New Hampshire Motor Speedway September 14, 2008 An interview with: GREG BIFFLE JACK ROUSH GREG ERWIN KERRY THARP: We have our championship team in the first race of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase, and that's Greg Biffle, driver of the No.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway September 14, 2008
An interview with:
KERRY THARP: We have our championship team in the first race of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase, and that's Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 DISH Network Turbo HD, team owner Jack Roush, and crew chief Greg Erwin. This is Greg's first victory in 2008. Couldn't come at a better time. This is his 13th victory during his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. I believe he moves up to third in our points race right now.
Greg, you have to feel really good about how you did out there today. Tell us about it.
GREG BIFFLE: Man, I do. I love this racetrack. With the old car, we ran extremely well here, almost won a couple, top fives every time we came. When we came with the new car, we hadn't run very good. It was really troublesome to get going. Finally, you know, we've got on to something that worked here.
The racecar just drove phenomenal right off the truck. It was really fast. Greg and I worked through some things. I think our practice, we executed really good. When the race started off today, my car was just perfect. I hardly adjusted anything. I think I took a half a round of a wedge out of it all day and that was it. Really just took care of my car through the middle part of the race. Ran pretty hard when I was trying to catch Junior to get the lead.
Then the 48 caught us. Just decided to ride for a while, wait toward the end. My car just kept getting better and better as the day went. That's not normally the case. That's why I didn't adjust much on it.
I knew I had a little bit left at the end. I backed way off, trying to save some brakes and fuel for the end. I'm sure that Jimmie did, as well. Greg told me we were catching him about a 10th a lap. So either he slowed down or his car was starting to slow down. At that point I felt like we'd have an opportunity to pass him if the caution came out. That's what we were hoping for.
KERRY THARP: Crew chief, Greg Erwin, you called a great race out there today. What were your thoughts about how the team performed on pit road?
GREG ERWIN: Spectacular. We've made some changes. The progress of the 16 pit crew has been pretty well documented. We had one hang up on one stop. You know, cost us a couple spots. But the difference is nobody got down because everybody knew the potential was there. We've seen that the last couple of weeks, as strong as we've been.
I couldn't be happier for everyone.
KERRY THARP: Team owner, Jack Roush. Jack, your thoughts about Greg getting this victory and then also about having the opportunity to win up in this New England corridor like this?
JACK ROUSH: Well, let me say first of all, all the Red Sox fans, we're glad to be here with John Henry. They won last night. We were able to win today. They probably felt as bad about their chances halfway through the game last night as I watched it as I did from the lap times we had on Friday and Saturday. Although the bright spot was how the 16 was running, which wasn't at the top of the board, but pretty good.
We really enjoyed the support of Ford Motor Company to get us here with all the technical things all the other manufacturers are providing to their teams. Today, though, it was a blend of the things, the algorithms and the analysis things that the engineers would suggest. And, of course, the real life experience that Greg's had, that Greg Erwin has had, as well. So it was a blend of those things.
I don't look forward to the day when we'll be able to have somebody put on a piece of paper all the things you need to do. But it certainly wasn't the case that we were able to define precisely what needed to be in the car. It was a blend of the things that worked for Greg in the past and the things that worked for Greg Erwin in the past, what they believed to be true.
The teams tested real hard. The pit crew, can't say too much about the pit crew. I don't know which stop Greg Erwin was talking about, but he called to have some tape taken off a brake duct. That was an impossible task from where I was. Greg Biffle had the good common sense not to run over the guy that was trying to get the tape off. That's the only bad stop I saw. Except for that, I had a 12 second and a 13 second flat stop. They were on their game all day. They did a great job.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now.
Q: Greg, you said you were holding back a little bit, hoping for late cautions. What would you have done had you not gotten late cautions?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, Greg was giving me all the information that I needed. And I could see the 48. We were catching him and being even with him. So he wasn't getting away from us at that point when I was saving. So I knew that about 15 to go I was gonna have to start pressing to try and catch him. You know, I knew I could run about a 10th or two faster at that point, so that would give me enough time to run him down.
I wasn't letting him get too far away, you know. I was just really arcing the car in the corner, trying not to use too much brake. I had some pedal fade, so I didn't want to get the brakes too hot. If I didn't get a caution, I knew I was going to have to race the 48 pretty tight quarters, so I was going to need a lot of brake.
If the caution wouldn't have came out, then I was hoping that the 48 was slowing down because, you know, his car was starting to get tight in the middle of the corner, not because he was just kind of backing off to save fuel, I don't know. But I was being as fast as he was, a little faster, by saving. So I knew at that point I might be able to run him down if that caution didn't come out. But I felt pretty confident that there would be some kind of caution in 40 or 50 laps pretty easily.
I did almost run over that guy that was in front of the car taking the tape off because I couldn't see him. I saw him go across the hood and down. They dropped the jack. I was like, I didn't see that guy run out of there. I jumped the clutch, was on the gas. Then he popped his head up. So I had to push the clutch back in, give him a chance to get out of there. It was kind of funny actually. I was like, I think there's somebody down there, but I got to go. It was kind of funny.
Q: Both Gregs, a year ago Clint Bowyer came in here, hadn't won a race, nobody was counting on him, nobody thought he was a Chase contender, he came in and won the race and put himself thick in the championship hunt. Did either of you come in thinking you'd have to do something similar? What were your expectations for today? What did you think you'd need to do to jump into this thing?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, I felt like we were a definite threat for the Chase if we made it, you know, because of the momentum we've had and because of how good racetracks are in the Chase for me. I can't name them all. Dover, Homestead we've won at, Texas, Kansas. Those are all just there's a bunch of great racetracks for us in the Chase.
You know, there are some that I was a little nervous about. One was Loudon, and the other two are Martinsville and Talladega. We've gotten through the one a little better than I expected, which is here. So I feel like we're definitely the dark horse, like a couple people said we are.
GREG ERWIN: Yeah, our history here hasn't been real strong. Quite honestly we thought, man, if we could come out of here with a top 10 finish and roll into Dover, where we're second and third and fifth or sixth in our last three trips there, that we'd be able to put a solid string together and get up there in the points.
You combine that with the fact that, you know, maybe we've been playing a little conservative the last four races, not wanting to take ourselves out of Chase contention. Last week we talked. He said, Heck with that, man, we're going hammer down, wide open, as fast as we can go from here on out.
So this is what you get. I guess he wasn't kidding (smiling).
Q: Greg, along those same lines, can you speak to how today's outcome really shook up the points? I think Busch is eighth now. It's given a lot of people who weren't in the picture at all two or three weeks ago a shot at the championship.
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I mean, that's a credit to NASCAR and all those guys that came up with that Chase format. It gives 10 guys, used to be 12 guys, an opportunity to win a championship. That's exactly why they designed it that way, is so that you reset the points basically.
Yeah, I'm surprised that the points leader coming in, especially I think he had an 80 point lead, I'm surprised to see him that far back. I knew he was going to finish bad when he was two laps down. But that can happen with the Chase. We all know that. That's what hurts so bad when we were trying to get in the Chase. We're leading at Darlington, had a problem, finished 43rd. You know, you take such a hit in the points when you finish dead last. It's unbelievable how fast you can fall.
Q: Erwin, you seemed completely in shock. The drivers told you the car got better throughout the race. When have you heard that the car gets better at a place like this? Greg, you lost a championship. Does that help you learn how to win one? Jack, if you come down to the same thing with he and the 99 going for the championship like you did several years ago at Homestead, how are you going to handle it?
GREG ERWIN: Car got better throughout the race. We've had it happen sometimes, not often here and not often on a flat track. But, yeah, very few adjustments today.
But I think we knew I guess at the end of the day yesterday when we kind of laid out everyone's lap times there, we had a pretty good idea we had plenty of speed in the car. It came down to, you know, don't tune yourself out and don't screw it up. That really kind of seemed to be the ticket for today. He had a good thing; let it ride.
GREG BIFFLE: It was unfortunate to come that close. Somebody told me one time that you have to lose one before you can win one. I didn't understand that theory. Unfortunately I was hoping that wouldn't be the case in 2005 when we came so close and finished second.
I guess I got that part out of the way. I lost one in 1998 by eight points. Or in '99 I lost one by eight points in the Truck Series. I lost one in the Nationwide Series. Won it the next year. Came second in the Cup Series. So hopefully history will repeat itself and maybe we'll be there.
JACK ROUSH: The 99, 16, 17, I'm good with all those numbers (smiling).
But I was as surprised as Greg Erwin was that the car got better because throughout the race we really didn't get an inkling of that, except for watching the lap times. Greg, he didn't relieve anybody. Didn't give anybody any relief saying it was going to be okay.
But, you know, I'm in the company of real fast people, the fast drivers, dedicated crew chiefs. Of course, the thing that's happened here is that Greg Erwin and Greg Biffle have become good friends in the last year and a half. They've figured out how to help one another. That takes a while, it really does.
But I think that we're ready to peak on this thing and to really say what they're both capable of in the racing remaining here.
Q: Jack, a few weeks ago you said like you felt Carl was ready to win a championship and you wouldn't have said that in the past. Do you feel like Greg Biffle is ready to win a championship? Also, since you're No. 1 by a tiebreaker, then No. 3 in the standings right now, is Roush Fenway in the driver's seat for the Chase, in your opinion?
JACK ROUSH: I wouldn't say we're in the driver's seat, but certainly we're competitive. I will not sleep tonight based on what happened to Matt Kenseth. I will not take sufficient joy and glee from what happened to the 16 and the 99 that I'll get past what happened to the 17.
Greg is obviously ready to win a championship. He would have won. For just a handful of points, he would have won a championship in the truck earlier. Had two of those. He would have had an earlier Nationwide race Busch race as it were at the time. Of course, the Cup race, we're really enjoying the fact we've got great pit stops now.
But I think that Greg would say we had a pit situation that really let him down, and that was the difference on the Cup race that we missed in 2005. So we're determined not to do that. Robbie Reiser is doing a great job getting all the things lined up, the people in the right spots. We think we're peaked. We're certainly going to be able to make a run at it with two, if not three, of our cars.
Continued in part 2