Continued from part 1 CAN YOU CLARIFY YOUR SITUATION WITH THE TEAM? GREG BIFFLE: "It was obvious that earlier in the season we weren't getting the results that we set out to get. I was unhappy with the performance that we were putting on the...
Continued from part 1
CAN YOU CLARIFY YOUR SITUATION WITH THE TEAM?
GREG BIFFLE: "It was obvious that earlier in the season we weren't getting the results that we set out to get. I was unhappy with the performance that we were putting on the race track and anybody that was happy with the performance needs to quit racing because the performance wasn't there and the results weren't there both in the Busch car and the Nextel Cup car. We've got those problems solved. That's all I want. I want to be able to have a chance to compete every week and compete to win. That's what any driver wants. I think there are 43 drivers and if you ask them they will all say the same thing. I was to the point where if we can't fix it, we've been trying to fix it, but if we can't fix it, we can't fix it. But, obviously, over the last three months we've been working very hard at it, everybody has. Jack has been involved and Doug has been a big part of it. We haven't really made a lot of changes, but we made some changes and we've gotten the problems fixed. The Busch team, we still have some little issues here and there. That gets real frustrating for me. We had kind of a miscue yesterday. Everybody has a miscue every once in a while, but it always seems to come when you're running the best and that's tough. But we've got our team where we need it. We're capable of winning races. We're capable of winning the championship. We're definitely capable of getting in the chase next year for the championship. I feel totally confident and I think that we'll win another race this season. I'm pretty danged sure of that. That's what I want to do. I like driving the Fords. It makes me mad when anybody else beats us, but it should. A guy wants to win, he wants to win."
JACK ROUSH : CONTINUED - "This business ebbs and flows - people that have watched it a long time. This is Greg's second year. This is the second crew chief that we've had, but from the time early in the year when we were all frustrated because we weren't getting the results, we haven't changed an engineer, we haven't changed pit people or crew people. We haven't changed the crew chief, we haven't added people and we haven't made anymore effort. We were making a Herculean effort at the beginning and we weren't getting the results we wanted. As we've stayed the course, it's shown that it has turned and we're on a definite upswing right now. It looks like that Greg can do his business and realize his potential and that was my goal for the year. In fact I told Greg as we started this year that I was gonna spend a lot of time with his program making sure that if we did go upside-down with it that I couldn't look back at it and say that I hadn't done my best."
WHEN YOU SAID THE BEST CAR EARLIER, DID YOU MEAN JUST CUP?
GREG BIFFLE: "Just in Cup. For instance at Indy, I felt like I had a good car. I felt like I could run in the top five. I wasn't sure if I could beat the guys at the top of the board. We go back and look at the lap tracker after happy hour and it shows every lap that a guy runs. Well, the 38 car was a half-second a lap faster than us. Our teammate, Mark, is a little bit better than us. A couple of other cars are faster than us, but I know we're right in there and I know we're gonna be right in there. Now between tonight and tomorrow morning is my car gonna be able to beat all those guys? Probably not, but I'm gonna be right there. You've got to be running in the top five to win a race. You've got to be there in the top five and the wheels could fall off. The two guys in front of them could wreck and the third place car could get in it. Anything can happen, so if you're running in the top five you've got a chance to win. So I don't say that I didn't have a chance to win, it's just that this car here in happy hour I felt a balance that I have not ever felt before and the car turning all the way around the corner is what I felt. And it was a fairly stable turn all the way around the corner on a hot, slick race track. I looked at my lap times and everybody else's lap times and I thought I was gonna be good. About 20 or 25 laps in the race today I was being bold and said these guys might be in trouble today when I was chasing down the second place car. I was bringing Gordon in four-tenths a lap, which is pretty danged fast. I just felt like I had a car today that was gonna be tough to beat. I didn't suspect Mark to be up there messing with me like he was, but he had a fast car, too. I don't know what would have happened if he would have not been penalized."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE 16 TEAM PROBLEMS EARLIER VERSUS THE 99 NOW?
JACK ROUSH : "The 99 team is more mature as a group. They've been together for eight or 10 years and has been pretty much the same. Bob Osborne is a prototype of what a crew chief of the future will be. He's out of the Matt Borland, Ray Evernham mold. He's a mechanical engineer and he's got a lot of racing experience, so we made a change for the 99 for Jeff Burton by moving Bob over from being manager of all the engineers to the crew chief for the 99. That program is more mature - the tire changers, the car chief - everybody in place has a pedigree. They've been doing it for a while and doing it well. With the 16 team starting last year, we literally built a brand new team. We built a new addition to our building and everybody in it was new. That has involved some sorting, so I'm confident that unlike when Greg came in as a rookie, that with the 99 I've got a basis of people with an understanding of what the car needs to do and a respect for how to keep it inside the box from the setup parameters. Carl will have a better shot at doing his business in his first year than Greg had based on the maturity of the team."
DOES THE BONUS FOR 11TH PLACE IN POINTS GIVE YOU EXTRA INCENTIVE?
GREG BIFFLE: "Yes and no. Certainly, one is we're gonna trying to finish as high in points as we can no matter what, whether they're even gonna pay us. If they say there is no money for 11th, we're gonna try to be 11th in points - that's as high as we can be. We're gonna work just as hard or maybe a little extra probably to get to that 11th spot. We're going to be thinking with points in mind and doing the best we can. It just depends. We can't have any failures or any problems from here on out. If we get a flat tire or get a lap down where something happens. Last week we were gonna finish ninth or 10th and lost the timing belt and lost three more spots in the points. Those kind of things can't happen to us if we're gonna make 11th in points. It's gonna be a stretch already to get there, but I think it's possible for sure. We're gonna work our hearts out. We've got an opportunity to win at California. We've got an opportunity to win at Bristol. I think we've got an opportunity to win at Darlington. I think we can win in Atlanta and I think we can win at Homestead and Phoenix. Those race tracks we've run good at. We were leading a bunch at Atlanta.
GREG BIFFLE: "We were leading California last time when the transmission broke. We would have won the last Southern 500 ever at Darlington when the flywheel broke because it was dragging the ground. We've been there at all these places and been really close. Last year I felt I could have won at Phoenix and I hit the wall coming off turn two and messed the whole car up on the right side. So we're gonna test at a lot of those places too, so I feel pretty strongly about being tough and getting ready for next year to be where Jimmie Johnson is today."
JACK ROUSH : "This chase for the Nextel Cup points thing for the last 10 races is breaking new ground for all of us. I'm a racing dog. If somebody wants to put together a race and I've got a tricycle or a bicycle or an airplane or a locomotive that fits the rules for it, I want to go race it and see how we can do. So to race for 11th, to race for first, those are all races that are worthwhile. The money that goes with that is a necessary component to what we do. It's like air. Money goes through these things. We spend all that we can get on whatever we think is most important to us at the time. It is gonna be important to generate as many dollars as we can and having the highest average finish we can have for all of our programs to have as much resource as we can to do all the R&D things and get ready for next year."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON SEEING JEFF IN ANOTHER CAR?
"Jeff Burton is a great friend. When I hurt myself two years ago he was the one that was there, that had the presence and the composure to tell my mother what was happening to me at the time. I've been there when both of his children were born - not in the room, but standing by his side figuratively. And I was there when he had his inner ear problem and his wife wanted to get the doctor out with the knife and start cutting on him right away because she wanted it fixed right now. So we've been through an awful lot together. He was a very key component in demonstrating to Mark and the rest of the world that what I wanted to try to do - my vision and my dream for having multiple teams - was not a foolhardy thing. Jeff Burton is one of my heroes. He's one of my friends. I wish him well and I wish him success and God's speed. To see him run by all comparison, he ran better than he's run lately in my cars. Of course, Carl Edwards ran better than he's run in the 99, so it was a win-win thing. Sometimes you change things around and combinations go back together better than you think - you get something extra for it. I think that the Richard Childress organization is gonna benefit from Jeff being there. I think he'll find success, and I think we'll find success with Carl moving forward in the 99. I was a Jeff Burton fan pulling for Jeff today to get the highest finish he could. I didn't want him to be in the top 10 if we had a top 10 full of our cars. I didn't want to give up 10th for Carl to put Jeff in there, but for him to do as well as he could without diminishing my programs. I'm a supporter."
GREG BIFFLE: "We forced Carl to run our whole setup, so I think that's why he ran so good (laughing). I talked to Carl a lot before the race and on Saturday and told him what to do and what to expect - what the car would feel like. I think he felt comfortable coming to talk to me because I ran the trucks and the Busch cars. When he's going places he'll call me at my house and ask me what he should expect from Kansas and places like that. I told him everything he needed to know today to run decent and stay out of trouble and I think it showed. He's a good driver. He's got a lot of car control and he listens well. I didn't see any of his run today, but I think he put it to work today."