Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, has two wins this season and ranks third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. He held his weekly Q&A session in the Texas Motor Speedway infield media center before Friday's ...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, has two wins this season and ranks third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. He held his weekly Q&A session in the Texas Motor Speedway infield media center before Friday's practice.
THOUGHTS ON TEXAS? "I really enjoy racing at this race track. It's one of the mile-and-a-halfs that we go to that's a lot of fun to race on, that provides racing up and down the groove. The straightaway is a little bit narrower and the banking falls off a little bit sooner than about all the mile-and-a-halfs, so it makes it tricky on corner exit to keep your car or keep momentum going, so that's one of the challenges here is to keep your speed as you get up on the straightaway. You've got to keep your car turning real good and that's why the high line works so well here is it straightens out that corner exit some, but we ran decent in the spring. Obviously, that didn't do a lot for us in Atlanta, but, hopefully here, we will come back and run as good as what we did in the spring or a little bit better."
HOW WILL YOU DEFINE A SUCCESSFUL SEASON THIS YEAR? "I think a successful season is making the chase because you've got to make the chase in today's day and age. You've got to make the playoffs in order to be successful and be in the spotlight every week for your sponsor and your team and your organization and all the guys that work at the shop and come to the track, so making the chase is really, really important in our sport today. Secondly, there's almost a second set of goals. After making the chase, it's win some races and be competitive and challenge for the championship. We've been able to do that. Obviously, we've come up a little bit short at a couple of mile-and-a-halfs that we feel is our strong suit, so that's a little frustrating, but in our eyes we had a decent run at Martinsville. We finished 12th, and with that not being my best race track that was not too bad of a finish, but to finish 10th at Atlanta and we finished seventh or so at Charlotte, those two races really weren't up to par for the 16 team and hopefully that trend doesn't continue here at Texas and at Homestead, which is one of our better tracks. I think to wrap it up, it would be easy for me to say, 'just finish in the top five in points' because it looks like we're headed down that track, but obviously we would be disappointed not to win the title and, right now, we still have an opportunity, but obviously it's getting slimmer and slimmer."
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHASE DURING THE WEEK WHEN YOU'RE NOT AT THE TRACK? "You think about it all the time because this is your life, this sport and it's a lot of fun. I try and do stuff to try and take my mind off of it and do other stuff, but we're thinking about it all the time. We're thinking about the next race, the next couple of race or what's left. We'll think about what races are left -- 'OK, Texas, Phoenix, Homestead -- how are we gonna run there?' You kind of play those races through your head. We won here in '05 and certainly we feel like we can win here again -- for sure. We feel like we can win in Phoenix and Homestead, so you play those scenarios through your head that we know we're so many points behind, but we feel like we're gonna be competitive in at least the next three, so you think about it a lot. There's no doubt about it and then everybody you come into contact with wants to talk about it. 'You were second in points and now you're third in points. What happened in Atlanta? We thought you were gonna be better there,' so you're always talking about it with everybody."
IS JIMMIE THE HARDEST GUY TO HATE? "There's two ways of looking at it. I can see where you're coming from, but at the same time we're fierce competitors inside the car and this isn't necessarily a contact sport, so it's not like we're playing football or something else -- or boxing -- where you've got to hate the guy as much as you can to get in the ring. We're competing on the race track as hard as we can and, really, once we get in the car and put our helmet on and go, I mean, we are doing everything we can to beat that car. I don't know that you need to be that angry, I guess, to get yourself fired up more to beat him or whatever. Jimmie is a good guy. They've done a tremendous job these last few seasons. They really have pin-pointed, if you look at it, you can see why they're a championship team. They were in huge trouble at Charlotte. He could not get that car to drive to save his life. They threw the kitchen sink at it and he ended up sixth, but you listen to the radio transmissions that they had and you look at how the car was going on the race track and one more lap, we were gonna pass him and four more laps four more guys were gonna pass him. He was backing up like mad, so that's what makes a championship team is taking that adverse day and turning it into something good, and they did the same thing at Atlanta. I guarantee you when he was riding around behind me, running 14th, he wasn't just waiting for his opportune time to get up there -- or when he was right in front of me -- they were doing all they could and running 14th-15th and 13th. They were able to keep adjusting on that car and my car got really good on that last run, similar to his, the only thing is I didn't have track position. I started out 17th and finished 10th. He started out wherever in there and finished second, so we both sort of did the same thing right at the end of the event, but that's a championship-caliber team to take a not-so-great of a car. It's easy when you've got a good car that's fast all day to run up front all day, that's easy. When you're off a little bit to come back and finish well and not get hurt in the points, that's what it takes to win championships."
JACK TALKED ABOUT HAVING A MULLIGAN IN THE CHASE. WHAT'S YOUR OPINION ON ANY CHASE CHANGES? "You can't make a rule to keep one guy from winning the championship. That's never worked in our sport and this is an equal opportunity right here. No matter what you do, you cannot change -- in this country, one guy is gonna have more money than the other guy, and one guy is gonna win more races than the other guy, and one guy is gonna win more championships. There's nothing that we can put in place, unless we make the 48 car have a different weight at the start of the event or run different tires or something. The other thing is, you're right, he skinned through Talladega by the skin of his teeth. He just slipped through there. We all saw the wreck. We all saw him dodge the bullets and get through it. I'd rather say take Talladega out of the chase and not worry about trying to get rid of your worst race because it's happened every year. The same thing has happened every year at Talladega. When you go in there and you penalize a team that's worked as hard as all of us have, and it was none of our doing, we're involved in a wreck because something happened -- a guy cut a tire or whatever -- put Bristol in there or something else versus throwing out one of your bad finishes. That's my opinion about what they should do with the chase."
WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE OF JEFF GORDON AND WHAT HE'S DONE IN THIS SPORT, AND YOUR THOUGHTS ON HIM BEING WINLESS FOR SO LONG? "It's tough. I've been in that same situation in '06 and '07 and then '08 up until Loudon and it's so hard to win these races, and it looks so easy. Kyle Busch -- eight wins -- and then you look at Jimmie and Carl with seven wins. It looks so easy, but yet it's so difficult to get your car the way you need it and to drive the way you need it and to get the right breaks at the end of the race. The 24 team this year has really, really impressed me from, 'Oh, there's Jeff a lap down in the lap down in the second run of the race. He's in huge trouble.' The next thing I know he's behind me and the next thing I know he's running third. At Charlotte, the side of that car was smashed in on the first or second run, he was a lap down and couldn't keep up, and now he's out front leading and I can't catch him. It looks like he's gonna win the race and ends up 15th or something. It's just unbelievable, so they've been able to really come back in the races and that's due in part to how good of a driver Jeff is an that team. But he certainly means a lot to this sport and has certainly put our sport on the map. When you go poll people that don't know anything about NASCAR, they've heard of Jeff Gordon, and he's a tremendous ambassador. He carries himself well. He speaks well and he's done a great thing for our sport."
TEXAS FOLLOWS TALLADEGA NEXT YEAR. WILL THAT HAVE AN IMPACT ON HOW THE SEPARATION WILL BE? "I don't see another race prior to that that's gonna separate the field because anything can happen, certainly we could have had a nine-car wreck at Charlotte and got a lot of the chase cars involved in it. Anything can happen, but, historically, that hasn't happened. We may have a wreck that catches up a couple of the chase cars, but not a wreck that catches up six or eight of them and not one guy getting caught up in the wreck. I still think you take the 10 races and you put a column down the 10 races and look at the finishes, it doesn't matter where they're gonna be at in the chase, they're all gonna have the same numbers because they all produce roughly about the same thing. And by switching them around, I don't really see the results being different. If we went to Talladega this next week and we were tied with Jimmie in the points, and Carl was leading, the outcome is gonna be the same after Talladega if the same thing happens."
WHY SHOULDN'T THE 48 TEAM JUST COAST WITH THE BIG LEAD NOW? "What happens is the best thing to do is to do nothing different because the second you start trying to do something different is when you make mistakes. When you start the race this way, drive this way, drive that way or do whatever, you end up where you're at as far as track position for a reason, so if he decides, 'Oh, I'm gonna coast a little bit this race. I'm just gonna run sixth, seventh, eighth and I feel a little bit better here,' and the next thing you know that guy in fourth or fifth spins out and you're involved in the wreck. A case could be made very easily, 'Dang it, if I had been running as hard as I could, or like I normally am, I'd have been running third and wouldn't have been involved in that wreck.' So the second you start changing your philosophy and your format of the way you approach every event, you can create yourself trouble."
IS IT POSSIBLE THE CHASE AND THE TITLE HAS BECOME TOO BIG OF A DEAL IN THIS SPORT? "It's hard. We've created our own monster. That happens because of how important this becomes, so, you're right. Look at the guys, I was unfortunately and hopefully that was it for my career, outside of the chase twice -- two years in a row -- and we're really not talking about those guys. We're really not talking about them on the TV broadcast. We're really not talking about them in the paper. We're really wondering who is gonna catch Jimmie Johnson is the story every week. That is good in a way and bad in a way. Where it's bad in a way is all those sponsors and all those drivers that aren't in the chase are not necessarily getting a fair shot at coverage, and that's why they're in this sport. I've been on the outside for a couple of years and that's when I said, 'If you're not in the chase, you're nobody.' They kept asking me about it and that's the way I feel about it. You've got to make the chase in this sport to be one of the 10 guys that are gonna be talked about and remembered with all the things that go on. But I think you could say that with anything. Who is gonna make the Super Bowl? It's the same thing when you get down to any kind of playoffs. Who is gonna be in the World Series games? That's the emphasis because we're gonna crown a champion."
KYLE BUSCH SEEMED INVINCIBLE AND HAD THREE TOUGH RACES IN A ROW. DOES THAT GIVE YOU HOPE THAT JIMMIE MAY FALL APART? "Yeah, you're exactly right. They're gonna have to scratch his name off the trophy. They had already given it out to him prior to the chase starting and I think a lot of people in this room can agree. We were thinking about what it was gonna be like, so you're right. Definitely the wheels can fall off that 48 in a hurry. We've seen it happen and maybe you get comfortable and kind of relaxed and stuff jumps out and bites you. That can happen. Absolutely. That's why we're not gonna walk away with our tail between our legs, yet. After Phoenix, if he's got enough margin to clinch the title, then we will walk away with our tail between our legs, but until then, we're not going to."
HOW MUCH TIME DID YOUR TEAM SPEND ON THE NEXT SEASON WHEN YOU DIDN'T MAKE THE CHASE AND NOW THAT YOU'RE IN IT, DOES IT TAKE AWAY FROM PREPARING FOR NEXT YEAR? "I think so, a little bit. You're definitely focused on right now. We're not thinking about Daytona. We're not thinking about any of the other things. We're not trying anything out of the ordinary, so to speak. What's different about last year than this year is last year we were working on the old car right through these races, instead of the new car, so that had something to do with it, but I think there can be some advantage to teams that aren't in the chase and that are locked in the top 35. It gives them a little freedom to search around and try some things to get their program better, definitely."
DALE EARNHARDT WON TITLES WITHOUT HAVING THE BEST CAR OR TEAM BECAUSE HE GOT GUYS RATTLED. WHY DON'T YOU TRY AND GET JIMMIE JOHNSON OFF HIS GAME? THIS IS NOT GOLF OR TENNIS. DO SOMETHING. "I know, that's exactly right. The unfortunate part is we've given him the first pit box three weeks in a row, which he'll probably qualify on the pole here to put it all in our face, but as soon as I can get my car close enough to his car, I will rattle his cage (laughter). I've got to get there first. I haven't been able to catch him."
-credit: ford racing