BIFFLE POSTS FIRST NASCAR WINSTON CUP WIN Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Grainger Taurus, captured this first win of his NASCAR Winston Cup career by winning tonight's Pepsi 400. The victory snapped an 11-race winless stretch for Ford ...
BIFFLE POSTS FIRST NASCAR WINSTON CUP WIN
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Grainger Taurus, captured this first win of his NASCAR Winston Cup career by winning tonight's Pepsi 400. The victory snapped an 11-race winless stretch for Ford on restrictor plate tracks. The last time a Ford won at either Daytona or Talladega was July 1, 2000 when Jeff Burton won the Pepsi 400.
In addition, it marked the first time Ford has swept the top three spots since Rockingham when Dale Jarrett won with Matt Kenseth second and Kurt Busch third.
The win was Ford's sixth of the season and fifth for Roush Racing. Busch has won a series-high three times while Kenseth has one victory. Ford now has a NASCAR Winston Cup record 543 all-time series wins.
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 Grainger Taurus:
"It's unbelievable. I'll tell you what, our team has struggled a little bit this season, especially lately. We've worked harder than we've ever worked trying to get our race cars going like they need to be. It just shows how hard these guys work and how they don't give up. We've had some extra help at the shop from Harry and the other guys and we switched some guys around on the team. It's just exciting to be in victory lane at Daytona. I never in the world would have thought we would win a race here, but our car handled really good tonight. It ran well up there with the DEI cars and it ran well up front by itself."
THOUGHTS ON THE CLOSING LAPS?
"I wouldn't have won tonight if it wasn't for Matt Kenseth and what he did for me. He went with me down the backstretch and it cost him a position. He gave up second place. Matt probably could have won tonight if he would have just stayed in the outside groove, but he moved down with me and pushed me up there. Then he fell off the lead draft not to give the 18 any help to get by me, so it's a team effort, obviously, tonight. Matt Kenseth, I can't say enough about him. He gave me my first Winston Cup win here at Daytona."
JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - No. 16 Grainger Taurus:
"I celebrate the victory for Randy Goss, who has been under immense pressure for a first-year Winston Cup crew chief. That's a huge change coming out of the Busch Grand National Series after only two years there. Randy is a great champion. He's done a super job and we're gonna keep the pressure on him because he's not done growing yet. We're so happy to be here with Greg. We've been holding Greg back this year because our team wasn't strong enough, but to build a fortress you have to dig a hole in the ground and we spent half a year trying to do that and figure out what the people need to do and what the right combination was to suit Greg's need. He's gone along with it, realizing that we're building something that is for the years to come."
YOUR THOUGHTS WHEN BOBBY RAN OUT OF GAS?
"I was so focused on trying not to let anybody get an advantage on me. I haven't been restrictor plate racing that long, especially for a win and I really didn't know what to do. I was breathing the throttle and stepping on the brake pedal a little bit down the straightaway trying to keep Bobby from getting too far back there and getting a run on me, and to give me some room to get around the two guys in front of me when the corner came so Bobby wouldn't get his nose up under me and get me loose because I was pretty loose. I had to keep my car like that to keep it turning good tonight. Joel Edmonds is my spotter and he just does a fantastic job. He told me when I went into turn one, 'The 18 is fading. The 18 ran out of gas. Just bring it home and you've got the race won.' What a relief because I thought when Bobby got to my bumper I thought he would beat me, but I'd learn a lesson tonight and I'd finish second. But, fortunately enough, I don't think he would have got me even if he wouldn't have run out of gas. I held him off there a few laps and Matt Kenseth just backed off and didn't give him any help. It he would have had a car behind him, he would have been able to go by me on the top, I'm pretty sure."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE GUY TO TAKE DOWN DEI THIS RACE?
"It feels pretty good. I don't think we had any crazy pit strategy or anything. I mean what we did, I thought, just made sense. We came in and took a splash of fuel before we went back to green. I talked to Randy about that. I was looking in the mirror and I saw some guys that looked like they were gonna come and I asked him what he wanted to do. He said, 'Come, if a bunch of people come,' and I made the decision to come because in restrictor plate racing you can get back up there pretty easy. It was kind of a decision we both made together and it really paid off for us. I guess that gave us the extra lap or two to stay out and then come in and gave us enough to get to the end. We stopped on the same lap Bobby Labonte did. It was kind of funny because I was yelling at the guys on the radio that they held me just a half-second too long.
"We pitted with the 5 and the 18 and they got a little bit better run on me on pit road leaving and I lost the draft with them. I said, 'You need to drop the jack just a little bit earlier when you see them coming down pit road like that, but they were holding me to get that last little bit of gas in it and it paid off."
YOU'RE THE FIRST WASHINGTON NATIVE TO WIN IN A DECADE. DOES IT FEEL LIKE YOU'VE MADE IT NOW?
"Yeah, I guess so. It feels pretty good to be the first to win in a decade. I can't thank everybody enough that has gotten me here. People from the west coast don't get that many opportunities. Benny Parsons really did a lot for me talking to Jack about getting me in the Craftsman Truck and it's been going from there. Grainger has been a great supporter of ours ever since the inception of our relationship, so it feels good to get a win for the northwest."
DID YOU ENVISION FUEL MILEAGE WORKING HERE?
"I was really surprised that it worked. We've had better-than-average fuel mileage for it seems like the last 10 years and I think Mark Martin won one race on fuel mileage in that period of time. We go for that. We race the entire car - everything we can do. Greg works out. The guys on the crew work out as well as doing the rest of the things, but we race everything that we've got and racing fuel mileage is just part of it. The idea that we would be able to win one here was a huge surprise for me. I was not focused on that. We were just taking care of business and doing the best we can without crowding it enough that we thought we were taking a chance on burning a piston. If I thought it was gonna be determined on fuel mileage, we would have taken a chance on burning the piston, but we didn't press it tonight. It was just a normal deal for us."
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU THINK YOU COULD WIN?
"About lap 15 I felt that we would have an opportunity to get up in the front, but I've gotten caught up in so many superspeedway wrecks. My car was a little bit free when I was back there with all those other cars that had that turbulent air. I could go through the middle pretty good and I felt I could get up in the top 10 - not anytime I wanted but when I was ready to go, I figured that would happen. There's no sense racing on lap 25 or lap 50 or lap 75 or lap 100. I wasn't gonna gain anything by that. I didn't want to take any chances and it looked like that's what Ryan Newman was doing as well. I was really just riding around back there, just trying to let the laps weasel down and then I was gonna get after it when it was time to get after it. My guys adjusted on the car and kept making tire pressure adjustments and trackbar and things like that to make it go at the end. I didn't think it was gonna be a fuel mileage race and it doesn't even feel like a fuel mileage race to me. I mean, we just did standard pit stops and felt like that's what everybody else would have done. I don't think we did anything out of the ordinary. Our car ran really good up front and I'm just pretty happy about it."
DID YOU LOSE ANY CONFIDENCE BASED ON YOUR LAST COUPLE OF RACES HERE?
"Not really. I've got to put every race behind me. You can't dwell on the past. If somebody wrecks you one week, you've got to go to the next week not thinking about that. You've got to go to the next race just focused on winning that race and doing the best you can, if that's a top 10 or top 15. I just focus on what's ahead of me. I can't worry about what's behind us, what mistakes we made. As long as we learn from them and don't make them again, that's what we need to do. I just focus on what's ahead of me and not what's behind me."
HOW MUCH TROUBLE DID YOU GET IN FOR DRIVING THE PONTIAC LAST NIGHT?
"Well, to be quite honest with you, I think that Busch race I ran last night gave me a fair amount of experience for tonight's race. I'd have to say without that experience I may not be sitting up here tonight. It's possible. I mean, just running laps around there. The car was pretty loose last night. This car was pretty loose tonight, but it gave me an idea of what I needed the car to feel like to run fast and we worked on it last night and came back and worked on it tonight.
"That's where running both of those series, no matter what the make or model is, it doesn't matter when you're restrictor plate racing. When you're getting lap time and experience, it doesn't matter. I'm a Ford guy - always have been and always will be. I drive Ford cars and trucks and what I race on Saturday doesn't reflect what I support on Sunday."
WHERE WAS THE TURNAROUND POINT FOR YOUR TEAM THIS SEASON?
"One of the turnaround points was the fifth-place at Bristol. That's kind of a driver's race track and aero doesn't play as big of a factor there. The guys had great pit strategy. Randy Goss kept us out. We fell into a point where there weren't a bunch of cars on the lead lap and I had a pretty good car. We were running tenth before that and I felt, 'We're on our way right here,' and then it kind of fell apart from there. It got worse and worse and worse. I think last week was the straw that broke the camel's back. We sat down and had a meeting and we're just all focused on making the whole thing better and doing what we can do. Jack and I talked a lot about what we could do to make the program better if we get more support throughout the company. Our company runs a little bit different. Each team is responsible for building and maintaining their own cars and we're working on getting better cars for the 16 team every week. We've got brand new equipment and all the resources are available, we just have to take advantage of all that and put it in place and make it work like we did tonight."
HOW FRUSTRATED HAVE YOU BEEN THIS YEAR?
"It's been frustrating. Every series I've been in I've been competitive and I've won in. I felt we would be more competitive in this series, but I haven't been able to get the balance I want in the race car. I had the same identical springs, shocks, swaybar, pan hard bar heights, fender width - other than the color - the same as Kurt Busch's car at Michigan and he won while I was a lap down. We arrived at that same setup not looking at each other's setup. That's just what the car felt like to me, so I knew at that point that once we get the aerodynamics - these cars are so closely matched today in Winston Cup that if the car isn't perfect and the sheetmetal is not just absolutely perfect and the balance and the side force and all these crazy things about the race car aren't perfect, you can't compete. You can't drive around other cars if it gets too loose or it gets too tight behind a car. You've got to have it just perfect and it takes years, it takes experience and time to get that. That wasn't the case in the Busch Series. The cars weren't as important and not every team in the Busch Series takes them to the wind tunnel before they bring them to the track. As a start-up team, that's been the most difficult part. Competing driver-wise and pit stops and all that, we've been up to speed, but just getting the best race car we can has been tough for us."
WHERE DOES THIS RANK AMONG THE THINGS YOU'VE DONE?
"I tell you what, you probably have to pinch me right now. I feel numb. I don't know if it has even set in yet because I don't feel it yet. I don't feel like I've won a Winston Cup race yet or been at Daytona in victory lane. I have to say that it ranks up there with the highest of the marks we've done so far - the Busch Series title and the Truck Series title mean a lot to me. I won't give up this Winston Cup program until I win a Winston Cup championship. Before I retire I want to win one, maybe a couple of them, but winning at Daytona, I can't even fathom that I'd ever be able to do that. I watched Dale Earnhardt win his first Daytona 500 sitting in my pub in Vancouver, Washington and had a Daytona 500 party. I was pretty excited for him to be in victory lane and it's nice to be here in victory lane amongst all the guys that have won races at Daytona."