Martinsville: Biffle - Ford Friday interview

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and spoke about this weekend's outlook before Friday's practice session. HOW HAS YOUR WEEK BEEN? "It was good to get back in the car...

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and spoke about this weekend's outlook before Friday's practice session.

HOW HAS YOUR WEEK BEEN? "It was good to get back in the car after a week off, I guess. I was enjoying my free time working at my shop everyday and I look forward to this race, really. I kind of have a love, hate relationship with Martinsville. In the past, I haven't been as good here as I need to be, but certainly the last two times we've run here we've run a tremendous amount better and was seventh last time here, so I'm really excited about building on that and trying to come out of here with a top five. That's what I need to do. It was kind of funny because a few minutes ago Amber (Moody, PR rep) said we needed to go to the media center. We stopped by the NASCAR truck to sign in and I said, 'You know, I don't know where the media center is at. I've never been there before at Martinsville.' Hopefully, I'll be back here at some point giving a top-three interview or figuring out how I'm gonna get that grandfather clock to the house."

HAVE YOUR RESULTS FOR THIS SEASON SO FAR EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS? "I have to say it's exceeded my expectations so far. I wouldn't have thought we'd be second in points, but I felt like we were capable of being in the top 10 for sure, so we're probably a little higher than I expected to be right at this point in the season, and I just hope to be able to continue to stay here. We know that this race and Talladega are kind of our two wild card races a little bit for us. Anything can kind of happen here. You've got to keep the brakes on the car and keep running well and then Talladega is one of those things, but we look at Texas and all these other race tracks where I feel we can win in the next five races. I felt like that going to Bristol and Atlanta and all these other places. That's good confidence for our team to feel like we're right there every week."

IS YOUR COMFORT WITH THIS CAR A CRAM COURSE OR A STEADY PROCESS? "It's been a steady process. It's been up and down for sure. When we started out with this car, we were way off and then we've really honed in on it and gotten pretty good about it now. Now, I feel real comfortable in this car, not that I feel comfortable driving it or sitting in it or anything else, I feel comfortable and confident that we're gonna be fast every week, that we've gotten closer with our setups and we understand the car better engineering-wise and we start out closer on a race setup and bump stops and all those things. So I feel a lot better when I sit down in the car that we're closer than just starting way out in left field and having to try and work to running better."

TALK ABOUT THE TIRE TEST AT DARLINGTON AGAIN THIS PAST WEEK. DID ANYTHING CHANGE? "No, there hasn't been any changes. I know they brought back the same right that we had, which is harder than the Texas tire. The Texas tires seemed really, really good at that race track. They seem like a good tire, good construction, so we'll see what those tires are like in Texas. I'm anxious to get there, but they brought back a little bit harder left side. They targeted in between two left side tires and the tire still has a lot of grip, which the drivers are gonna love that tire. The thing about it is the track is still pretty dang fast. There's that happy medium we have to hit with keeping everybody happy. I know the drivers are gonna be happy because the car is gonna handle good and that tire takes a couple laps to get its grip built up. It's a little bit harder left side, but it runs real consistent. I did a 40-lap run and on lap 40 I'm running the exact same lap time as I ran on lap three -- no cords showing on these tires at that point. Cording the tires will be an issue like you know how it was at Bristol, we had cords showing in 15 laps on the first set and then 25 laps on the second set and then in the race we ran 70, so it'll probably start out like that -- just like Atlanta or anywhere else. It's a fine line they're walking to have a tire -- on a green race track, it's gonna wear out quick -- but if you build a tire for when we're gonna race on Sunday, that's a different tire from when we show up on Friday, so they're trying to fit it all in that same box and I think this tire is definitely gonna be a fast, good tire -- good for grip -- so we hope the car isn't too hard on the tire."

WILL THIS TRACK BE AN INDICATION OF IF YOU'VE CLOSED THE GAP ON HENDRICK? "Yeah, we're definitely gonna know that in about two hours from now, how we've done overall. But I have to say that a couple of years ago we were winning races as an organization, five cars in the chase, and we still sucked here to put it lightly. I don't know if this will be a reflection whether we've truly made improvements with our program. Obviously, these first races, Carl has run very well, Matt has run good, I've run good and Jamie and David have both been up and down, and David has got some good finishes, so certainly our new car program is a lot closer to Hendrick and we've closed that gap. But here, this track is so unique that hopefully we've learned something about this race track with this simulation and engineering and if we can pick up where we left off, like I said, we finished seventh here. I remember beating on the back of the 48 car for the lead down here in three and four. I just had to bump him a few times. I just got a chance to get close enough to him, so that's kind of the highlight of my career as far as this race track, so we'll see. We'll definitely see as an organization how we've done."

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED -- HOW KEY ARE BRAKES AT THIS TRACK? "Brakes have been the biggest issue for everybody, I think, since the beginning of time here at Martinsville, especially with how fast the cars go and how much power they make, and this car has to slow down a little bit more in the corner than the old car because it's got a higher center of gravity and it just won't go around the corner as fast. The car is a little bit heavier, so we're a little more demanding on the brakes. Every race, I guarantee you, there are gonna be four or five cars on Sunday that are gonna have brake problems and I pray that we're not one of them because I've had brake problems here about every time I've been here, except for the last time. Hopefully, we learned a little bit about brakes. I've learned a little bit about driving the car, but brakes are the most important thing. Brakes are first and then getting your car to go around the corner is second. It's kind of an evil scenario because if your car doesn't turn good when you get down in the corner and you put the wheel to it and the front tires slide, well you've got to slow down more for the corner so then you've got to use the brake harder to get the car slowed down enough to go around the corner. If you've got a good handling car, you're a lot easier on the brakes. If you've got a poor handling car, you're harder on the brakes so that's difficult."

IS THERE A MORE MENTALLY DEMANDING TRACK THAN HERE? "I think Darlington is probably tougher just because it's faster and you're closer to the wall for a longer period of time. Here, it's mentally demanding not to make a mistake, don't bump the curb, but the speeds are a lot slower. This place is pretty physical as far as inside the car, but I'd have to say Darlington is probably a more mentally challenging place."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle