GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st) "Certainly everybody has talked about the track is really fast and it's the same old Darlington. It will bite you just the second you let your guard down and even faster now with the speeds...
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st)
"Certainly everybody has talked about the track is really fast and it's the same old Darlington. It will bite you just the second you let your guard down and even faster now with the speeds being two seconds a lap faster than we're normally going. You can get in trouble in a hurry and I've been close a couple of times to having that stripe and the thing about it is the stripe has gotten a lot meaner because of the speed we're running. It's knocking the bumpers off and flatten the right side a little bit, so you just have to be careful. I'm gonna try to run a smart race tomorrow night. It was a great lap. (Greg) Erwin and all the guys have done a great job getting ready for this event. All through this testing we've played it really smart and have worked on our car and got our car driving really good. I'm just extremely happy with it in race trim and can't wait for tomorrow night."
IS IT ANY SURPRISE YOU'RE ON THE POLE -- A GUY WHO ENJOYS RACING HERE AND WON RACES HERE?
"Yeah, it's kind of weird because the place is so different now than it has been in the past -- that we're still have able to be successful here says a lot. I'm really, really happy and excited with how hard our guys have worked back at the race shop -- our engineering group and actual team that comes to the race track, it's been a big effort to try and get our cars fast. It's easy to drive and look like a hero and put your car on the front row when it drives really good, and I went out there and it drove really good, but we'll see about tomorrow night. I'm excited. I can't wait."
DID THE FACT YOU WERE PART OF THE TIRE TEST HELP YOU GET UP TO SPEED?
"It certainly was helpful getting up to speed. We recognized that in the first and second practice session when we were near the top of the sheet, but we were really surprised to see some of those other cars right at the top of the sheet, in fact faster than us. All of the Gibbs cars were faster than we were, so it didn't take them long to get the track under their belt. I think if you look at the last practice session, we're somewhere in the high twenties on speed and we really didn't get a good crack at a qualifying effort. We had all that practice and still came up short because we switched over with about 30 minutes to go and then a lot of people had accidents and they closed the track two or three times and never got going again, so that was my first attempt at a qualifying run since we've been here -- that lap -- so I was a little nervous going off into one. But I knew I had a great car and I knew it was gonna stick, and once I got the feel of it -- about halfway around one and two, I knew that three and four was gonna be a good corner as well."
IS PATIENCE GOING TO BE THE KEY TOMORROW AND HAS EVERYTHING YOU LEARNED ABOUT THIS TRACK OUT THE WINDOW?
"Yeah, it really has. One thing that's gonna be interesting and exciting tomorrow night -- keep in mind that with all this practice we've done, we haven't been side-by-side yet in a group of cars. So when that green flag flies tomorrow night, it's gonna be the first time that we've gone around here at speed side-by-side 10 deep or 20 deep. Track position is super-important, I think, and I'm thankful that I was able to get my car at the front of the field to start this race. I think a lot of people fear whether we're gonna see a lot of passing or not. I think you're gonna see some passing, but it is gonna be difficult to get side-by-side. You're gonna see cars slow down a bunch when they do get side-by-side. You'll see a guy probably close in half a straightaway in a lap or two if he's having to fight with another car. When you get beside another car, your speed will slow down so fast. You can go from running a 28-flat to a 28.60 just by having to slow up a little bit or not running the line you want to, so that's gonna make it really interesting tomorrow night and tonight for the Nationwide cars."
ARE YOU CAREFUL ON WHO YOU COME UP ON AND WHO IS COMING UP ON YOU?
"Yeah, you really do and the problem is these cars and tires that we're on, and a new surface like this, is sometimes a little bit unpredictable because sometimes you enter the corner and it will kind of take off sliding. I've actually slowed down and decided to run the bottom just to see how the car handles and I almost thought I was gonna hit the fence, and I entered the corner a lot slower than I normally would, so it does weird stuff. It is gonna be difficult to be side-by-side, but when they throw the green flag, there's gonna be 43 of us side-by-side and there's gonna be passing. But for guys to try to race each other lap after lap side-by-side, that's probably not gonna be the smartest move you could make."
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A WEEKEND WHERE THIS MANY GUYS HAVE GOTTEN INTO THE WALL?
"The fatality rate is fairly high. I walked through the garage and everybody I'm parked around the side is wiped off a little bit, but that's the nature of Darlington, for one. Two, a brand new surface and a brand new tire -- it's gonna happen. There are two ways to look at it -- it's almost good that it happens because then you know where the limit is and you know where the edge is and you can say to yourself, 'Well, I'm not gonna do that again,' or, 'I'm not gonna get that high,' or 'I know what I did wrong,' and you learn from it. If you do that in practice, you can learn from it and fix your car and not do it again. I don't know if it puts the guys that don't have a stripe at a disadadvantage necessarily, but I kind of know where the limit is because when I tested here I had my eyes covered a couple of times and came out of it OK, so I kind of know where that limit was in tire testing. But it is surprising to see all of those guys. You know it's tough when the 48 wrecks twice. That just tells you how tough it is. This place is tough. It's always gonna be tough and it'll never get any easier."
ARE TIRES NO FACTOR NOW AND WILL THE OLD CHARACTERISTICS COME BACK?
"I wish I knew the answer to that. We tested Charlotte the other night and I feel like the track is starting to give up grip a little bit and the car is starting to slide a little bit and it's kind of halfway predictable. I think if we go one step softer on the left side tire for Charlotte, I think it's starting to get back into that normal race track -- the way it used to drive -- so that's good for this facility, which is similar pavement and a similar surface and a similar tire. We have the same right side tire as Charlotte here, so I think with years to come -- I really don't know. I don't know if tire wear will ever be an issue like it was before the re-pave. I can't answer that question because the technology and the pavement has gotten so much better that I don't know if the surface will end up looking the same as it did, and that is what will dictate tire wear is how the surface looks."
-credit: ford racing