Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held steady in seventh place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after last week's fifth-place run at Michigan. He came into the infield media center at Infineon Raceway before qualifying to...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held steady in seventh place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after last week's fifth-place run at Michigan. He came into the infield media center at Infineon Raceway before qualifying to talk about what lies ahead.
HOW WAS PRACTICE? "It went really good. I really like this race track. We had some issues like we always do -- a little bit of brake issues in the beginning. I've been able to keep it on the race track, so that's good. We'll just keep working on it. I'm not as happy as we were probably last year in race trim, but qualifying trim seems to be decent. I think we were about 10th or so, so just cut a good lap here and not make any mistakes. That's the key and see where we end up on starting for Sunday."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT FUEL MILEAGE LAST WEEK, AND WILL WE SEE THAT HERE THIS WEEK? "Yeah, absolutely. Road racing is always a fuel mileage race -- always -- because what you try and do is stop before everybody else, so if the caution comes out, then you force people to stop under caution and then you take the lead. It's always a fuel mileage race here or in road racing because the key is to stop first. Last week, I was running a pace keeping the 5 car about, whatever he was, about three seconds behind me and just ran a pace to keep him there. I just really paid attention and was coming off the gas as soon as I could and being easy on the throttle and doing a fuel mileage race. I knew at some point I figured out the 48 was probably waiting, drafting off the 5, to try and save fuel and then I saw him coming and I picked up the speed a little bit. He was coming really, really fast and I picked the speed up even more. Then I decided to run a lap flat-out as hard as I could and I could run a little bit faster than he could, but then I knew that I could not run that pace and make it to the end, I didn't believe. So I backed off to see what he would do and, of course, he kept coming and drove down on the inside of us. One lap he got really loose, so it took another whole lap for him to make the pass, but, there again, I was easing off the gas. I just wasn't gonna be able to run that pace to the end. Where I made my mistake is he got in front of me and I saw that he was really, really loose and having trouble hanging onto it, and I felt I could get back by him if I ran hard. Right then I should have came off the gas and just tried to stay in front of the 5. He was gonna run out no matter what. I kind of got a kick out of watching a TV show this week and Chad blamed it on me saying that once they passed me I should have slowed down and then they could have made it. They weren't gonna make it no matter what. They were a lap-and-a-quarter short. You're not gonna save a lap-and-a-quarter worth of fuel in five laps. There's just no way, unless you're running pace car speed. So if I would have backed off it when it was obvious he was gonna pass me and catch me, we probably would have made it. But, coulda, woulda, shoulda. I learned my lesson and I know now how much two laps of gas I have to save in a 40-lap run. I have a better idea of how much that is, and, hopefully, in the future I'll be able to get it by a quarter-lap the other direction."
HOW IMPORTANT ARE BRAKES HERE AND HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF THEM? "The same thing, just lifting a little bit early getting into the corner and use them the least amount that you can. If you run the car as hard as you can and brake the last possible second, you're on the brakes really, really hard and you get a lot of heat in them. If you continue to do that, the brakes will continue to deteriorate. You've got to race other cars around you, so you've got to use a lot of brake and run in the corner hard, but when you have the opportunity you really need to try and back the corner up a little bit -- come off the gas and wait a few seconds before you go to the brakes real hard and that will tend to save them a little bit. But that's about all you can do. That transition from gas to brake -- lifting the throttle just a hair earlier. A lot of times it doesn't affect the lap time even measurable, but you can be a little easier on the brakes."
DID YOU HAVE ANY FUEL LEFT IN THE CAR? WERE YOU NOT PICKING IT UP OR DID YOU SHUT IT OFF QUICKLY? "Probably both. We don't know. We didn't run it out, so we don't know what we could have picked up, but three-tenths would have won the race. I did shut the car off through turns one and two and coast to try and save fuel because the fuel I was on at the end of the straightaway. When I started it running down the back, in hindsight in our Monday morning meeting I talked about it is there could have been, possibly, if I would have shook the car a little bit more, knowing that the fuel was that low, it's a possibility that we could have got a little bit more. But, there again, we never measured how much was still in it, so it could have been bone dry. We just don't know and, unfortunately, we will never know. It would have been nice to know how much was in there, but we did recognize that the 99 car picked up more gas than we did, or he held more fuel, and certainly that's an issue. Three-tenths of a gallon would have won the race. That's plenty. It takes three-tenths, I don't know what the calculation is, but you can almost run nearly a lap on three-tenths, so we would have made it for sure with that. We don't know where that three-tenths was. If that fuel cell was a little bit shy. Was there a little bit left in it? The other thing is it's a sinking feeling, I'm gonna tell you right now, as you're going 180 miles an hour and you've got the car in gear and it's slowing down, if you push the clutch in it rolls a heck of a lot faster than with the clutch out -- the motor is slowing the car down -- a dramatic difference. If the car isn't running, you need to push the clutch in, so that's the bad part about it. I let it out a couple of times and pumped the throttle and I could get a bump out of it and that was it, it would just continue to slow down, so at some point you've got to cut your losses and put it in neutral and coast to the start-finish line. Otherwise, you're not even gonna make it, so that's what happened."
WHY AREN'T THERE FUEL GAUGES? "That's a good question. Certainly, it would probably be a better question for NASCAR and whether they would allow us fuel gauges or not. It would help us because then we would know right when we were gonna run out. I would have known how much was left and how hard I could run the car and the whole thing. It wouldn't be a gas gauge. You could measure how much you've used more accurately than what's left because what's used goes through a sensor, so it knows exactly what's gone through the sensor versus how much is still sloshing around in there. You've really got no way to measure that, so you could have a gas gauge for sure. I think the stock car and our heritage has been put fuel in it and go."
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THIS TRACK? "Road racing is definitely a different animal altogether. We road race two times a year -- here and Watkins Glen -- and I've got some road race wins in my past -- none in the Sprint Cup Series, but we've come close here. We usually run in the top five, which you have to be in that top five to be in striking position. I remember last year, it still haunts me today, that we did our pit stops exactly right and I got the lead and drove off the race track leading last year in turn one, going up the hill, so that was a little disappointing. We ended up with a good finish, but that possibly was my first win down the drain, but hopefully this year we'll have the same strategy, but won't drive off the race track and maybe we'll pick up our first win."
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A CRAZIER FINISH THAN MICHIGAN AND COULD WE SEE SOMETHING SIMILAR HERE? "Certainly pit strategy plays into it. Let's face it, we've talked about this all year, any race can be a fuel mileage race. Phoenix was a fuel mileage race a couple years ago. Richmond can be a fuel mileage race. You could name about any of them -- nearly all of them -- and if a caution comes out three or four laps before you can make it on fuel, if you can go at Richmond 70 laps on fuel or 100 and the caution comes out with 104 to go and another caution doesn't come out, it's a fuel mileage race. So you can make any race a fuel mileage race just by the way the caution comes out. If they would have taken one more lap to clean the water up on pit road when the 12 hit those barrels, it would have been a different race at Michigan. So there are so many things that go into each race. That's what makes it so dramatic and dynamic. This race, we make it a fuel mileage race by our own doing because we stop about a lap short on fuel and we come down pit road and hope for a lap or two of caution, which always happens here through the end of the event. If you don't get a caution, then you light-foot it for a little bit and make up one lap of fuel because we just want to be the first on pit road. So this race always turns into a fuel mileage race because that's our doing. All of the oval tracks can turn into a fuel mileage race because of where the caution happens to come out."
HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN ANYTHING WEIRDER? "Yeah, the one that was a little bit different than that in the past was here. We pit stopped here under caution and we were five or four laps short of making it. We were shutting it off and coasting down the hill and around and all that under caution, and then when we went back under green I think we ran the last 10 laps of this race I just shifted between third and fourth and never gave it more than about three-eighths throttle. It was like I was driving to the race track. I never went fast just because we had to make it to the end. It was kind of fun driving like that to try and stretch the fuel and try to make it, but that was a pretty wild race that I was involved in going as slow as we were going, but Michigan was the same way. We were playing cat-and-mouse up there and ran out of gas."
DAVID RAGAN HAS STRUGGLED. ARE THERE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP OR DO THEY JUST HAVE TO PULL THEMSELVES UP BY THEIR OWN BOOTSTRAPS? "Kind of pick themselves up. We've been trying to help them with production meetings and team meetings and how their car is driving and what we're experiencing. I never knew David to be much of a road racer, but he's pretty fast here this weekend, so that's good for that team. I have a lot of respect for Jimmy Fennig. He's very smart. They're off a little bit and it can happen. It happened with Harvick. It happened with Junior. They've switched crew chiefs, switched teams, switched all kinds of stuff and I don't think anybody is immune to it. I'm glad to see Chris Andrews over there helping them a little bit to see if they can get some communication back and get going again with what they've got in place because they've got some good chemistry, I think."
-credit: ford racing