Daytona 500: Biffle - Friday media visit

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center Friday to discuss Sunday's Daytona 500. THOUGHTS ON THE YEAR. "My thoughts right at this second are...

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center Friday to discuss Sunday's Daytona 500.

THOUGHTS ON THE YEAR. "My thoughts right at this second are hopefully that before Speedweeks is over I get to finish a race is what I'm thinking about right now. We've had a few off-road excursions so far and these cars aren't nearly as good in the grass as they are on the pavement. We've had some fast cars so far and they're driving very well, so that's definitely positive news for us, but we have been involved in a few incidents and hopefully we've got them all behind us now. I'm looking forward to this season. We tested well at Atlanta and we're ready for California and Vegas -- some of my favorite race tracks to go to. Like I said, we're running fairly well here. I'm pretty happy with the way the cars is driving. We're certainly still off a little bit on speed and driving ability compared to some of the cars around us and that showed in the second race as well with Carl's race. He ran ninth or so or eighth and you can just see that we're not quite as good as our competition. The guys are still continuing to work as hard as they can on handling and pure speed, so I'm pretty optimistic that we're gonna get off to a good start."

HOW DO YOU SEE THE RACE UNFOLDING AND WHO ARE THE FAVORITES? "I think it looks like the Gibbs camp and the Hendrick camp are obviously in the lead on restrictor plate cars at this point. It's pretty clear. They qualified up front and watching the 18 and the 11 up front yesterday, they're just in a league of their own with the 5 car. It just doesn't look like anyone can run with them. Those are gonna be the cars that are gonna be tough to beat in the 500. It always gets mixed up with Kevin winning the Bud Shootout. It just depends on being in the right place at the right time if you get the right push, you're right up there. I think it could be any number of guys, but I'd have to say that those guys look the best as far as just pure speed and drivability. I think it's gonna be an exciting race. I think that the car seems to be a little bit harder to drive, meaning it doesn't quite have as much grip in the race track like it does at Talladega and that's just Daytona, but there's a little different tire as well, which is probably giving the car a little instability and making it a little harder to push and be right in there."

DID YOU EVER EXPECT TO SEE A BILLBOARD LIKE THAT OUTSIDE THE MEDIA CENTER OF YOUR CAR? "No, I didn't. They've done some amazing stuff with that. I actually saw that last year in Kansas, if I'm not mistaken, or maybe a little later than that when they were coming up with those renderings, so that's been in the works for a little while and we'll just hope that the fire and all that stuff stays on the picture than on the car. But it looks pretty neat."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TESTED IN JANUARY OR HAVEN'T TESTED IN JANUARY? "I feel like right now I really feel like we have with all of the track time we've had, especially with today and tomorrow. That's the thing about here is I didn't think the testing was gonna be that big of a deal at the start of the season just because we have so much track time here in Daytona and we were one of the cars that qualified for the Bud Shootout last year, so we knew coming into Speedweeks with no testing that we were gonna be in a pretty good spot with all the track time that we were gonna have."

WHEN MARK MARTIN TALKS ABOUT HIS HENDRICK CAR BEING THE BEST CAR HE'S EVER HAD OR THE BEST TEAM HE'S EVER HAD, IS THAT HURTFUL? "I don't think so. I think if you look back historically, and I love Mark Martin, he's a character, but if you look back historically I think every interview you see Mark in you can just hit the record button. 'Man, I'm having the time of my life. This is the best race car. This is the best group of guys. I've never seen anybody work so hard in my life.' I see it over and over. It's like a replay. It's like a bad dream (laughter). I'm just telling you what I see on TV. I see the same thing in the interview and there's nothing wrong with that. You've got to be positive, right? He's being positive and that's Mark Martin -- being positive. When he went over to DEI it was the chance of a lifetime and they were the best cars in the garage. I don't know. I think it's the same thing now, but I would have to say that Hendrick probably has the best stuff in the garage with Jimmie winning the championship three years in a row. It's obvious that that organization has proved over and over again that they're stout -- there's no doubt about that. Probably what he's saying is true by qualifying on the outside front row and watching that 5 car in the race yesterday. He's probably in the best stuff he's been in in a while and it's showing. He's really fast."

CAN YOU FORECAST WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE AT CALIFORNIA AND VEGAS WITHOUT TESTING? "I'm not gonna say it's gonna be a gamble, but let's compare it to last year. Last year, we didn't test at California. Last year we tested at Las Vegas. This year we're gonna go to California without testing, similar to what we did last year, so California isn't really gonna be any different. Going to Las Vegas will be different. We're gonna go to Vegas with no test, so we ran third at Las Vegas last year and felt like we had a little better car than that. Junior and I got to racing on the white flag lap and I got run up the hill a little bit, but Carl won, so I'm sure we're gonna go back with the same setup as we ran there and Carl did the tire test there. So one of our cars has tested there, so, really, it seems like the testing is more of a non-issue now that we've had a little track time with this new car. With the new car you have to test a lot, but with the old car we were able to change nose offsets, we were able to change all this stuff on this car to try different aero platforms, try different side force, try this, try that, try all these crazy things about moving the bodies around and all that. We can't really do that anymore, so with this new car we're so limited to what we can do that at some point testing will obviously become almost obsolete with the new car because we're in such a tight box already. I think without testing this year and with us having a couple years under our belt with this thing and no new tracks and no new repaves, I almost think it's a non-issue. I honestly do."

WHAT IS YOUR PLAN WITH THE ENGINE CHANGE? "We've already changed engines."

WHAT IS YOUR PLAN FOR PRACTICE? "If the car is handling well in this first practice session, we're gonna do one of two things. We're probably gonna run this session and maybe not the next, or maybe run a limited amount of time in this session and a limited amount of time in the next one -- so keeping the laps down on the 500 engine is basically what I'm getting at. Probably what we'll do is run this session in case there's something wrong with the engine. If you change engines now and you don't run this session, there's an outside chance -- let's say this engine blows up or there's a problem with it -- if it was the next practice session, then you'd have to change again and you wouldn't have any laps on that one for the race. So the logical thing, I guess, would be for me to run this session, check the engine out -- run five or so laps -- just to make sure there are no issues and then maybe run a little bit in the last one and be done with it. The Vegas thing, I'm gonna do a blog on Monday nights at 9 o'clock. I'm working on getting that done on the internet, so if you want to come and check out my comedy. Yeah, I'll do a Mark Martin on Monday night at 9 o'clock. You can come and listen to it."

ANY TIRE ISSUES? "Yeah. We've had a few tire issues. The Cup car has shown cords on the right-front a couple of times and the Nationwide car has been, the first practice session I was screaming, 'Loose! Man, I can't drive this thing. I'm loose, loose, loose.' The car was not driving very good at all. I was loose by myself. I went down into the corner by myself and was sideways. I was swatting flies inside there and I'm like, 'You've got to believe me that I cannot drive this car.' I came in and we decided to park it for that session and there are cords showing on the left-rear tires, so the thing had to have been pretty loose to have cords showing on the left rear, so we've worked on it and the later practice it seemed to be a lot better, but there have been some minor issues. With a green race track you're gonna see that. I was very shocked to see the tires issues in the second race because we really didn't see any in the first. I was really shocked. The race track will continue to take rubber and get rubbered up and if I was gonna see any tire issues, I think we would have seen it in the first one let alone the second one. I'm not sure what guys have got going on with their cars, but they definitely don't have as much grip and they're up on top of the track, so they're sliding around more, which is gonna make some tire heat in the car and the tires."

1yWHERE IS CARL EDWARDS HERE AT DAYTONA? ARE YOU GUYS SURPRISED YOU'RE NOT BETTER? "A little bit and that could be a derivative, possibly, of the no-test but you never know. We come down here and couldn't find speed or maybe we would have found something in the test, but you just don't know. From one year to the next or one part of the season to the next we feel like our cars are better. We know our cars are better than before. We know they're faster. Aero-wise, we have a little bit better drag numbers. We know our engines are a little bit better. We know all these things, but everybody else has gotten better than we have, so that's a little frustrating. We were pretty optimistic coming here like we'd have pretty good stuff and they're a little bit better than we are. That doesn't mean they're gonna beat us yet, but if it's just on pure speed and handling, they're a hair better than we are right now and that's obvious. We'll work to try and close that gap. There's not a lot we're gonna do between now and the 500. We're kind of locked in, but we will do the best we can."

CAN YOU THINK OF A TIME WHEN YOU SACRIFICED FOR YOUR TEAMMATE LIKE THE PETTY GUYS DID YESTERDAY? "It's really important and this is a place -- here and Talladega -- where you can try and help a teammate or a partner. It's hard to do, but certainly at Talladega and other places we've backed up to try and bring that other group up or fan out. One thing you can do is fan out. If one guy is losing the draft, you can fan your cars out and it makes a bigger hole in the air to try and draw them back up. There are certainly things we've done in the past to try and help get guys in and having teammates like that and good handling cars is a key and it worked out for them."

HOW MANY NATIONWIDE RACES ARE YOU RUNNING AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT SERIES? "Right now it looks like we have around 15 on the schedule for the Citifinancial Ford Fusion. We might do a few more than that or we might do a few less than that, but that's roughly the number. I was shooting for 15-18 races, so I'm pretty happy with that. There again, that might pick up if they get a sponsor for Matt Kenseth. Then some more of those Citi races may move over to me and I'm pretty happy with 15 or 18. That gives me a little time off. They should have never not given me any races because I sort of like having the day off sometimes and not that rat race of running back and forth, but that's what we're planning on doing. As far as the Nationwide race, my opinion is gonna be that with the way the cars are handling and handling being a premium, I think it's gonna get spread out again like we saw it last year. I think the cars that handle well and stay in line are gonna be able to drive away, and when you put tires on them and everybody's got new tires, there's gonna be a big pack and they're gonna be racing hard. But then I think it's gonna string out just because you can't keep in the throttle and the cars slide around a lot. I think it's gonna get strung out. It's gonna be interesting. It's obvious that your favorite would be Carl or I think Kyle Busch said he's gonna run the whole season -- you can never tell what Kyle's gonna do -- but it sounds like they're gonna run the whole season so I would say that those two guys are gonna pretty much go head-to-head and given the past history, it looks like Kyle might be the favorite for how well that those Gibbs cars run in the Nationwide Series. We'll have to wait and see what happens, but hopefully I can get in there and get myself a win. I've got 15 tries this year, so we'll see what I can do."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin