CHARLOTTE, N.C. (August 6, 2008)-This week's 3M Performance 400 Presented by Bondo media teleconference featured NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford. Courtney McGarry: Good morning everyone and thank you for...
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (August 6, 2008)-This week's 3M Performance 400 Presented by Bondo media teleconference featured NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford.
Courtney McGarry: Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us for the 3M Performance 400 Presented by Bondo teleconference with Greg Biffle today. Greg's had some great success at Michigan International Speedway throughout all series with a total of 4 wins and 1 pole. We are thrilled to have him joining us!
Q: Greg, you have had some wonderful success at Michigan International Speedway, what do you think your key to success at this track has been?
Greg Biffle: Well, I mean it's a really fun racetrack and it puts on really good races. I like racing there and I look forward to it every time. It's a unique race track we race two and three wide on the down force type racetrack. It can become fuel mileage, track strategy, all the things kind of built into one so that's what makes it such a fun place.
Q: My question is actually about your teammate, David Ragan. Could you please assess his progress over the last year, year and a half or so? And what are his chances of getting into the chase this year?
Greg Biffle: I think David has done a really good job. We have been really good at being able to provide a really good platform the way our organization runs now with making sure everyone has really good equipment, great cars, and competitive pit stops and race team stuff. What David has done is taken that ball and ran with it and he has done a good job with getting good finishes, the main thing is finishes that's what is really tough for new guys to end up with they run good periodically though the race, but having good finishes is the biggest thing. They have been able to do that, his chances are making it into the chase, I don't know where he is at in points right now, I know he is close in there, it really depends on how/what kind of races these other guys have, and what kind of races they end up having over the next three or four races. I think he stands a chance, certainly, of getting in. He's one of the guys battling to for a spot. I think he stands a chance, a decent chance, of getting in.
Q: What can be the role of NASACR and Roush Fenway Racing in helping the U.S. companies, Ford obviously in your case, turn things around in this country?
Greg Biffle: Well, I think there are some key things. One thing NASCAR fans, NASCAR obviously has embraced that and helped it, one thing the NASCAR community and fans are good at is embracing the product that is in our sport. It's unmatched like no other.For instance 3M automotive car care products are sponsoring the race next weekend, 3M Performance 400 Presented by Bondo. Fans are loyal to the people that participate in and put on these events, so fans will in turn support that product. At the same time, they will support the brands that are loyal to them. Ford has been in NASCAR for a long, long time and has supported the series, NASCAR and everything.They meet with NASCAR and say "What can we do to make this sport better, what can we do to drive people into our dealerships, work with you, work with the racetracks." You know, I think it's up to the fan to decide and a lot of the American car makers struggle with getting recognized when people think of fuel mileage and small cars. I'll be perfectly honest with you, because we're used to the Pinto, the Vega, all these other small cars that Ford and Chevy made, and Chrysler and Dodge made some small crappy cars, that they made as a fluke or as a response to the gas crisis 20 years ago, or however long ago it was. Well, now they have great cars, now they have some remarkably good cars, and they have better quality than Toyota or Honda and some of the foreign car makers. But they struggle with getting that market share, they actually get better fuel mileage and better quality of cars but they struggle with getting consumers into them.But once they drive them they are completely sold. First time ever, Ford, any of their cars have out sold the F-series truck, nothing in America has out sold the F-series truck, and Ford did it, thank goodness it was Ford with their new small car. They got the Fusion and some of their other small cars. I'm impressed with the Focus is the car with the Microsoft sync and all the stuff, it's an awesome car, it's a really really good car. And that's what we need; we need consumers to look at these brands. And the Focus is a better car then what Toyota and Honda have out on the market and it's hard for people to change their way of thinking.Coke, Pepsi that's the brand you think of a certain mainstream product.
Q: Regarding Carl Edwards and Bob Osborne this past weekend, doesn't that happen a lot in the garage? Do you have any examples of any incidents with you and your crew chief?
Greg Biffle: Absolutely, it's easy to second guess. We sit here every Monday week to week, we can sit down, we can say or Sunday on the airplane on the way home I say "dang it, what if we went back green one lap earlier?" If we would have gone back green, think about it, when we went under caution they said we're going green and then it sprinkled just a little bit and then they called it off and we went another lap and then they said okay we're going green uh no we're not going to go yet they called it off. If we went back green one or two laps earlier the whole complete race would have been different because all of those cars would have not made it, and it would have put us back in the cat bird's seat. It's so easy to say we should have done this, we should have done that. And I am complaining to Erwin, we should have taken two tires instead of four, and gain seven seconds more of track position or put us right were Kasey was finishing top eight or seven or six. So, he's thinking four tires looking at the monitor going you're way faster on four and we've got 20 laps to go, he's doing the math at what's going to be better. That stuff happens all the time, all the time, because that's in the heat of the moment. It's competitive, there's sweat running down your forehead, this is a decision making business that you have to do now.Not always are you going to make the right decisions and you never know what the right decision is until the whole thing unfolds. Bob Osborne didn't know that was the right decision, he was banking on the fact that it was going to start back again and they weren't going to have, that they were going to get some caution laps to clean the track up and like everyone else was. But now if it would have rained out, would that have been the right thing to, pit while you were leading? It's tough and I challenge anybody who thinks they can do a better job or just as good as good to sit along side of them sometime in a race and you know you're sitting there and everything is great then all of a sudden a caution comes out, well what are we going to do? Are we going to window for stop or not stop, two, four, how much longer do we got to go? It's like, man, you got to be on your toes.
Q: Does it make it difference because you're the driver making money ten or more times than the crew chief but he's having to make calls that could win or loose you the race?
Greg Biffle: Um, I don't know if that comes into play because the way, the way you look at it you're a team. You're a relay team, so to speak. One guy's holding the baton and is going to pass it to the next, the same thing with the tire changer and the jack guy. They have to put down the best effort or they are going to cost us the race, too. You know just the same as the crew chief, so there's so many elements to it, that it's not just one guy. You know it's the guy that pop riveted the brake line on back at the shop you know who never comes to the race track. You know if he didn't do it right then you're not going to - you're going to fall out of the race. So it could be down to the crew chief making the call, could be down to me not sliding the tires getting on the pit road, not speeding. Could be the guy missed the lug nut, knocked it off on the ground and he had to pick it back up. There's just - there's so many moving targets in this game that you can't - there isn't one thing that you could point a finger at, I can promise you that.
Q: Just how important is it for you to do well at Michigan next weekend and I know you're very good there. Is there extra pressure coming into that race?
Greg Biffle: Yeah, there really is. You know a couple things is one we haven't won a race this season and you know obviously everybody's trying hard, but we're trying desperately hard every week to get a win this season. And that's - you know we've got our bulls eye on that place. That's one of our best opportunities, our best race tracks that we run at to win at and to run well. On top of that, 3M is sponsoring the race. You know their automotive division product line is sponsoring the race. And that's a huge automotive industry market; you know people are proud of their automobiles and cars in that region. And that's why 3M you know participates in that venue. So yeah, I mean it's important for us to run well there, and plus you know we have five more opportunities to get ourselves locked in this chase.Last weekend was a huge opportunity and we felt like it slipped through our fingers a little bit because of our pit strategy. But you know we think we're going to run good enough at these next events, you know next races that we're going to lock ourselves in, and we feel like a win, if we go somewhere and win, that's really going to solidify us into the chase. You know because that's going to be a boost, that's going to be a 10-point bonus, it's going to be - it's going to make an impact on securing us a spot in that Chase.
Q: Greg, how would you describe your mood at the moment, you know coming into Watkins Glen and then into basically your home track. I mean how do you feel right now?
Greg Biffle: I feel good. I mean I feel really good. I ran that road race at Montreal last weekend, one of the reasons why I was running that is to get ready for this weekend at the Glen. And then coming to Michigan and Bristol, you know those race tracks that we run so good at, you know I'm feeling really optimistic, really good right now.
Q: How do you handicap the chase right now? There was some conversation with Jimmy Johnson yesterday that it might come down to a three man race, and Kyle, Carl, you know and Jimmie Johnson. Now how do you look at it right now if you're studying the numbers?
Greg Biffle: Well I think that it's anybody's game, I mean you can't count anybody out when that deal comes you know, when the Chase starts. Because you know a lot of people, I wouldn't say are saving stuff, but a lot of people have a lot of good cars slated for the Chase. You know how the people run at those particular race tracks that are coming up. I think there's a lot of things that you know that can be a factor, and I certainly wouldn't count out any of the 12, I promise you that make it. Any of those 12 guys are capable of putting together a string of top five, top three finishes that we know, historically, will win the championship, period. You know I mean if you run fifth or fourth or third every race, you know you've got it locked up. So that's not - I'm not saying that's not hard to do, but that wouldn't be hard for one of the 12 guys to pull that, something like that off. And it seems like No. 18 has lost a little steam, a tiny bit. It seems like No. 48's real strong, No. 99's real strong. We've been running right there, we ran in the top five at Pocono and that pit strategy you know didn't work out for us and we ended up thirteenth.So I mean you know I think everybody at that top 12 category is running good enough certainly to be a factor.
Q: And when you say - define saving stuff. Meaning that people are trying stuff now that maybe they're not performing quite like they would if they weren't testing a few things, or that they have things already prepared that they are holding out for the Chase?
Greg Biffle: Well I would say you know maybe they've got some really good cars that they ran well with earlier in the year; they you know were taking this car to Texas for you know the Chase race. And we've learned a little bit about this and that and they feel like they're going to be better going back to some of these places for the second time I guess is what I'm thinking. And you know that may not show up at The Glen or you know or it could possibly show up at Michigan. But people are always learning and always you know getting prepared for that Chase. You know there's guys that are going to be in there that are getting the best prepared as they can be to make that run at the title.
Q: But do you actually mean people are saving stuff do you think?
Greg Biffle: No, I wouldn't say saving stuff. I mean maybe you know I would say more than saving, I meant getting organized, and maybe saving a car or two. You know we're going to - or being prepared. We're going to take this car, we won at Indy with, and we're planning on taking it here to this racetrack in the Chase race. So are they saving it for that? Well I guess that's kind of what I guess I'm saying is they're getting prepared and slated for you know their 10-ace Chase to the title I guess is what I was kind of referring to, not you know we've got something up our sleeve and we're going to keep it in the tool box. More than just being 100% prepared for that and you know having cars slated out for different venues and you know working on test.You know we just got done testing Iowa.You're just constantly trying to be better and better and better, which that can show up a couple weeks down the road you know when we maybe race Richmond or wherever. You know we think we're learning about stuff, so I think people are - what I'm saying is I wouldn't count out any of the 12 guys, it's not a three man chase I don't think.
Q: Is the Chase still the way to go, or do you see that perhaps there are even more things that could be done to make it better, or is at as good as it is?
Greg Biffle: I mean I think the Chase format is great. I mean I think it's perfect. You know it creates a lot of excitement getting to the Chase. You know people have to work extremely hard to get there, to get in the Chase. And then I think it works really well the way it's formatted out and the bonus points for wins and everything NASCAR's done, I just - I couldn't see how to make it any better. And I'll have to admit, I was not a fan of it in the beginning. I was like oh, I don't like that. But you know I mean technically right now, the opportunity to win the title for me under the old system is gone. You know I'm racing for - you know I'm eighth in points so I'm right now I'm racing to try and make the top five of points which is a stretch. So with the Chase format it gives me an opportunity to win the title. You know and so I have to admit that in the beginning I was skeptical of it, but I think it's great.
Q: What kind of feedback if any have you gotten from marketing folks relative to whether the COT body design enhances or hinders sales. In other words, do people identify with that body style as something then that they're going to go out and buy?
Greg Biffle: I don't know how the - I don't really think it's, I've often thought about that as well, you know what car, you know signifies what people are going to go out and buy. But I don't necessarily think that that's true, because let's take a few examples for fact that McDonald's sponsors a car, or Subway. That doesn't particularly mean that I'm going to go and choose that particular item on the menu that they have. I'm going to be a fan of that product, you know same with Tide or any other type of sponsor. So I think that it kind of caters to Ford loyalty people. I'm a Ford fan, I've got a Ford truck, I drive a Ford truck. I go to the racetrack, I like to see the Ford cars win. I don't know that the - some of the fans will say I like those cars; I'm going to go buy a Ford Fusion. Well obviously it doesn't have a racing engine in it. It doesn't have the same tires we have; it doesn't have the same interior. It's got air conditioning and power windows. So you know it - the look of the car is somewhat similar because it has the three bar design grill and it's got some of these other features. And the profile of the car is the same, so you know for them wanting to go buy a Fusion, it looks similar but I don't think they expect it to be - you know to match up so to speak. You know because the old car had a spoiler which they don't offer a Taurus with any kind of spoiler. So, I more think it's the Ford family I would say of support. You know I'm a Ford guy or I like these Ford cars and trucks. That's kind of the way I perceive it, now I'm just one person out of millions that watch these races each weekend. So you know how a consumer would look at it, you know but that's kind of the feedback or that's the thought process I think that I see.
Courtney McGarry: Well if there's no further questions, I guess we'll let Greg go. And Greg we thank you for joining us, and thank everyone for joining us on the line and we hope you continue your great success at Michigan.
Greg Biffle: Thank you, I hope to win there this next weekend.