Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, has a pair of wins this season, including last week at Kansas Speedway. The win allowed Biffle to move within 85 points of leader Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. ...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, has a pair of wins this season, including last week at Kansas Speedway. The win allowed Biffle to move within 85 points of leader Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. He spoke with reporters after Friday's practice session.
HOW HAVE THINGS GONE SO FAR? "I'm certainly really excited about coming off a good week last week and the car is fast right off the truck again - good in race practice and we switched to qualifying practice and I think we ended up in the top five, so it looks the same as last weekend so far. It looks like we're gonna have a decent qualifying run, although we've got to back it up on the race track now. We'll see what happens here in a little bit, but I feel really good about this race track. I like it here. We run well on this race track and I just can't wait for Sunday and can't wait for qualifying, hopefully get a good lap and look forward to the race."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAVING ONLY ONE CALIFORNIA RACE NEXT YEAR? "Obviously I'm not real excited about that. This is probably one of our best race tracks that we race at, so getting cut down to one time - me personally - it's gonna hurt. I've got a lot of family here and get back to the west coast a little bit. I've got friends and family who come from Washington and Oregon, where I grew up. I see a lot of people here I used to race with and fans, so it gives all the west coasters a chance to come and visit this race track. So I think it has a pretty good draw from a lot of different states. As far as that goes, one is the personal side of it. I really enjoy coming to Southern California and get to see everybody, but two, I run really good here so that's kind of a double thing for me. I guess the bright side of it is, if there's a positive, is at least we get to come here once a year. Unfortunately, we're not gonna get to come twice."
DO YOU THINK THE FR9 IS COMING ON AT THE RIGHT TIME AND WHY OR WHY NOT? "I was hoping that this was gonna happen. It was kind of ironic that the FR9 engine came in right as Ford had struggled for so long. We really struggled with our cars. Our engines have always been great and made great power and been reliable, so it was like, 'When are we ever gonna get our cars turned around and get our cars running better and be more competitive?' And right as we did that, we were integrating the FR9 engine into the program, so it sort of makes it look like the FR9 engine is really our saving grace in the whole thing, and that's part of the piece of the puzzle, but it's not as big as what some people from the outside would look at that don't know a lot about the sport. They say, 'Oh, they've got their new engine. Now they're winning races and really competing well.' So really, where the turnaround was, if you look back at our stats, was Chicago for all Roush Fenway cars. The RPM cars had outrun us for the better part of the season, so we kind of switched to more of their suspension package in Chicago and I think Carl has three second-place finishes then, I've got two wins and was running second when the engine expired at Chicago that very race, so, really, that was kind of our turnaround race. We really turned our program around and the engine came on board, so with the two combination, it certainly made us a ton better. Some of the things about the engine, it makes a little bit better mid-range power, which the passing takes place from the center of the corner to the corner exit. When you put the gas down, the guy whose car handles the best and puts the gas down the earliest is normally the guy that will make the pass, but also that's where you need the engine to have its most power. So this engine does that a little bit better and then the cooling package, we've really caught up to all the other manufacturers on our cooling package. It's a little bit more efficient, so we're able to match the tape on the front of the car as the other guys, so those two things - and it's got the lower center of gravity. It is a little heavier than the old engine just because we had to make our engine a little bit longer to match the other manufacturers, so it has plusses and minuses to it as far as what it does."
ARE YOU FEELING MORE COMFORTABLE WITH IT NOW AND CAN PUSH THE LIMITS MORE? "Yeah, I definitely do, especially after last week because we definitely tested it last week. The engine was on the chip for three-quarters of that race from just past the flag stand all the way to the corner. The engine shop said, 'Make sure you don't run this engine on the chip. We don't want it running on the rev chip. Run it right before it.' When you start making it miss on cylinders it gets angry inside with all the parts and pieces. Of course, we listened to them and then ran it on the chip for three-quarters of the day and the thing lived the whole time. I got preliminary reports back that everything looked good in the engine - the valvetrain looked good, everything looked good - so maybe in the future we can get another 100 RPM and get the blessing from the engine guys to run the engine another 100 RPM. It's not that you can't run it another 100 RPM if you feel like it, it's just particular tracks. Like here, we're turning 9400 RPM or so - 9350 or so, and then in the race we'll probably turn only 9100. So that's an extreme from last week when it was turning 9600. This week during the race it's probably turning 9100 or 9200, so it just depends on the race track and the temperature of the day as far as how many RPM the engine runs."
IN THREE OF THE LAST FOUR RACES THERE HAVE BEEN FIVE OR FEWER CAUTIONS. AS A DRIVER, HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT AND IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS DURING THE RACE? "Yeah, I can definitely attest that there have been less cautions because we are unfortunately sitting here eighth in points because we pitted at Dover and the caution came out the next lap and caught us two laps down and the caution came out only one more time. So with a top 10 car we finished 19th and here we sit 85 points out of the lead. Respectfully, we should be about 40 points out of the lead or maybe 35 if we would have just got our laps back that we lost because of that caution flag. So, yes, I have seen more green flag running, although last week it seemed like there were more cautions - a few more than there were at Dover. I think the trend is kind of up-and-down and as we figure these cars out and we all get better at driving them and more proficient, I think as drivers and teams we make less and less mistakes, and, of course, that means the caution comes out less and less as we go. I think it's just a product of everybody getting better. The engines getting better - if you remember, it wasn't uncommon to lose an engine and now it's a lot more rare to see an engine failure because technology has gotten better and the guys have gotten better about building them. And to be honest with you, these cars are easier to drive than the old cars. The old cars you really had to be on your toes. These cars are a lot easier to drive. They've got a lot of sideforce, the sides are real big and tall, they've got a huge spoiler on the back of them, so the cars are much easier to drive and they wreck a lot less."
IS IT MORE DIFFICULT TO MAKE CHANGES WITH MORE GREEN FLAG STOPS? "Yeah. You're worried about getting on and off pit road, which is okay, that's really not the biggest thing, the biggest thing is you don't get a chance to experiment. If a race has a few more cautions or a normal amount of cautions, then you won't be afraid to put some wedge in it and change the tire pressure. Well, when it runs green for four cycles in a row, if you're off a little bit, you can get lapped or lose a lot of positions in a hurry. You have to be much more executed on the decision you make because the chance to un-do it if it's the wrong way is normally about 70 laps later when you're out of gas - then you get to come back and try it again. Under that scenario, it's not as easy."
MARTINSVILLE IS THE SMALLEST AND SLOWEST TRACK. WHY DOES IT CREATE SUCH A BIG CHALLENGE? "I think that is the challenge - the smallest race track is probably the biggest thing. When you take 43 cars and there's really one lane that makes the fastest way around the route, it's hard for everybody to get in that same lane and make things happen. That's really the biggest thing about it. The bottom is the fastest way around it because it's so flat. It doesn't provide any banking, so you can't really effectively run the top much faster. If it had a little bit of a progressive bank, the top might be a little bit faster, where you could kind of run up and down the race track, so that's really the biggest thing is you're trying to put so many cars in a circle in one lane around the bottom of the race track and that's what makes it so hard - just makes it really, really difficult. You get bottled up from the guy in front of you, the guy behind you can get the gas down and turn underneath you, sticks you on the outside and even though you've got a good car, you just got checked up a little bit because the guys up there are playing bumper cars, and, all of a sudden, you get shuffled to the outside and you can lose 15 spots before you can get back in line. It's kind of a gamble."
HOW DO YOU TRAIN YOUR FOCUS ON WHAT YOU'VE GOT TO DO EVERY RACE AND NOT LET THE 48 BE A DISTRACTION WHEN IT LOOKS LIKE THE SAME SCENARIO PLAYING OUT AGAIN? "It's pretty easy for me because the way I look at it is I worry about the 16 car and get the best finish I can here at California. I've got to beat Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jimmie Johnson and all the rest and it really makes no difference who I'm racing for the lead or who I'm racing for fifth as far as what car it is. What he does, I don't have any control over, so I focus on getting the best finish and not making any mistakes. Whether it's sixth or third or a win this weekend, I just do the best I can. Last weekend, when I finished the race at Kansas I had no idea, and I still don't today, who finished third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh. I guess that's bad of me, but I've been so busy this week I haven't looked at the finishing order. And I didn't know Jimmie finished second until I was in the media center and somebody said, 'Well, what do you think about the 48 getting second?' I had no idea where he finished. I didn't see him all day. I didn't see him one time. The guys later told me he was running in the teens with about 40 laps to go, or something like that, and they made some adjustments and got better and whizzed their way up to second place. That's a perfect example of paying attention to what we've got to do and do the best we can. I can't control what they do. Unfortunately, they got all the way back to second, but we'll just see. Hopefully, they're off one of these races and we can gain some points on them."
WHICH TRACK IS MORE AGGRAVATING FOR YOU AS FAR AS TALLADEGA OR MARTINSVILLE BECAUSE THEY'RE VIEWED AS THE TWO WILD CARD RACES? "Probably Martinsville because there is so little room to race and so little you can do on that race track. We predominantly as a company and as a team have not run as well at Martinsville as we would like to, so, with that being said, my vote is Martinsville is probably the nemesis more than Talladega. We've run restrictor plate races and you've got more room to try and get things done and draft and pick a lane and do those kinds of things, although we did get 10th in the spring at Martinsville. We can go back there in the fall do that or better that by a little bit I think we'll be good. And Talladega, we're just like everybody else. I'm ready for it. I don't let it affect me, that we could get caught up in wreck or that somebody else could. You just go in there and run the race, when they throw the checkered flag you look where everybody finished and head to the next one."
-source: ford racing