Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings to Jimmie Johnson. Biffle, who trails by 149 points, participated in a teleconference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the Chase and this ...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings to Jimmie Johnson. Biffle, who trails by 149 points, participated in a teleconference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the Chase and this weekend's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS WEEKEND AND THE REST OF THE TRACKS THIS SEASON? "I think that, obviously, where we're at in points, we are certainly looking forward to trying to win at Atlanta this weekend. I know everybody goes there to win, but we feel really confident. We finished fourth in the spring race, but we were chasing down the leader, Kyle Busch, at the end and was second but just ran out of tires a little bit late in the race and ended up slipping back a few positions, but Atlanta is one of our better race tracks and I look forward to trying to close in on the 48 there this weekend. At Texas and Phoenix and Homestead, all four of these race tracks are literally my best race tracks on the circuit, so I think we're in a good position. We'd like to be closer than 149 points, but I don't think that's too much to overcome."
YOU AND CARL COMPETED HARD IN 2005 AND HE WON ATLANTA AND TEXAS AT THIS STAGE OF THAT SEASON. WHAT WAS HE LIKE THEN AND HOW HAS HE CHANGED AS A COMPETITOR? "I don't think a whole lot. Obviously, Carl is a competitive person and we're eager to win every time we go to the race track and we're competing about at the same level we were in 2005 with each other for the title, so I really see a lot of the same as it was in 2005. We're both just right there trying to inch up there in the points. It really feels a lot of the same with the same position we're in. Hopefully, we'll be on that end of maybe winning in Atlanta and Texas and try to close in on that 48."
DID THAT SUCCESS CARL HAD IN 2005 CHANGE HIM AT ALL? "I don't know. I think any level of success changes a person because of your demand on time and all of the things we have to do. I certainly think, obviously, Dale Jr. or somebody like that, it's a lot different now than when they were in their first and second year of Cup compared to his popularity now. So I think you obviously have to adapt to what the sport is like."
TIRES WERE A CONCERN THE LAST TIME AT ATLANTA. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT GOING INTO THIS RACE? "I certainly think that we've put Goodyear in a box with this new car and new track surfaces and things and their ability to react, they just can't upset the apple cart and start over, so it's been a work in progress for them. They've missed on some and hit others right on the nail that I can think of - Darlington, a brand-new surface that was really, really fast, probably too fast of a place. They tested twice and they picked the perfect tire. Then the other extreme is Indy, where we had a tire that wouldn't last. So you're not gonna hit it right every single time. At Atlanta, they found something that was too conservative and we've seen something that was not conservative enough, so they've gone back there and tested twice. I'm confident that they've picked a good tire for that race track, but no matter where we go, I think a tire is always a concern because, let's face it, they're dancing on a fine line of having enough grip, enough speed, or not too much speed and having longevity. That line, people don't understand how fine that line is and that's really, really tough to get down the middle of that line and just the weather - just some rain or something - can effect whether a tire can go 30 laps or 60 laps. So that's how close of a tolerance we're working in with these Goodyear tires, so I think they're doing a good job at reacting to the situations just as quickly as they can. The thing at Atlanta at the beginning of the year, to defend them, is they went to the conservative side of things. Maybe it was a little too conservative, but, at the same time, they were trying to build some of that into it."
WHAT CAN A DRIVER DO TO COMBAT AN ISSUE LIKE THAT? "Just hang on. It was really slick and hard to drive and you couldn't put the gas down. The car didn't have a lot of grip, but the surface of Atlanta is much like Darlington before the repave. We know that race track wears tires out and that's what makes it such a great race track and why it's so competitive. The problem is the new car threw a little curveball at the tire because it used the tire much harder on the right side only, so that was a difficulty for Goodyear to try and figure that out in a short amount of time. I think it was just very, very difficult to drive. The tires didn't have a lot of grip all day, so it just made it difficult inside there. It was elbows up all day long."
ROUSH HAS A GREAT HISTORY AT ALL FOUR REMAINING TRACKS. DOES THAT HAVE ANY EFFECT ON WHAT WE'LL SEE THIS YEAR? "I think so. The places we've been competitive at, we've tended to come back and be competitive. I don't think it's any different than Hendrick's domination at Martinsville. We've always seen them very fast there. It just goes to show you - the 5 ran really well. The 48 and the 88 and the 24 - all four cars were right there at Martinsville, so Roush Fenway runs good at these places. We've been able to kind of hold up our end of the bargain, so to speak. I think we're gonna be really good at Atlanta. I think we're gonna be really good at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead. I just don't see why we're not and I feel like we can beat the 48. Now, what happens to him - if he finishes fifth in all those races, there's nothing we can do about that - but we can just try and go there and do our best."
DOES IT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE? "Absolutely. I'm 100 percent confident. I was excited at the checkered flag at Martinsville, probably more excited than I have been at some other 12th-place finishes. Our strategic plan at Martinsville was to finish in the top 10 and we only missed that by two positions. We didn't count on Jimmie leading the most laps and winning. We felt like he'd be strong. We knew that, but to not go to Martinsville and finish 20th or 18th or 30th - and get back to the lead lap - was key for us to have a shot at this title."
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE 83 TEAM PENALTY? "I just heard about the car today or the penalties. I actually hadn't heard about the penalties, but I heard the metal was too thin. I think that NASCAR has, over and over, stated that they do not want us messing with this car. That's why they built it this way is to make it tech easier and do all those things. We've seen people try and get spoiler brackets through, different trunk lids, different fender stuff like Hendrick's at the road course - everybody has gotten their knuckles slapped with the ruler pretty hard and I don't know all the circumstances around the metal, the thickness and all that - what exactly happened. Sometimes they get more upset about a bait-and-switch, when they've already inspected it and you take it home and change it. I don't know if that's the case. I know the penalties can vary depending on case-by-case, so, obviously, they were pretty upset about what had taken place and I think they're putting their foot down and saying, 'Don't mess with these cars.'"
WILL YOU TAKE MORE CHANCES THIS WEEK KNOWING THAT TIME IS RUNNING OUT? "Yeah, I mean if I tried anymore at Charlotte, I would have been backwards in the fence. I tried all I could and I'm gonna do that same at Atlanta and the same at Texas and Phoenix and Homestead. I'm gonna put it all on the line because I really don't have anything to lose, I have a lot to gain. I certainly don't want to crash the car and fall back to sixth in points, but, at the same time, we have to beat the 48 and we have to get the best finish we can. I'm gonna continue to do what I've done in the first six Chase races and that's to try and win."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MAKING SURE QUALIFYING TAKES PLACE DURING THE CHASE? "I don't know if you've looked at the weather for this weekend in Atlanta, but they're calling for rain on Friday just to further that idea. It's a possibility we could get qualifying rained out again. It's a possibility every week, obviously, but the one thing you have to ask yourself is, 'Yes, NASCAR could have qualified the cars at Martinsville,' so what we would have done is we'd have went to Martinsville for the weekend, everybody would have run about 10-15 laps of practice total, qualified, and then raced the race. So, technically, we wouldn't have had any practice for the event. The only thing we would have been able to get in is qualifying because we only have so many hours in the day and we have to make choices in our life. You only have so much time, what are you going to do? So we'd have had to qualify the cars with no practice and then just race the 500-lap race on Sunday and that's not really practical to be able to do that. I understand that everybody wants to see them qualify, but I just don't know any other way to do it, other than to go on Wednesday or Thursday and just in case it's gonna rain. It's very difficult. We're backed in a corner. NASCAR is in a very tough spot to try and be fair to everyone, and with the rules the way they are with qualifying, if it rains out and starts by points, I don't know of any other way to do it."
HOW MUCH WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE THE FIRST GUY TO WIN A TITLE IN ALL THREE MAJOR NASCAR SERIES? "It would be pretty spectacular. I've certainly paid my dues. I've put in a lot of hard work and effort and we've got four opportunities left to try and close that deal. It would mean a great deal to me, especially to do it with the same team - all three series with Roush Fenway. It would be all three with Jack and the Fenway Sports Group, that would be pretty special, and all with Ford Motor Company, which has been a big supporter of ours all along and continue to be. So it would be a dream come true for me, a life-long goal to obviously win all three of them, but, most importantly, to win the Sprint Cup title."
WHY ARE YOU SO STRONG AT HOMESTEAD? "Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway is one I always look forward to. The reason why that's so important to win is because you're the most recent winner for about three months, so that makes for a very nice off-season. You can kind of make a joke about it. When you win a race and you have the next week off, you get to enjoy it for two weeks, instead of one. Well, if you win at Homestead, you get to enjoy it the whole winter as the guy who won the last race. That race track is very fun to me - progressive banking. I think it puts on some of the best racing we have and it's a really cool, challenging race track, which I raced on at Tucson, Arizona - that progressive banking type of track, so it's just a lot of fun and I've adapted to that race track fairly well and really like running there."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR STRATEGY AND JUGGLING THE ROLE OF BEING A PURSUER WHILE HAVING GUYS RIGHT ON YOUR BACK AS WELL? "Normally, you're always looking in front and back - you're looking in the rearview mirror and looking forward - but at this point in the season, it seems like I haven't even thought about who is behind me. I don't even care who is behind me because all I care about is the guy in front of me. All I can do is try and beat that guy. He's 149 points ahead of me. Whatever happens behind me, if they end up beating me or end up finishing in front of me, that would be a moot point. My goal right now is in front of me. At that point, I'm not saying it doesn't matter to me, but what matters right now and I'm focused on is the guy in front of me. If I end up not making that goal, certainly I'm trying to finish the best I can, but if those guys end up faster than me and end up in front of me, there's not a lot I can do about it. Obviously, I'm gonna do my best."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO NOT HAVE CONTROL OF YOUR DESTINY? IF THE 48 STAYS HOT, THERE'S NOT MUCH CHANCE OF CATCHING HIM. "I know that there are a lot of things that can happen inside of a race car. There's a grocery list of things that can happen that is gonna put us even in the points with him, and all you can do is do your best and not worry about him and not look at him and just do our very best, and then let nature take its course for lack of a better terminology. We had the Talladega wreck, of course, and then we had the Carl ignition problem. We've seen guys get flat tires or engine failures. All kinds of things can happen, so we just do the best we can and see what happens."
DO YOU GET BUTTERFLIES BEFORE A RACE? "I think you do. It's weird because when my car is running really, really good and I think I've got a good opportunity to win, I get more butterflies than normal because I'm thinking, 'What's gonna happen to keep us from winning today?' Instead of saying, 'OK, I need to concentrate on getting a top five. We don't have that great of a car. I'm gonna just run a good and solid race today and get the best I can.' Then you're not as nervous going in, it seems like, so it's kind of backwards almost from what you'd think. But the thing I notice is that the minute you start the engine and the thing starts making noise and you can smell it and everything is going on, the adrenaline is there coming to the one to go and that's all out the window. Your brain cannot process anything else but, 'We're gonna be going 208 miles an hour down into this corner side-by-side in just a few minutes,' so that's all out the window at that point."
SO IF IT'S HOMESTEAD AND YOU'RE ONLY 10 POINTS BEHIND IS IT THE SAME FEELING? "It is and that's the only thing I can do is just get in there because I know what's gonna be the best for me is to get in there and be the most relaxed I can be and drive the car to the best of my ability and focus and concentrate and not be afraid of making a mistake. I need to be conscious of it, but, at the same time, I need to just focus on the job at hand and that's finishing three spots or two spots in front of the 48."
-credit: ford racing