Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, finds himself ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after two races. He spoke to members of the media before Friday's practice session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. WHAT DO YOU...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, finds himself ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after two races. He spoke to members of the media before Friday's practice session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS WEEKEND? "I tell you what, we ran a lot better here. When we came out and tested, I was a little nervous about this race track and wasn't about California. At California we run a lot better. Here, we've had some issues in the past. We show up here and our car was perfect. We ran really good and was real happy with the car. Then I'm all excited like, 'We've got this thing under control,' and then we go to California and test and we're horrible, and then we got better and better and better so we got running good. The moral of the story is, I think we're gonna be good here off of the test. In California, we left there an 11th place car or maybe 12th after the test. Here, I feel we were in the top five. We ran decent in California -- not what we wanted. It looked like we had the thing wrapped up at night, but the next day the car just wouldn't run in the hot and slick track. I'm not sure why yet, but, here, I feel like we're gonna be good."
ARE YOU FINDING YOUR WAY WITH THE NEW CAR? "Yeah, we really are. I was so excited when we unloaded here and our car was as good as it was off the truck. That was really reassuring that the thing drove well here and I was real happy with that. I feel like we're clicking fairly well We had some issues last week. I certainly won't mask that, but we did have some issues last week in the pits with pit stops. It was a comedy of errors last week and we ended up with a 15th-place finish, which is good. But we've got a bunch of new guys, so we know we're gonna have a few growing pains as we go. We got the wrong tire pressure. We got the tire pressure mixed up in the tires one time, which was big, and we're trying to adjust on the car because it's too loose. When things like that happen you go, 'OK, where do we go now?' Now we've got to put that mistake back, but did the change we made along with that mistake was it better or worse? Now all of a sudden you're upside-down. You only have five or six pit stops to get the car right and when you have to take two or three to figure out where you're at, meanwhile you're losing track position and it's difficult and frustrating. But, anyway, long story short is we ended up with a 15th-place run. That's not what our car deserved and our team deserved, but it was still fairly respectable. We come here with a lot of high hopes that we've got some of those issues worked out and we're gonna be right on our game."
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO BE AWARE OF MOST THIS WEEKEND? "Certainly the tires and these cars -- along with the old cars -- have forced the cars to the top, and mostly the tire. The hard tire, the wider you can make the arc, the less you have to turn the wheel in a sense. The less you slow your car down in the corner, the better off you are. I don't like that groove, unfortunately, as a driver. You say, 'Why not?' We've won three in a row at Darlington up on the top and you've got to run two inches off the fence there all the way around, but I'm a bottom feeder. I love running on the bottom like Mark Martin does. I love to get my car to handle on the bottom. It's frustrating when the hard tire or the car's aerodynamics -- whatever it is, it's just changed -- a lot of things have changed in our sport -- have forced that groove up to the top. I think at night, and I've kind of figured it out a little bit. At night, the groove was fast on the bottom. When it's hot and sunny, the groove is up at the top. So I think that's what we're gonna see in the future is if we see a race run into the night, we'll be running up and then move down and vice versa. Carl got that groove worked out at California. I could not get my car to go up top. It's hard because in practice you can't really run up there because there's no rubber and the track is kind of dirty. You would be in the fence if you just decide, 'Hey, I'm gonna run the top on this lap going 200 off in the corner,' so you can't do that. But we've got to figure out how to get the top to work for us and I think that's where you're gonna have to be to win races in these cars."
IS QUALIFYING GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE WITH THIS CAR? "Yeah, it's gonna be very hard here, I think qualifying. These tires are fairly hard here to keep the speeds down because this race track is very fast. We tried and attempted qualifying at the end of our two-day practice session and we were unsuccessful with qualifying. We ran faster in race trim on 20-lap tires than we could taped up, cooled down in a qualifying format. The car was just too loose. I couldn't get enough speed out of it without being backwards in the fence, so we're really, really gonna have to focus on that this weekend. How are we gonna get enough grip in the car on cold tires to make two good laps. That's gonna be the key for us today."
IS SPEED STILL A CONCERN FOR YOU GUYS HERE? "Definitely it is. These cars are fast. This race track configuration has picked the speed up a lot, but it is what it is. The biggest problem with speed, you know we don't want to complain as drivers that we're going too fast because that makes us look like a wimp, but the problem with the speed is it makes it harder to race side-by-side and that's what all you guys want to see. You guys and the fans all want to see us race side-by-side like at Martinsville or Bristol. When we get here and we're going 210 miles an hour, we cannot race side-by-side or right down on the guy. You're gonna wreck because you're going too fast and the cars are uncontrollable at that speed. I'm not saying that's the issue here, but as we start creeping those speeds up and you say, 'Gosh, we're going fast.' It's OK to go fast single-car runs. We'll go 300 miles an hour by ourselves on a qualifying lap or whatever, but when you get into a race format, we can't race side-by-side and put on a good show when the speeds are too high. They're not too high here yet, but when they approach that, it turns into a single-lane race."
HOW FAR HAS ROUSH FENWAY COME WITH THIS NEW CAR? "That's a bunch of credit to our organization. We've come a long way in this car and Robbie Reiser has been a big part of that. Even though he was not in that position last year, he spearheaded the test team and testing. Before we went to Loudon, he put together a test team and we went to Milwaukee and I drove the car. They've been in Nashville with Carl driving the car. They've been at places with Matt driving the car, so Robbie Reiser took that role up last year on his own prior to actually moving over into it full time this year. We really focused the middle of the season last year and just dropped everything and said, 'We've got to get this car right. We're getting our butts beat right now. We've got to get up to speed with these other teams,' and our organization has done a tremendous job. Everybody has. Jack has, Robbie has, the guys in the fab shop, R&D. Everybody has done a fantastic job at getting these cars up to speed. What we have to quit doing is bringing in good people and then three months later they go to work for another team. That's been our biggest knife in the rib cage is we've had some key people leave our organization -- mechanics and other guys that go to Hendrick, go to Gibbs, go other places. So you start to get an edge and if you give that edge to somebody else, that makes it very difficult to try and keep up, let alone surpass them."
IS IT BECAUSE OF PAY? "I don't know about that. I know that Robbie has changed a lot of things in our organization and that was one of our focuses is retaining our people. We're really working hard at that, but those other teams have perfected that -- getting key people from other organizations. In a sense, buying that technology if you will. You go get the head guy at Hendrick or whoever is connected the most with the COT or whatever, and you bring him over and hope that they bring a lot of information. Some of the other teams have been better at that than we have. We've kind of promoted within."
-credit: ford racing