Roush Racing announced today that Ameriquest will serve as primary sponsor for driver Greg Biffle in the No. 16 Ford Fusion in 2007. Car owner Jack Roush, along with Biffle and new crew chief Pat Tryson, spoke about the deal and other issues...
Roush Racing announced today that Ameriquest will serve as primary sponsor for driver Greg Biffle in the No. 16 Ford Fusion in 2007. Car owner Jack Roush, along with Biffle and new crew chief Pat Tryson, spoke about the deal and other issues before Sunday's race.
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 Ameriquest Ford Fusion
"I'm really excited to continue our relationship with Ameriquest. I had a lot of fun racing the Busch car this year and in only our second race got to victory lane. It's been a while since then and we've been trying to get back to victory lane. Also I think today, I'd like to officially announce that I'm not going to Yates (laughing). Everybody has asked me. I just wanted to get that out there. Everyday I get a phone call about that, it's been on the internet or something, but it's kind of funny how everybody likes to talk about that stuff. But we've had this planned for quite some time with Ameriquest and it's a long-term deal. We're gonna be Nextel Cup racing together for a long time and I'm real excited about it and excited about having Pat and his group next year as part of the 16 team. We look forward to getting ourselves back in the chase and winning some races and, hopefully, get back into the championship fight with two or three races to go next year."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner - No. 16 Ameriquest Ford Fusion
"We certainly enjoy the fact that we trade a new way of doing sponsorship and operating race teams in the Busch Grand National Series this year with four of our Busch cars being sponsored by Ameriquest. We feel and are proud to be involved with them as a premier mortgage company in the American economy here. Greg hasn't peaked yet. He's very near peak. I was amazed to find that he's only won 10 races in the Nextel Cup Series, even though he's got his championship in the Truck and Busch Series behind him. But last year he won six times, so it was more than enough the success we had last year. Of course sometimes in this business things ebb and flow. I think Greg wouldn't agree with this, but we may have gotten more success last year than our effort or our technology or our strategies deserved, but it was nonetheless great and we're anxious to get back on track with that. To have a chance to see Greg compete for and be successful in competing for a Nextel Cup championship to go with his Busch and his Truck championships would be a wonderful thing and that is out there. It'll be a huge disappointment to me if we're not able to do that in the very near future with Ameriquest. The development of Greg into Cup racing, the development of Ameriquest to find success that met their parameters in the Busch Series and see them advance with us into the Cup Series is a wonderful thing. At my age, I enjoy these successes when they come as much as I do the checkered flags. It's a great thing. I've been a project for Pat. Pat feeds me and keeps me close by and he's kind of on Jack-watch most of the time and we look forward to having him do something so that I can be closer to Greg than I have been in the past because I'm sure that I won't get very far from Pat (joking). We look forward to breathing new life back into the 16 program. You looked at what happened last year and say, 'Wow, that was near perfect with all the races they won and coming up just a tick short on the championship.' It looked like all they needed was a tweak in 2006 to be able to close the deal and we came up just a little bit short. Of course, we didn't make the chase and that was one of the biggest disappointments of my racing career, as well as Greg's, that we weren't able to get that done. But moving people around and looking for these ideal combinations of chemistry, which can be fleeting and sometimes it abides for years and years, which I hope we can achieve here with Pat and with Greg. I know Pat's looked at me out of the corner of his eye and what was gonna happen in the post-Mark timeframe. I've got rookies that I'm real excited about, but Pat wasn't as excited about my rookies as he was other things that were out there, but when he found out he had a chance to pair with Greg Biffle, any conversation that was gonna be not to my liking we were able to avoid because he signed right up for that. But I'm happy to be with Ameriquest and with Greg and with Pat and looking forward to all the things we can do together because everybody in the room here, except me, is traditionally winning all the time and we need to carry it to this program and close the deal here soon."
PAT TRYSON, Crew Chief - No. 16 Ameriquest Ford Fusion
"I'm just real excited to be associated with Ameriquest and I'm looking forward to working with Greg. We've got to make sure that Greg is the first guy to win the championship in all three series. We've made the chase the last three years with the 6 cars, so now we've got to get him back in the chase and then get him his first Cup win, which would make him the first guy to win in all three series. I think that's a big goal and a realistic goal. That's what we expect and we're gonna build the best race team we can around him and see if we can live up to those standards and get him back in victory lane a bunch and win the championship."
WHAT ARE YOUR OBSERVATIONS ON WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOUR TEAM THIS YEAR?
JACK ROUSH: "The trick bag that you get into in this business that will teach you very quickly is if it's not broken, don't fix it. We were clearly disadvantaged last year from having such a great year and looking at the combinations that we had, both technology and in terms of what the cars were and the teams that we built around the programs, and we really didn't change much over the winter. We just looked for a tweak, something that would just take it the next bit. By the same token, some of the folks and there are several groups out there - Evernham's group didn't get done what they needed to do last year; Childress was certainly not up to his potential. You looked at those two in particular and say they went through a revolution over the winter and didn't do a tweak to try to catch where we were and where Hendrick was and where Gibbs were, but they attempted to leapfrog it and they did a very, very good job. Our efforts proved not to be sufficient to keep up with that movement, but looking at 2005, the thing that I was most excited about was as we got our five cars in the chase that everybody - and I think Pat brought this to my attention and verified what I was seeing that he was seeing to - a year ago all five of our teams were carrying any idea that they had, everything they had seen on somebody else's car, every curiosity they had, they carried it into a forum where it could be analyzed by the entire group and they were absolutely unselfish to that. This year, as things went bad, things were a little chilly in meetings. We didn't have as much interaction among the teams that was as positive as it was, and we've got to re-establish that chemistry at the same time that we try to leapfrog technologies. We hope to get through this with keeping everybody on staff, just shuffling around to try to find chemistry interactions that will be effective and timely for what we need."
CHEVY HAS WON A LOT OF RACES THIS YEAR BUT WE HAVEN'T HEARD ANY COMPLAINTS. DO THEY HAVE ANY SORT OF UNFAIR ADVANTAGE?
JACK ROUSH: "There's a lot of different ways the political game is played and the public relations deal is played in this business. I've always been not only a small guy, but I try to be a quiet guy and just go off and lick my wounds and deal with my problems and try to fix it myself, as opposed to looking for a political angle that would deflect things. We didn't make the improvements we needed to make technologically last year and that's not as much a matter of what Ford did or didn't do as it was for the things that I asked for or didn't ask for. We just need to work harder and it starts with me. The Chevrolet guys do a nice job and I think they've gotten what they deserved this year, except that Tony obviously missed when he had a chance to be in there, but we're just off just a little. It's not big things. It's not aero and it's not engine, but we're just off a little bit in the way we put our chassis together and the kinematics and maybe have been less progressive on chasing the coil-bound springs and all the things that really weren't working for very many people last year, the more traditional things, which is where we were, was what was required to get the deal done, but, no, I don't feel that somebody has an unfair advantage. Looking at next year, I'm not happy with the fact that Chevrolet gets a new engine. We were told all through last year and up through the middle of 2006 that there was not the prospect of getting a cylinder head to go with the new block that NASCAR had indicated we could bring, and then later after Chevrolet had their engine ready, they asked us if we'd put a cylinder head up on the table and we didn't have one ready. It takes six to nine months to work on that to get it ready, so we'll have to wait until 2008 for our new engine. Next year if you ask me the same question I may think that it was unfair that they changed their mind through the middle part of this year, but, right now, I think they're getting what they deserve."
WILL YOU LESSEN YOUR BUSCH RACES TO INCREASE FOCUS ON CUP NEXT YEAR?
GREG BIFFLE: "I really don't think that Busch racing really takes much focus away from Nextel Cup racing. Even though the cars are different, a lot of it is still track time. We're gonna be at the same race track. If I was running a Busch car here and then a car of tomorrow on the next day, I don't think it would really matter much. The same fundamentals go back and forth now, but the setups aren't that close. It's really just some extra track time and I really enjoy driving a Busch car, but I don't think it will be a disadvantage to driving both of them."
WHERE DOES THE NATIONAL GUARD GO FROM HERE?
GREG BIFFLE: "We worked very hard to put together a program for them to be associated with this program and we couldn't get it done. I don't know all the details of it, but, personally, I'm really disappointed that we weren't able to put that together. It looked like up until the last hour that we were gonna still have the association and have them with us next year at a lesser capacity, but it just couldn't work out. I don't know what the deal was about it, but there were some business things we just couldn't get put together."
JACK ROUSH: "Certainly Greg is a patriot and Roush Racing is very patriotic in everything that we do and very respectful of all the sacrifice and the effort that is made to keep our country secure and to look not only at what's happening around the world today, but what's gonna happen tomorrow. The military is out there on the line protecting our economy and our society and all the freedoms we enjoy and there is some sadness that we find that we can't do that."
WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO MAKE A CHANGE IN THE CHASE?
GREG BIFFLE: "Nothing. I wouldn't change a thing. I think NASCAR has come up with a great system to reward the people who have been the most consistent throughout the season - to score the most points and that's what it's about. It's about being consistent. It's not about taking fuel mileage gambles and winning races and trying to take extra risk to win races. If you want to put everybody in that has won a race or won the most races, which I don't think would really change the way a lot of people race, but there are certainly things you could do to try to win or be dead last. I think it's perfect. I really do. I think that 10 cars is the right amount for 10 races and I don't believe I'd change anything."
JACK ROUSH: "We're committed to NASCAR and to follow their doctrine that dictates where it leads. When the announcement of the chase was made three years ago, I wasn't sure it was necessary for them to do that on the heels of one our championships we'd waited so long for - 17 years for - but whatever rules they make we're gonna load up and prepare ourselves and go be organized for that. I think the format they have is good. I agree with Greg that if they put enough of a premium on winning races, that will encourage people to do things that were risque, that it would not be as safe for drivers and it wouldn't add to the quality of the racing or the predictability and the reason of the outcome. But whatever they do, we'll be there to give it our very best, but the strategies that we would use under a different format are not the same as the strategies that we've used getting ready for this competition over the last three. It's real easy to go back and look at the results and say, 'Well, if they'd change the rules or tweaked them here or there that somebody else would have won or somebody else would have been in the chase,' well, if they would have changed the rules and had different rules, we would have had different strategies and I believe that other good teams would have too and the outcome would have been as uncertain as it was going into this deal."
HAS ANYTHING BEEN DECIDED BEYOND 2007?
BARBARA PALMER, Senior VP, Ameriquest: "We're announcing today just our plans for 2007, but we are committed to the sport, we're committed to Roush Racing and we're committed to Greg, so we'll see what happens beyond 2007."
DID THE FUSION PLAY ANY ROLE IN YOUR STRUGGLES?
JACK ROUSH: "The Fusion was actually new for 2005 and we adapted to it fairly well. The Fusion was a tweak better than the Taurus that preceded it aero-wise and drag-wise and torque and sideforce-wise - all those primaries now that we use to decide how a car is from a body shape point of view. The Fusion was a better car than the Taurus in some area where the Taurus had been a little bit deficient to some of the other brands. We used it well last year, adapted to it faster than I thought we could, and this year certainly didn't hold us back. The Fusion was a great car and whatever we lacked wasn't because we were disadvantaged by the body shape somebody else had."
HAVE YOU MADE A DECISION ABOUT DOUG RICHERT NEXT YEAR?
JACK ROUSH: "My expectation is that Doug obviously won't be the crew chief of Greg and the 16 Ameriquest team, but we've got plans for Doug. We've got many possibilities and expect that he'll find happiness and challenge in one of the other opportunities we've got, but we've yet to define those. One of the things that's happened here is that I knowingly and deliberately started this debate within the organization of who we would pair with whom next year and trying to address our chemistry so that we would have time to make the upper management determinations before we got to a point that when everybody left between Thanksgiving and Christmas - some of our guys, believe it or not, they've got to have a little time off - and as they go off to do some things there, then to put the discussion groups together to decide what's the right thing to do doesn't come from some higher authority or some higher power. The strategies that we have come from within, they come from the crew chiefs and from the involvement with Geoff Smith and the guys from the marketing side and of course the sponsors and all. I try to build a consensus to figure out what's the best thing to do as we go forward in putting our teams together, but we tried to start it early this year so we'd have an idea of where people were gonna be and we could think about building the teams around them and organizing the skill sets to make the strongest teams and not be faced with doing that in January, when some of the good people that might be on the outside that we'd like to have a chance to interview had made decisions to do something else. But Doug is a card-carrying crew chief that's won a championship years ago and, of course, almost won one last year with Greg. We put Jimmy Fennig this year in 2006 over to the Busch shop for a while and helped with the Busch and Truck guys and Doug very well may get that same assignment, but we've got to sort that out."
ARE THERE ANY LESSONS YOU CAN GET FROM WATCHING TONY AND THE CURRENT RUN HE'S ON BY NOT BEING IN THE CHASE?
GREG BIFFLE: "I don't know. He may be taking the heat off, I guess, of not being tenth in points when the thing came down to it, but the reality is that people ask a lot about, 'Are you gonna race differently now? Are you gonna be conservative? Are you gonna be this or that?' That fact is that every weekend we show up at the race track we show up to win - every single weekend. It doesn't matter if we're tied for tenth in points going into Richmond and it's down to the fifth hour, we're gonna do whatever we can to win because if we don't win, we're gonna finish as high as we can. We show up here this weekend at Phoenix to win today and we're gonna go out and try to win today. If we end up coming up short, we're gonna end up second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh - so every race we come to win. Now that only comes down to the last lap or last five laps when I'm racing this guy for third place and I've got the position locked up where I am in a tight points race. Is it worth it to me to put the extra pressure on him for that one spot? Running fourth, do I need that third-place finish. I'm gonna drive it down in the corner, take a chance of getting a little bit loose and race him door-to-door. Do I need to do that for that five points? That is the only time that I consider points race going, 'I don't know about that.' But throughout the 250 laps or 400 laps of the race, I'm racing for every position to get to the front or to get the best spot I can get. So for him to say that he's racing different right now and that's why he's winning, I don't believe that to be true."
WITH AMERIQUEST MOVING TO CUP, WHAT WILL THAT MEAN FOR YOUR BUSCH PROGRAM?
JACK ROUSH: "On the Busch side, of course Geoff Smith and Robin Johnson - the guys that chase that stuff - some of those guys are in the room here and you should really deflect that question off to them. But Ameriquest will have some involvement with our program next year, but certainly not the four-team dream team arrangement that we had this year. The idea of being able to carry four of our five regular Cup drivers to that program in 2006 meant that they were gonna have a chance to win a lot of races and I think, in fact, we've won five and really provided some stability among our Busch sponsorship activities that really made it easier for the guys to go concentrate on some other things rather than have to chase four sponsors to make those four things work."
WHAT ABOUT A CREW CHIEF FOR THE 26 CAR?
JACK ROUSH: "We haven't made a decision on that yet. We're in the middle of considering our options both within and without. We're anxious to put Jamie in a situation where the chemistry can work as well as it can work in an ideal circumstance. We haven't had that this year, even though we went through the two crew chief changes. Of course, we've got Wally Brown over there pinch-hitting, since we decided that Carl was gonna be back with Bob Osborne next year, we figured rather than waiting, let Bob have a look and see how he was doing with the team and think about the personnel and their assignments for these last two races so he could work on that over the winter. But we've got a fairly substantial list of people that we're curious to talk to and we're not done looking from within. If you asked me what's likely to happen, I think that one of our outstanding car chiefs will get a chance to do that job and we'll pile help around him and try to make that work next year, but we haven't made a decision there yet."
-credit: ford racing