Pole winner Biffle and other Ford drivers talk about Darlington qualifying

Ford Racing

Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – “It was a great lap. I can’t say enough about these guys working on this 3M Ford Fusion. They’re doing a great job. I love this race track. The fans down here are great and I can’t wait for a great race tomorrow night. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect lap here. I was in and out of the gas down there in turn one and two, and in three and four I felt I drove it in as far as I could and the car stuck really good, so I thought maybe I didn’t get enough, but when I came by and they told me it was the front row, I was pretty happy.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 A&W All-American Ford Fusion – “It was a big improvement for us over practice, but we struggled in practice. We fought loose a lot of the day and kind of just forgot about qualifying trim today in practice and just really focused on race trim. I feel like we got the car really good in race trim, we were just a little too free in qualifying trim.”

SCOTT SPEED – No. 79 Team Kyle/KOMA Unwind Ford Fusion – “It’s cool to come here with so few people and make such an impact right away. I know everyone is happy and it was a cool experience. This is a tough race track no matter what and the goal is to just get through everything without any major incidents. If we can do that, we’ll be OK.”

JOSH WISE – No. 26 Morristown Drivers Service Ford Fusion – “I like this track a lot. It kind of reminds me of my old sprint car racing days, running up against the fence. It’s just fun. I had a blast today. The guys brought a good car and they’ve been bringing me good cars every week, so that takes a lot of difficulty out of the deal. We made good changes today and we made good gains. We picked up good speed and I’m proud of everyone at Front Row Motorsports.”

CASEY MEARS – No. 13 Geico Ford Fusion – “It wasn’t that pretty. We were really tight down in three and four and on my first lap I overdrove one a little bit and kind of went up the track, so the combination of not getting everything out of it in one and two, and the car being really tight in three and four messed us up pretty good. That’s why my second lap was better because I missed one and two that first lap when the tires were the best.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 Gravely Mower Ford Fusion – “I thought it was pretty good. It’s my first time here in a Cup car, so I was pretty unsure of what to expect. Mike Ford and these guys on this Gravely team did a great job. Our car was better than the driver for his first time here. I didn’t get everything out of it as I could have. I wasn’t sure what to expect. This place is too tough to tame and it’s already bitten me in practice, so I was a little unsure what to expect right there.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Ford EcoBoost Ford Fusion – “It’s a good starting spot. I could have done a little better job for the guys in qualifying, but hopefully Greg stays on the pole. It’s cool to have a Ford starting on the pole.”

GREG BIFFLE POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE – “I’ve said it three times in these interviews now, I’m having such a great time driving these race cars. My guys and Matt Puccia are doing such a great job. This is what a race car driver looks forward to is showing up every weekend and having a really fast car to drive. They’re sure making my life easy and making me look good so far. It was a pretty uneventful lap. The car just had a ton of grip. It stuck to the race track really, really well. I felt like I was a little bit light down in turn one and two, should have been a little quicker down there, but I got a lot out of it in three and four, so it was a great lap."

DO YOU FEEL A SPECIAL SEASON COMING ON, ESPECIALLY IF YOU WIN OR RUN WELL TOMORROW NIGHT? “Yeah, it really will. I feel that special season already. I certainly think we’re gonna be a tough competitor all year, a tough customer. I’ll be honest with you, I was a little nervous coming here because last year we didn’t run that good here, the year before we ran OK, and the car just wasn’t in the race track and I struggled with that. I knew what I needed to do different and how I needed the car to turn a little bit differently around the corner and what I was looking for setup-wise, so we really focused on that and I got the car driving really, really good. So coming back here I think I had a better car, a better platform to start out. Before qualifying I felt I had a good opportunity to win tomorrow night and certainly now I feel a little bit better about my chances because when you drive a car and you get out and your hands are shaking and you’re out of breath and you put it on the front row, that says something. But when you get out of the car fairly relaxed like I was and the car did all the work and stuck to the race track really good, that tells me the car is gonna be good tomorrow night. It’s got a lot of grip."

WHY DO YOU THINK SO MANY POLES HAVE COME THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS? “You’re gonna hate me for saying this, but it’s Matt Puccia. I didn’t have a pole for three years and Matt tookover the crew chief job about four weeks before that first pole. When Matt came aboard last year we got three poles. By the time he took over until the end of the season we had three poles, and we backed it up this year with two and a great qualifying effort everywhere we’ve been, except for last week, which I’m trying to forget about. He focuses on qualifying a little bit more and he knows what to do to the car, I guess. He just gets the car better when I tell him what I need. I told him what I needed in the car and they sat down and talked about it and he made some changes and it was on the money."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE THAT MEANS SO MUCH TO YOU AND HAVE YOUR TEAMMATES PLAYED INTO YOUR SUCCESS? “I think everyone loves this place. This place is a lot of fun. I’ve had a lot of success here with the three crew chiefs I’ve been here with, but I don’t think they (my teammates) have played as much of a role in our success this year as just the company as a whole. The company as a whole, our engineering and aero and engines and fuel injection and engineers – all that – is so good. Our cars are showing up, Matt’s car, my car, Carl’s car, are showing up at the race track as excellent cars. Our shop is putting out really good cars and our feedback is certainly fueling that. When Carl talks about his car and his run at Richmond and Matt and myself, so I think we’re all in it together, but I think a lot of credit goes to the engineering at the shop on how good of cars they’re building."

WHO ARE THE GUYS TO WATCH IN THE RACE? “I think Carl was right there. Carl likes this place and, of course, he almost won last year. The 11 car looked pretty fast on the lap tracker. The final practice, it wasn’t a lot of laps, but the 22 car was fairly fast and he was fast on a qualifying run at the end of that practice session. I don’t know where he ended up tonight, but he looked to be one of the guys up there near the top. Both Matt and Carl looked pretty good.”

WHAT CHANCE DOES YOUR PIT CREW HAVE ON THURSDAY IN THE PIT CREW COMPETITION? “I think they have a good chance in the pit crew competition. That pit crew competition is a lot about pushing the car. They’re doing a phenomenal job. I think they’re doing excellent. We changed one man on the pit crew this year because Matt wasn’t happy with the results we were getting, but other than that I think they’re doing a great job."

WHEN YOU WERE IN HERE EARLIER YOU SOUNDED CONFIDENT OF A GOOD QUALIFYING RUN BUT DIDN’T COME OUT AND SAY THAT. DO DRIVERS NORMALLY DOWNPLAY THESE KIND OF THINGS? “Yeah, I think so. Certainly, I didn’t want to look like a jackass to come in here and tell you I’m gonna do what I think I’m good do because then when I don’t you’re gonna ask me why I didn’t. So if I tell you and I do it, then everybody is surprised. I just felt like my car was pretty good. That qualifying run we made at the end was pretty fast earlier in the day, our qualifying runs were good. I was just nervous because when you make a qualifying run, my last qualifying run was 28.18 and we just ran a 27.28, so you have no idea what this car is gonna do when you go eight-tenths of a second faster. That is huge, so everybody is nervous when you go out there to know, ‘OK, we’re gonna go eight-tenths faster.’ It’s hard to replicate that in practice. The track doesn’t have that much grip and the temperature is up, so I guess what I’m saying is you’re always nervous because you don’t know what to expect when it goes seven-tenths, eight-tenths faster – if you’re gonna have a handful or if the thing is gonna stick like it did, and you don’t know it until you’re in the situation."

DO YOU STAY OUT LIKE REGAN SMITH LAST YEAR IF THERE’S A CAUTION WITH 10 TO GO OR DO YOU PIT FOR TIRES? “He won last year, but I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision. I’m gonna leave that one to Matt. It is very, very difficult to pass here. It’s hard to get an advantage, but we do know that tires are becoming more important to put fresh tires on because it picks the speed up a little bit, but it’s hard to pass four or five cars in that amount of time, so how many laps you’ve got on your tires when that situation comes, or are you almost out of fuel, all of those things will come into play. I want track position, but if everybody behind you comes, you’re a sitting duck. You’ve got to have about three or four or five stay with you. If you do that and squirt off to a good lead, I think you’re gonna be in good shape.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle
Teams Front Row Motorsports , Roush Fenway Racing
Tags almirola, biffle, edwards, ford, gilliland, mears, speed, wise