Transcripts: Daytona 500 Post-Race News Conference February 14, 2010 An interview with DALE EARNHARDT, JR., - 2nd GREG BIFFLE - 3rd KERRY THARP: We're going to roll into our post race press conference for the 52nd running of the Daytona 500.
Transcripts: Daytona 500 Post-Race News Conference
February 14, 2010
An interview with
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., - 2nd
GREG BIFFLE - 3rd
KERRY THARP: We're going to roll into our post race press conference for the 52nd running of the Daytona 500. Joining us is Greg Biffle. He finished third in today's race. Driver of the No. 16 3M Ford.
Greg, certainly a lot of emotions running out there, a lot of hard racing, a super finish. Tell us about it.
GREG BIFFLE: It was a great day for the 3M Ford Fusion. Best car really I've had here at Daytona in quite some time. Probably best car since I sat on the pole here in 2004. Car drove really, really good.
There was the middle part of the race where I lost a little track position, but ran in the top six the entire day, once I got there, top eight. Pit stops were phenomenal. Again, my 3M guys, pit bulls, I gained five spots on one, then gained three on the other to take the lead off of pit road, beat the 33 out. Unbelievable what they did.
There at the end, the restarts, I guess I couldn't get anybody to push me. Seemed like maybe they were spinning their tires on the restart or what. The outside lane kept getting a run. Those guys were better at getting to the throttle. Truex gave me a huge shove down the back. We broke away. I was just hoping we could get to the white flag. I was half a corner from winning the Daytona 500.
You know, I pushed Jamie. Spun his tires on the restart. The final restart. I was able to push him easy till we got straight, then continued to push him all the way to turn one. First time in Speedweeks I pushed a guy in a corner down in turn one and two, trying to keep him straight, trying to push him around the corner, then got locked on him down the backstretch, then shoved by. I feel good about helping Jamie get clear, get out front.
Wish I would have waited till the backstretch to make my run. I had a huge run. I couldn't clear him, couldn't get by him. I tried him on the frontstretch. Gave Junior and all those guys a bunch of opportunity to get back up beside us.
I'm just real happy I finished third going to California; happy had an Iopportunity to win the Daytona 500.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for Greg Biffle.
Q: Greg, Jamie was talking in Victory Lane about how you gave him a great push going down the back. Obviously you were giving him that push from the start/finish line trying to get by him yourself. What do you think when you hear guys talk about, They gave me a great push, as if you were trying to do him some favor, and were you down the backstretch?
GREG BIFFLE: I was. I was trying to get us both out front so I would have a shot at making a move on him on the last lap. I just wanted to get clear. You know, second place in the Daytona 500 isn't too shabby either. You know, certainly not like winning.
That's the best spot to try to win from, is following the leader, you know. I was glad I was out of that gaggle of cars. When we're three-wide, people are slamming each other, then we're in big trouble. But if we can get singled out, we can push out there. That's where you get your best opportunity to try and get pushed by him.
I just made my move too soon. I tried it down the front. It was just a mistake on my part probably. I should have waited till down the back. I should have pushed him down one and two again, then pushed him down the back and tried it on the short chute.
KERRY THARP: We're also joined now by tonight's race runner-up, that is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He drives the No. 88 AMP Energy National Guard Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.
Dale, you went from 10th on that final 'green-white-checkered' to almost claiming victory. Your thoughts about how things unfolded.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I don't really remember much about it.
GREG BIFFLE: I don't either (laughter).
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: It was all a blur. I was just going wherever they weren't. I really don't enjoy being that aggressive. But if there was enough room for the radiator to fit, you just kind of held the gas down and prayed for the best.
It was a lot of fun. It went by so fast, I couldn't really tell you the process. But I just remember going down the back straightaway and getting in between Greg, and I don't remember who was on the outside of me. We all kind of wiggled through that whole deal. Jamie got away from us. I didn't even know where I was. Then we got into three. I was counting in my head how many laps we ran. I knew we were coming to the checkered, I was running second, this is awesome, but it kind of sucks at the same time.
It was frustrating to come that close. But, hell, we were running 22nd at the first 'green-white-checkered'.
GREG BIFFLE: A little improvement (laughter).
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I feel pretty good. I'm happy for my team. They worked so hard. Awesome engine. Several engines that were great this week. I'm just proud of the whole AMP Energy National Guard team. They made a good call at the end to put tires on. Everybody had 35 laps on their tires. That just made everybody with tires, even right set, made them look like Superman. So it was a good call for them to make that choice. We weren't going anywhere otherwise.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Dale or Greg.
Q: Dale, I know Daytona doesn't really have a lot to do with how the rest of the season goes, but is it nice to get a boost? Does this kind of dull the financial pain from yesterday at all?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, no, nothing will dull that unless someone has a $600,000 check they want to give me (laughter).
GREG BIFFLE: Sorry I hit you in the floor pan.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: I didn't see you.
GREG BIFFLE: I was looking at your feet.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: That was a mess. It's great for our team to have a finish good anywhere no matter what. I was happy. I'm happy for the finish and it validates the changes they made and the hard work they've done over the off-season to get better.
You know, I just hope we can keep it up. This was a little bit of a handling race. We didn't have too bad a racecar, so...
You can say that this is plate racing, but it really wasn't today, most of the week anyways. It was more of a who could handle the best.
I don't know. I feel good about our chances going into the next couple weeks.
Q: Dale, you went from 22nd to 2nd. What are your initial thoughts on the change of the rule?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: The rules are the rules. We all sort of have to race by 'em, whatever they are. I think the change is coming. They made a lot of good choices on what to do to sort of put the racing back into the drivers' hands. There was a ton of bumping out there. I never once felt like anybody was looking over my shoulder, you know. I mean, everybody took care of everybody as far as I know.
At the end, you got to go. People are doing some things they typically won't do. I never once felt like I had NASCAR looking over my shoulder while I was doing it. That made it a lot more easier for me to just form my game plan and hope it worked.
The plate was awesome. I like going faster. You know, hopefully when we start racing these things with the wing, it will change something else that everybody else will like. I don't know what it will be. I think the three 'green-white-checkers' will take more time. It's kind of like a basketball game, last two minutes, all the timeouts, who is going to win, who is going to win, just takes over. That's just part of it.
I just have to get used to it. I like getting it over with and done. We'll see how it goes.
Q: Greg, with so many restarts there at the end, this was actually the Daytona 520, as it turns out, were you getting the sense that you were never going to be able to get through two laps without something happening?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, it seemed. You know, I was just hoping something would happen when I was out front and I took the white is what I was hoping for. It did, where I was out front, in a regular 'green-white-checkered' I would have won the race here today, tonight.
But I'm with Junior. I think maybe two attempts or something at the 'green-white-checkered'. Three might be a little excessive. We kind of got caught because the one attempt wasn't considered a 'green-white-checkered' because it was under the normal amount of laps and the restart was under the normal. That kind of made it extraordinary. I think we could have done it two more times. It was sort of unusual the way it happened here tonight.
Yeah, I mean, a couple times you need to try and get it to finish under green.
Q: Dale, as far as the second time that the track came up, didn't you say you hit the hole and it gave your car a pretty good lick the second time they patched it?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Well, everybody was hitting it. I never saw the hole till they -- they threw the caution out, said there was a hole. I didn't see it. They patched it. We went back out. Then I see it. We were driving through it. Eventually we removed everything they put in there, then we started hitting it if you weren't careful.
But you just tried to be careful. You could go below it or straddle it if you were in the bottom groove. Every once in a while you'd get crossed up or whatever and have to drive through it. Sounded like it was tearing the jack stud off the right side. But it was probably banging the pipes a little bit on my car. I know a couple guys were hitting the trailer arm mounts. That's probably what started it in the first place.
They filled it back in. I don't know. You know, if you ran over it, you felt it. I don't know what else to tell you. It wasn't like a big issue there at the end. I don't even remember it. During those 'green-white-checkered's, there's so much else going on, you don't even remember it.
Q: Greg, here you are leading, heading to what should be the end of the race after the first 'green-white-checkered', then the crash behind you. Did your heart start to sink thinking, This could have been my moment?
GREG BIFFLE: Yes, I was thinking, Why do I have to be the first candidate after the rule change to get the guy that didn't get the win?
You know, it's just the way it is. Like Junior said, we got to race by the rules. That's what they've determined that we're going to do. We would have been fine if a couple of the guys on the restarts wouldn't have spun their tires. We got a better push. Every time I got going there, nobody was behind me. Then Jamie, you know, spun his tires.
But, you know, that's the way it is. We got to go by the rules. Yeah, I wish I was out there spraying some champagne right now.
Q: Greg, I know you're disappointed, but at the same time, your buddy Jamie won. Talk about everything that he went through last year. I'm sure you're happy for him.
GREG BIFFLE: I'm so happy for him. I went straight to Victory Lane after I got done with my interviews. I felt like I was a big part of getting him up there. He spun his tires like crazy. I was against his bumper all the way through second gear, third gear, and fourth gear. I pushed him across one and two, which I hadn't pushed anybody all night. I just really eased his bumper and stayed locked on him. I was able to stay against him down the backstretch and we just took off.
It was pretty cool. I feel like I'm one of the guys that helped him get his first Daytona 500. You know, I was trying to get out front. Like I said, I think I really made a mistake by trying too early. I maybe should have stayed behind him till maybe going down the back or something. But I'm really happy for him.
Continued in part 2