This Week in Ford Racing NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series FORD'S CHASE CHANCES LOOKING GOOD Even though Ford may have the fewest number of cars in the field every week, there's a possibility that the manufacturer may have the most Chase for the...
This Week in Ford Racing
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
FORD'S CHASE CHANCES LOOKING GOOD
Even though Ford may have the fewest number of cars in the field every week, there's a possibility that the manufacturer may have the most Chase for the Nextel Cup competitors. Currently there are four Fords, three Chevrolets and three Dodges that make up the top 10.
Those numbers will likely change, however, but with only two races remaining to secure a spot in the final 10-race chase, seven of the eight full-time Ford drivers have either clinched a spot or are still in contention.
Greg Biffle goes into this weekend's race at California third in the point standings and has already secured his position while Roush Racing teammates Mark Martin (fifth), Kurt Busch (seventh) and Carl Edwards (eighth) are also in the top 10.
The trio of Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett are currently on the outside looking in, but remain realistically in the hunt.
Kenseth's win last weekend at Bristol moved him to within 11 points of 10th-place Jeff Gordon while Sadler sits only 34 points out of the final transfer position. Jarrett is 44 points behind Sadler in 14th place, but is still mathematically alive.
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, won the first race at California earlier this year and comes into this weekend's return trip ranked third in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings. Biffle recently spoke about going back to California and other issues.
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GOING BACK TO CALIFORNIA?
"We'd love to sweep California. I'd love to get back in Victory Lane, I don't care where it's at. We're not taking the same car we won with back to California. We're taking a better car, a car we've won a lot of races in and we feel like we're gonna be a threat to win at California again."
YOU'VE HAD A HOT STREAK THIS YEAR AND TONY STEWART HAS HAD ONE MORE RECENTLY. IS THERE ONE THING A TEAM DOES TO GET ON THAT ROLL OR IS IT JUST EVERYTHING COMING TOGETHER AT ONCE?
"It's everything hitting at once. You come up on some good race tracks. You have good race cars. The team is real confident and the driver is confident. He gets his car handling well and then maybe you figure out, 'Hey, we did this and it worked,' and then you kind of lean in that direction. Then it worked for a while and then the temperature changes, the race tracks change, your cars change a little bit and then, all of a sudden, it doesn't work so good anymore. It's hard because you win three or four races doing something that it's hard to forget about it and say, 'Forget that stuff, we're gonna go do something totally different.' That's hard to get yourself to do, so that's what can happen to a team."
CAN ANOTHER DRIVER - NOT YOU OR TONY - GET ON A HOT STREAK LIKE YOU GUYS?
"Yeah, anybody could. It could be anybody's game. But I look at the chase and look at some of these races coming up. We've won at California. Texas we won. Bristol we won. Texas we won. We won at Homestead last year. We almost won Kansas last year. Phoenix, we were running second and got a bumper bar through the radiator. I just think that we're gonna be there and run really well and win a few of those."
ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE A HARD-CHARGING APPROACH IN THE CHASE?
"Yeah. I'm gonna win as many as I can - pedal down every race.
COULD YOU WIN THREE OR FOUR RACES AND STILL LOSE BECAUSE OF SOMEONE BEING MORE CONSISTENT?
"Yeah, you could if you get yourself in trouble, but you've got to use your head. I plan on using my head at the same time I'm being aggressive."
THERE WAS A RUMOR THAT YOU HADN'T SIGNED YOUR CONTRACT AND MIGHT STILL BE FREE TO PURSUE SOMETHING ELSE. TRUE?
"No, no. It's funny because I was up until about a week or a week-and-a-half ago. I can't remember the time frame. We had agreed upon terms, but we were going back and forth on final documents and appearances and then just miscellaneous things like that. We had to finish all of that up before it was completely done, so, in a sense, I could have done what Kurt did or anybody else that was available next year, even though it looked like I wasn't. But that's all done and signed. I'm at Roush for '06, '07 and '08 for sure."
WAS YOUR DEAL COMING DOWN AT THE SAME TIME ALL THIS OTHER STUFF WAS HAPPENING?
"It happened right prior to Kurt's change of heart. That could have put panic in them I suppose if I wasn't signed yet, but I am and I'm happy with it. Even if I wasn't signed, I'm still happy."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT ROUSH RACING?
"One is I like job security. If we didn't run that well next year, I know I'm not gonna be looking for a job, which I don't suspect that happening. They've compensated me at a fair amount, what I felt was fair. It's not the best I could have got, for sure, but they were reasonable and that's what I asked them to be. I enjoy driving the cars and I like the Ford family. Ford was one of the bigger influences of why I stayed at Roush. I wanted to keep driving a Ford because I like the Fords."
HOW MANY TEAMS CAME AFTER YOU?
"Twenty. All of them all the way down the garage, but it's like that for any driver, it's not just me."
IT'S A DRIVER'S MARKET NOW ISN'T IT?
"Right now it is and it has been for the last three years. Well, not for the last three years because a couple of young guys came in and did really well, so then everybody thought, 'OK, it's all these young guys now as the new thing.' Well, all of a sudden, everybody hired these young guys and booted out the other guys and now the young guys can't win races and aren't doing anything. Now, all of a sudden, it's like, 'OK, now who are we gonna get?' One of the major companies that sponsor its retail chain in the garage area can't win a race, so they're ready for the next-best thing and that may be a guy that's got more experience."
WILL IT STAY LIKE THIS?
"Yeah, it's gonna be like this for the next few years, I think. It's gonna be good for drivers because there is a shortage of drivers. What it's gonna boil down to is there is gonna be more and more pressure because the only thing that the sponsor and the team wants is to make the chase. That's all they care about and you know what? There are only gonna be 10 guys per year, not 43. Ten guys. If you can make the chase and you're one of those 10, that's what people want. They want a driver that can make the chase, that's it."
ARE THERE A LOT OF JASON LEFFLER'S OUT THERE, WHERE YOU DON'T GET A LOT OF TIME TO GET RESULTS?
"Yeah, I think you're gonna see guys not getting hired straight into the Cup Series. I think you're gonna see guys that run a couple of years in the Busch Series, like David Stremme, to get some experience. You can't just bring a guy in here and expect to be right off. There have been a few exceptions and they got into really good rides, but if you're gonna bring a guy in that's not gonna be in a premier ride with a premier team, he's gonna fail like the 11 car. You can't put a new driver and a new team together, it's just not gonna work."
HOW MUCH LEEWAY IS THERE WHEN FIGURING OUT IF IT'S THE CAR OR THE DRIVER?
"It's really hard because everybody starts going like this when stuff goes bad. What do you do? How do you know it's the car? How do you know it's the driver? It may be the car, but it may be the driver not being able to tell the guys what to do to the car. The car may be fast, but he may not have the experience that a guy who says, 'Hey, this thing has too strong of front shocks on it and the tires are skipping across the track.' That's the kind of stuff that just experience will get you."
Continued in part 2