Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is in seventh place in the standings heading into this weekend's season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Biffle, who three straight races at Homestead from 2004-06, met with the media...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is in seventh place in the standings heading into this weekend's season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Biffle, who three straight races at Homestead from 2004-06, met with the media following Friday's practice session.
"This is definitely a good race track for us. I enjoy this race track. I enjoy racing here. It seems like the track is starting to, obviously, year after year a track starts to lose a little bit of grip and the groove moves around. With our cars, the groove is up top right away. I'm surprised to see that. This is the first time in a long time that any track than Darlington we run at the top of the race track. It's going to be interesting to see what it'll take to make passes here and all of that with the groove being up against the fence. We'll see what Sunday brings for us. Hopefully, we'll get our car running good up at the top and we'll be good on Sunday."
NEXT YEAR, ROUSH FENWAY RACING WILL GO FROM FIVE TEAMS TO FOUR TEAMS. WHAT KIND OF DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE TO LOSE A TEAM LIKE THAT? "I don't know that it's going to make that big of a difference right now with the way we are. Since we rae off a bit and we're searching for what it's going to take to compete with the Hendricks group and Gibbs. We may not lose as much as could have, like if you were to take one of the Hendrick's cars out of the mix, where the whole organization is super-strong, may make a difference. I think we're all equal within Roush -- you know, the 26, the 6, the 17 and the 99 -- but I don't think it's going to make that big of an impact because we are looking for something new constantly, so if look at it in effect that we'd all be getting the information cooperatively at the same time, probably is going to make that big of an impact on the team to reduce to four. So, it may make an impact on our engineering resources and some other things, if we've got to trim some people down, from the engineering department, from some of the other departments that may have a ripple-down effect on the four teams."
IN THE 2004 RACE HERE, WAS THERE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT BY YOU TO NOT LET JIMMIE JOHNSON OR JEFF GORDON LEAD LAP? AND WHEN KURT BUSCH HAD HIS TIRE ISSUE, DID YOU SLOW DOWN UNDER CAUTION ON THE BACKSTRETCH TO HELP HIM OUT? "Absolutely. I drove my [butt] off to keep the 48 behind me. I did everything I could. I was driving over my head. I did all I could do to keep the 48 behind me and not let him lead a lap. Also, I knew the caution was out, I knew Kurt was on pit road and had a tire get away, and then I slowed down to keep him on the lead lap, coming back around to the start-finish line. At that particular point, you have a little bit of that luxury because the pace car is not out yet and so on and so forth. You can't come to a complete stop; you can certainly slow down. So, I slowed down to save his lap, keep him on the lead lap, and I drove my heart out to try to keep the 48 behind me."
YOU HAVE A STREAK IN WHICH YOU'VE WON AT LEAST ONE RACE IN EACH OF YOUR FULLTIME SEASONS IN THE SERIES -- THAT'S SIX YEARS NOW. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO CONTINUE THAT STREAK? AND, WILL IT BE DIFFICULT TO VIEW 2009 AS A SUCCESSFUL SEASON IF YOU DON'T WIN A RACE? "It really is. It makes me hurt to think about how many we've come close to -- running out of gas at Michigan, and stopping on the air hose at California even though we were still in the pit box, so we probably gave that one up, there's been about four or five, Kansas, we took four tires instead of two and the 14 beat us. It's been very difficult. But they're not easy to win, either, and it would be very disappointing to go a season without winning a race since I've been able to win every year. I don't think there's a driver in our sport that's ever done that to date. Unfortunately, I've got one chance left, and that's here on Sunday. You've got a pretty good idea that you've got an opportunity to win on Friday, and right now we're just going to have to be better tomorrow than we were today in order to win on Sunday. We need a little bit more speed. So. We're just going to continue to work on this thing a little bit, get the top groove figured out, we could be a threat to win on Sunday, for sure."
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT ABOUT BEING IN THE CHASE THAT, PERHAPS, SOMETIMES FANS DON'T UNDERSTAND? "Being in the Chase is just super-important for a team because number one you kind of become of an icon in the sport. The Chase cars are viewed as 'made the playoffs,' so it's certainly important, mentally, emotionally for a team, and for success to make the Chase each year. Then you view each week as 'What do we have to do to win here?' or 'Catch the next guy in front of us?' and I guess you do the same if you're not in the Chase, but it sort of just takes the wind out of your sails when you're not. With 10 races to go, you're really looking forward to next year instead the next 10 with an opportunity to try and close in on that top five in points or whatever it might be, whatever reachable. It's super-important to make it. That definitely is the highlight of our season, running well enough all season to be in it."
WHAT'S YOUR APPROACH TOWARDS THIS LAST RACE? "It's important for us to try and win this last race of the season. You know, we've been able to do it three years in a row, a few years back. It's important for a team and a sponsor to do that. We certainly would like to be fifth in points and it's looking a little grim for us right now. We have to gain a couple of spots and we'd need some extraordinary stuff, but the 48 team has been extremely good and we all know it, and we're just trying to figure out how to compete on their level."
WHEN MARK MARTIN FIRST STARTED ABOUT CUTTING BACK, IN 2003-2004, COULD YOU HAVE IMAGINED THAT FIVE OR SIX YEARS DOWN THE ROAD HE'D BE RUNNING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? "Never. I would've never considered it. But I'm happy for him, for sure, that he was able to do that. He got in with a great team, a great organization, and great cars, and has been able to prove himself. And I think a lot us feel like we're in that same position -- we know, at the 16 team, if we get a good car, it's fast, we stand a chance to win every week. We're all in that same deal, and when you don't, I suppose, when you get to his level and you've been in it that many years, when you get to that point when you're not competitive anymore, he's probably thinking he was going to step out and do something different, maybe not run as much. Then he came back and almost won the Daytona 500 the first time driving something other than our cars, and was leading the points when he decided to take his first week off to go on vacation. So I'm sure that that gave him some idea that he still has the talent to drive, then he got the opportunity so he took it, I suppose."
IN YOU OPINION, HOW IMPRESSIVE IS JIMMIE JOHNSON'S FOUR CONSECUTIVE TITLES? "Well, he hasn't won it yet, but it's really impressive. I think we've all talked about it and it's an amazing thing the team has, and that organization. We'll just have to be better and better each year to try and compete with him. His closest competition is his teammates."
SOME YEARS SOME TEAMS HIT IT AND OTHERS DON'T. IN 2005, ROUSH HAD ALL FIVE CARS IN THE CHASE; HENDRICK WAS THE DOMINANT TEAM THIS YEAR. HOW MUCH PRESSURE WILL BE ON YOUR TEAMS TO COMPETE RIGHT FROM THE START OF THE SEASON, AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO WORK ON TO ELEVATE FROM WHERE YOU ARE NOW? "We're in a predicament, I believe, because we can't test anywhere, our simulation is not proving to be enough, otherwise we'd be competing and winning races now, so I don't know what we're going to do to be more competitive next year, because if we knew, we'd be doing it right now. So, I'm not sure. I'm asking myself the same thing."
HOW MUCH DOES IT HELP TO END ONE SEASON AND TURN THE PAGE AND GET A FRESH START FOR NEXT SEASON? AND WHAT CAN FORECAST WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR FOR NEXT YEAR? "Well, it helps. But at the same time, you've got to have something to look forward to, and ending the season strong or getting on a run at the end or you have some stuff in development kind of re-charges those batteries, or just having time off, re-charging those batteries. But it's really tough because, like you said, we never shut the clock off, we've got to get better for next year. Come California, we have to figure out how to compete on a higher level, and we're going to continue to work on that over the winter. We have a few tire tests we have been invited to, that we're going to take as big of advantage as we can as a test, to try and get ready for next year. But that's all we can do, and I'm certainly looking forward to next year. Winning races is what I'm after. I wouldn't trade winning races for being in the Chase, but at some point you do. You feel like, 'I want to get back to Victory Lane.' I won a couple of Nationwide race this year, so that was good. But we want to get into Victory Lane in the Sprint Cup Series."
DO YOU SEE A CHANGE IN MARK MARTIN THESE LAST FEW MONTHS? HE SAYS HE'S HAPPIER? "Well, if I went from not winning in 70-some races to being close to winning a championship and four or five wins, I would be smiling and very happy, too. And I think anybody in the garage would be. It doesn't matter who it is. Think about his career, he was all but done, right? He announced his retirement, 'I'm done, I'm leaving,' and a couple of years later he's on the cusp of winning the title. You've got to feel like a new person, for that to happen to you in your life. Certainly, I could see where he'd be excited and very happy."
COULD YOU SPEAK FROM A DRIVER'S PERSPECTIVE THE SIZE OF MARK MARTIN'S CHALLENGE TOMORROW, TO MAKE UP THAT MANY POINTS? DOES ONE GO IN CNCEDING DEFEAT? THAT IT'S LARGELY OUT OF YOUR HANDS? "Basically, it's out of his hands. It's in the hands of the guys that are going to race aggressive on lap three of the race, and that's what he's got to hope for, is something to go wrong.
"And let's face it, something could happen to that engine early in the race, and that's a 43rd-place finish -- that's not come in and work on it and get it back going again. I don't know where the points are. To be honest with you, I haven't looked at it. I left Phoenix and went to Miami Beach for a few days for a fishing tournament, so I haven't even looked. I know that he won at Phoenix, and I don't know if he just has to start or what the circumstances. He needs to finish 25th -- so if that thing blows up on lap 15 and pokes a rod through the oil pan, there you go, and hand the trophy over to somebody else. So, it's not over until it's over."
TONIGHT IS THE 367TH RACE IN THE CAMPING WORKD TRUCK SERIES. ROUSH FENWAY RACING HAS BEEN THERE FOR EVERY ONE, AND IT APPEARS THAT TONIGHT'S MIGHT BE ITS LAST RACE. CAN YOU REFLECT ON THE TEAM'S POSITION THERE, AND THE SUCCESSES YOU HAD IN THAT SERIES? "The Camping World Truck Series has been really, really fun for me to compete in and fun to watch. It puts on some of the best racing. It's unfortunate that this economic climate that we can't secure enough sponsorship to field trucks in that series. It's going to be disappointing for us, because we watch the truck race every weekend and we watch our Roush Fenway trucks race. I doubt that we'll be done forever, but obviously at this point we're done for next year. We might run a partial schedule of races or something may come around. We're hopeful for that. But, yeah, it's going to be disappointing come Daytona not to see the 6 or any of the other trucks, the 99 or any of them out there."
-credit: ford racing