Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held a press conferences in the Martinsville Speedway infield media center prior to qualifying today. "I guess I don't need to tell anybody that this probably isn't my stellar race track. We ...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held a press conferences in the Martinsville Speedway infield media center prior to qualifying today.
"I guess I don't need to tell anybody that this probably isn't my stellar race track. We didn't have a chance to do a qualifying run. We decided to work all on race practice and didn't make a run in practice at qualifying because the weather is sort of iffy and we wanted to get all the practice in we could for the race Sunday, so we elected to do that. We're curious to see how it's gonna qualify. We're just copying the best Roush car setup in qualifying trim and put a couple laps in and see how that works."
WHOSE CAR ARE YOU COPYING? "Here, it's probably more technical than a big, fast place and you don't know what to expect when you drive down in the corner. We've got an idea on how we've qualified here in the past and how our car is set up now, so we're leaning towards copying whose car is similar to ours in race trim or how they were running their car. It's gonna be a conglomeration -- something like what the 96 has and the 26 and the 17 a little bit. We're kind of looking through and kind of getting an idea of all the guys. We've got the rear springs really the same, so we're gonna be really close to all three of those cars. Actually, all of our cars are real close. We don't change a tremendous amount qualifying here."
CAN YOU LOOK BACK TO 2005 WHEN ALL FIVE ROUSH TEAMS MADE THE CHASE AND COMPARE IT TO WHAT HENDRICK IS DOING THIS YEAR? "It's probably real similar to that. All of the cars competed very well. I can remember those were the good old days when we had all five of our cars running really good. We kind of had, I don't know a secret, but our cars were running faster than everybody else's and it's nice to be in that position. But that kind of faded. We switched to the new car, obviously, and that was a big step for us. It's apparent over this last year that all the teams have continued to find new ways of running this new car. We kind of sat in our old ways and sort of polished and fine-tuned our setup, which we probably need to take a different route. Last year wasn't too bad for us, either -- nine wins for Carl and we had two -- but it's funny how it goes in cycles. You would think when you won all those races like that, you wouldn't think about just throwing that whole notebook in the garbage can and starting over for this year and literally that's what we've done. We've had to do that because the way we ran them last year just isn't competitive anymore, and it really is mind-boggling to us why. Why are they not competitive when we won nine times and you just can't run like that anymore. That's really mysterious to us why that's happened, so we're looking around. We're hitting and missing on some stuff, but it's gonna take us a little bit to really fine-tune that in -- being at the race track for the first time with something quite a bit different. We're gonna have to keep dialing it in until we get back competitive again. I think we're gaining on it. We're definitely gaining on it."
HOW DO YOU INTIMIDATE OTHER DRIVERS? "I think when you've got a car fast enough to run with him is the key that you race hard. I race all those guys in the top 10 fairly hard. We're racing for position quite a bit. At Charlotte, we raced around each other a little bit and I just didn't pull over and let him go by and he didn't pull over and let me go by. I passed him once and he passed me once. You have to run him hard. You can't give him a bunch of room. You've got to keep the pressure on and that's all you can do, unless you end up making some contact. It all depends how hard he wants to press, too. If he wants to run right down on the outside of you, you could get the inside car turned around and kind of get collected in that, so you've got to make a decision on how hard you're gonna press the issue. If he's the 48 and I'm on the bottom, he's on the top, there's a lot of things that go into calculating how we're gonna race one another and I think he played it pretty cautious at Kansas when we were racing for the lead for quite a while there. We were battling and I didn't give up. I was racing my butt off to stay in front of him. That was as hard as I could drive."
IS THIS POINTS RACE OVER? "I don't know, I really don't."
HOW CLOSE ARE YOU GOING TO BE WATCHING MATT AND DAVID WITH THE NEW ENGINE NEXT WEEK AND ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT IT? "I'm really excited. I know Doug Yates and that group at Roush Yates Engines have really, really worked hard on this engine. I had a meeting last week with Doug, or got a chance to talk to him a little bit about the engine and how they're gonna start cycling them in and how the durability testing is going on it, and I think it's exciting for us to start phasing that engine in. It's gonna take some time still because with the amount of teams we have, plus if the merger happens, that's a few more for them and that's a lot of engines to transition into. Probably for some of us it will be as late as the second half of next year before we start running them full time, probably, I would think, because this is a lot of engines to get built up."
WHY NOT HAVE YOU AND CARL RUN THE NEW ENGINE? "Because rarely in our sport does horsepower win a race. It comes back to the handling of the race car. Now Talladega, I'll agree with you, is a race track where three or four or five horsepower can make a difference. It's risk versus reward. So if the engine blows up and we're seventh in points, it's gonna be a pretty big hit to us for the finishing of this season. If the engine blows up in the 6 or the 17, it's gonna cost them a good finish, but it's probably not gonna pummel them the points because our points have been reset. And us winning at Talladega isn't gonna catapult us into the point lead, so it's kind of a double-edged sword."
IS THERE A PERIOD OF TIME AS FAR AS DEVELOPING THIS NEW ENGINE? "Absolutely. It will continue to get better over the next five years, just like this new car. Other teams are continuing to find speed in it or find things out about it. We'll be learning for 10 years with this new car. We've had this engine since the seventies, so we've got a long ways to go with this new engine. The engine that we have, just on record, it appeared that we have the most horsepower after the Michigan race. They took all the engines to the tech center and dyno tested them and the numbers show we're within one horsepower of the entire sport. We were one better than everybody in the garage, so the new engine is not gonna make us win races also."
HOW WELL CAN YOU FINISH IN POINTS AND IS IT REALISTIC FOR GUYS AS FAR BACK AS YOU ON BACK TO THINK HE COULD STILL WIN THE TITLE? "I don't think it would be realistic for a guy from us on back could win it, just simply for the fact of doing the numbers. Yes, can the wheels fall off that thing (Jimmie's car)? Yes. Can the brakes go out on Sunday, he gets in a wreck at Talladega, gets a flat tire at Texas -- that can happen. For that to happen to him, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo and Tony Stewart are pretty unlikely. So it could happen to one of those top four guys, but the facts are we're gonna have to have some help, so to speak. If we won the next five races, we still wouldn't win the title, so something is gonna have to happen to them. That may happen in one race, for instance next week, but that's not gonna happen in every event or more than one time and that's what would have to happen to every guy up front. So if you just look at it logistically, it just doesn't make sense that anybody on back has an opportunity. I think I can get to third or fourth, if one of those guys has some trouble and we get going here pretty good, we stay out of a wreck in Talladega and get a decent finish Sunday, we've got some good tracks coming up where we can climb on up there. We're seventh now. If I can stay out of the grass. I've been in the grass the last two weeks and finished 16th and 20th. That hasn't helped my cause any."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT THE NEW ENGINE TO DO BETTER THAN THE CURRENT ONE, AND WILL THIS BE INTERCHANGEABLE IN CARS OR IS IT PURPOSE-BUILT? "Yes, everything you said is correct. I think it has a little bit better cooling, or maybe slightly improved. Maybe slightly lower center of gravity -- marginally at this point -- and it does not interchange, although we don't have to build a new car, I think they're gonna make the cars interchangeable so the car will have both mounts in it. One uses engine plates and one uses mounts, so if I understand it right, the cars will be able to accept both engines and during the transition period, I believe that's the way it's going to work. Or, which the second scenario which is unlikely, we'd have cars that fit that new engine and then cars that fit the old engine. I don't believe that's the case. I think they're gonna be able to retro-fit the cars and leave both assemblies in them."
HAS ANYTHING CHANGED ABOUT THIS TRACK? "I think we will see a little bit different race for the pure fact of the double-file restarts. I think that's gonna be a big deal. It's been a fairly big deal everywhere we've gone. I think here more than anywhere the bottom groove, I think, will be the place to be. It's predominantly been the fastest way around forever, so if you do get third row on the top, we've seen a car get shuffled out of line and he goes to 20th -- sort of like restrictor-plate racing -- before there's an opening. So that could happen to the fourth-place guy. He could get stuck out there forever, I don't know, so I'm curious to see how it works. But as far as the race track goes and the racing, that could be a huge difference."
-credit: ford racing