Ford Racing, Multimatic teleconference (part 1)

Following is the transcript of the December 21st media teleconference with Greg Biffle, Scott Maxwell and Larry Holt. Biffle and Maxwell will join NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champions Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth in driving the No. 49 Crown Royal Ford ...

Following is the transcript of the December 21st media teleconference with Greg Biffle, Scott Maxwell and Larry Holt. Biffle and Maxwell will join NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champions Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth in driving the No. 49 Crown Royal Ford Multimatic Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, February 3 - 6, 2005.

ADAM SAAL: Good afternoon everyone for what will be our final teleconference of the year. Needless to say, it is kind of uncommon to have them during the week of Christmas, but we had a major announcement that was just made a couple hours ago. The No. 49 Crown Royal Ford Multimatic Daytona Prototype will be driven in February's Rolex 24 At Daytona by a group of drivers that is already becoming known as a "Team of Champions."

Greg Biffle, who is with us today, will join Scott Maxwell, one of the sports car stars of the Rolex Sports Car Series, as well as Matt Kenseth and recently crowned NEXTEL Cup champion Kurt Busch for the Rolex 24 At Daytona February 3rd through 6th.

Greg is with us today. Welcome. It's good to have you here.

GREG BIFFLE: I'm glad to be here. It's exciting news for me. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity.

ADAM SAAL: We also have Scott Maxwell, who has won in this type of car before in Daytona Prototype competition. Scott, thanks for joining us from Canada today.

SCOTT MAXWELL: My pleasure. It's a big opportunity for both myself and my team.

ADAM SAAL: We'd also like to welcome Larry Holt, who is the vice president of Multimatic, who builds and prepares these cars. He's got to be looking forward to this great all-star lineup for the Rolex next year.

LARRY HOLT: Yeah, I am, Adam. Thanks a lot for having us here today. I guess there's a bit of pressure on now.

ADAM SAAL: Well, I think you can live up to it as much as you've raced and won before.

Greg is on a tight schedule today. He's got a photo shoot going on. We're going to go ahead and start with a quick question.

Greg, this is a new challenge for you. We are based here in Daytona Beach in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, but we offer a different type of product - road racing. We run on a variety of circuits. We kick it off with the Rolex 24 At Daytona. How much road racing have you done in non-NASCAR cars in your career?

GREG BIFFLE: Absolutely zero. In fact, it's kind of interesting. I didn't ever road race until my first time at Portland International Raceway, at PIR. I raced a Northwest Tour car. That was my first experience road racing.

I Picked up on it really fast, really enjoyed it. I think I qualified fifth there. It was an invitational event. Had some Winston Cup guys then, Mark Martin and a few others came out for that event. Ran really well in it. Second race I went to Topeka, Kansas, qualified outside front row in the same kind of car. Moved into the NASCAR Truck Series and road raced in the Craftsman Truck Series a few times, one of my first times to Portland, and won at Watkins Glen, New York. Sat on the pole and won there.

I've had really good success in the short-term I've road raced, but I don't have a lot of experience. I won in the Truck Series at Portland and Watkins Glen both, and have had a fun time road racing. Qualified outside front row to Jeff Gordon at the Glen, one one-thousandth of a second he beat me by my first year in a Cup car there.

So I am really, really looking forward to this. At the same time I'm kind of nervous. I've never driven a car like this. But we're excited we have somebody like Scott Maxwell to help us down there and all the Multimatic folks and Ford to help us get acquainted with what we're about ready to expect.

ADAM SAAL: Another key component of this line-up that came together just in the last couple weeks is Crown Royal. They will be the sponsor of the No. 49 Ford Multimatic, as well Kurt Busch who will be running with that same sponsorship in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Greg, you mentioned Scott Maxwell. I'd like to ask an opening question of Scott.

Scott, you've raced and won in Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. It was kind of a long time ago, even though it was 2003, as there was just a few cars and it was the very first race for this category. For some of our listeners who may be more familiar with NASCAR, talk a little bit about the growth that's happened in this category. Why even with an all-star team of drivers will it probably be a little bit tougher to score a repeat win.

SCOTT MAXWELL: It's actually just been incredible how the Daytona Prototype category has grown. It's literally exploded. When we first started the initial race at Daytona in 2003, we were one of six cars. Like any new class, it sort of creeped out of the gate. There was a lot of people who believed in the class a lot, but there was a lot of nay-sayers, as well.

I tell you, Grand-Am has done a phenomenal job. I think it's probably the fastest-growing road-racing series in the world. That's not really an exaggeration because from what I hear, there might be close to 30 Daytona Prototype cars at Daytona this year.

And it's not only the quantity, it's just the quality as well. Whereas two years ago, it was a bit of survival in whoever could stay on the track and keep going had a very good chance of winning. Obviously, you have to do that this year. But it's going to be more like a 24-hour Sprint race in my mind because there's probably, of those 30 cars, there's probably 15, 18 cars that have the potential to win and have really high-quality driver line-ups. It's going to be a hell of a race.

ADAM SAAL: Scott, is indeed correct. We're looking at 30 solid entries, if not more. We're to the point where just about every available Daytona Prototype chassis in production is being filled by quality drivers from top to bottom. Daytona should have a record field and we look forward to it.

Moving to Larry. One of your stated goals with Multimatic was to establish a factory or a works team. You've had that in place in the past. Now you got every component ready to go with it. Your strong relationship with Ford is there. You have these all-star drivers to start the year right. Tell me about the anticipation you have heading into the 2005 season.

LARRY HOLT: Yeah, I think this is our opportunity maybe to get this thing back on track. We've struggled a little bit over the last year or so with the product because we didn't run, as you said, we haven't run a factory team. We did in 2003 when we came out of the box. My guys did a phenomenal job, both drivers and the team. We won like that and we've done that in the past in different forms of racing.

We didn't stick with the formula this time. Sort of relied more on customer teams to do things, and I think that really isn't a formula for success. We have some very good customers out there. But, you know, my competition chassis manufacturers Crawford and Riley and Doran, they were out there running factory teams. I think if you're not racing every two weeks, you can fall behind very, very rapidly.

I don't think where we've been is indicative of where the product, the chassis, really is capable of being. So we've made a very proactive move and we're going to race this thing as a factory team.

Ford, Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing, and Ford Motor Company are being fantastic in helping us out and backing us with that decision. They came to the party here and said, "Okay, why don't we do this big style when we go to the Rolex." And that's what we're doing.

I've got a very good feeling about it. It puts a lot of pressure on me and my guys. There's been a lot of development work going on over the last four to six months. You've seen us a little bit here and there and we came out strong at VIR. We've done a lot of testing. We did the three-day test at Miami last month. We subsequently did some private testing at VIR. We think we've come a long way.

We haven't got a whole season's worth of racing into it, but we tried to accelerate a whole season's worth of racing development into it in the last two, three months.

A lot of people are looking at this. We've got to do a good job. I'm pretty confident we have all the bits to make that happen.

ADAM SAAL: Thank you very much, gentlemen, for your opening comments. As Greg is on a tight schedule, we'd like to open it up to questions for our media.

Q: Scott, last year at the Glen, you wrestled that 3,400 pound (stock) car around and came up a little short. One of the class acts I felt I've ever seen in drivers, you still talked to me afterwards despite the fact you were bitterly disappointed. However, now you're going to have these guys on your turf. Do you look forward to working with these guys on your turf because these cars are going to be 1,100 to 1,200 hundred pounds less in weight than the cars they're used to wrestling with.

SCOTT MAXWELL: I mean, obviously I'm looking forward to the three guys joining us in our car.

One of the things, I think it's a bit of a misconception, is that some of these NASCAR drivers don't know how to turn right. Especially with the younger generation, that's just not true at all. And I don't think they have to feel they have anything to prove because, I mean, Tony Stewart and Dale, Jr. last year almost won the Rolex 24 race outright and put on a heck of a show. So I'm expecting the same quality out of my three new teammates, and I'm not worried about it.

I don't have a chip on my shoulder to show anybody up because I think these guys can handle it by themselves. If I can help them out in any way, which is what you do in endurance racing with teammates, obviously I will, because that will be to the betterment of the team and to Ford and to Multimatic.

But other than that, I just look forward to meeting these guys and getting to work with them.

Q: Back in the 1960s and '70s, one of the ways drivers established their credentials was to race in a variety of disciplines: dirt, oval, road racing. You've got the opportunity now Greg to take your NASCAR experience and go over into sports car racing and establish your credentials there. If you could talk a little bit about that, what that means to you.

GREG BIFFLE: I'll tell you what, I can't put it into words. It's a huge opportunity for me. You're nervous about whether you're going to make the cut or not. Like Scott said, a guy that's successful in pretty much any series can make a transition and be semi-successful other places.

So I'm just looking for the opportunity to be able to get in there and drive the car and let these guys coach me and see if I can't develop my skills into being a decent teammate for these guys and have a chance at winning the 24 hour race. I mean, that's our goal.

I don't have a huge interest in moving out of NASCAR, but I would certainly love to have more opportunity to drive these cars. I love to road race. It's funny, they asked the question, the reporters asked a question, all the NASCAR drivers, what do they think about road racing. And I absolutely love it. I mean, I can't wait till we go to the Glen and Sears Point every year. I love to road race, and this is a big deal for me.

Q: Seems to me that the NASCAR off-season is getting shorter and shorter with other obligations, testing and such. Here you are wanting to race a few weeks early before the Daytona 500. Are you doing this as a personal goal, just to get back in the car, hone your skills at road racing? What's your take?

GREG BIFFLE: Well, I mean, not very many guys that do what I do get an opportunity like this presented to us. You know, it's Ford and Multimatic and really Scott that made it possible. I'm just taking advantage of the opportunity, that is what I'm doing.

Last week we (NASCAR) tested at Kentucky for two days, Thursday and Friday, and not very many teams are doing stuff like that. But we're trying to get ready for 2005. We're working really hard on our cars.

Yeah, I mean, it's a great deal for me to get back behind the wheel prior to our season starting. Like I said, any chance I get to drive with a caliber race team that this is going to be and the caliber of cars, it's a dream come true for somebody like me to be able to do this.

Continued in part 2

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Scott Maxwell