Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session in the Michigan International Speedway infield media center to discuss a variety of issues. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TONY STEWART AND RYAN NEWMAN AS TEAMMATES...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session in the Michigan International Speedway infield media center to discuss a variety of issues.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF TONY STEWART AND RYAN NEWMAN AS TEAMMATES NEXT YEAR? "I think it will be a good combination. They've both proved on the race track and in the garage area that they're competitive guys and competitive drivers and can get their race cars figured out. Ryan is a heck of a qualifier and racer, and so is Tony. I think it'll make a good combination. They'll both bring a lot of information to the table, I think, and they'll both bring a lot of good people, and being in the equipment that they're gonna be in -- with Hendrick power and chassis and information and what-not -- I think they're gonna be in great shape. I think they'll run really well."
WILL IT BE HARD FOR THEM TO RACE AGAINST THE HENDRICK CARS SINCE THEY'RE AFFILIATED? "Yeah, that's the same thing I face. We create an alliance and have to race the 28 and 38. Those cars are running really well now with Travis and David and they're gonna face the same thing. They're gonna help, technically, Tony and Ryan and then have to race against them on Sunday and that's something we all have to do in the sport to help the manufacturer -- to help Ford -- and to help that progression."
IS THERE ANY ROOM LEFT IN THE NASCAR ENGINE REGULATIONS TO IMPROVE FUEL MILEAGE WITHOUT SACRIFICING HORSEPOWER? "Yes. We've been working really hard at that. I think we've worked harder at the road courses because road courses are so important. Last weekend it proved that maybe Watkins Glen is not as important as Sears Point because of the track size and the fuel consumption and the amount of laps. Sonoma always seems to be a fuel mileage race, who can get on pit road first and get track position at Sonoma tends to be the key. So we've worked really, really hard. We work hard on oval track fuel mileage, but not every race is a fuel mileage race. It certainly can be, but we know Sonoma is a fuel mileage race going there and showing up, but we don't know that Michigan is gonna be one. There could be a caution with 18 laps to go and everybody comes and get four tires and that's kind of out the window, but we do try to balance the power and how much fuel mileage we can get all the time. We're always balancing that out and I think our engine shop and all the guys that work on that stuff have done a great job. Our fuel mileage is incredibly better road racing and that has spilled over into our oval track as well."
YOU'VE HAD SUCCESS HERE EXCEPT FOR THE LAST THREE RACES. ANY CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE AND DO YOU FEEL YOU NEED A GOOD RUN HERE? "Yeah, a little of both. One thing is the last races here, of course the last time here we were running third and fourth and got the air hose caught on the splitter, so the results on the piece of paper show we finished 21st or 20th and that's certainly not where we ran all day. We feel good about this weekend and getting a good, solid run. We feel like this is a good opportunity for us and I wouldn't say desperation, but we know where we're at in the points. We know that we need to finish 10th or better in these next four events -- we've been saying that for the last six -- we know if we do 10th or better we're technically gonna lock ourselves in because we feel like those are good enough finishes. Certainly we want to win, get in the top five, that's the focus we have, but we feel the urgency to be in the top 10 for sure."
HOW IMPORTANT IS MANUFACTURER SUPPORT AND IS THERE A CHANCE THEY COULD PULL AWAY? "I think that the support from the manufacturers is really important, especially Ford. Ford supports our programs very well -- 100 percent -- technology-based and where the sport is going in the future, so they're very active in that. They also realize that the NASCAR community is a large part of their customer base and they want to be involved in this sport. They know that this sport and this exposure with their product helps them sell cars and helps them solidify themselves as one of the major players in the automotive market. They're not gonna leave this market because they sell so many vehicles and they get so much support from race fans. To be quite honest with you, Ford is really coming with a strong smaller car lineup and fuel-mileage-based cars. I think you're gonna see them emerge better. They're producing better vehicles than Honda and Toyota right now and just as soon as the population figures that out, I think they're really gonna be strong. They put a lot of stock in the Ford F-Series truck. They had forever and that's been the stronghold, and now they've committed that technology into small cars and it's really been surprising what they've been able to develop."
YOU'VE BEEN WITH ROUSH YOUR WHOLE CAREER. WHAT IS IT ABOUT ROUSH THAT HAS KEPT YOU THERE? "There the old saying about the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence, and you think that and think that and think that, and then when you really do hard research and investigate if it's really greener on the other side of the fence, a lot of times there are plusses and minuses to everything. Competition-wise, maybe this team might be a little bit better. Marketing-wise, stability-wise, infrastructure-wise, maybe not as big as our organization, so there are pros and cons everywhere. When my contract has been up the last two times, I've researched what my competition looks like and I'm very thankful to have a bunch of offers from other team owners. I felt like with where the 16 car is, we were seventh in points at that time, I didn't feel like it was a smart move for me to get out of that seat and leave that car and go somewhere else. Typically, most of the opportunities were with no points -- a lot of them were and that doesn't necessarily scare me because I feel like the cars would be fast enough and competitive enough to qualify, but there's always that what-if. What if the crew chief, the team isn't perfect? We've seen start-up teams really, really struggle. In fact, one of the most recent ones that comes to mind is the 11 car with Gibbs. That car struggled desperately. They switched crew chiefs. They switched drivers and then they finally got some chemistry going. With where I'm at in my career, I didn't feel like I wanted to take that chance."
WHAT ABOUT JACK'S COMMITMENT? "His commitment to the performance end of the business definitely keeps me there. They're committed to giving us quality and good cars and engines and that's important. Sure, that's certainly important."
HOW FAMILIAR ARE YOU WITH THE CONCEPT OF HYPER-MILING? "I had not heard of that yet, but I feel like I do a form of that when I'm driving my street car because I hate to give those guys anymore of my money than everybody else in this room -- to the Third World countries or whoever has all the oil. I don't know where it's at. I'm still trying to learn all that, but it's not a term I'm familiar with. Jimmie Johnson said it right 100 percent. The crew chief will tell you 20 laps into the run that we need to save some gas and we've got 10 laps to go. (He chuckles and says) 'I could have been saving some gas if you told me 50 miles ago when I was driving 100 miles an hour. Now the next gas station is up there and you want me to save all of a sudden.' That's kind of funny. That's the stereotype of saving gas."
HOW DOES THE RUMOR MILL HAVE AN EFFECT ON YOU? "A lot of times it's surprising. Some of the stuff has a small bit of truth to it and then some of it, I think, is people fantasizing about what somebody might do or dreaming about what they might do. A bunch of people said that I was a perfect candidate for the 20 and I should drive the 20. 'Tony is leaving, it was just announced, and Biffle would fit over there perfect.' After about a month of that, I finally ended up crossing paths with J.D. and we got to talking about what their organization had going. I think some of the times, possibly, the rumor mill provokes some of that stuff to happen because some people don't think it could happen or it's not true, and then some of it has some truth to it as well -- where the information comes from. But I think that some of those rumors were far-fetched -- that I was a lock in the 20. I heard that I was driving the car for sure and had already signed a deal. I heard a lot of things before I had even received a phone call or even talked to them about what they were doing with that car. There have been a lot of them, but thank goodness they've all been positive."
DO THEY MAKE YOU THINK WHEN YOU READ RUMORS? "Yeah. Certainly, it does make you think about it. And, like I said, sometimes it makes you go investigate or research or what-if. Sometimes it does that."
-credit: ford racing