This Week in Ford Racing October 31, 2001 Rockingham, N.C. (Oct. 31, 2001) - Greg Biffle is just two races away from being crowned the 2001 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, but the four-year NASCAR veteran still has some unfinished business before...
This Week in Ford Racing
October 31, 2001
Rockingham, N.C. (Oct. 31, 2001) - Greg Biffle is just two races away from being crowned the 2001 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, but the four-year NASCAR veteran still has some unfinished business before the season ends in Homestead on November 10. Biffle, who swept both the Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series events in Phoenix last week, has been rewriting the record book for rookie accomplishments. Biffle has set the rookie mark for wins (five), laps lead, and money won, but the Vancouver, Wash., native is currently sitting in the fourth position in the point standings, 157 points behind third-place Jason Keller. With races remaining at North Carolina Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, Biffle is still trying to tie the mark for the highest points finish for by rookie -- third place -- which is shared by Kevin Harvick and Steve Park.
HAVE YOU ACHIEVED ALL OF THE GOALS YOU SET FOR THIS YEAR? "I think we've accomplished everything we set out from the beginning of the year. We may have adjusted those goals somewhat after the strong start we had at the beginning of the year, but if I were to look back before the first race at Daytona, I thought we could win two or three races and finish in the top five in points and win rookie of the year. We accomplished all of those objectives. Ultimately, we would have wanted the championship, but that's asking too much for our first year out. We're definitely satisfied."
YOU'VE ACCOMPLISHED THOSE FEATS WITHOUT THE HELP OF A FULL-TIME TEAMMATE. "That made it a little tougher to get adjusted to the series, but I think we did a good job; much better than anybody thought we could. Sure we had Mark's (Martin) notebook and Jeff Burton there with us some times, but these cars are different from where they were last year. Everybody had to re-learn what they thought they knew about these cars with the new engine package and tire combination. That made it tougher for everybody, including Jeff, and Mark's notes couldn't account for that. They were a great starting point, but we had to make the calls during the race on how to adjust that car and learn what adjustments worked best for us. That took time."
DID YOU MISS NOT HAVING A TEAMMATE TO TURN TO EVERY WEEK FOR HELP? "Not really. We had a good relation with Jason Keller and Jeff Green, and we all helped each other. Also, when you have a top-notch teammate, you have to race him every week. Green has to race Keller every week and vice versa. It's good to trade information, but sometimes you have to race against them."
THE ROOKIE CLASS IN WINSTON CUP COMPETITION HAS HAD A TOUGH YEAR. YOU DIDN'T MOVE RIGHT FROM THE TRUCK SERIES TO WINSTON CUP LIKE SOME OF THE DRIVERS. DO YOU THINK THAT WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE? "I think so. I knew that I needed to get the right amount of experience before I moved into Winston Cup, and this year provided me that in the Busch Series. Next year is going to strengthen that foundation even more and give me a taste of how tough 2003 is going to be with seven races. I feel like I'm going to be prepared for 2003."
YOU RACED AGAINST A LOT OF THIS YEAR'S WINSTON CUP ROOKIES IN THE TRUCK SERIES LAST YEAR. "You look at those guys and think, 'Yeah, I should be able to do that. I know I can race with them.' I beat Jeff Burton, he finished ninth in the Busch race and won the Cup race. I've raced against Mike Wallace in the trucks and he got second in the Winston Cup race. You try to do comparisons and I think that with the right equipment and the right cars that I should be able to run in the top 10 at some point next year in one of the Winston Cup races. All you want to do is get up there and be competitive and run decent in one race. You could go away with that information in your pocket and know that you might be competitive."
DO YOU FEEL YOU NEED ONE MORE SEASON IN THE BUSCH SERIES? "I probably don't need it, but that's the situation we're in right now and I'm fine with that. Grainger has a certain marketing plan and they've been with me my whole NASCAR career and I want to be their driver. We're into a contract for two years of Busch and two years of Cup. I may be ready right now, but I'll certainly be more ready with another year in Busch."
WITH THE CURRENT ROUSH SETUP, THERE ARE FOUR WINSTON CUP TEAMS THAT SHARE TWO BUILDINGS. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULD BE THE ODD MAN OUT IN THAT SITUATION? "If we stayed in the same shop, we would be, but who knows where we'll be in two years. We're certainly ready to do Busch again, and that's our focus right now, and I'll let Jack figure out where we fit into the picture. This sport is so volatile, two years is a long way to go. We've got our deal set for next year, and that's where we'll put our focus when this season ends in two weeks. Until those two weeks are over, we're not even thinking about next year. We've tested at both Rockingham and Homestead and we want to win at least one of these last two races. We feel pretty good about our chances and we'll have Jeff there to help us at Homestead, which is a new track for me in the Busch car, but like I said, we tested there and feel pretty good. It's still nice to know that he'll be there in case we need him; the same way we were there for him in Phoenix."