Charlotte: Biffle - Ford Thursday interview

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion, will have a new crew chief when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series goes to Dover next weekend as Greg Erwin replaces Pat Tryson. Biffle spoke about the change after Friday's Cup practice ...

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion, will have a new crew chief when the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series goes to Dover next weekend as Greg Erwin replaces Pat Tryson. Biffle spoke about the change after Friday's Cup practice session.

GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CREW CHIEF CHANGE? "It's pretty difficult for me. I didn't have a real problem. Yeah, the performance was not where it needs to be, but I think the moral of the story here is that the team wasn't being operated the way that Jack wanted it operated, meaning when we were faltering a little bit on pit stops and weren't fast enough, he wanted us to make the change and do something about us. I say us -- Pat, me, or the team or whatever. As he dissected more and more of the stuff he didn't feel like we were where we needed to be with personnel. He wanted to see some changes made and I just think maybe there weren't enough changes quick enough and Jack was unhappy with that."

SUCH AS? "Fourteen-and-a-half second pit stops aren't getting it done."

DOES PAT GET BLAMED FOR THAT? "You're in charge. What you need is you've got to change your guys. You've got to change the jack guy, you've got to change the tire changer. You guys have got to practice. Our guys weren't practicing enough, I guess. I don't know. These are all the things and the reasoning behind why we're changing to a new guy because I don't think the team was operated the way that Jack wanted to see it run and our performance wasn't there.

"If our performance was there, then that would have carried us. But Richmond is a perfect example. We ran extremely well. We had a top five car. I passed the 48 car -- two runs I passed the 48 car and he won the race. We had a bad pit stop and lost four spots. Twenty laps later I got a few spots back and we had another bad pit stop and lost more spots. Then on the second lap of the restart we get crashed by the 66 car because we're back behind running 14th or 13th. That's not acceptable."

DID YOU VOICE COMPLAINTS ABOUT PAT? "I didn't have a problem with Pat at all. I didn't want the change, but in order to have the support of the company and to better my opportunities in my career going forward this is what needed to be done."

COULD YOU AND PAT BE TOGETHER AGAIN SOMEWHERE ELSE? "Yes, you never know, but I've got to be a team player. I have to be honest with you, I run my own program. I'm not at the shop everyday. I'm not there everyday. I don't know what the problems are. We get to the race track and we're working on it. The guys are thrashing on the car, we're doing whatever, we go out, we race and we leave. Then I show up for a meeting on Tuesday to debrief the last race and that's all I see. That's the only things I touch and feel and put my hands on. Now when the guys are practicing pit stops, I don't have a clue. Or when they're loading the truck, are we the last team to get our car loaded on the truck? I don't know. I'm already at the track or I'm at an appearance somewhere, so I don't know about all those things. Somebody is better suited to make that decision than me. I certainly can't make that decision. Yeah, I'm on Pat about the pit stops. The thing is you have to have team morale and you've got to build these guys up. I never say a word on the radio about a pit stop because I don't want them to feel pressure. Sometimes when there's major pressure I'll say, 'Man, what happened guys. Did we drop a lugnut or slip and fall?' Let's face it, those guys are trying their hardest. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake, but I don't raise Cain and complain and scream at them on the radio during the race on a bad pit stop because that ain't gonna fix it. What fixes it is positive reinforcement like, 'Give us a good, solid stop next time.' The whole change is change that engineering and Jack and everybody wanted to make and felt like it would make our team better. If they feel like they're making the team better, that's what I want. I want our team to be the best it can be and if that's what they feel is necessary, then that's what has to be done. Would I have raced with Pat the rest of the season? Yeah, I would have. Would we have won some races? Yeah, you bet we would have won some races. Would we be in the same situation 10 races from now or 15? That was everybody's fear I guess."

CAN YOU COMPARE THIS SEASON TO '05? WHAT WAS GOING RIGHT THEN VS. WHAT'S GOING WRONG NOW? "The thing is the cars are tremendously different between now and '05. The tires are completely different. The way that we do things are completely different. Those notes and what we did, you can just shred all that stuff. It means nothing. Technology has changed. Back then we were working on getting a quarter-inch or something like that for travel and now we're trying to get 50-thousandths. All this tire data -- the tires are completely different -- so all that stuff doesn't work anymore and you've got to figure it out. If you can't test, you can't figure it out. We can't test anywhere, really. It's hard to because we don't have tires and it's just hard to do that."

THIS ISN'T THE COT. "No, it's the regular cars. In '05, we were OK. We slipped toward the end of the season in '05. We didn't win a race past the 15th race of the season, except for the last race of the season, so we knew we weren't as strong as we needed to be. Then '06 rolled around and what we were doing wasn't winning races anymore, so you've got to start searching and just looking and trying and that's where we've been ever since then, really, is trying to get back and trying to get back what's working and winning races. We've been close. We had a good run at Atlanta. We got wrecked but we were coming on the leaders. We had a good car. I don't know if we would have won, but we certainly had a good car and at some other places. We've run good in that COT. At Bristol we had a good car. At Richmond we had a great car. At Darlington we were so-so.

"We would have been top 10, but Kurt Busch knocked us out of the way with 10 to go or something and I ended up 15th. Our performance hasn't been terrible. It's been below standard a little bit, but if we wouldn't have got wrecked in Atlanta by the 00, and if we wouldn't have got wrecked by the 66, we'd be in the chase right now 12th in points. We're 15th right now, I think, or we're right there, so we're not that far off."

JACK WAS COMPLAINING ABOUT THE TESTING AND MATT SAID HE'S WANTED TO TEST FOR A WHILE. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? "I don't know anything about that. Those are the types of business that I'm not in. That's the crew chief's responsibility. Whatever Pat was doing was what he was doing. The crew chief has to watch out for his team and the future of the organization at the same time. He has to kind of have a plan. The crew chief's responsibilities are real global these days and to be perfectly honest with you, the car chief is the crew chief. He's the one over there working on the car, wrenching on it, making sure it's right, perfect, it travels, and Pat lost his guy. Pat's car chief is gone. We brought a guy up, a mechanic, and I think that hurt us a lot. I'm not saying that the guy we've got now isn't gonna be a good guy as we work him in there, but the problem is we lost that key guy. So technically Pat lost his crew chief. He's the car chief on the 26 now."

HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU TYPICALLY TESTED? "Just the NASCAR tests. I take that back, I apologize, we went to Rockingham and tested. We went to Rockingham with the COT car."

WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEST MORE? "Everybody wants to test every week. I want to test Friday on our day off. Where are we racing next? Dover? I want to test Dover on Friday with 10 sets of tires. Everybody wants to do that, but do we have the money? Do we have the cars? Do we have the people? You'd have to pick a different track and it just takes a lot to be able to do that, but everyone wants to do that. We'd like to have a day off, too, but at the same time it's our livelihood and we know we have to go and test. Matt and Carl went to Milwaukee this week as part of starting out our testing. That was our first test of what we've got going and then I don't know if I'm going by myself or not, but I'm going to do the next test. We're gonna take two cars and go start from where they left off and keep working on it. So we're there, but I don't know what that has to do with Pat. I guess it does, but I don't know. I hate to be caught in the middle of it because I just want the best for me and the 16 team and the group and the sponsors for winning races. However we have to do that, we have to do that and I don't know what that is. That's why they pay me to drive."

WILL THIS HAVE ANY EFFECT ON RENEGOTIATING? "No, I'm still committed to doing what we've got to do. It's frustrating, but I haven't even worked with my new crew chief yet. I won't do that until Dover this next week. We've got a fill-in guy with Chris Andrews and it isn't going well right now, I mean the first practice session of the weekend. It's not going very well."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO DEI LATELY? "I haven't talked to them. They may have contacted some folks or some agencies that have tried to contact us, but I haven't spoken with them directly, but I couldn't say for sure."

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE BACK IN A BUILDING SITUATION LIKE '05? "That's hard. It's frustrating, but I'm kind of an entrepreneur type of person, so I'm dedicated to whatever it takes to get the job done. I don't care what I have to do. If it's being at the shop everyday working with Greg and Chris and all the engineering guys, I'm gonna free up my schedule a little bit so I can get in there and be with them to bridge that gap and get us up to speed a little bit quicker. Maybe we go do a test after the Dover race, schedule something. It would be kind of unrealistic to go before, but see if we can get some more time together right away. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. That's who they said my guy is and I'm gonna do everything I can. I'm gonna go to dinner with him Monday night, go the shop Tuesday and do whatever I've got to do. I'm committed to doing what it takes in this business to be successful. I don't care what it is, I'm willing to do it."

-credit: ford racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Greg Erwin