Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion, will be trying to improve on a second-place finish in last year's point standings. Biffle, who led the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series with six victories in 2005, spoke about the ...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion, will be trying to improve on a second-place finish in last year's point standings. Biffle, who led the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series with six victories in 2005, spoke about the upcoming season at media day Thursday.
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK? "Good. Unfortunately we have that bad molecule in our blood that's called racing and we love to do it all the time, but at the same time we enjoy the time off and time away from the race track -- the weekends to do nothing. Go up to my mountain property or go down to my shop and just mess around and take it easy and do whatever. We miss that when we get back to racing, but this is what we love to do. This is what we live for."
WHAT'S IT LIKE WITH ALL OF THIS ATTENTION? "It feels good. I tell you what, in Las Vegas last week I did a quick media thing at lunch and they said somebody had picked Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and me to be the three favorites. Now I don't know if that's just in Las Vegas or what, but somebody brought that to my attention. I had not heard that, but that's neat to be one that people are looking at to win races or run and make the chase. I'm real excited about that."
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS? "I'm hoping so. It's a hard thing not to be overconfident because they say, 'Well, you had such a great year last year what do you expect this year?' And, gosh, if I did the same thing I did last year I'd be ecstatic. Certainly, I'd like to win the championship, but, boy, if I had to replay last year I don't know that I'd do a thing different. Six wins was definitely huge for us and finishing second in points my third year in the series and coming that close was neat. I'd like that same opportunity this year. Obviously, you've got to make the chase first, so first things first -- get in the chase. We'd like to win some races along the way if we can, but I've been saying it all along since last year. I want to skip the first 26 races and I want to go right to the last 10 again. That's where they pay the money. That's the championship is the last 10, so kind of whatever we do in the first 26 has a big impact because you've got to make the chase and the higher up you are the better, but the real focus is those last 10."
WOULD IT BE A FAILURE IF YOU DIDN'T MAKE IT? "Oh, sure. And it can happen, but we'd probably have to have catastrophic type problems to not make it there because I feel like we're pretty decent. We tested well in Las Vegas. We finished up the season pretty good. We ran well at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead. We ran strong at all those places, so for me to think that we're not gonna run well in those first 26 would be something that I'm not seeing right now."
COULD YOU HAVE SAID THAT A YEAR AGO? "One year ago, yes. A year and five months ago, no. Because we won two of the races in the chase last year and finished up the season with a win at Homestead and then won at Michigan, and probably should have won at Kansas. So really our run at the end of '04 was really, really strong and had high expectations in '05, but certainly didn't want to set the benchmark too high and then fail. So I said, 'You know I feel like we'll win a race in the first 20.' I felt like I'd win a race in the first five, but I didn't want to say that, and we came out and won five of the first 15, which was extraordinary. I doubt whether that will happen very seriously this year. Hopefully we win a couple in the first 20 or something. That would be great, but I really don't have any expectations of myself or the team of winning right away. Everybody wants to win, but I'm not gonna be upset. I went from the 15th race of the season to the last race of the season before I won a race and for people that are winning that's a long time not to win, so it may take that long this year."
HOW IS THE FUSION? "The new car is really good. The Fusion, I'm really excited about how Ford came up with that car. They really did their homework well. It wasn't a big balance change from our car the previous year, so unlike some of the other manufacturers that struggled when they got new pieces, this has flowed right into our hands. We've got some areas to improve on it, but at least we didn't take a step backwards and now we've got to work back to where we were. I feel like we're starting out really close to where we were and we've got forward to go from here, so I'm really excited about the Fusion."
WHAT ARE THE BIG DIFFERENCES? "That's the big thing, there isn't a lot of difference. The balance remained real close to the same. The driveability is really good and what I'm excited about is I think we have room to improve. There are things there that we haven't learned about yet. We haven't taken the full potential of what's available yet and it'll take a year to get moving in that direction."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TESTING POLICY? DOES IT WORK IN FAVOR OF A TEAM LIKE YOURS? "I contradict myself when I answer that question because I feel like the test policy is good. We need to have a test policy to restrict teams like ours that have five teams and can go to 20 race tracks if we wanted to. Now we can't. At the same time I feel like it could possibly hurt the single-car or two-car team because let's say they need help on the mile and a halves and they really want to focus on testing that type of track, we'll they can only test it one or two times. So at the same time they've restricted everybody, it could be good and bad. I really don't have a good answer for that. But definitely I feel they needed to do something about the test policy -- NASCAR did -- and I think they did the right thing."
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE CAR OFF THE TRACK? "My dream car is that Ford GT. They're really neat cars. I want one really bad. I refuse to buy one because I'm gonna win a Nextel title one of these years and they're gonna give me one. I don't know. Hopefully, I don't have to buy one. Let's put it that way. To be honest with you, I really enjoy and drive my F-250 diesel truck that I've added a lot of performance stuff to it. I really like driving that truck, and I have a Roush Stage 3 Mustang and I have a Ford Lightning F-150, so those are kind of my three favorite cars to drive."
HAS A DEFENSE MECHANISM KICKED IN WITH YOU BECAUSE LAST YEAR YOU WERE PRETTY FREE ABOUT PREDICTING WHERE YOU WOULD BE GOOD? "No, this is just in case. If I had to guess, I think we've got a great opportunity to win at California. Without testing there it would be hard for me to say right now. Last year we tested there and were very fast. This year we didn't test there, so just being optimistic we should be pretty good at California. Vegas, I'm so-so at. I'm a top-10 car at Vegas. I could win at Vegas, but I don't think my chances are as good there as they are at California if I was a betting man. Atlanta, I think we stand a good chance at Atlanta and we stand a good chance at Bristol. We've been close many times at Bristol. We run well there, so those are my predictions. The places that we run really good at I'm confident about going to. I kind of like my chances at California, Atlanta and Bristol. Vegas, I think we'll run well. Anything can happen."
WHAT ABOUT HERE? "I picked a car that I feel really comfortable in driving. The car is extremely loose with somebody on the outside of me. I'm not sure why. Hopefully, we've gotten that a little bit better. That could be danger in the race when you're grouped up, but I like my chances here with that car I had. I think it's gonna handle well in the race and I think the long runs will benefit me in the race. If it gets strung out in long runs, that car should maintain its speed. That car maintained its speed better than my other car and that's why I picked it. My other car might be a little bit faster in qualifying or at the beginning of the run, but, really, you win the race in the long haul. I think the car I picked here runs well on a long run. That's what we learned testing and that's what we're gonna hope for."
ANY DIFFERENT BEING THE HUNTED NOW? "Not really. It feels about the same. I try not to think about all those other guys so much, other than winning races. I'm thinking about winning and what it's gonna take to win and how we're gonna win. I think with that mindset and that attitude and working hard toward that goal, it puts you as one of the front runners."
ANY ADDED PRESSURE AFTER LAST YEAR? "Not really because I feel like we're gonna run similar to that, so I'm pretty confident we're gonna be in that range. Yeah, there's gonna be pressure on me to win, but I'm gonna drive like I've always driven -- 100 percent all the time and a lot of times that puts us in Victory Lane."
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO BEING ONE OF THE FAVORITES IN VEGAS? "I guess I was pleasantly surprised. I was kind of taken aback a little bit by that. When your name gets put in a sentence with Jeff Gordon's name, I respect Jeff Gordon a lot and I don't know if a lot of people know that. I think he's very, very talented and probably one of the most talented drivers in our series currently. I feel pretty good about being put in the same light as him and Tony Stewart."
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THE NEW GUYS THIS YEAR? "It's a big chore for a lot of the guys that are coming in to race every week. The biggest thing that I learned, that everybody learns, is to give guys racing room. In our series, I'm talking like I'm a veteran or something, but I've learned that when there is a guy faster than you in the mirror, you need to be doing something about it quickly. One is getting out of the way and learn from him and wait until the next pit stop and work on your car. Then try and go back in that direction or else you're gonna have problems. It's hard for a new guy to learn that because he's out there just racing for all he can and he thinks going that way is good and that way is bad, but a lot of times you can learn things from guys. Watch, learn, work on your car and come back. If you're not in the race, you're not learning anything. The key is to give and take. We give and take in this series a lot more than they do in the Busch Series. You don't necessarily move out of the way, but give a guy room to go ahead. Not a lot of guys have learned that and it takes a little bit to understand that."
DID YOU SEE THAT IN CARL LAST YEAR AT RESTRICTOR TRACKS? "Yeah. You could see Carl kind of swapping lanes and was kind of erratic. But you could see in the last two that he was being more exact about what he was doing. I didn't race around him a bunch. You don't focus on one guy, you focus on everybody, but you can kind of see guys. It's almost like you look desperate. Here's a perfect example. It's like being on the freeway in gridlocked traffic and that lane starts to just move a little bit and you're looking over there because you want to get in that lane. Then you get in that lane and it stops and all of a sudden your lane just takes off and you're thinking, 'Why did I do that.' So a little bit of patience sometimes will come around."