Biffle - Atlanta Friday media visit

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Ford Racing press release

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is still battling for a spot in the Chase field going into this weekend’s race. He spoke about his position and overall outlook before practice today.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PASSION YOU GUYS HAVE FOR RACING? “You’re passionate about your career, your livelihood. It’s what you do for a living and what you’ve worked your entire life for. To put it in perspective, and it gets you to think about it a little different, we, technically, only perform or work 36 times a year. That’s what we’re graded on. That’s what makes our career or makes our season and when one of those goes astray from someone else’s doing, you get very excited about it. Number one, you’ve got a lot of adrenaline. You’re hot. There’s a lot of emotion involved and then for something to happen, that somebody you feel did something on purpose or their lack of judgment or whatever else, it really enrages you. That’s what we’re graded on. We work all year long. We do a lot of work outside the car, like what we’re doing right now (sponsor function), but our results and we’re put on that pedestal for 36 races a year and that’s how emotional it can get when one of those gets screwed up.”

WHY ARE YOU NOT GOING TO THE WHITE HOUSE? “First of all, I’ll start by saying that I’m disgusted by the comments I see, that people say we rejected or I can’t believe that Biffle rejected. For one, that’s disrespectful for people not knowing why I can’t go. Number two, I’ve got a picture of myself and the President, Barack Obama, in my bookshelf in my office right behind my desk shaking hands at the White House. I’ve been there and I’ve done that and I respect that. I was very flattered to get the invitation. I got the invitation less than two weeks ago to go and I’ve got a function that I’m obligated to be at with 3M in Minnesota that they’ve had planned for basically nine months. It’s an annual thing, but they have over one hundred-and-some of their business people and customers at that I go for two days. We arrive Wednesday morning early and I don’t get to Richmond until late Thursday night. I called them and talked about the invitation and this was very important to them because the function is designed around me and they really can’t have it if I don’t go. Unfortunately, the date conflicts with the invitation. First of all, define what rejected means. Does that mean I refuse to go? Or does rejected mean I can’t make it, I want to go but I can’t? It’s kind of discouraging to see those comments when somebody doesn’t know the circumstance. If I hadn’t been and hadn’t met him and shook his hand and been in the oval office with him before, I might try to chisel my sponsor a little harder to let me go, and I don’t want to put it on them, it’s simply I have an obligation that I accepted long before this. A lot of times we can move our schedules around depending on what it might be, but when you have people coming from other countries that are planning on meeting you and being with you for a day-and-a-half, it’s really hard to change that.”

IT’S YOUR SPONSOR. IT’S NOT LIKE THE GOVERNMENT SPONSORS YOUR CAR. “Business is business. If he had a business obligation, I’m sure he would uphold that business obligation. I’m very flattered for the invitation. I would love to go and it may be the last time I ever get invited. I don’t know when I’m gonna get invited next, so I’d take advantage of that. I’ve been to Walter Reed seven years in a row. Things like this are important to me, I simply have an obligation and it’s not like this is just an appearance. If I was going to do an appearance, we could move it a day or something. It’s a big event. We looked at the logistics of trying to shift the date and it just really doesn’t work.”

ARE YOU LOOKING AT THESE NEXT TWO WEEKS AS YOU HAVE NO PRESSURE? “Yeah. I could kick and scream and do all the things I’m gonna do and to be perfectly honest with you there’s nothing I can do about it. I learned in this sport a long time ago to look forward to the next week. You get wrecked, you had a bad run, you got a flat, you got a loose wheel, whatever happens it can eat you alive – it can eat you emotionally, personally, physically, it can just drain you, so I focus on the next week and focus on what’s at hand. What’s at hand is winning here. We led a lot of laps at Michigan. We kind of have an idea of what happened to our car. We want to come here and run like we did there and try and win this race. You never give up. Are we out of the Chase? Not mathematically, but more than likely for us to win two races in a row. We haven’t won this season yet, so those are some pretty high odds of maybe not getting that done. People will ask, ‘If you miss, what are you gonna do now?’ We’re gonna try to win the last 10 just as the same as we tried to win the first 26. It’s the same business.”

DO YOU START WORKING ON 2012? “You can experiment a little bit, but, at the same time, 13th in points is an important position – 14th-15th-16th – and there’s only so much we can do within our power. We can’t bring a different car, so we can try stuff with the suspension and whatever else and not worry about, ‘Oh, we missed it and finished 25th.’ We don’t really want to do that because we still have sponsors and fans and all that, but it gives us a little flexibility of trying some different stuff, but the most important thing for us is to win because if we go out and win two races here at the end of the season, people are gonna be talking about that and it’s gonna give us momentum going into the Daytona 500.”

WILL IT BE HARDER FOR THE CHASE GUYS AS FAR AS NON-CHASERS AND HOW THEY RACE? “You know what’s happened to our sport, partly, is the competition level. The bar has been raised so much on pit road, on getting track position on the track, on passing. It’s become so hard. You can’t race a guy differently. I am one that respects the guys that are in the Chase. I’ve always said that and I’m careful around them, to the point that I’m gonna race hard and race them fairly. That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m not gonna wreck them for a 21st-place finish.”

ARE GUYS RACING EACH OTHER HARDER FROM START TO FINISH? “I wouldn’t expect what’s gone on so far seems like it’s been fair for these first 26 races and I expect it to really be about the same. You’ve got to make it fair for everyone. At the same time, you’ve got to show a little respect for those guys that are in there. If a guy cuts down on you and isn’t clear by four or six inches, you probably need to give him a little room, but I do that with everyone. You can’t wreck a guy because he misjudged by a few inches.”

JEFF GORDON SAID HE THINKS GOODYEAR NEEDS TO COME WITH A SOFTER TIRE AT A LOT OF THESE TRACKS. “Yeah, I was a little critical of Goodyear after that Bristol race. The cars were loose in. I saw everybody driving them loose down in the corner and when they’re like that, you can’t get side-by-side, you can pass, you can’t race. A year-and-a-half ago there we had a great tire and it worked well, it was competitive and I think it was a good race. Granted, you always want to try and improve. They tried to improve and the tire wasn’t so good. Then they tried to improve that tire and it was the one that wore out in 30 laps, so then they went back to the one that wasn’t so good, instead of going back one more version to what really worked. Sometimes you go back and say, ‘Why did you change it?’ But I’m not gonna be critical of that because I understand you always try and make a better wheel. You’re always trying to make the wheel rounder or change the spokes in it or whatever you’re trying to do.”

HAVE YOU TALKED TO STU GRANT ABOUT IT? “No, but I will – not because of any reason other than I haven’t seen him – but I do tire tests and I give them straight opinions on what I think is going on. I didn’t think that last week was very competitive.”

WHAT ABOUT THE TIRES FOR THIS RACE? “I haven’t been out there yet.”

DID THE TIRE GIVEUP HERE LAST FALL ENOUGH? “I really don’t remember, but I feel like it was. We don’t have problems right now. Our problem is gonna be when they repave all these places. That’s where our problem is gonna be.”

IF YOU DON’T MAKE THE CHASE WILL YOU PUT STUFF ON YOUR CAR TO SEE IF IT WORKS? WILL YOU BE MORE R&D? “That’s been talked a lot about, but the cars are so close in everything we do that there would be very few circumstances where that might pay off. We’re still gonna look at everyone’s setups, but I don’t see them coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, will you try this crazy front suspension geometry and see if it will work because we want to race it or try it.’ We have such good tools at the shop that we don’t have to do that at the track. So our technology away from the track has sort of thrown that out the window because a lot of times we know before we show up. Now, if I’m hauling butt at Chicago, they’re definitely gonna come and look at what I’m doing and put it in their car, just like we do here. If Carl is fast or Matt’s fast, we’re gonna be looking at what they’re doing. If I’m fast, they’re gonna be looking at what we’re doing, so that’s not gonna change.”

HOW DID THE DISCONNECT WITH YOUR SIMULATION PROGRAMS AND ENGINEERS GET FIXED? “It’s hard to put a finger on that because I don’t know that much about it. What we were doing wasn’t relating to the race track, so either you’ve got a number plugged in there wrong or some kind of calculation wasn’t actually coming out. You could still criticize anybody’s data or formula because it’s never perfect. It’s only as good as what the weather condition and the moisture level and the humidity and whatever the tire is gonna be for that particular day, so you can always be better.”

IT SEEMED YOU GUYS CLICKED ALL OF A SUDDEN. “For us, what a lot of it was – I remember Chicago was a turning point for us – we put a hybrid version of the RPM suspension and ours on our car. At the same time, we were starting to gain and make strides in our simulations, so it was kind of a combination. The thing is you’re always working this wheel every side. The engine is coming along, lower center of gravity, little better cooling, RPM front suspension stuff we got a gain from, simulation got better, the aero guys kept getting it better, we built our cars lighter – it all started to formulate into something where all of a sudden we were a little bit more competitive. But everybody else is doing the same thing and it’s sort of like making steps. People are constantly figuring stuff out.”

YOU COULD MAKE THE CHASE WITH JUST ONE WIN DEPENDING ON THE SITUATION, PLUS YOU HAVE THIS SMALL BUSINESS PROMOTION THIS WEEKEND. DOES THIS MAKE IT MORE FUN OR MORE STRESSFUL? “I think it makes it more fun because no matter how we slice the pie or how long we talk about it or wear it out, we came here for one thing this weekend – it’s the same thing we went to Bristol for and the same thing we’re going to Richmond for – to win. Nothing else matters except for that, and after that happens, then wherever the cards fall they fall. If we win, then we’ll look at the points and see how everybody else did. Then we’ll go to Richmond.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags atlanta, biffle, ford, sprint cup