GREG BIFFLE , Driver - No. 16 National Guard/Post-It Taurus DID YOU MAKE A PREDICTION ABOUT WINNING TODAY? "Before I went to Daytona to run the 24-hour car, before the 24 hour race at Daytona, I had a pretty strong feeling that we would win ...
GREG BIFFLE , Driver - No. 16 National Guard/Post-It Taurus
DID YOU MAKE A PREDICTION ABOUT WINNING TODAY?
"Before I went to Daytona to run the 24-hour car, before the 24 hour race at Daytona, I had a pretty strong feeling that we would win out here - or had a chance to win. I wouldn't say we were gonna win, but a lot of things can happen. Ninety percent of the time in our sport the fastest car doesn't win the race. Today, I feel the fastest car won. The 48 was coming on us at the end, but I was way too loose out there running out front, but when we tested here we were two-tenths a lap faster than the next closest car and a half-second a lap faster on a 20-lap run, so the car was just unbelievably fast. It was a really, really good car.
"It was easy to drive. The car would cut to the bottom. I could stay way out and make a late apex into the corner and I like this race track. Let's not forget I was leading here when the transmission broke on the restart last year and I was catching the second-place car when my right-rear tire blew out, so just because I didn't have good finishes here in the Cup car last year doesn't mean we didn't have a chance to win maybe one or two of those races. At Vegas, my chances aren't real good to win, but I think we have a chance to run up in the top 10 and that's what we're gonna do. When we tested there we were about 15th-fastest. Doug has worked really hard on our car and we're going back to try and be better."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW RULES?
"I still feel the inch of spoiler that was taken off was a pretty significant amount. That was a lot of spoiler. They took a half-inch away last year and then to take a whole inch was a pretty bold change. It wouldn't effect me if they put it back on or not, but what I did find kind of ironic was that my car today - I don't know about everybody else's car - my car was real bad behind other cars. If I'm coming up through there and I could get maybe six car lengths from McMurray, I stalled out. I couldn't do anything and it was just one car by itself. My car would quit turning to the bottom. It's the same problems that we always have when you're behind another race car. I don't think we really got a true feeling for what the new package is gonna be like. When we go to Texas or Atlanta, that's when you're gonna see something."
DID IT CHANGE HOW YOU APPROACHED THE RACE?
"I left a lot of that up to Doug Richert and the car chiefs Bobby and Keith. I feel they're one of the best in the garage at preparing these race cars and they did just a great job getting it ready to go. We approached it like we felt we should have. We spent a lot of time working on race trim because we only had two hours of practice. Normally, we have that much time to work on race trim, but we had to work on that and qualifying, so we made one qualifying run at the very end. Our car was so fast that we knew you can't change it much to qualify, so why spend a bunch of time with that, but we did. We qualified it and we were way too loose qualifying and I felt that's where I needed the race car for today. But, it came to find out I was still too loose in the race."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SETBACKS TODAY?
"This was the toughest one of my life to earn, right here today out of any of my victories. We overcame more today than I ever have in a race car. I was pretty upset in the middle of the race. Toward the beginning the car was so loose and I didn't understand why. We came down pit road and put a full rubber in the left-rear spring, which took a long time to do - longer than I thought it would have taken - but that's what we needed. I went from running eighth to back in the high twenties. I clearly lost all of my track position on that one pit stop. It's nothing against the guys. I mean, they did a great job. That's what we had to do to be good at the end of the race. We came back from that. We got caught on pit road, a lap down. Kurt and I worked together out front and both got our laps back and had to come from the back again. After I got my lap back I said, 'Hey, I've got to free the car up. I'm gonna be back here in traffic and have to start 33rd again.' My car just won't turn behind other cars, so I had to free it up some more. Then I got caught out front in clean air and was way, way too loose, but it worked out for me."
DID YOU GET CLOSE TO LOSING IT AT THE END?
"Yeah, I was completely sideways over there coming off of two that one time and lost all my momentum. I looked down at the tach and the thing was down 6500 rpm and had to get going again. Kurt and all the guys closed in probably 20 car lengths probably in that one corner. The next lap I got up there and right when I got to the wall it started to get sideways on me and I eased up and I could just hear the paint touching the fence. It was close, but I was doing everything I could. I was doing what I knew best to do and that was to try not to make a mistake, which you call those making mistakes or you call it just getting every ounce that you can out of the race car. I got every ounce I could out of that race car today. Kurt was really loose too. I was better behind Kurt when he blocked some of the air off the front of my car. When I got around Kurt about three laps later I though, 'Holy smokes. This thing is really loose out front.' But that's the way it goes. It worked out. I was driving my buns off. That's all I had."
JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - No. 16 National Guard/Post-It Taurus
COULD YOU SEE HOW LOOSE HE WAS?
"No, I couldn't see that, but it was clear there was more change in cars going from loose to tight than we had anticipated. That was something that didn't show up in testing. We really didn't have drafting practice and be able to see that, but we suspected something unusual would occur. I don't know if it made for more exciting racing for the fans or not, I won't speak to the change on the spoiler, but I think Goodyear did a really nice job on the tires. They softened the tires up and changed the construction of them so that they would be more compliant on the race track and would be more aggressive and they did that without getting us in trouble. I'm confident that we'll have no trouble when it gets hotter as well, but it's been really great to work with Goodyear on this new tire package.
"As far as the weekend is concerned, I think the fans saw a more exciting Saturday than any Saturday that we've been at Fontana. We had two qualifying sessions and a race for them on Saturday and if we package that right, we can save some more time away from home for the teams. The idea of getting our races compressed so we can have two-day events and we can give the fans more excitement will both be in the interest of saving the sponsors and the teams money, and making it more exciting for the fans. I think we made a real important step towards that at this race."
ON BEING LOOSE.
"It's kind of funny, speaking of aero at Daytona. Tony Stewart smashed in the back of my Duraflame car going into turn three when I was leading. He gave me a pretty hard shot in the left-rear quarterpanel and it bent the sheetmetal out and it was like having a spoiler on the side of the car. The back end would just want to drive around in a circle, so they're real aero sensitive and that thing being diagonal on there (pop rivet) could definitely block the air on the spoiler or something."
WHAT ABOUT THE DECISION NOT TO PIT?
"You're always worried when you make a call and what's even worse about it is when I have to make it myself because I hate it when I'm wrong. Everybody hates it when they're wrong. We have to make decisions in life all the time. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't - whether you take the right exit to get to the subway or was it the next one on the freeway or the next one back. But I decided that I saw Kurt stay out and I knew it was 30 laps to go and I felt like there were gonna be more cautions. It takes a couple of laps for the tires to come in. We had run only seven laps on our tires, so what is the advantage gonna be? We're only talking about a five-lap advantage. I felt if a couple guys stayed with us, we needed three guys to stay with us. I think Mark was the only one that stayed, but we needed about three more to stay. Then we knew guys were gonna take two tires, so all of this is going through my head in about 50-75 feet over here. Guys are gonna take two tires. We come in and take four. Some guys are gonna stay out. Where does that put us?
"I chose to be in front of all of that mayhem instead of back in the middle of it and it looked to be the right decision. I was faster than Kurt. I felt like I would be able to get by him and in clean air I knew my car was fast. I felt even with four new tires, they're not gonna catch me out front in clean air because they're gonna have to pass Kurt and they're gonna have to pass Mark. I didn't suspect my car was gonna be that loose. I could have been half-a-second a lap faster. I could have put a straightaway on the field if I was just a little bit tighter like I was earlier in the race, but it worked out."
Continued in part 2