FORD RACING Preseason Thunder January 7, 2008 Daytona International Speedway Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, addressed the media during Monday's lunch break at the Daytona International Speedway infield media center. Among the...
January 7, 2008
Daytona International Speedway
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, addressed the media during Monday's lunch break at the Daytona International Speedway infield media center. Among the topics was a two-race sponsorship donation to the American Red Cross in which the organization will serve as primary sponsor, courtesy of 3M and Roush Fenway Racing.
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 3M Ford Fusion
HOW MUCH ADAPTABILITY DO DRIVERS HAVE TO HAVE?
"I have to say that I've been really, really fortunate over the years to have the sponsors that I have. Not to bore you with all the sponsors I've ever had, but I did steel fabrication and owned a race shop and built a lot of cars in the past, so my first sponsor was Grainger, which sold industrial supplies. I had an account with them and bought stuff from them, so I'm kind of a car guy. I love working on stuff in my shop and as I came down the chain I've been involved with a lot of those companies and DeWalt is part of our Roush Fenway sponsorship. Then 3M came along that makes a tremendous amount of products. I don't think there's a person in this room that knows a quarter of what 3M Corporation makes, and then the National Guard was in there and that was probably one of the happiest times was being associated with the National Guard. And now to be associated with the American Red Cross again is real exciting for me and 3M, so two great companies and two great groups of people. The adaptability, I could think of a bunch of sponsors that I wouldn't be as happy having, but it's just technically our job to drive the race car with the name on the side, but I've been so lucky to have the associations I've had with all the sponsors. It's been a great fit for me personally."
WHAT IS ROUSH FENWAY WORKING ON AS FAR AS ADVANCING THE NEW CAR?
GREG BIFFLE: "Greg (Erwin) might be better to answer this question than I am, but I've been around the shop some. I think with the move our company made putting Robbie Reiser in the position he has has accelerated that program some. Certainly we've been working really hard on it. At the end of the year I felt like we got a pretty good grasp on it. Carl won in the car. We got 12th at Loudon and second at Dover and second at Phoenix to Jimmie, so our program was certainly elevated. We're curious to see if this season starts off the way we left off, but the thing is there's not a lot you can do with it. Before, we were wearing out the wind tunnel. We were there 24 hours a day, but there's just not as much we can do with this car. We're working hard on getting weight out of it and making the center of gravity as low as we can and working on suspension things, but we're limited on what we can do. Certainly we're working hard on it."
WHERE WERE YOU ON THE END OF LAST SEASON COMPARED TO THE BEGINNING?
GREG BIFFLE: "I tell the story that we went to Loudon, New Hampshire for the first race and we were the slowest car there. We were 49th on the sheet. Obviously, somebody's got to be the slowest car, but it was frustrating for me. It's a race track I almost won at and got in the top five nearly every time I'd been there that it was frustrating. To go there as a driver and I was the worst car there and the slowest car there. I never felt like that in my life. I've never been one to give up and I never will, and those are times you want to, but your drive keeps you going. We went back there in the fall race and was a tremendous amount better and finished 13th. So from the beginning of the season to the end of the season we made great strides in our performance and that was a big confidence builder, and then we went to Dover and finished second to Carl. So that was a huge boost and then we went to Phoenix and maybe with five or six more laps we might have been able to run down the 48 car. Those three COT races were the last three that we've run, so the last time we were in that race car we got second and potentially could have won the race. That's big confidence. At the beginning of the season we were horrible. I think we'll all admit it. We weren't even close and at the end of the season we weren't where we needed to be, but we were certainly a heck of a lot better. I look forward to starting off this season, hopefully, with where we left off last year."
WHAT SPECIFIC THINGS HAVE YOU DONE TO MAKE STRIDES?
GREG BIFFLE: "There are so many things that were better. It was a lot of hard work by the guys at the race track and engineering. I'll be honest with you, what I've found in this race car is that whatever they do on the simulation models with engineering and the computers and the seven-post rigs, we'd show up at the race track with a recommended setup and we couldn't adjust on the car. I couldn't adjust on it as a driver. I'm like, 'Change this front swaybar. No, put that one back. Put a bigger one in it. No, put that one back.' There was nothing I could do to make it any better than when we showed up at the race track. That's a little bit frustrating with this car, that before it was the driver that really determined what would make the car go fast. Now, we're showing up at the race track so close to being optimized that there isn't a lot that's left for us. We certainly don't want to get the computers driving these cars and get to Formula One, where the driver really doesn't make a difference anymore, but right now, until we learn some more about it, that's kind of where we're at as an organization."
GREG ERWIN, Crew Chief -- No. 16 3M Ford Fusion
"There are two pretty major rule changes that go along with the COT that we didn't have to deal with with the old-style car. Obviously, aerodynamically, like Greg mentioned, things are in a lot tighter box and quite a bit of the adjustments and the way we used to build our cars has been taken away from us, so learning how to adjust on this new-style car is something that we're just kind of getting our hands wrapped around. Quite honestly, secondly, you can see in all the pictures you take that the amount of travel that we're limited to now with the splitter height being what it is compared to the way we used to be able to run the front ends on the other cars has turned things in the front-end geometry kind of completely around, so in two pretty key areas we're starting from scratch on this thing. It's been pretty well documented that the Roush group was a little bit slow to get going at the start of the season, but there has been a huge effort on the part of everybody there to pull together. We do a lot of team testing and sharing of ideas and kind of delegation of each of the five teams working on certain areas and pull all of our information together. The ball really kind of got going about midway through last year."
HOW GREAT WOULD IT BE TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500?
GREG BIFFLE: "This place holds a special place in my heart, getting my first-ever win which was then the Winston Cup Series. To get my first win here was pretty neat. I remember starting in the Craftsman Truck Series, my first year was the 50th anniversary of NASCAR, so to have an opportunity to win the 50th running of the Daytona 500 is a thrill. I've won here in the past and, like I said, that meant a great deal to me. Any Daytona 500, I don't care if it's this year or next year or the year after, but any of them are very prestigious victories. Man, I tell you what, I'm gonna give 110 percent of my effort to try and win one. Trying to finish one first would be the key. I saw the checkered flag coming off turn four when Kyle Busch spun out last year. We were running fourth and I didn't quite make it to the start-finish line, so, hopefully, I can make it the final 400 feet."
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU AND YOUR TEAM FACE IN GETTING READY FOR THE DAYTONA 500?
GREG ERWIN: "From our side, I guess what's pretty interesting is we were able to really sort of unveil this car in October of last year in its restrictor-plate format or speedway configuration, so now we have a pretty good idea of how the car will drive. Obviously, at Talladega with the surface like it is, a tire package that Goodyear had made the cars drive really nice and smooth and we really weren't worried about handling too much there. This race here and obviously in July as well, the good cars can stay on the bottom, stay up front and stay wide-open longer than most, so that's something we haven't dealt with with the COT in a three-wide draft or several rows of competition. Really, Dover is probably as fast as we went competitively in the thing. We had an opportunity to test Atlanta, but it's still not the same as it'll be when tires go away, so we're gonna look for a package that'll stay driving well as the tires fall off."
WHAT KIND OF ADJUSTMENT DOES MATT FACE HAVING A NEW CHIEF THIS SEASON?
GREG BIFFLE: "One good thing going for him is he's got a tremendous relationship with Chip. Chip's been part of his team, I think, for I don't know how many years, so the transition is gonna be really easy for him because he knows Chip. A lot of the crew chief is just knowing the other guy's habits and knowing what he does when you work that close with somebody, so they've got that part out of the way -- just a purely working relationship. And then they've already won a race together when he was filling in for Robbie, so certainly the transition isn't gonna be as difficult for him as it will be for a guy to get somebody new, but sometimes it sparks energy in the team and you'll see instant success, which is good. Last year, I think Greg and I started working well halfway, three-quarters of the way. Through our relationship we ended up getting to Victory Lane and, hopefully, we'll be able to do that a couple more times this year and make a run at that championship."
HOW EAGER ARE YOU TO GET BACK AT IT AND WHAT DID YOU DO OVER THE OFF-SEASON?
GREG BIFFLE: "I went snow skiing for the first time, I think, in 12 years or something like that. I went snow skiing in Colorado and had a great time. It was kind of a busy vacation because we got invited to that and had made plans to go to Cabo for a few days and then we were going to Washington for a visit with my parents and spent the holidays out there, so it kind of got to be an 11-day vacation and I was kind of glad to get back home. I won't lie to you, we all moan and groan about having to come back to work and having to come back to Daytona today, but part of you enjoys the time off and wants to continue to do that, but the other part of me is I'm eager to get back at it and get back in the race car and get back going again. It's just the reality of it. We'd all like to have a couple more weeks or a couple more months or whatever, but I think deep down inside we're all excited about getting back going and testing at Daytona -- getting the season started again."
-credit: ford racing