Talladega II: Biffle - Ford interview

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard Taurus, is sixth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings and trails leader Jimmie Johnson by only 23 points. Biffle spoke about his position in the chase and other topical issues after ...

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard Taurus, is sixth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings and trails leader Jimmie Johnson by only 23 points. Biffle spoke about his position in the chase and other topical issues after Friday's practice session.

GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS WEEKEND? "I'm certainly a lot happier now after that first practice session than I had been. I was real nervous about coming down here. This is not our strong suit for sure, Talladega, and to come down here and be 12th in the first practice makes me just super-excited. The car is driving really good. The car feels fast. It feels like it's getting down out of the air. It feels like it's gonna draft good. I just have a good feeling about this race car, so I'm much happier now. I was not looking forward to coming here and now I'm pretty happy."

HOW MUCH DO YOU DO IN PRACTICE HERE? "We made three runs, which is equivalent to nine laps, but I think it posted 11 on the monitor, so we made three qualifying runs in that session. All that is is for a starting spot and a pick on pit road, so right after that we'll be ready to get going in race trim. That's the most fun - nerve-wracking sometimes. It's really hard in practice to figure out how your car is in race trim because it's hard to get yourself in that right spot -- being able to protect it and not get yourself in a position - but yet you almost need to be three-wide or two-wide with a couple of cars in front of you to see how your car handles. It's a little scary to have to do that in practice, but you're trying to figure out how your car is gonna handle and pull up to the car in front of you. Qualifying practice is pretty boring, but it's pretty safe too because you're by yourself."

SOME DRIVERS LIKE TO TRY AND STAY IN FRONT WHILE OTHERS LIKE TO FALL BACK AT THESE RACES. WHICH WORKS BEST? "Either one of them works. No air in between is a really great spot to be. If you're in the top five, it's fine, or back far enough to where you're not right in the mix of stuff is fine - where you can give yourself a little bit of time to slow up. Although I was running fourth in a Busch race and I saw the 10 car go upside-down across the hood of my car in front of the windshield, so I guess being in the front wasn't a very safe spot to be either. I fought all day in Daytona and finally got out of the mess of stuff and got up front, and we came off a green-flag stop and just put four tires on - everybody did - and Michael Waltrip spins out and we crashed running 10th. He just cut a tire, so there are no guarantees no matter where you're at."

HOW HARD IS IT TO AVOID GETTING SHUFFLED TO THE BACK AND STAY UP FRONT? "It depends on how fast your car is. If you have a fast car, then it's just harder for them to put you in that position. If you've got a slow car and you're just up there hanging out with a bunch of fast cars it's easy because then you're vulnerable. Your car is a little draggy and they're always on your bumper and you're trying to keep up. That's usually the position I'm in. I don't think I'm in that much of a position now. Being 12th on the speed chart right there in qualifying practice really tells me that I have about a 12th-place car - a 12th to 15th-place car and I'm gonna have to race the rest of the way up to the front. The last time we were here I think we qualified 28th or 32nd or something like that and when you have a car that slow, now when I'm running up in the top five it's very difficult for me because my car is not fast enough. Even though I'm boxed in there, I'm really just holding on by a thread. That's restrictor plate racing. There's nothing we can do to go any faster. When we're at Kansas next week, yeah, I can do a lot of things. I can enter the corner different. I can get my car to handle better, get back to the gas. I can do a number of things, but here I can't."

NASCAR IS EXPECTED TO COME OUT WITH A NEW RULE ABOUT SHOCKS AFTER LAST WEEK AND THE POST-RACE ISSUE WITH THE 48 AND 5. YOUR THOUGHTS. "We all know that attitude in the race car - meaning the back of the car higher and the front of the car as low as we can get it - the more rake we can get in the car, the faster it can go, the more traction it has front and rear. So by those guys getting their shocks to hold the back of the car up as high as they got it to or however they had it working is a clear advantage - a very clear advantage. If you guys remember, the same two race cars were docked points the third race of the season at Las Vegas. There's nothing different that happened at Dover that didn't happen there. Their cars were both too high in the tech. They settled out, supposedly, I was not there so I don't know but our team engineer was there and has no reason to tell me any different. He said when both cars rolled up on the grid and they put the height sticks on they were too high and they took pictures of them too high. Shortly thereafter the car settled down some, therefore they're legal. Right in the rule book, clearly, 'any device or anything that alters the height of the car beside the jack bolt,' which you put the thing down in and turn and raises and lowers the car, 'is illegal.' But let the general public or whoever make their own deduction from there." NASCAR SAID WHEN THEY TOOK THE SHOCK APART THEY DIDN'T FIND ANYTHING ILLEGAL. THERE WERE MAYBE SOME SEMI-EXOTIC THINGS BUT NOTHING ILLEGAL AND THAT'S WHY THERE WILL BE NO PENALTY. "Did it alter the height of the car?"

THEIR POINT IS THE CAR SETTLED. "Then it's a gray area call."

HOW DOES IT FEEL THAT HE'S THE POINT LEADER AND IT AFFECTS THE OUTCOME OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP BECAUSE NASCAR DIDN'T TAKE AN ACTION THEY TOOK EARLIER IN THE SEASON? "Well, keep in mind that Vegas was different because the car was high and never went down. The way I look at it is when you present the car for inspection, if I put the height stick on there and it's too high, and there's enough time for me to take a picture with a camera, it's too high. I don't care what else happens. We can stick bars of soap in the springs. We can put balsa wood in the springs to get the car high enough and then stuff can fall out. Whatever. If it was up there and it was too high, and I took a picture of it."

SHOULD THERE BE SOME SORT OF PENALTY? "I don't know. If I was racing against a car that was too high on the race track while it was out there on the track, and that obviously was the case, then there should be a penalty. But I will defend the 48 and 5 team by saying that if they were using parts in the shocks that were legal, and they could get their car to come back down to height in time to go through the inspection time through creativity, more power to them. Everybody is trying to get an edge."

SHOULD THERE BE A NEW RULE? WHAT IF THAT WAS YOUR TEAM? "There were some things taken away from us that hurt us earlier in the season too - shock rules. Maybe it was last year they came out with a shock rule that it was gas pressure we were using to hold the car up going through inspection and then the car would get lower on the race track. You would come in the pits and over time it would raise back up. That's the same thing they were doing with the rear shocks the other direction. Basically, I don't know what to say. If you look at the car of the future, I don't know how much studying you've done on that. That would be a good thing for you to go look at if you're asking the questions of creativity."

THERE IS NO CREATIVITY? "IROC racing. Everybody is gonna have the same thing. To me that's gonna be disastrous. I don't know. I've heard all second-hand information. I haven't sat down and said, 'What exactly are we gonna be able to do,' but I heard that we're not gonna be able to do this, we're not gonna be able to do that, everything has to be mounted like this, everything has to be mounted like that. Like right now, my noses on my race cars are mounted in a different location than Mark Martin's and Matt Kenseth's because they like the car to drive different, they like the feel a little bit different. I like a little bit looser car or whatever, so we're able to make changes for a driver's style and I think we're gonna lose a lot of that - maybe - with the car of the future. I don't know. I agree with the bigger car being away from the driver's side more - being a little taller - all of those things are good, but they still have to let us build our own race car. But as far as the shock thing, they wouldn't be making a rule against it if they didn't feel it wasn't legal is my opinion, or if somebody was skirting the rule. They're skirting the boundaries, so they're gonna make up a way that they can't do that."

YOU FEEL FROM SECOND TO SIXTH IN THE POINTS LAST WEEK. ANY CHANGE IN YOUR APPROACH? "No, I don't think so. Nothing really changes at all. The way to look at it is I was 20 points out of the lead going into Dover and I'm 23 out of the lead now, so, essentially, I only lost three points but I did lose positions, but the goal is leading the points and I'm 23 points out of the lead."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Greg Biffle , Mark Martin