Biffle leads Ford drivers in Atlanta qualifying, starts on front row

Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Jack Roush
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Jack Roush

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE – “It was quite a bit better than practice was. It sort of hurts, though, to qualify second like we did today. You ask any driver after qualifying and they could give you 100 reasons where they made a mistake or where they could do better. I got down in the middle of one and two and just hesitated to push the gas down. I thought the car was loose and sliding and I waited and waited and kind of eased it down and thought, ‘Oh man, I’m gonna have to run a second lap.’ I was thinking I was gonna have to run a second lap to make up for it, and I came by and he told me we were on the front row with an .86. You just wish you could do it over again, but it was a great lap and put us on the front row. It’s funny how things happen, how tight the times are, and it must have been how I drove it down in the corner, and I got a really good three and four, so that definitely helped us. That gives me confidence we have a good car for Sunday.”

HOW BIG IS IT TO START UP FRONT HERE? ON THE BROADCAST THEY SAID NOBODY HAS WON A RACE HERE STARTING WORSE THAN 11TH SINCE OCTOBER OF 2003. “That’s big. I saw that, they said top three rows or something, but I didn’t know it was 11th. That is important. Typically you have a good car if you qualify up front here and that’s what I was saying, I feel like I could have actually been a fair amount better than I was, so that gives me a lot of confidence for Sunday that I do have a good car. There’s two kinds of qualifying, if you’re hanging on by the skin of your teeth, and you just sneak out a lap, or did you leave a little out there and could have done a little better, and it was the latter of the two. Normally, that’s not the case but it was here, so a lot of confidence for Sunday, especially when it comes to track position and pit road selection. We were talking in the trailer about how picking on pit road is gonna be important because it’s gonna be four tires pretty much every time here, so that is a different strategy for pit road.”

DO YOU PLAN TO MAKE ANY CHANGES FOR THE RACE? “With practice tomorrow we’ll probably be close to what we were today, but it could be a little bit different tomorrow, especially with more rubber on the race track. We’ll just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.”

ARE YOU AWARE OF WHICH GUYS ARE ON THE BUBBLE OR WHAT GUYS NEED GOOD RACES TO EITHER MAKE THE CHASE OR STAY IN CONTENTION? “I don’t know that specifically. I know Carl and the 39 car and a few of those guys are tight on the points, but I probably don’t know as much as I should know as far as things like Tony trying to take his bonus points, of course, into the Chase and what-not. I’m gonna try and focus on keeping the 16 car up front and, really, a win here is what we’re after. Besides that, I’m kind of like everyone else, it doesn’t really matter if we finish in the top 10 or top five. We really just need to win for the bonus points.”

HOW DO YOU APPROACH A WEEKEND DIFFERENTLY IF YOU’RE QUALIFYING ON A FRIDAY VERSUS A SATURDAY? “I’m probably a bad person to ask about the schedule because I have a pretty strong opinion on it. The schedule that we have here this weekend is the schedule we should have all year long – absolutely, bar-none, without question because, first of all, when we have the two practices – all of our race practice today – we can’t take advantage of our tire allotments and we don’t know what the track is gonna be like tomorrow, and we start off in race trim, or some guys will elect to start in qualifying trim and run just a few laps and then switch over. But when you finish on the race track in q-trim, you know three hours later or two hours later or five hours later, you’re gonna qualify pretty much in the same conditions that you have set your car up for. Today, in fact, is quite a bit different because we did our qualifying practice at 2:30-3:00 when it was very hot out and it’s a lot cooler now. This race track changes a lot. A lot of other places aren’t as drastic, so now we can forget about qualifying and focus tomorrow solely on how we’re gonna win the race on Sunday – focus on the car, focus on what we need to do, and, in fact, some more strategy goes into that. If you’re starting 20th versus starting second, you may want to start your car a little bit different than you would starting second. You’re gonna want your car a little freer if you’re starting 20th because you’re gonna be back in traffic and you need to get your car to turn versus starting on the front row, where you may want it a hair different. I just personally really like this schedule. It works well for coming here for the weekend and getting things planned out. You don’t have to switch into qualifying trim to get a fast lap in the first practice because that seeds you. We’re switching back and forth two times or three times from race to qualifying trim when we qualify on Saturday. It just doesn’t seem like it’s as good when we just make one lap on Saturday and that’s the only thing we do.”

CASEY MEARS – No. 13 Geico Ford Fusion – “It’s been the roughest day we’ve had in a long time. There are a lot of different concepts going on right now. We kind of went down a road at Michigan with a certain direction and it didn’t really seem to apply here, so we had to bail on that about three-quarters of the way through practice and go back to what we think is something a little bit more basic. We didn’t really have time to tune it, but the guys did a good job. That’s the best it’s been all day. I think we’re going in the right direction and I’m glad we’ve got the practice tomorrow to refine it.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 House-Autry Ford Fusion – “We’ve just kind of fought loose all day. We’ve got House-Autry on board and I think the car looks great, but we were just too loose. You’ve got to be able to get to the gas and go here, especially in qualifying trim, and we just haven’t been able to do that today. We made it better and made some gains, but still need to be better. We’re gonna go to work on it and get it better for tomorrow.”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Camping World/Good Sam Ford Fusion – “That was a really bad run, probably our worst qualifying of the year. That kind of bums me out a little bit, but we’re in the show and we’ll race really well. I wasn’t very good on entry. I couldn’t drive it in as hard as I wanted to and I couldn’t see. I know it’s a bad excuse, but I couldn’t see in turn one at all with the sun in my face. Everybody else is dealing with it too, but I just missed my marks down there on both laps and I couldn’t get back to the gas because the car was just way too free. Unfortunately, we missed it on that one. We missed the cloud, missed the setup a little bit and I missed my line, so when you have three things like that go wrong it’s not the best day, but we’re in the show and we can go race now.”

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 9 DeWalt Ford Fusion – “It was OK. We struggled in practice and got a bad draw and we’re gonna pay the price for that, but I’m proud of my team. We laid down a decent lap there. It wasn’t awesome, but decent. This is a really tough one-and-a-half mile race track. It doesn’t feel like the traditional one-and-a-half mile because the track is so old with low grip and it’s rough. You’ve got to really mandhandle the car around there. There’s no easy way to get around a lap, but I feel good about it. I feel good where we’re at and we’ll start somewhere in the front half of the field for Sunday’s race and we’ll get after it and try to get ourselves another win.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 Glory Foods Ford Fusion – “That’s a pick-up from practice. Anytime you can pick-up some from practice that’s a solid lap. This is a fun place to qualify. It can be a frustrating place to race sometimes, but our Glory Foods team did a nice job working on the car today in qualifying practice and we’ll certainly have a top 20 start. Anytime you can see the leaders when we take the green flag on Sunday is a good thing, but we’ll have our work cut out for us. I’m looking forward to a fun race here.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 AdvoCare Ford Fusion – “The car feels really good. I missed my marks there in turn one. The sun was really, really bad and was glaring in my face real bad, so I missed turn one a little bit. I’m sorry about that because I felt like we had a car capable of getting the pole right there and I just missed my marks in turn one, so I think our car is really good in race trim and we’ll go from there.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Subway Ford Fusion – “I just got really tight. We tried to adjust for the rising speeds and was just too tight. I think we’ve got a really good race car and, fortunately, it’s 500 miles and we can pass here, so it will be good.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Ford EcoBoost Ford Fusion – ”The car was pretty good. The guys made great adjustments and we had a lot of grip. I kind of messed it up. We were a little too tight. I kind of scrapped turn one and two a little bit and thought I did OK in three and four. I wish I had one more try at it since we were that close. We’re not gonna be on the pole, but it looks like we’re gonna be in the top five. If I’m second or fourth, I don’t really care that much because it’s more about the finishing position. We really struggled a lot in practice today, so I hope we can find a balance for it tomorrow and hit on something that will drive good for a long run.”

Source: Ford Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Jack Roush
Teams Roush Fenway Racing
Article type Qualifying report
Tags almirola, ambrose, atlanta, bayne, biffle, edwards, ford, gilliland, kenseth, mears, ragan, roush