Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings going into this weekend's race. He came into the trackside conference room at MIS to talk about Sunday's race. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings going into this weekend's race. He came into the trackside conference room at MIS to talk about Sunday's race.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS TRACK? "You can ask me throughout the season what my favorite track is and it's here this weekend -- Michigan. I just really enjoy the racing here. You can run two, three-wide with a downforce car with plenty of room to race, so I think it bodes well for fans that really see good side-by-side racing on a big race track. There's a lot of strategy involved and kind of semi-technical type of race track. We normally always have green flag pit stops here, which I enjoy doing. I think the double-file restart is also gonna be a little more exciting when we get those caution flags, so I'm looking forward to this weekend."
GM ANNOUNCED SOME CUTBACK IN NATIONWIDE. CAN YOU GIVE US SENSE FOR THE LEVEL OF CONCERN YOU HAVE FOR THE AUTO INDUSTRY? "Certainly we're concerned about the auto manufacturers because even though Ford thankfully has positioned themselves in the right spot in the car market with great vehicles -- I don't want to sound like a salesman -- but they've got really, really good cars, a great truck platform, and over the next couple of years they've got some really exciting small cars coming to this market. They're gonna be the leader, I'm confident, in the car industry, so to take it a step further, GM and Chrysler or Dodge have probably made some mistakes along the way. It certainly affects Ford as well as far as supplier issues. They need those other car companies to survive. As we probably know, there have already been cutbacks from the support of those auto manufacturers and what people have to get through their head is that we're gonna be racing race cars -- and certainly there is always going to be auto manufacturers -- but we're gonna be racing race cars with or without them. The amount of support they provide us is important, but we can continue to race without that support. It just means the amount of cutback on technology or testing or whatever else. I can think back to when I was late model racing or Camping World East or West racing, there's no support there. You go to your local Friday or Saturday, a guy has a Chevy, a Dodge, a Ford or whatever, and nobody is footing his bill. He chooses which manufacturer he wants to race in the series and that's what he does. Hendrick Motorsports is gonna be racing cars, whether they have any support or what the level might be. I'm pretty confident of that, but, yeah, it's important for them to continue to be around. I'm just happy that Alan Mulally and the whole group at Ford did what they did and got in the pipeline some great vehicles coming. There was some really exciting stuff I saw yesterday. I got to drive a lot of it and it's gonna be spectacular in the next couple of years."
WHAT DO TOWN HALL TYPE MEETINGS MEAN ABOUT NASCAR AND WHERE THEY'VE COME RECENTLY? "My straight-out opinion of the whole situation is that NASCAR wanted to make this racing safer. You have to admit that we had the cars so whacked out of shape on the bodies and the rear-end housings and all this crap -- we had the cars going sideways down the straightaways. We'd figure out another way to trick them as soon as they'd catch us on something. Look at the Nationwide cars when you walk through the garage. The roof is all pulled down. The bumper cover is super-high, all swung to the left, they're still the same way. So NASCAR said, 'We're gonna do something about this. We're gonna come up with a new car and we're gonna fix a lot of these issues.' Which, we agreed, probably needed to be fixed. The issue is they sort of went off on their own and built this car somewhat, and we as all the race teams and all the drivers probably wanted to have a little bit more input with that and maybe wanted it a little bit different. But it's what they chose as a car, so, of course, when we didn't design it, we didn't build it, and this is what we're racing now, we were happy with it. We couldn't get the car to do what we want. We like the old car and all this, so it sort of painted the car in a bad light. Well, after spending a year on this car -- two years, now three -- we've gotten he car pretty damn competitive. We're putting on some pretty damn good races out on the race track. I don't think anybody can argue that. The thing about it is everybody feels like this car is a piece of crap because that's how we began life with it. We hate it. Kyle Busch gets out of the thing and says I hate this thing. This is the worst car I've driven. Well, all of that has changed and the car is a good platform, so to take it to today, they haven't really changed the car over the last three years. It hasn't been pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. You think about the old car, we were changing rules constantly. This, that, that, that, so it's been pretty consistent. So we've come a long ways with it and now we've got three years on it, and now I think it's time to see what can we do to make it better or can we. Everybody knows you can improve anything. It doesn't matter what it is. Ford continues to improve their cars that drive on the street through better fuel mileage or whatever, so we can make it better in different areas. So let's take a second round and look at what kinds of things could we make better and put on better shows for the fans, more competitive, better for the driver, we can race side-by-side in the corner, and I think that's a positive for NASCAR to involve us in saying, let's not rebuild the car because certainly we don't have the budgets for that, but what things can we do to make the racing better and none of us know. Like we talked about, it's a matter of testing some issues. Test some wickers on the fenders. Test less weight, more left-side weight, all kinds of ideas came out of that thing. So I think it's a positive thing where we're at today, that NASCAR is involving us and what can we do -- small tweaks and changes to this car -- and I think we're gonna have more in the future and I think it's great that NASCAR is involving us in trying to make some of those decisions -- educated guesses is what they are because nobody knows the perfect answer."
KNOWING YOU'RE WITH THE MOST FINANCIALLY SOLVENT COMPANY OF THE BIG THREE, DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT TRANSLATE INTO A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE ON THE RACE TRACK? "I really don't think so, and the reason why is because historically money won't buy competitiveness or wins on the race track. You could take Donald Trump or whoever has a Godzilla amount of money and come in here with no brand. 'I'm gonna race my own manufacturer brand.' It's gonna be difficult for him to compete with the Hendricks and the Roushes and the Gibbs'. It just is. So I view it as a bigger budget doesn't always mean they're gonna be more competitive, so I don't really feel like it's gonna be a huge advantage because what they're doing now they're gonna continue to do -- maybe in a little bit reduced capacity, but they already know where they're making speed at and what they're doing and advancing their technology, so with or without them, they're gonna continue to be able to do it at some level. So I don't really feel like they're gonna be missing out on anything. Now maybe with the old car, we'd take the old car to the wind tunnel three times. We'd take a car to the wind tunnel, cut the entire body off it, put a whole new body on it, take it back to the wind tunnel before we'd bring it to the race track. That doesn't happen anymore, so times have changed, really. I don't think it will give us any kind of advantage."
HOW WOULD YOU SAY ROUSH COMPARES TO HENDRICK AND GIBBS AS FAR AS CONTENDING FOR THE TITLE? "I think that the 48 continues to be the best car in the field right now. Today he was fastest in practice again, won at Dover and was pretty damn fast at Pocono. I think he continues to be the benchmark and that's not surprising. That team is really, really good and really organized at what they do. I think that Roush Fenway is off just a tick this year -- not much -- but it seems like we're not quite as competitive as we were last year just ever so slightly. I had this conversation earlier and I don't think it's that we've slid down the slope any, it's that the other guys have gotten a few steps up the slope and gotten a little better. We haven't really gotten any better. We're where we were last year, but we need to improve that, so it's a constant improvement and I don't think our graph is quite as good as some of those other teams that have beat us a little bit, but we're working hard."
HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO PINPOINT A REASON? "Not really. That's what this sport is about. This sport is about continuing to develop technology and finding stuff out. We're not testing now, so this morning was out test session to try a few things and throw a few things at the car and see what it does. Somebody will inevitably get a little bit better mouse trap than you and then it takes you a month or three weeks or 10 races or whatever to figure it out or catch on to something else, and then you kind of leapfrog them. That's what happens. That's how this sport runs. It's this team and then that team and then that team. Sometimes you'll see teams on the bottom of the cycle for quite some time -- like Childress a few years ago -- and then last year they were back in the chase and winning races and doing all kinds of things. So it's a vicious cycle and we don't know what it is. A good example is we showed up at Richmond this year and all of our cars were terrible. None of our cars would turn. We were all looking at each other, 'This is what we ran last year. We were pretty dang good,' but we just don't know what happens and why that is. Have other guys gotten better? Probably, but that's just the way it is. We don't know what it is. The funny part about that is if we knew what it was, we would fix it."
IS JACK PUTTING AN EXTRA EMPHASIS ON THIS WEEK? "It certainly would be big for us. All of the big three auto manufacturers are here. We'd like to win here for Ford and for Roush. We know Jack has a huge stake in Michigan and a big engineering deal here. He works with all of the auto manufacturers across the board and builds the Roush Mustangs and Roush Performance Vehicles up here, so there will be a lot of Roush folks at the race this weekend, so we would certainly love to win here. He's certainly in a good mood today, so, hopefully, we can keep that up and qualify good here this afternoon. We've got a good draw and try to run good on Sunday."
-credit: ford racing