Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is in ninth place in the Chase standings heading into this weekend's race at Dover, where he has two career wins and a current streak of seven consecutive top-eight finishes. Biffle met with the ...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is in ninth place in the Chase standings heading into this weekend's race at Dover, where he has two career wins and a current streak of seven consecutive top-eight finishes. Biffle met with the media prior to Friday's qualifying.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON RACING AT DOVER? "I'm really excited about coming back to Dover. This is one of the race tracks that I look for on the schedule. We run very good here. The spring race, I look back at that where we're leading, you know, with five to go and got passed by the 48, 14, finished third. But, we're running good here this weekend. Didn't come off the truck very good with this new tire. It took us a little bit to get up to speed, and pretty happy with the way the car's driving now."
THIS WILL BE THE FIRST RACE AT THIS TRACK WITH THE DOUBLE-FILE RE-START. WHICH LANE IS THE PREFERABLE LANE HERE? "That's going to be a tough one. Predominantly, we've seen the high groove have a little bit more momentum on the restart, simply for the fact that you could sort of diamond the corner if you're on the top -- meaning, you could enter the corner with a little extra speed, you can let the car drift up the track just a little bit and then get back to the gas and kind of turn back down to the bottom and get a run down the back straightaway. I prefer to run the bottom. Now, if I'm faced with a choice, I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. I think the bottom of the race track is really fast here. That may be the choice, but ultimately, we'll have several tries at it before the end of the race, so we'll know what lane you're going to want to pick when it's time to go and the caution comes out. I look forward to being up front, at least having that choice."
TWO ROUSH FENWAY TEAMS ARE IN THE CHOICE AND THREE ARE NOT. DOES THAT ALLOW FOR THE TEAMS TO WORK ON SOME THINGS? AND, IN ALL YOUR YEARS AT ROUSH HAVE THERE EVER BEEN "TEAM ORDERS"? "Not really. We're aware of the situations. I've worked with Carl a little bit in the Nationwide series when, you know, he's started to put a little pressure on me toward the end of the race, I'm running seventh or eighth, but that was a decision I made -- that position wasn't worth racing Carl for. At the closing laps of the race, it wasn't that important. And, we hope that our teammates, when it comes down to it, will work with us some. We know that everybody's got teammates in this thing. Certainly, a guy's not just going to pull over for no reason, so I don't think it's company orders, so to speak, but, you know, we stand an opportunity for Matt [Kenseth] and David [Ragan] and Jamie [McMurray] to do a little bit more stuff outside of the box, a little more research with the race cars. Everybody in here has criticized us about being a little bit slower than the rest of the Chase guys right now; we're trying to close that gap up. Maybe we can learn a little bit. If they can help us learn something and make us a little bit more competitive as they get ready for next year or to try and make the Chase again."
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE TIRE HERE? OTHER DRIVERS HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT IT. "What happens is, the only thing you can do is come with the setup that you've run before here. When you unload your car off the truck and it's one or the other -- let's say my car was pretty loose, I had a hard time driving it, it was not comfortable, I was going to back it into the fence and have to get the back-up out, and that's not something we want to do in the middle of practice. So, we had to come back in and make sure that our car was right. We had to go on the scales, check all the springs and make sure we didn't do something wrong. Re-baseline the car. So, we're losing precious practice time.
"We get the car back on the race track. Still pretty loose. So, we start making some more drastic changes and try to get this car to drive better. And, with the limited amount of practice, that's difficult for a team. I'm not saying it's anything wrong with the tire, at this point, we don't feel there's anything wrong with the tire, it's just different. And having an hour and a half or two hours of practice to get ready to qualify, you're scrambling to get going, and it's obvious that the guy that wasn't scrambling to get going was the 48. They were at the top of the sheet right from the onset, but they were the ones that did the tire test. So, naturally, they're going to be set up for that tire, a lot better than the rest of the teams are. We've been told, we understand that you've got to have a good guy testing the tires, but we've been told they're not going to pick Chase guys to test for tires for the last 10 races, because it will make an impact -- the practice and qualifying and racing -- and the 48 was picked to come here and test and pick a tire."
MARK MARTIN HAS HAD A REPUTATION FOR YEARS AS BEING A CLEAN RACER. HAS THAT COST HIM SOME WINS OVER THE YEARS? CAN A CLEAN DRIVER WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP OR IS A CERTAIN RUTHLESSNESS NEEDED? "No, I know what you're talking about. I think that Mark Martin's definitely capable of winning, and him being a clean driver, just because I've traded paint with Mark before. I wouldn't say he's perfect when it comes to that because I've had him against my door in the middle of the corner at Homestead for the win on the last lap, so he definitely pushes the envelope and I don't feel like it's cost him any finishes or any wins or championships up to this point."
YOU HAVEN'T WON YET THIS YEAR, NOR HAS CARL EDWARDS. AT TEAM MEETINGS, WHAT IS DISCUSSED AS TO WHY? "We know it's corner speed. Our pit stops, we've whipped everybody's butt on pit stops if you want to look at the pit stop sheet, for the last five or eight races. We've gained a tremendous amount of spots on pit road. It's incredible what we've been able to accomplish. It sucks that we can't always get everything perfect. Our cars' center-of-the-corner speed is really off a little bit, our car turning in the middle of the corner. Great engines, we've got good pit crew. We've got great mechanical parts, like Jack pointed out. We've got great wiring and electrical and mechanical. We've had great success with all of that, but we're just lacking that extra little piece of speed that we're searching for. We're killing ourselves trying to find it, and we'll just continue to look. We're not going to give up. And it seems like this weekend we're running with the top guys, so we'll wait and see next week how it pans out."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN CORNER SPEED AND THE GEOMETRY INVOLVED WITH THAT? ALSO, DENNY HAMLIN EARLIER TODAY SAID TIRE TESTS WERE WEREN'T WORTH ANYTHING; OTHERS HAVE SAID THEY ARE WORTH SOMETHING. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT TOPIC? "I think it's a benefit to get to do the tire test. I do agree with Denny to some degree that they don't always pick the tire that you want them to pick, the tire that we think is the best. For instance, Montoya picked a tire that he liked, I picked a little bit different tire. We both picked the same right-side, but we picked maybe different lefts. But that's just driving styles. So, then it's left up to Goodyear to decide, 'Alright, what are we going to pick?' And I think, ultimately, they picked probably in-between that tire, a tire that neither one of us had run. Now, they're under some constraints to pick a tire that's going to work well and last, and that's about all I can say as far as the tire testing goes. I think it's an advantage to be at the race track and getting an idea or a feel for what they might change to.
"The corner speed, let me explain that. There's the old horse-and-buggy; there's two ways of getting a car to turn around the corner. One is the car turns with the front tires when you turn the steering wheel, it turns with the front tires, and it turns around the center of the corner, you can push the gas down and off you go. The second way is if the front tires don't turn, they slide up the race track -- you cannot get them to turn. The only thing you could do is loosen the car up, take wedge out, do whatever you could do to try and get the back of the car loose enough to where you go around the corner with the back of the car turning. So, the back of the car is sliding around the corner, almost, if you will, like a forklift. A forklift turns with the back tires, not the front tires. Well, our back tires don't turn, but if they slide, it achieves the same thing. And that's what happens when a car's too loose, the back's sliding too much. So, what we feel like we're lacking, our car is turning the center of the corner a little bit. We feel that's where our speed is at. We don't know that for sure, you never know for sure, where your competition is beating you. But when you purely talk center-of-the-corner speed and lap time, 90 percent of it is generated from that three-quarter mark in to off, part of the corner's 90 percent of your speed generated is right there. And that's what we constantly work on in oval-track racing. Ten or 20 horsepower isn't going to make a difference on your lap time. We've seen guys have a spark-plug wire come off or a cylinder down, and have gone faster or just as fast on seven cylinders because their corner speed was able to be different because the car ran different. Very rarely is horsepower lap time."
HOW MUCH HAS TESTING HURT YOU BECAUSE THERE IS A LACK OF SANCTIONED RACE TRACKS TO FIGURE THIS OUT? LOOKING AT THE SPEED CHART FROM THIS MORNING, BOBBY LABONTE IS BACK IN THE YATES' EQUIPMENT AND HE'S 33RD AND THE CAR HE WAS IN LAST WEEK IS 10TH AS A SINGLE-CAR TEAM. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT? "To be perfectly honest with you, it's a little bit disheartening that they're that much different. I know Bobby Labonte is a good driver, and I know that's a single-car team and it's apparentsince they've made the switch that he's run better in that single-car team car than our cars. That constitutes how poorly we're doing as a job or that Yates organization across the street -- we all have the same equipment, and we're just not getting it done. I don't know what else to say. We just simply not getting the job done. It's apparent, but we're working hard at it. Some teams are better than others within our own organization, and that confuses us as well. I look at the set-up sheet, those cars have the same thing in it I'm running and I'm fourth and they're 34th or whatever. So, sometimes I don't understand that as well."
IT WAS MENTIONED BY A DRIVER EARLIER TODAY THAT ONE OF THE REASONS MARK MARTIN IS SO COMPETITVE FOR THIS TITLE IS BECAUSE HE IS SO HUNGRY, HAVING NEVER WON A CHAMPIONSHIP? LOGICALLY, ALL OF THE DRIVERS ARE HUNGRY TO WIN. WOULD YOU SAY MARK IS HUNGRIER THAN ANYBODY ELSE? "I don't know about that. I quit eating before Loudon. I guess we're not going to eat until I get to Homestead, and I'm damn hungry. I want to win a championship just as bad everybody else. Mark probably feels an urgency to win the title because he's 50-some years old -- I think he's 50, at least that's what I keep hearing. He's been there. I think he's the sentimental favorite, okay? He's come up short several times. He's paved the way in this sport for a lot of us, including myself. Rusty Wallace has, Dale Earnhardt has -- there's a tremendous amount of guys -- Ricky Rudd have, Sterling Marlin have paved this road for us, and he's one of those guys still competing, leading the points. We're all very hungry to win a title, and we just hope we can perform these next weeks, and close that gap between those other teams and us, and we'll see what happens."
-credit: ford racing