Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Charter Taurus, comes into this weekend fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings and 83 points behind leader Tony Stewart. Biffle, who is carrying a special decal on his car...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Charter Taurus, comes into this weekend fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings and 83 points behind leader Tony Stewart. Biffle, who is carrying a special decal on his car honoring the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard, spoke about a variety of topics during a morning Q&A session at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Charter Taurus
YOU HAVE A SPECIAL DECAL ON YOUR CAR HONORING THE 48TH BRIGADE. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT AND WHAT IT'S LIKE TO REPRESENT THE NATIONAL GUARD? "It's pretty special. All of the stories of the soldiers that are in the National Guard and other forms of the military that are serving, all of them are kind of a unique story. We read about and learn about a lot of unfortunate things that happen. A lot of the soldiers that are defending our country in Afghanistan and Iraq are National Guard reservists, which they like to call citizen soldiers - guys that drive UPS trucks and guys that work at the auto parts store. They're National Guard reservists and they're also the ones that support our country when we have these hurricanes. A lot of them have unique stories and the 48th Brigade that's based here in Georgia has lost a tremendous amount of good people and it's unfortunate. It's a sad story and we're thinking about them. It's neat being able to run their decals on the car. I had a picture in my car at Dover. A soldier sent me a picture of his brother, who had died a year ago that day. We had his picture in the car at Dover when we won and we also had a couple soldiers there from Walter Reed Hospital that managed to come home and had some injuries. I always like to have those things on the race car. I think it's something else for us to think about, but it's just an unfortunate situation that is very real."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DID YESTERDAY AT FT. BENNING? "It was a very interesting day. They have what they call a Ranger School. That's probably not the proper name for it, but it was like boot camp on steroids. It's a voluntary rank to go through Ranger School and all of the people that are in Ranger School are stripped of their rankings, meaning they all wear the same uniform and have no rank. They said there were officers in there, from any level of the military there were people in this school. It was pretty incredible the things they were doing. I got there about 6:45 in the morning and they had already run five miles and they were doing a bunch of physical things. They were crawling across the ground and doing all kinds of things. Mortars were going off. There was smoke and they were crawling through this trough of water with their heads down under the water. I mean, I'm freezing my butt off. I've got this jacket on and they're crawling through the mud and the water. It was pretty incredible to see the dedication that these soldiers have. Then on a lighter note, they didn't make me do that because I don't know that I could have done what they did, but I got to shoot a couple of live ammo rounds with some guns. I shot what they call the 2-4-9. They call it the S.A.W., it's a suburban assault rifle and I don't remember the exact name for it, but it shoots a three-shot burst. It's fully automatic so when you hold the trigger down it's shooting a lot of bullets fast. They said every unit has two of those that they carry with them. I shot that and then I shot the M-16. I got to lay down in the dirt and shoot the targets from 50 meters to 300, and that was a lot of fun. My score was 22 and it takes 23 to pass the infantry ground training, so I was off by one to pass that. For not ever having picked a firearm up before, they thought that was pretty good to be able to do that."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT THIS WEEKEND AND THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON? "Certainly it's known that we're gonna have to be first, second, third these next four races to have a chance to win the title and that certainly won't guarantee us the win by any means. If we won all four of them and lead all the laps it still wouldn't win us the title depending on where Tony and Jimmy finish. If they finish in the top five, we're not gonna be able to do it, so we have our work cut out for us. I think we're gonna be competitive at all four and I would think we're gonna win possibly one of them, two of them maybe, or at least be there for an opportunity to win, and you've got to be in the top five for that opportunity to present itself. So I'm really excited about it. This car here, we won at California and Texas with it and to bring it here, we're excited about that."
CAN YOU RECAPTURE YOUR DOMINANCE FROM THE EARLY PART OF THE SEASON AND DOES YOUR DRIVING STYLE MEAN THAT YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE YOUR FELLOW COMPETITORS MAD AT YOU ONCE IN A WHILE? "Yeah, I think so. The first part of the question, yes, I believe that we can win these races. We've got our best race cars and I'm prepared. We're gonna do the best we can. If we can win, we're gonna win. We can run in the top five. Tony, he's got a hot temper. I think we all know that. Last week, I think that it was clear that he was frustrated that he got beat by Jeff Gordon. I was very irritated here. If you remember, I sat in this same media center and this same chair and said it was the worst day of my life because I finished third and led all the laps. I know what it's like to be in that situation and him having to race me a little bit for two laps at Martinsville, which had no outcome on the race or no outcome on his position. It's clear that it was frustration from getting beat by the 24 car, in my eyes. Secondly, I think that a lot of people missed the whole thing that happened. I heard a lot of people, 'Well, he was racing the 20 for position because every position counts five points,' all that. My position had nothing to do with Tony's position on the race track. My position had to do with when I let Tony go on the inside, we come off the corner and he runs me in the fence down the straightaway on purpose - just runs me into the fence. Why he would do that with his race car running third, I have no idea. You have to stop and ask yourself who would be the idiot in that case. I'm 20th, he's third. He runs me into the fence with his race car. I was mad. I went back down in the corner and knocked him out of the way. It was that simple. Game over. I wasn't racing him for position. His position had nothing to do with me. The other thing is he said that I had nobody to race. I was already the lucky dog. Well, if he would have looked in the mirror, the 9 car is four car lengths behind him. That's the guy I'm racing, so I'm trying to stay up there to catch a caution and get the lucky dog pass. So that's the whole scenario over that. And if you can remember back a few more races when the same guy was two laps down at Dover - two laps down - no flat tires, nothing happened to the car. The guy is two laps down and cost me two positions at the end of the race. I didn't get out of the car and say one word about it. Trapped on the bottom behind a slow car that can't get out of his own way, is two laps down, I didn't have to get out of the car and say anything about it. I just consider the source and move on. Tony called me on Tuesday and we talked about it and it's behind us. That's the way it is. He spoke about it on national TV, so, I mean, whatever. I don't need to throw daggers at anybody. I'm just presenting the facts of what happened because I saw the shows. A lot of people obviously didn't see exactly what happened. I was upset. I wasn't racing him. I didn't care about him. I was upset about the fact of him running me in the wall and that's why I retaliated and moved him back out of the way and we got into that little scuffle. So that's behind us. And it wouldn't matter if it was him or anybody else, or if he was 10 laps down - 25 if it was the 4 car - anybody. You can't let a guy go, give him position, and then have him run you in the wall. It just isn't right."
ARE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT WHAT CARL EDWARDS HAS DONE THIS YEAR? "I'm very surprised. I'll be perfectly honest with you. I'm probably just as surprised as all of you guys are about his performance. He has done a very good job. The way our Roush system works today versus when I came in or Kurt came in, we provide a much better line of communication and he can pick my setup. His car was similar to mine when he won Atlanta versus me finishing third, and it was just who was in front. It was merely track position at the end of the race, so he's got the ability to drive the race cars, but he's been able to short-cut the learning process by a tremendous amount by being able to rely on Matt, Kurt, me and Mark to get his car right. If you give him the right car and the car is balance properly, it's got the right aero numbers and all that, and then he's got to drive it, that makes it much easier to bring a guy in and be competitive right off. I'm proud of that. I'm excited that we're able to do that as a company, to be able to provide Carl with such a great opportunity, and he's taken full advantage of it. He's done a tremendous job driving the car. He made the mistakes that I expected him to make. He spun out qualifying at Bristol and hit the fence, knocked the radiator out of it 20 laps in the race because he had to start at the back. All of those things that get you with lack of experience that can happen has happened to him, but he's been able to overcome a lot of that stuff and stay out of the trouble. So he's done a great job with the opportunity that's been presented to him."
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR DRIVERS TO TAKE VERBAL JABS AT EACH OTHER AND TRY TO GET THEM OFF THEIR GAME? "Yeah, I think it's certainly possible. It's definitely possible to do that, but they've got their work cut out for them if they're gonna get under my skin or make me think different about when I get in the race car. You can clearly see other guys that when they're in the race car, the minute they get upset about something or they get something in their head, they go crazy and there are two guys in the chase that are like that. It's funny to see it. I've been there racing them and I see them having trouble with another guy and, even if the other guy is in the wrong, they won't take it. They'll shove him back or smoke is coming off their fenders going down the straightaways. It's the funniest thing in the world to see - that guys would do that in the position that they are. These race cars are very, very fragile in the fenders and all that stuff. A few laps later they're pitting because the tire is smoking on the fender. Go figure. I don't know."
I'M ASSUMING TONY IS ONE. WHO IS THE OTHER? "You're guessing now (laughing). If you watch back through the tapes, you'll see who ends up trading paint out there."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HAVING FIVE OR SIX-FIGURE FINES? "There are two things about it. One is that if you go back and wreck somebody intentionally, and it's clear that they have done it intentionally, which is very difficult to figure out if it was the first contact of the race. But when a guy gets spun out, like for instance just using as an example Michael Waltrip and he went back and just wrecked Kurt Busch, which he didn't, on purpose - just clearly took him out - then I believe that's punishable because it jeopardizes people's safety and stuff like that in other cars that are racing out there. But that hasn't happened for a while. That happened at Loudon, I believe, and since then it hasn't happened. NASCAR said they're gonna come down on guys for doing that. Just racing deals, like Tony and I, that's just racing. It's what Tony felt like he wanted to do and I didn't like it, so I gave him a little nudge back. We ironed it out ourselves and went on about it. If guys are doing things intentionally, certainly NASCAR needs to come down on that, but I haven't seen that lately."
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE RACING WITH STEWART, NEWMAN AND JOHNSON? "Tony has been the easier guy to race around in the chase than the other two. Ryan Newman is very difficult to pass. It's tough to get position on him, and Jimmie is hard to get a position on as well. Tony is easier to race around, clearly, than those two. That's just my opinion. That's what I've experienced inside the car. At Dover, I was just making an example that nobody ever heard anything of it just because I didn't feel it was even - I mean, Tony didn't do it on purpose, he was just in the way. It's not something he did. It's not something he strategized that cost me two spots at the end of the race, it was just that his car was running bad. What I'm getting at is, like they say in the driver's meeting every week, the shoe will be on the other foot. We hear that time and time again. 'Just think, next week the shoe may be on the other foot if you're a lap down,' or something like that. But, anyway, to answer the question, absolutely, Tony has been the easier guy to work with on the race track and race around than Ryan and Jimmie."
HOW BIG OF A CONCERN ARE ENGINES TO YOU THIS WEEKEND? "It's a big question mark and, more importantly the question is, these are places - these two race tracks, here and Texas - are places that engines will be tested and I feel pretty confident about our program. Anything can happen and our guys have worked very hard in our engine department to minimize failures. I remember one of the other cars was on fire, blown up, at one of these race tracks so I know that engines can be an issue at these two race tracks for all 10 chase contenders."
DO ALL 10 GUYS STILL HAVE A SHOT AT THIS OR HAS IT NARROWED? "Below me it's looking grim because of the fact, let's say that somebody had problems - one or two guys had problems - for four guys in front of you to have a problem is pretty unlikely. For one guy or two guys, it can happen. Three guys, eh, but to have all four guys in front of you have a problem - and that's what fifth and sixth or seventh will need to have happen - that's almost a long shot. We're just gonna have to race hard the last four. We can't control what they do. I'm just gonna worry about the 16 car and worry about the National Guard car and try to get the best finish I can for four races and just see where it comes out."
CHAD KNAUS AND TONY STEWART GOT INTO A WAR OF WORDS LAST WEEK. ARE YOU FOLLOWING THAT AT ALL AND DO YOU THINK IT COULD HELP YOU IF THEY GET FOCUSED ON EACH OTHER AND FORGET ABOUT YOU? "Yeah, I mean maybe. It just depends if you let that get under your skin or not. I saw Tony move Jimmie out of the way toward the end of the race - just drove in there and just knocked him out of the way. He wasn't inside of him or nothing, he just ran into the back of his bumper and moved him over, but that's short-track racing. That could have sparked a little energy between those guys, but I'm just gonna worry about what I've got to do and see what those guys end up doing. It could create some deal between them."
HOW DO YOU HANDLE GOING FROM 11 POINTS OUT TO 83? "I've got to say I would have been a lot happier if I would have finished 15th or 14th, where I was gonna finish, before Junior spun the 77 out. Junior got in the back of the 77 and spun him and got into me and sent me up in the fence, so I finished the last car on the lead lap. I was gonna be better than that. My goal going into Martinsville was to finish 15th or better. That was my goal and I was five spots short of my goal, and could have been a lot worse than that. I'm happy with that. I knew I was gonna lose points at Martinsville. I would have bet you any amount of money - a million dollars - I was gonna lose points at Martinsville. I knew I was, it was how much am I gonna lose. And if I said, 'If I finish 15th and Tony wins, I still got him in the sights on the barrel.' I finished 20th and he finished third. And you can't count Jimmie out, but I've still got them right now."