Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is coming off a third-place finish in last week's Daytona 500 and comes to Auto Club Speedway having won this race once (2005) in his career. He spoke about this weekend's race before practice on...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is coming off a third-place finish in last week's Daytona 500 and comes to Auto Club Speedway having won this race once (2005) in his career. He spoke about this weekend's race before practice on Friday morning.
"I love Auto Club Speedway. It's fun to race out here. I'm from the west coast, so it kind of feels like coming home. I've got family and friends in this area, so I really enjoy it. I've had some success here. I've won some Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, and this is kind of what I like to call the second kickoff to our season. Last week was really how well the guys did over the winter on the restrictor plate cars and how well we were prepared for Daytona, and this race is really how we're prepared for the rest of the season -- how our cars are gonna perform on all the mile-and-a-halfs and mile-and-a-third race tracks, which are a lot of race tracks for us in this series. So this is really a true test, here and Las Vegas next week, of what we're gonna have for the season."
WHAT'S THE LINE AS FAR AS HELPING GUYS AT DAYTONA? "You try and seek out your teammates. You try and help the best you can, but, really, it's the final five laps of the night and you've got to go with what lane is moving. You can't pick a slow lane just because you've got a friend in it and if you do that, then you're not gonna end up winning the Daytona 500. Now, for instance, if there isn't an advantage of a lot of momentum in one lane or the other just smoking by, then you go with your teammate or you go with somebody you can push or that is running good, so there are a lot of things that come down to it. It's not just necessarily, 'OK, I've got to go with that guy, period, because he's my teammate.' You've got to go with what lane is going with where you car is driving the best. Maybe my car won't go on the bottom very good, so I want the high lane. That may be a decision you have to make. I sure wish I had some teammates up front when it came down to the end. I was up there by myself and 33 had a choice on who to go with and spun his tires on the restart, so we were kind of a lone soldier there at the end and I'm glad I was able to give Jamie a good push to get us all clear of that traffic."
ANY COMPARISON TO DAYTONA AND THIS TRACK? "Absolutely not. Daytona racing -- one is like snow skiing and one is like water skiing. It's the same kind of thing, but completely different. Here, I don't want to see anybody in front of me, behind me or beside me. You want your car out by yourself. There's no drafting. There's no such thing as drafting, except for possibly on the straightaway for a short portion, but when it comes to the majority of this race track, clean air is the most important. Last week is a little scewed compared to what we do every week."
WAS IT AN ADVANTAGE FOR JAMIE TO SPIN HIS TIRES ON THE RESTART AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE PLAYING WITH HOUSE MONEY COMING HERE AFTER GETTING THROUGH DAYTONA WITHOUT WRECKING? "Yeah, I'm definitely playing with house money. I like that. I love to gamble and it's better when you're using house money. I've got a little cushion starting out the season really strong. We're happy with that. We'd like to be leading the points when we leave Vegas, but we'll take what we can get. It wasn't really an advantage for Jamie spinning his tires on the restart, but, at the same time, I guess I pride myself in being able to make that situation work. A lot of guys might have ditched him at that point when he was spinning his tires. My best option I felt, at that point, was to try and get him going -- try and push him and get him going. It's quite possible if he wouldn't have spun his tires that high lane would have gotten a good head start out there and strung out, and probably those guys wouldn't have ganged back up on us, if you will, and I might have finished second if I didn't have an opportunity to try and pass him later. That's the only regret I have is maybe I should have waited until the backstretch or waited until we came to the short chute to try him, and stay in line and not give all those guys behind us a chance to get up there, but I was banking on the caution. We had the caution come out three times and we had just crossed the white, so I was like, 'I just don't know if I can stay behind him right now. I've got to try and get my nose out there for as long a period as I can and hope those guys back there do the same thing they've done three times now.'"
SO YOU WERE EXPECING A CAUTION? "Oh yeah, I was expecting a caution. Those guys were fighting for their life and they knew the white flag was out. I mean, you've got to get it now, so that's why I felt like trying to go by him on the front. I had a lot of momentum and almost got it done."
DO YOU CARRY A RACE LIKE THAT FOR A LONG TIME, OR DO YOU LET IT GO? "If people quit sending me e-mails and texts, I'd be in good shape. I get up and have my cup of coffee this morning and I'm reading e-mails. I sent someone an e-mail and they responded with, 'Boy, that was close in the Daytona 500. I thought you were gonna win it.' I did too. So maybe if we win here or have a good run here, maybe they'll quit talking about Daytona, but, yeah, I'm thinking about it and I'll probably be thinking about it all year."
HOW HARD HAVE YOU WORKED ON THINGS IN THE OFF-SEASON? "We've worked really hard. I think this winter we've worked as hard as we ever have getting our cars better on all the things you work on -- lighter, faster, all the issues. We've also joined forces with the RPM cars, which has brought us a little bit of technology and has brought them a little bit of technology, so I see the Ford oval being very strong here this weekend and it would not surprise me a bit for one of the eight cars to be in Victory Lane on Sunday."
WHAT'S THE SECRET TO ROUSH'S SUCCESS HERE? "That's hard to explain. I like this race track. I really like the way it's laid out. I like Michigan as well. They race really good, but we've just had a lot of success here and I don't know why we've run so good here, but I like the race track."
IS THIS RACE STILL A GOOD PREDICTOR FOR WHO MAKES THE CHASE WITH THE SPOILER CHANGE, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CONCRETE BEING ADDED AT DAYTONA? "I think the concrete will be a good fix -- to put a patch in there and that will be fine. We know that's probably not gonna break apart, and I think that this will still be a predictor for the chase as it has in the past. The spoiler might mix things up. I think we're all anticipating that, but the cream always rises to the top and the guys that have done their homework over the winter, and the guys that are running good here -- when they bolt that spoiler on, they're gonna continue to run good, I think."
WILL THE RACING CHANGE AT DAYTONA WITH THAT PATCH? "I don't think so. It's kind of got its own character and I really liked the way the tire raced. I think it's in good shape, other than that unfortunate part of the track coming up."
IS THERE A SENSE OF ANXIETY TO SEE HOW YOU GUYS DO THIS WEEKEND AND NEXT AS FAR AS SEEING IF YOU'VE CLOSED THE GAP ON HENDRICK? "Yeah, there really is a lot of anxiety for this practice today and qualifying. That will really kind of tell the tale of where we're at and how we've done, so as soon as this first practice is over, we'll have a pretty good idea, and then Sunday with how we race and next week as well. I think we're all anticipating that -- all the teams are. It's kind of like this is the Daytona 500. Everybody has worked all winter. Everybody has done their best and now we're waiting to see how we all stack up."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TODD PARROTT BECOMING MATT'S CREW CHIEF, AND YOUR THOUGHTS ON QUALIFYING? "I anticipate us qualifying decent. We've always qualified fairly well here, so we're gonna work a little bit on qualifying toward the end of this first practice to see if we can get our car going good. As far as Todd Parrott being Matt's crew chief, that probably hurts me a little bit as far as Todd was a great asset in the position he was in with research and development and kind of floating between all the cars. He was really an asset and a really good value at that position, but I think he'll be very good with Matt. I think Todd has proven himself as a crew chief over and over -- that he's smart and sharp -- and I think it'll be good for Matt. I think Drew did a great job, and I don't know what happened because I wasn't in that meeting, but I think they're both great people and I think he'll be fine with Todd."
DID THE MOVE CATCH YOU BY SURPRISE? "To be perfectly honest with you, I've had my nose buried in getting ready to come to California and talking about these race tracks coming up. I've been busy doing a few other things. I was just told the switch was happening and I was already on an airplane going to Minnesota to visit the 3M folks on my way here, so I really have talked to no one yet. I haven't talked to Matt or anybody, and I don't even know where Drew is going. I heard R&D, so he'll be an asset for us there, but I know nothing about the decision, was it mutual, or what happened there."
HOW CAN YOU PROVE TO US THAT ALL THIS HARD WORK IS GOING TO PAY OFF? BY THE END RESULT? "I really think so. I think Sunday will really tell the tale. I felt confident when I was talking earlier that we'll see a lot of Ford ovals at the front at the end of the day on Sunday. I really feel that way. I feel that there's gonna be myself, Matt, Carl, Kasey, AJ, David -- I really do. Elliott has run good here. I think we're all gonna be there at the end of this thing."
AT WHAT POINT DO YOU WORRY? "If we run as hard as we can and we finish 10th, then I'm nervous that we've still got some work to do. Now, if we run good and we finish 10th because of two tires, four times, something like that, then it's not an issue. But, really, it's the performance and how we run on the race track. That's gonna be what we're looking for."
WAS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR EFFORT AT DAYTONA THAT MADE YOU THINK YOUR TEAM IS BETTER THAN LAST YEAR? "Yeah, I think so. A lot of times you're working with the engineering department and when they find things and implement them and they work on the race track, and they show speed and handling and issues like that, it gives you confidence that everything else they're doing is in the right direction as well. Under that first red flag, five of the top six cars were Fords sitting there on the grid, so our guys have really put a lot of work into this, and I'm confident that the work they've put in is gonna show up here, too. I really feel confident when I say you're gonna see a lot of the Fords in the front on Sunday when it's over. I feel really confident about that."
YOU TALKED ABOUT THE RPM ADDITION. IF YOU'RE RUNNING BETTER THAN THEM HOW CAN THEY HELP YOU? "When they have different bump stops and different swaybar configurations and different geometries -- when we start looking at those as a whole, we start looking at them on our telemetries and we start getting to the race track and testing them, I think that we see improvements on some and don't see improvements in the other, and then they use our configuration on part of it and their configuration on part of it -- and then it's better as a whole -- that's when we say, 'Hey, we're getting something out of this.' For instance, we use Kasey's front suspension and they use our rear suspension -- I'm just giving you an example -- and it's better than either one of ours before, that's what we feel really confident about. We feel like we've all brought something to the table, whether it's a little bit of a shock combination, bump stops, geometry, rear ends, truck arms, brakes -- we think we've merged these into a better unit altogether."
-source: ford racing