This Week in NASCAR Racing: Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is coming off his second victory of the 2010 season after winning Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway. As the circuit heads to Auto ...
This Week in NASCAR Racing:
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is coming off his second victory of the 2010 season after winning Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Kansas Speedway. As the circuit heads to Auto Club Speedway for the second time, Biffle spoke about his expectations and ability to contend for the series championship during the weekly NASCAR teleconference.
YOU'VE WON SERIES TITLES IN THE TRUCK AND NATINOWIDE SERIES. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT POSSIBLY ADDING A CUP CHAMPIONSHIP? "I left the most difficult one for last. It would sure be something to win a Sprint Cup title, but we've got a lot of work to do being 85 points out of the lead and, of course, a four-time champion leading the points. Auto Club has been a great race track for us. We qualified well there last year and ran well. I like going out west. I've got family in the area and it kind of feels more like home, so I'm looking forward to a good run this weekend, and we're certainly coming off a lot of momentum from last week."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BE THE ONLY DRIVER TO WIN TITLES IN ALL THREE MAJOR NASCAR SERIES AND EVEN THOUGH THOSE WEREN'T PART OF A CHASE FORMAT, CAN THAT HELP YOU? "I certainly think being in any championship hunt kind of gives you the mindset and the discipline it takes to win a championship. This is my fourth appearance in the chase and we went right down to the wire in 2005 and we were close in 2008 finishing third. I feel like I've got the experience. I feel like the other two championships have helped me, but it would mean so much to me to be able to win the Sprint Cup title, not only it being my third title in NASCAR and one in every series, but just to win the Sprint Cup title itself. So much goes with that and it would be a dream come true for me. It would certainly fulfill my career. I plan on racing in the Sprint Cup Series for a lot of years to come, but it would kind of complete a trifecta or make your career complete in any event."
HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON BEING BACK IN FIRST PLACE AND NOBODY MAY BE ABLE TO CATCH HIM NOW? "I don't think that's gonna be the case. They didn't get off to a good start at Loudon and everybody is vulnerable. They've had more races this year that were hit and miss than the 48 team normally has, so I feel like they're not clearly running away with this thing yet. We're not gonna throw in the towel and I don't think any of those other guys that are a lot closer are either, so we'll just wait and see. I think we're gonna have to wait three or four more races before we get a clearer picture of how they're gonna be. Obviously, they're good at performing at these race tracks. Jimmie has won a lot at California, so we'll have to wait and see. Maybe he doesn't come out of California with a win or even a top five, so we'll just have to wait and see how this shakes out, but we're gonna continue to do the best we can as the 16 team and try to close in on him."
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE KYLE BUSCH-DAVID REUTIMANN SITUATION? DO YOU HAVE A CONCERN ABOUT GETTING INTO AN ALTERCATION WITH A NON-CHASE DRIVER? "It doesn't matter if you're in the chase or out of the chase, or if it's the end of the season, beginning of the season, or the third race of the season, it doesn't really matter. What you have to ask yourself is, 'Is it worth it for me to wreck a guy to get him out of my way - to spin him out?' That's the decision that happened this last weekend. It looked like to me, we've seen a lot of racing deals. We saw Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin get together and spin at Loudon, that was a racing deal to me. It looked like the 18 ran straight back into the back bumper of the 00 and spun him out and wrecked him. It probably doesn't matter who you are, you're probably not gonna get away with that in our sport today. He made that decision to do that and there were ramifications for him through that, and I don't think being in the chase or out of the chase makes a difference. I have to ask myself, 'Why did Kyle Busch spin out David Reutimann?' That would be where I would start."
IS IT A NIGHT AND DAY DIFFERENCE FROM WHERE THE FORDS WERE AT THE START OF THE SEASON TO WHERE THEY ARE NOW? "We've been getting better and better and better. I've talked a lot about the Chicago race this season being the turning point. Even though we blew an engine up at Chicago, it looked like we were on our way to winning that race like we were at Kansas, and Carl Edwards ended up finishing second in that race. Then we went to Indy and nearly won that race, we finished third. And then we went to Pocono and won. We went to Michigan and led the most laps, so, really, our mile-and-a- half and two-mile program has been super-strong ever since Chicago and I feel like the Fords are back on track. We still have a lot of work to do on our short-track program, or our slower race tracks, but as far as the bigger tracks and the faster places, I think that we're right in line with everybody else and we're gonna get our fair share of wins now."
DRIVERS GET TROPHIES TO REMEMBER WINS. DO THE CREW GUYS GET ANYTHING? "It's interesting you ask that because the team guys got trophies for the Pocono win earlier in the season and we're probably gonna talk about doing the same thing with the win in Kansas. So the team guys get to take home a memory as well. I like to do that with Christmas presents and things to signify our season with what we've been able to accomplish. The guys that build these cars and go over the wall and set the car up at the race track are all different groups of people and all of them work so hard to get our cars as fast as they can. It means a lot to me. When I cross the start- finish line or I take the white-flag lap, I'm thinking about the team guys, I'm thinking about Ford, I'm thinking about 3M and I'm thinking about Roush Fenway as a whole versus myself. I've been able to win 17 or 18 races in the Sprint Cup Series. Granted, I love to win, but it's more satisfying for me to see all of those guys happy that their car won."
WHAT ARE THE MAIN THINGS YOU GUYS NEED TO FOCUS ON TO WIN THIS TITLE? "There are a couple main issues. One is the slower race tracks with those being Martinsville and Phoenix. Phoenix has been a great race track for us. I like it, but the last couple times there we've been off a little bit and it seems like with our cars - not just the 16 team, but Roush Fenway - when we get to race tracks that don't have the sheer speed - Richmond, Martinsville and some slower-in-the-center race tracks, we haven't been as good as our competition. When we get to the faster miles, the mile-and-a- half, mile-and-a-third like Darlington, and two-mile tracks, we're right there with our competition. So that's what we need to work on. We need to work on the slower speed, smaller race tracks and being as dominant as we can be on the mile-and-a-half and two-mile race tracks and I think the cards will fall into place. We're working hard at that and we know that's a scenario we need to focus on to win this championship."
THE CHASE IS TIGHT BUT TV RATINGS ARE DOWN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS. DO YOU HAVE ANY THEORIES AS TO WHY? "I haven't been able to get all those stats, but one thing I do know and feel is that there are so many other ways today - and I think we're gonna continue to fight with this TV rating until we have a way to measure another way of finding out how people keep up with the race. You can get it on your computer, you can get it on your phone, and everybody is tweeting lap-by-lap, so today you don't have to sit in front of the TV, you don't have to watch it to still be an avid NASCAR fan and be involved with the sport and who is doing what and who is running where. There are a lot of different avenues and I think that has a lot to do with it because I still see as many people as ever that are excited about or sport, that are paying attention and watching it, and there are still a lot of people in the grandstands, but I don't know why the TV ratings are where they need to be."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW MUCH MORE STRESS IS INVOLVED WITH BEING IN THE CHASE VERSUS THE REGULAR SEASON? "There's a lot of pressure and stress because this is what we've worked our entire lifetime for is an opportunity to take home the top prize. I go back to just a week ago at Dover, where we were fighting tooth-and-nail for a top 10 finish. We had a top 10 car. We ran seventh, eighth, ninth and even ran top three and ended up getting caught by a caution flag and getting two laps down. We got one of them back, but finished 19th. If that wouldn't have happened to us, we would be 30-40 points out of the lead right now, so there is a tremendous amount of pressure to make every position count - not to make mistakes driving the race car and in the pits to try to make the right calls because our championship is on the line right now. We know that every spot - I've lost one of these championships by 35 points and I hope that I don't lose it again by 35 points because I'll be thinking about that Dover race for a long time to come."
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE MOMENT OR MEMORY FROM YOUR OTHER TWO NASCAR CHAMPIONSHIPS? "The one thing that comes to mind in both of those series is my very first wins. My first win came at Memphis in the Truck Series, and then my first win came at Nashville in the Nationwide Series. Those are memories that I have along the way - winning championships in those series. I've got so many memories from the three years I spent in the Truck Series and the two years I spent battling with Harvick and all the other guys for the championships, and battling Kurt in the Truck Series - my teammate - and Mike Wallace, so I have fond memories of both of those series. The first wins, clinching the title, there are a lot of neat things. Probably the Truck Series more than anything, clinching the title at Texas to kind of be put into that elite group that have won a championship in one of the top three NASCAR series. That was a big day."
AND THEN IT MUST HAVE BEEN MEMORABLE WHEN YOU WON YOUR FIRST CUP RACE IN THE JULY DAYTONA RACE. "Yeah, it definitely was. To win your first race ever at Daytona was pretty special as well."
CAN YOU COMPARE YOUR APPROACH TO DRIVING NOW TO WHEN YOU FIRST BROKE INTO CUP? "It's funny because I thought when I got done with the Truck Series and won the championship after being there for three years, when I moved to the Nationwide Series I thought I had an idea of what the racing was gonna be like, and the competition, and I wasn't even close as far as my expectations and what the difference between the Truck and Nationwide Series was, so then after winning the title in the Nationwide Series I thought, 'Well, for sure I've got an idea of what it's gonna be like' because we've been on a lot of the same tracks as the Cup cars and then I felt like I knew what it was gonna be like to compete in the Cup Series. There were gonna be some different drivers, but I had already competed with Matt, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and all those guys had come down to run the Nationwide Series before, but I was so far off when I started my first year in the Sprint Cup Series in '03. From competition to media coverage to all the things that go around the Sprint Cup Series it was pretty overwhelming for me that first season in 2003 and 2004. Then we started winning some races in 2004 and 2005, and we won more than anybody did, so the transition periods have been a lot bigger than what I expected."
SHOULD NASCAR HAVE THE 12 CHASE DRIVERS QUALIFY TOGETHER AS A GROUP? "That could be one consideration. They did that with the 'go or go home guys,' which I think was important because qualifying draw means a lot, but I think that's been part of our sport - the luck of the draw. The more elements you take out of that, the more consistent the sport becomes and the more of a known factor, if you will, because there is such a difference. Drawing for qualifying does make a difference. I'm okay with the way it is, but I would be okay if they said, 'All the chase guys are gonna go just prior to the go or go home guys.' I don't know it would be fair to send us first on the race track, so by grouping us together prior to the 'go or go home cars' I think that would be a reasonable thing to do. I would be okay with that."
HOW CLOSELY DO YOU WATCH THE BOWYER SITUATION AND HAS IT CHANGED THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT'S UNDER YOU? "It has a little bit. I've got a lot of confidence in our Roush Fenway cars and the body guys and engineers. We bring our cars and get them certified and don't change them after we've had them inspected and certified, so I feel confident that when we bring our car back, like this weekend after the win at Kansas, we just got our car back today. Our car passed inspection pretty much the way it was when we brought it over to get certified, but there is that feeling in your stomach when you're in Victory Lane and I was doing interviews. That did cross my mind because anything can happen. The car could be low, a spring could fail or something at the race track, but when they bring it back to the tech center and put it on the fixtures, then from that point I was fairly confident that in a controlled atmosphere we would be okay. You always worry about going through inspection that if something has moved during the race that you have to pass height at the track, you always think that in the back of your head to make sure that everything is okay."
HOW CLOSELY HAVE YOU BEEN FOLLOWING IT? "Actually today, because of the Clint Bowyer controversy, I just came out of meeting 20 minutes ago about our car and how it fit. We get a sheet on measurements on how our car fits the gauges and what-not and we're well within tolerance. I asked the guys, 'Hey, can we be a little bit closer to the edge where these guys have been, but not step over that line?' And certainly we don't want to be penalized, but we want to take advantage of as much as we can so that was the discussion we had today. But we're all paying attention because we know it makes more downforce and the car drives better the closer to the edge that we perform and build the cars."
WOULD YOU RATHER SEE CALIFORNIA KEEP ITS CHASE DATE OR ARE YOU HAPPY TO SEE CHICAGO GET THAT EVENT? "I tell you what, both race tracks are great race tracks for me, so I'm okay with either one. If I could convince them to take Martinsville out and put Chicago or leave California in, then I think I'd be in much better shape. But between California and Chicago they're both great race tracks for us and I really like California as a race track to go to. I enjoy going out west, but I'm good with either one."
YOU, CARL AND MATT HAVE BEEN TEAMMATES FOR SIX YEARS NOW. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE THAT CORE GROUP TOGETHER YEAR AFTER YEAR? "I think it's really important because we rely on each other a lot and we look at each other's setups and notes. I know Carl's driving style and Matt's driving style, so if Carl has this spring or that much wedge, then I know laterally where about I need to be or where I'd like to run my car, so it's good to have that continuity. If I'm off a little bit or Carl is off, he does the same thing - he'll look at our setup and kind of deduct something from that and modify it toward his driving style, so it's good to have that continuity between the teams and we share a lot of information."
-source: ford racing