Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is coming off a fourth-place finish in last week's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Biffle, who is fifth in the point standings, held a Q&A session before Friday's practice. "I'm excited to...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is coming off a fourth-place finish in last week's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Biffle, who is fifth in the point standings, held a Q&A session before Friday's practice.
"I'm excited to be at another mile-and-a-half, two-mile venue for the season. We ran really good here last year, so I'm hoping to pick up where we left off in Las Vegas. Junior and I had a pretty good race in the closing laps at this place, so, hopefully, we start off in that same area. We're coming off a pretty good run at California, so I'm pretty excited about our chances here."
THIS IS THE THIRD YEAR SINCE THE TRACK WAS RE-SURFACED. HOW IS IT NOW? "It certainly was a bumpy reconfiguration, but at the same time that kind of gives the track a little bit of character of something a little bit different out of the ordinary. It makes it a challenge for us to get the cars to adapt to the race track. Those bumps, we've got to keep the splitter off the race track and we've got to keep the car turning good. What the bumps have done is make the upper groove a little bit more desirable because it's a little smoother, so that does make for some side-by-side racing. I was referring to Junior earlier about last year's race. I was running the top and he was on the bottom and we had a pretty good race going, so it does promote some side-by-side racing and it's gonna continue to do that. I don't think we'll probably ever see this race won on the top. I was gonna say I don't think we'll ever see running way up against the fence, but you never know. We might be all the way up there."
YOU WERE HARD ON YOURSELF AFTER LAST WEEK'S RACE. HOW LONG DOES THAT KIND OF THING STAY WITH YOU? "I suppose after a couple days I quit thinking about it. I think when you first get out of the car you're really upset about it, and the first day and then the next day, but probably after Tuesday I quit thinking about it. I certainly exaggerated what my feeling were. I was like, 'Those guys should fire me for taking a car that fast and finishing fourth with it,' but it was kind of a joke. We had a really good car and it's tough when you have to go home not winning a race like that, but there are so many factors. The other thing was, was I gonna be able to beat Matt? Matt had a fast car. Matt was out front. We probably weren't gonna beat Matt out of the pits. He beat the 24. We were behind the 24. I don't know how that would have shaken out, so you could always look back on the fact that it wasn't a gimme that we were gonna be able to pass the 17 for the win. Maybe the 24 would have beat us out of the pits and maybe I wouldn't have been able to get around the 24, so looking back on it, I finished fourth, which is possibly one position worse than I would have finished. That's one way to analyze it. The other way is you gave up a win with a good car. You can't blame the entire situation on what I did. I stopped in the box. I wasn't out the box. I didn't have to back up, and we got on the air hose. You can't blame it on the pit crew either because they had done what they had done all night and I just stopped deeper than they expected me to and pinched the air hose on the left front. So I really wasn't out of the pit box, I just stopped a little bit deeper than they expected. So there were a number of things that could have changed the outcome of that, but I was pretty confident that it kept us from our opportunity to win. We don't know if we would have won, but we felt pretty confident we could."
WHY DO YOU THINK MISTAKES LIKE THAT HAPPEN? "That's a good question and probably a lot of people, I guess, don't understand the importance -- they understand, but they don't understand what we do inside the car to try and get an advantage. We're racing on pit road just as hard or harder than we're racing on the race track. We're going 55 miles an hour down pit road, so that's close to the speed that most everybody drives on the freeway, and we're pulling into a parking space and coming to a complete stop at 55 miles an hour. At the other end, when you're crossing the line -- when they're taking the picture -- it's tenths of a second difference. So if I count one-thousand-one before I lift on the gas and go to the brake versus not, that's gonna make the difference whether I beat the 24 out at the other end. So we're trying to get that last milli-second of speed and at California when I turned off for my pit box, I was against the bumper of the 24 -- right near him -- I turned off and gave it a little bit of gas and held the gas on just a little bit longer than I had the couple stops before just to try and beat the 24 out. I knew it was the last stop of the night and when I got stopped, I was about a foot from the yellow line in my pit box, which is about three feet deeper than I had been stopping, just because I was going too fast to get stopped on the mark. I was just trying to get an advantage to beat the 24 out of the pits. That's all we're trying to do. If you give up and just kind of ease down in your pits, you'll lose four positions. Or let's say you get caught up behind a car and you have to go a little slower than you expected into your pit box, it shows up at the other end when you leave. So I guess what I'm saying is we go as fast as we can and sometimes you slide over or you make a mistake or you don't get in the box right."
WHEN YOU KNOW THERE'S A CHANCE FOR A STRONG RACE, DO YOU PLAY OFFENSE THAT WEEKEND OR HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT IT? "It's sort of both. You look back at California, you try not to make a mistake because you have such a good car. On the other hand, you've got to play offense because you've got to get all you can get because you do have a fast race car and that's what I tried to do at California. I was faster than the 24, I was catching him, but it was so hard. I couldn't get an opportunity where I could pass him, so I tried to get him on pit road and it cost me. It's the same thing here. We feel like we're gonna have pretty fast race cars. We had the luxury of one of our cars tire tested here, so we may have some information, but at the same time I'm gonna guarantee we're coming off the truck exactly how we finished here last year because it was pretty good. But I think mostly offense. We're mostly trying to win here. We're not points racing. We definitely want to win early in the season like we weren't able to do last year."
HOW APPREHENSIVE ARE YOU ABOUT ATLANTA NEXT WEEK? "We tested tires there for Goodyear. I tested there in January and there's a tire that we tested that was really good on that race track, and it put a lot of drivability back in the car. That's what we've been complaining about is it didn't have a lot of grip, and there was a left-side tire that gave the car a fair amount of grip and picked the speed up a little bit and it had some fall off as well as it wore. I don't know what tire they chose to go back to Atlanta with, I'm hoping and I'm pretty sure that they're gonna choose that left-side tire, but that should improve the racing for sure at Atlanta -- that tire. So I'm pretty optimistic. I have to look and see what tire they chose to go there with."
-credit: ford racing