOOTOUT, BUT YOU'RE THE REVERSE OF THE TREND OF YOUNG DRIVERS BEING IN THIS RACE. "Yeah, I mean I don't fit the typical NASCAR mold. I didn't start racing until I was 25, so I started late, but I still feel young and I'm racing better than I ever have, so I'm just doing it my own way. I started my own team -- the Sobe No Fear Energy Drink team -- and I'm excited about it. I've got a great package. I've got the Ford Fusion I sat on the pole with here in July, so I'm cautiously optimistic it will be just as fast for this race and fast enough to hopefully lock us in on Sunday. That would make for a nice, easy week. If not, we'll have to go for broke and race hard on Thursday."
THESE YOUNG GUYS RACE LIKE VETERANS. "Yeah, I don't think age really makes any difference as far as when you're out on the track. Some guys you can race good with and some guys you can't, but I don't think age really has any effect on that."
WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES IN THE SHOOTOUT? "I don't know. I finished 10th here the first time I did it, so if I could finish in the top 10 again, I'd be pretty pleased with that, but, hopefully, we're gonna use that more for a test to get our car racing really good for the 150s and, hopefully, we can learn something that will get us an advantage on our competition because I don't think there is anybody else outside the top 35 in points that are in the Bud Shootout, so that should help us a little bit."
ARE YOU USING THE SAME CAR FOR BOTH RACES? "No, a different car. It's a car we leased from Roush, but I still think we should learn some stuff from it."
YOU WERE LEADING THE PEPSI 400 WITH TWO LAPS TO GO. WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND AND CAN IT HELP IN THE 500? "I don't know if it can help. It was an awesome feeling to see daylight with two laps to go. It was something I never thought I'd see, but I was really relaxed when we were doing it and hitting all my marks. I really had a great time and it's probably one of my fondest memories in racing right now. How it can help in the 500, it's a long race and you just have to be patient to try to put yourself in that position at the end when the pay window opens, when it counts."
YOUR DREAM IS TO WIN A CUP RACE ISN'T IT? "Yeah, it would be huge and I think this year with the car of tomorrow and everybody starting off even for the road races, I think we have a really good chance this year. I've got a great team I've put together with Frank Stoddard, who is a great crew chief. I have a great association with Roush that is selling us great cars and we can do a lot of development on our car of tomorrow road race car, so I think I'm gonna be in the best position I've ever been in this year."
HOW BIG WAS THAT DAYTONA RACE LAST YEAR? "I think it was huge. We put this team together last year with five full-time employees. Now we only have four. We're doing it leaner this year, but to get three top 10s out of four races, I'm very proud of that and to finally show that I could run up front on an oval, I think a lot of people thought, 'Maybe he's not just a road racer now,' and hopefully some day I'll shed that image and I'll be racing at Daytona or racing at Watkins Glen some day and somebody is gonna come up to me and say, 'Man, you're a pretty good road racer for an oval guy.' Hopefully some day that will happen."
ARE YOU FRUSTRATED YOU DON'T HAVE A FULL SEASON DEAL? "A little frustrating, but I just keep my head down and do the best job I can. My number one goal, really, is racing but number two is to do a good job for my sponsors and in doing that I need to be a salesman for their product and show them that I can make them more money. This year, they actually have a lot more people working on our program and they're a lot more excited about it and I'm cautiously optimistic that in the next year or two we will be a full-time team."
HOW NERVE-WRACKING IS IT TRYING TO GET IN THE DAYTONA 500? "It sucks. It's one of the hardest things in racing now is to make these NASCAR Nextel Cup races. I've heard that there are 70 cars here this weekend, so if there is 70 that's 35 people going for seven spots. I'll go back to Indy last year, which was probably them most nerve-wracking thing I've ever gone through. I was on the bubble for a little while and it came down to the last guy, who was faster than me in practice. I'll relate it to two movies. One is 'My Dog Skip,' where everybody is crying and sad and the old dog is dying. That's how we were in the trailer. It looked like our best friend just died. And then the minute we made the show 15 seconds later, it turned into 'Brokeback Mountain' with guys slapping each other on the butts and hugging and kissing each other and telling them we loved each other. It was such an emotional swing that day. It's just really hard to go through it. I joke a lot about Kenny Wallace because he was in the same boat all last year, but it's really tough for these guys not in the top 35. It's a completely different program when you go to a race just to try to get in the show. It's a character-builder and it'll make you tougher for the long haul."
ARE YOU THINKING FAST LAP ON SUNDAY OR RACE IN ON THURSDAY? "We're really hoping we can get that fast lap in on Sunday. If we're in the top three of the scrubs I call it -- the non-top 35 guys -- we're locked in and that will make for an easy, easy week. If you qualify fifth or sixth, then you've got a nerve-wracking week and it's a long week. Normally it's only one day you have to have that little nerve-wracking deal."
LAST YEAR YOU WON THE POLE. "In saying that we're bringing the same car back that we were on the pole, but how many times have you seen it in the old days of NASCAR Nextel Cup where a guy would be on the pole one week and the next week he's taking a provisional. It's so competitive that things can change like that, especially your draw. You could go out and get some wind. Anything can happen that can slow you down -- an unforeseen incident. We're under no false illusions. Our guys, Frank Stoddard, have been working around the clock on that car -- filing on it and cheating it up and trying to make it as fast as he can make it to go out there and qualify."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO QUALIFY WELL? "In the restrictor plate race it's not so important where you qualify, it's that you qualify. That's our whole emphasis this time, just qualifying because in the race it's a wave. People are going from the front to the back the whole time and the whole thing is kind of timing it to see when you can get up there when it counts. It's not so important where you qualify, but it's very important that you qualify because there are gonna be a lot of good cars that go home this week."
-credit: ford racing