Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Ameriquest Ford Fusion, has a new crew chief in Pat Tryson and a new outlook on the 2007 season. He stopped by the infield media center at Daytona International Speedway during Wednesday's testing lunch break to...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Ameriquest Ford Fusion, has a new crew chief in Pat Tryson and a new outlook on the 2007 season. He stopped by the infield media center at Daytona International Speedway during Wednesday's testing lunch break to answer a few questions about the season ahead.
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 Ameriquest Ford Fusion
YOUR THOUGHTS ON DAYTONA THIS YEAR? "I think pretty good. Both Ameriquest 16 cars are running well. We've got a third car here today that we haven't run yet. We're getting ready to run it here after the lunch break here. That's gonna be our Bud Shootout car. We're at least hoping to if it runs decent. We've picked the car for the 500 and we're gonna work on it some more this afternoon drafting. We feel like we found a little bit of speed in it and that's kind of encouraging. The car handles fairly well, so we're excited about that. We've got one car that seems like it's real fast by itself in qualifying trim. It's the car that has the least downforce and we feel like we're gonna save it for the first Talladega race. We feel like we've accomplished a lot and mapped out a lot of things here so far and looking forward to getting out there this afternoon and maybe getting finished up here today."
DO YOU GUYS NEED TO COME HERE IN JANUARY? "I think certainly we need to come down here, but we could really get everything done in two days. With the way the rules package is now, where it's kind of closing the doors and confining it a little bit, we're sort of running out of things to do. What we've figured out over the years is that you unload it off the truck and you work on it for the first half a day, you've pretty much found the speed you're gonna find for the next three days. It's kind of just polishing on it a little bit. Some of the changes end up being so small, like this whole morning session. The wind has picked up during the morning session and we went A-B-A, meaning we tried a change and went slower, we tried another change and went slower, and we went back to the original change and it was about in the middle of those two, so we really don't know what it did. So it gets difficult when conditions start getting windy or what-not. The biggest change and the most speed we found was back at the race shop on what they call a k-rig or a squat-rig, which pulls the car down. We were changing a bunch of things back and forth and found a few things that seemed to be better and we put them on the car yesterday morning and it definitely picked it up about a tenth of a second -- a solid tenth or tenth-and-a-half, so it was definitely a good change for it. Pat and I were talking about it, we almost feel like we could find more speed by going to work on that all day because it's consistent, it's in a controlled environment. Of course out here, the humidity changes and things like that, so it makes it more difficult in actual conditions, but certainly we need to come down here to see how the car is running and handling is a big thing. For us, we could do single-car runs for a day-and-a-half and then do drafting for the second half of a day and we probably would be ready to go. I think it'll help the new teams more than anything -- the three days."
HOW IS YOUR ARM AND DID THE OFF-SEASON HELP? "Yeah, I think so. My shoulder is doing fairly well. I was a little nervous coming down here about how it was gonna be inside the car -- not driving the car but reaching everything -- reaching over and getting the helmet off the helmet hook and trying to hook up the things behind your head that are hard to get to, and getting the seatbelts that are behind you. The reach is the biggest thing that hurts your shoulder -- the range of motion -- but, actually, I'm doing really well. I'm pretty happy about that, I think I'm ready to go. Jack, we've sat down and talked. It was funny, I was in a meeting about three weeks ago and they said, 'Everybody is building their cars like this with this nose off-set and this is what we determined,' and then I get back from vacation and it's like nobody is building their cars there and everybody is building them like this. It's kind of funny. It's a revolving door. We're constantly building stuff and testing it or taking it to the wind tunnel and this winter we've done more on-track things. We've been to Kentucky and I know they went to Lakeland and Kentucky. We went to Las Vegas, so we're doing some on-track stuff as well, trying to figure out some things, and wind tunnel to back it up. Every decision we're making is pretty educated, I think, and I think we'll be ready to go. I'm sure the Vegas test is gonna help us really pinpoint exactly what we want."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CREW CHIEF CHANGE? "It's a real momentum builder for a team. I hate to talk about our crash at Las Vegas, but that really, really was a big event. It was a really big crash and it was our first test together. It was our first time together as a team. It was our first time together as a group. Everybody is excited about being there and our test was going extremely well, and I feel like that really set us back a bunch -- that unfortunate incident. So we're definitely coming back from that incident, but we're really working well together. I like all the guys. We're figuring out a lot of stuff here and when we get to some of these other places -- Bristol will certainly be a place that we get scrambling in these first couple of races -- California and our Vegas test. I think the team is coming together well and I like Pat and the way he executes things."
DOES JIMMIE JOHNSON'S DRIVING GET OVERLOOKED BECAUSE OF HIS SUPPORTING CAST? "Certainly it's a team effort, meaning that in a team effort he's included in that team effort. It takes everyone. It takes a driver. It takes a crew chief. It takes a team. It takes a bunch of engineers. It takes a lot of resources. It takes great engines. It takes everything. I don't feel, personally I haven't kept up on everything that's been said and read, but it seems like he's gotten the recognition that he deserves, I feel. Certainly he's been in the chase every year and after the way that the chase started for them, I kind of counted them out personally because they were down there a few times. Then they got in that crash at Talladega and a lot of bad things happened to them, but they were championship form and never gave up and kept fighting back."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON POSSIBLY EXPANDING THE CHASE? "I applaud NASCAR on what they did for the chase. I have to tell you, I disliked the chase format in the beginning when they mentioned it. I had won two championships under the old format and thought, 'Why change something that works and puts on a good race?' After they changed it, I thought it was great. It worked very well. I liked it. I like the way it is. I like it with 10 drivers. You have to eliminate it down to a certain number of people and I think they did a good job. Just like the COT car, the car of tomorrow, I'm not a big fan of it right now. I like what we're doing. I like these race cars we race now, but once we get in there and get racing them, I don't think anybody likes change until they've gotten the chance to get in there and do it. I like the way they've formatted the chase. If they expanded it to 12, I really don't feel like it's gonna change it anyway. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know where the winners have come from in the chase so far or how far back or what the stats are, but if we would have made the chase this year, we still would have never won the championship. The facts are that the guys in probably the top five or six are the ones that ultimately have a strong chance of winning the title, unless some fluke thing happened to them and they had three or four engine failures or something and just barely made the chase, but they're the best team. If you expanded it to 15, I think the championship guy is gonna come out of that top six spots."
WHAT DOES EXPANDING THE CHASE FIELD MEAN FOR SPONSORS? "I guess you can go back and re-calculate the points and do all the figuring and calculating you want to, but if you put all 43 cars in the chase and gave them the five points in between them, the champion would be the same guy every year, so it's not gonna matter. I'm not saying that for sure because I haven't done the math on it, but I would be willing to put a little money on it that the champion is gonna be the same guy. So, yes, it's gonna give some of those other cars recognition, but we can fix that also by persuading the media or the television to cover a little bit more than just the chase in those last 10 races at the same time we expand the chase. I don't have a problem with expanding the chase to 12, that's fine. Now there's gonna be 12 guys we talk about. That's the way it is. There's still gonna be somebody left out."
IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIAL WITH YOUR TEAM YOU CAN DO TO DUPLICATE YOUR PAST SUCCESS? "Success comes from really, really good race cars -- really fast race cars -- as good as or better than everybody else. That's where it comes from. I try my hardest every week. We're gonna go to California and try and win at California. If we have a race car that we can win with, we will win the race. A lot of it depends on the car, really. You take these top 20 drivers, like Denny Hamlin at Pocono. He wasn't just light years better driver than all 43 guys. Yes, he did a fantastic job driving those cars, but their car worked very well at that race track. They brought the same car back and won both races. There's something to the race car itself, along with the driver and the combination of it all, but it certainly takes that race car to handle well, turn, have plenty of downforce and all of that. That's what all of us work on all the time -- all the teams -- and if we can hit on something that makes our cars handle and get down in the race track and run well, that's what it takes to win five or six races. Kasey Kahne's team hit on that last year. They hit on something that was working for them and they perfected it and kept working on it and the results showed. And then Tony Stewart did as well in the chase. They won those mile-and-a-halves just bang, bang, bang and got a combination that was working for them. It's a constantly moving target and the minute you can get your finger on it, try and keep it on it for as long as you can because that sucker keeps moving. That's what it takes to win races and championships."
HOW DO YOU EXPECT YOUR TEAM NOW TO HELP YOU MAKE THE CHASE THIS YEAR? "Well, certainly it's gonna be a challenge. It's the race cars that we're building now. We're technically starting from scratch. Every race car is pretty much new. I don't think we're gonna end up really with any of the six cars from last year, and keep in mind we've got all the COT races and nobody still knows what that's gonna do to anybody -- who is gonna be competitive and who isn't -- so that's gonna be a big upset. I think a lot revolves around getting our cars handling well and showing up and being competitive every week, and then figuring out that COT thing as fast as we can. That's gonna be the two keys for us making the chase. I think I've got the team to do it and I've got the crew chief and all the people in place, we just need to make sure that we run competitively at California and all these places that our race cars are fast -- and Las Vegas and all those -- and hopefully we get this COT thing really scienced out well. I feel we're probably behind on that compared to the other teams a little bit, mostly I would have to say to Hendrick. I think they look like they're a little bit further along than a lot of guys. They may have dedicated a team of people to that deal. We're getting there. Pat and I are going to Rockingham next Thursday with the COT car to try and learn some things about them -- bump stops and all the things that are new on them because we're gonna race them at Darlington -- but those are gonna be the keys to making the chase is running well with that COT car and getting our downforce cars to handle good."
-credit: ford racing