Homestead: Winning team press conference, part 1

GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion JACK ROUSH, Car Owner - No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion Q: IT'S GOOD TO FINISH ON A POSITIVE NOTE. GREG BIFFLE: "Yeah, it certainly is. As everybody knows, it's been a tough year for us. It...

GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner - No. 16 National Guard Ford Fusion

Q: IT'S GOOD TO FINISH ON A POSITIVE NOTE.

GREG BIFFLE: "Yeah, it certainly is. As everybody knows, it's been a tough year for us. It seems like we haven't been in the right place at the right time and then haven't had fast enough race cars and have had a few mechanical failures, but this is something else to come down here to Miami and win again for the third year in a row is pretty incredible. I really, really like this race track. Every win has been different. Every win has been a different tire, different aero combination, different everything so it's been challenging for us.

Today was no exception. It was very difficult to get my car to handle like I needed it to. The temperature, when the temperature dropped into the evening made the middle part of the race track fast enough because that was the only place I could really run effectively, was in the middle of the race track or the upper part of it. I couldn't run right against the fence like all those other guys were, and to be perfectly honest with you, I went up there and raced some in the middle part of the race when I had to and it's really no fun - driving four inches from the wall lap after lap just riding around the top, there's really not a lot to that. I really like racing down in the middle of the race track where you can pass people and get a lot of racing going on, but I think that's a product of the tires being a little bit harder and it forced us to move all the way up against the wall to find grip. When the night fell and it cooled off, my car came back to life there in the middle part of the race track."

JACK ROUSH: "It's been a great Ford weekend here, championship weekend for us. The F-150 on Friday night and with the Busch Grand National win with Matt yesterday. We surely enjoy coming to Miami. I liked the race track the first time I saw it and I think Greg did too. Of course, it was made even better with the changes they made in it. The car of tomorrow is supposed to be saving us money by reducing the number of cars we have, but it turns out I asked how many times we've run this car and where has it won.

It turns out Greg has won all three of his races with this same car and he's won nine times with it throughout the time he's driven it, so that speaks volumes for the car of today and how few of them it would take, if you get them right, how few of them it takes to really get the job done. It's been not a great year for me and for Greg and for Doug Richert together. Like most of the teams, Jimmie Johnson and Rick Hendrick had the same problem we had last year and for that matter the year before and the year before that is when things are going really right for you, you don't want to make much of a change because you're just afraid that you'll screw it up because it was so good. It turned out we didn't make the preparations that we needed to over the winter.

We didn't anticipate what other people were doing. We came back with what we thought was gonna be enough to close the deal without taking unnecessary risk and it turned out not to be enough and we chased it all year. Plus, hopefully, I think Greg and I both kept our sense of humor as the year got going. We said, 'Man, we're glad we piled that problem into this year because that won't happen again for another decade.' We got all of those things out of the way, but we're gonna rebuild Greg's program next year around Pat Tryson, who is a championship contender for Mark. He's a card-carrying guy that has got a real strong team and a good pit crew that's organized with him, so we're gonna bring those to bear for Greg and then rebuild with Jimmy Fennig a new team around David Ragan for the 6 car, so we're still talking with Doug about what he would like to do next year. We had 15 cars here this weekend - 15 entries - and we've got lots of positions and Doug's experience will be important to us in a lot of places.

It's great sadness that we see that this was the last race for us, at least for the time being with National Guard. Greg and I both consider ourselves to be patriots and we're very much in support of our military people wherever they go put themselves in harm's way for the benefit of all Americans. I don't feel good about the fact that we weren't able to put that deal together, but we'll be supporters of the military every place they go, regardless of whether we've got them on our car next year. My compliments to Jimmie Johnson. He's raced hard for a lot of years getting ready for this. He closed the deal. I said days ago that it would be a travesty as good as he'd run the last nine races if he couldn't go on and close the deal and my congratulations to Rick and Jimmie for what they've done. We expect to be there with them next year and have another fight for it."

Q: WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?

GREG BIFFLE: "I forgot how to drive, actually, most of the season. I just decided it was the end of the season so I might as well work hard (joking). No, it's tough. It's really tough. I have not been able to get my race cars to do what I need them to do all season. I have an idea what it is and what it is is Goodyear - we blew out a bunch of tires last year - every race we went to the story was, 'How are the tires wearing? What are the tires doing? There are cords showing.' That's constantly what the problem was and then people blew right-front tires and they put a stop to that.

They made the tire hard enough that people didn't blow out tires this year and it took away, to me, it took away some side-by-side racing and some good racing and made the cars more dependent on aero because you've got to keep in fresh air to keep that hard tire stuck into the race track. The way I ran my race cars, I wasn't getting the tire dug into the race track good enough this year. So the coil bind deal that everybody has heard about, we've been working hard on trying to figure that out and still don't have it figured out because we were like that tonight, and been testing like that and ran Charlotte like that and a few other places, but obviously it didn't work in Phoenix.

I thought I had a chance to win at Phoenix and ended up four laps down just because it wore the tire out, maybe we didn't have the camber right, but regardless of what's happened this season, the reality is that if the race car will go around the corner, I'll drive it. I loosened my race car up here to run this race I finally got sort of ticked off in the second practice and just told them to keep stacking right-rear spring to it. I raised the track bar up, I did all kinds of things, I took swaybar out of it, I did all kinds of things to make the thing loose and I went out there in the first practice and the thing was so loose I could hardly drive it and we were pretty fast after about 15 laps. The second practice it was so loose I couldn't drive it.

I couldn't make a fast lap, so we tightened it back up just a tiny bit and I said, 'Just leave it alone for the race. I'll suffer with it. I'll either gonna be hauling butt or I'm gonna be too loose and we'll have to work on it,' but I haven't had a too loose race car all year. I haven't experienced that yet and I wanted to kind of experience that. Everywhere we go the groove is two inches off the fence and everybody just sits up there and circulates a couple inches off the fence. I don't know how it looks from the grandstands or whatever, but we've got all that real estate down there, let's use some of it for racing and we're using 15 feet of it right against the fence everywhere we go and that's a product of having to go up there to find grip because you turn the tires and wheels less when you're up there. It's a big, wide radius and you start going lower on the race track you've got to turn the wheel sharper and nobody's car turns, so that's why everybody drives up there."

Q: DO YOU THINK THE CHANGES JACK HAS PROPOSED WILL HELP YOU WIN A TITLE?

GREG BIFFLE: "Yeah, it's gonna definitely give us an opportunity. I'm still worried about winning, winning, winning or in the top five. Let's face it, Matt struggled a bunch in the chase, was off a lot, and it seems like all of our cars are and it's not a matter of people that are just gonna snap our fingers and fix it, but we're definitely gonna have to work at it. Pat Tryson and that group and myself, we're capable of continuing down the road we're going and figure it out. Obviously, we had a better race car tonight than Pat prepared for Mark and it's a combination.

Pat and I are gonna hit it off good I'm sure. We're gonna take this race car and one of Pat's race cars to Las Vegas and test on the 6th and 7th and do the tire test for Goodyear, which is gonna be great for us. It's gonna give us a head start on next year. I feel, honestly, it's an unfair advantage because Pat and I are gonna get to spend some time together before the holiday season. We're gonna get to know each other. I'm gonna get to know the team guys some and come Daytona time we're gonna feel like we've got a weekend under our belt before we take a holiday break, so I'm really looking forward to that."

Q: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WINNING ALL THREE RACES AND THIS BEING MARK'S LAST RACE?

JACK ROUSH: "Whenever we get and opportunity to perform before the Ford folks like we did this weekend, we suit up for it and draw something extra. If we have any energy left, we go get and use it. The 100th anniversary of Ford Motor Company we managed to pull that off at MIS a few years ago, so we enjoy playing for our manufacturer and doing things that will help them through their issues. Alan Mulally, the new CEO was here, and I had a chance to meet him and Mark Fields, the North American guy in charge, and my friend Edsel Ford was here, of course he was grand marshal, that was great to do all that.

For Ford, the truck market is real important and we have a chance to do things that would enhance the truck to their potential customers, that's a great thing. It was Ford weekend and this is a favorite track for the guys. We clearly had a number of different setups out there, some which worked and some which didn't and we'll try to analyze that data. We talk about what we're gonna try and do for next year, Dan Davis and Mark Fields and Alan Mulally have all made the commitment to us. If I'll make a list of what we think we need technology-wise and it's available for the simulators and apparatus that's used to test things in the shop, and right now one of the challenges that all the teams have is because there's not tires to go test with, you can't get a cheap answer to a problem. You have to go get very scientific data and have very sophisticated equipment operated by expert people to figure out what's going on and they stand with us realizing that we haven't done as much of that as some of our contemporaries have and we've got to get going on that.

Mark's last race, it was great that he won the truck race the other night. It was a disappointment that we had all the things happen in the chase that caused the problem, that really frustrated his effort, but I think if he would have run clean that this was Jimmie Johnson and Rick Hendrick's year and I think they deserved it and I think it was gonna be for naught. I hoped the last race with Mark would be something he would remember it with more positive feelings than I'm sure he will because he was frustrated. The car wasn't as good as he thought it was gonna be in practice and that was a disappointment."

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , David Ragan , Doug Richert