Winning Team: No. 16 National Guard/Post-It Taurus GREG BIFFLE, Driver "I tell you, it shows the depth of this race team this year - how hard they've worked. I've got to thank all the guys from the other teams first. I was thinking about ...
Winning Team: No. 16 National Guard/Post-It Taurus
GREG BIFFLE, Driver
"I tell you, it shows the depth of this race team this year - how hard they've worked. I've got to thank all the guys from the other teams first. I was thinking about that when I was over there watching them get the car ready. There were probably five or six different colored uniforms working on pulling the fuel cell out of my backup car, taking the shocks and springs and putting them in the new car. I noticed the Viagra team, the Charter team, the 99 guys. I mean, they were all just in there digging and that really makes me feel proud to know I've got supporters like that in our organization that'll just jump right on and help us. That was pretty neat. I was nervous when I went out in the second practice session. I tell you what, it hurts when you hit the wall here when you blow a right-front tire. It had me a little intimated in the second practice session - how hard to run the car. I was not really wanting to have another problem and we were showing high rim side right-front tire temp, but we didn't have too much camber. I don't know what transpired with that race car. Obviously, we ran something over on the race track - punctured the tire and hit the fence. From there we went to the backup car and Doug and I talked about it until probably 10 o'clock last night - things we ran at California, things that we had in the other car. This is the car I won with at California and we like to keep it for a flatter race track. It doesn't have as much clearance underneath it for this kind of a banked race track. That's why I brought the Atlanta car, so it's just a fantastic day. Pit stops were unbelievable. I just couldn't have asked for a better race car and people working on it. It was phenomenal."
JACK ROUSH , Car Owner
"I'm gonna use a Carl Edwards quote - you know a 26-year-old giving me advice all the time on things I ought to be thinking and doing sometimes. When he had some of his early success he said he felt like he was just an average person surrounded with better-than-average and dedicated people. That certainly fits me. I've been graced with great drivers and with great crew chiefs and with great technology from Ford Motor Company that they've afforded us. Everytime I come to Texas I think, 'Man, we're gonna give back some of the good luck. It's gonna average out and we're gonna come up dry.' Of course I went with Ford in my GTO and GTX cars to Daytona for the 24 Hours 10 times and we won 10 times. I guess from the time we won the second time I was sure that was the last time we'd ever win, but it's great to be here with Ford. It's great to be here with Greg and Geoff Smith and all the folks that do the marketing. We've got a real top flight full service racing business that takes care of every aspect of all the thing we need to do to put our cars out there and present them and it's just an honor to be riding with them."
ARE YOU GOING TO WEAR THE COWBOY HAT YOU GOT IN VICTORY LANE? (Laughing)
"My head is pretty large sometimes, but I'm gonna see if I can trade mine down a little bit. Mine was a little large for me."
ARE YOU GOING TO WEAR THE COWBOY HAT?
"Absolutely. It was pretty early in the race when we were in ninth position. I was being a little aggressive and I told the guys on the radio how bad I wanted those cowboy boots, so I was just kind of making a wisecrack, but I didn't know it was gonna come true like that. I'm thinking about buying a farm back in North Carolina right now, so maybe this was meant to be."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT PATIENCE TODAY?
"I tell you what, the race cars have been much easier to drive. There was a lot of pressure today. I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I stayed pretty calm inside the race car - probably calmer than I've been up until this point. I was relaxed, but I was tense. I knew what I needed to do. I knew I needed to hit my marks and be easy on the right-front tire. I was conscious of how much brake pedal I was using all day. I managed how free I kept the race car because I knew I needed to take care of the right-front tire."
"Doug kind of scared me a little bit when he told me the right-rear was the worst looking tire on the car when he pulled it off. I was not hard on the right-rear, but I was using it so I backed up a little bit on that and just ran the rest of the day. The car drove itself almost. When I could back up a little bit and run a tenth or two slower, it was just a piece of cake. But when Casey Mears was putting pressure on me and I was having to ask for 95 percent of my race car it was difficult. I had to buckle down. He made me drive the hardest today out of anybody. I was glad to see him when he took two tires. I wasn't glad he was in front of me, but I wasn't sure he was gonna be a factor and then the 42 car was there. I thought, 'Shoot, he might be better than the 41,' so I got lucky and we had great equipment."
WHAT ABOUT THE SUCCESS GREG HAS HAD THIS YEAR?
"It takes three things to make these teams work. It takes a driver that can do it. It takes technology that is competitive and it takes a team that can. As much as I hate to admit it, it took me three years to get the team where it was able to do for Greg what we've been able to do with Mark and for Matt and for Kurt. It just takes awhile to get people assembled that really work together and have the right chemistry and we've got that now. Doug has done a great job. He did a great job from the time he took the crew chief position, but it's finally come together. I'm sure Greg has the same confidence in their judgments that we do. I watched them yesterday make their decision for going to this car. Of course, if I had been making the decision - being a nail straightener - I would have fixed the other car. Neither snout was broke. It was bent even though there was some damage and a lot of sheetmetal damage, but they had the confidence in what they knew about the other car and in themselves that we can make this other car better - better than we can repair the car and we'll still have 45 minutes for practice and that was great strategy. They had confidence in themselves and they pulled it off."
DOES THIS SHORT SPOILER SEPARATE THE MEN FROM THE BOYS?
"I don't know what to say about it. I don't want to brag, but it makes the race car harder to drive. That's my take on it. Everybody else's take may be different. My take is the race car is harder to drive. If there was an in-car camera that could have watched me saw on that wheel for 500 laps, I worked my butt off today. There wasn't one time where I could relax inside that race car because you've got to keep digging all day and that's what I did. To me, the race cars are harder to drive. The Busch cars are relatively easy to drive. In fact, I said yesterday in an interview that I had more fun yesterday than I have had all season driving a race car. I wanted to win. I finished second, but I had a lot of fun. The thing was fun to drive. It was fun to pass. It was fun to drive up on the top. These race cars are all about business."
ANY CONCERNS THE LAST FEW LAPS THAT THIS COULD GET AWAY?
"Oh yeah. Scenarios were going through my head with thirtysome laps to go I thought that might be it or 38 when we decided to come for four (tires). I thought, 'There are gonna be some guys stay out. There are gonna be guys take two. Now I'm gonna be back in traffic and who knows what's gonna happen. Am I gonna be able to pass those guys?' I wasn't as good in traffic as some of the other race cars were, I'll admit that, I wasn't. I was nervous about that. Once I saw that we came out second off pit road I didn't believe that there was gonna be anything else because I didn't think we'd stop again - even if we got a caution with 15 to go I don't think we could have came and I don't know the guys behind us would have, so I was relieved to see that. I was nervous with 60 laps to go. I was shaking in my boots that the caution was gonna come out again and it's gonna be a crapshoot. Who comes, who doesn't, who takes two - and lucky enough it was early, quick enough, that everybody came for four again."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU GET ON THE GAS AND WERE YOU NOT AS ALL OUT AS BEFORE YESTERDAY'S ACCIDENT?
"You can't think about crashing when you're inside the race car or you'll never be a good driver. I rely on the safety equipment that NASCAR has provided us with and I know I've got safe race cars. You're right, I was driving the wheels off the thing. It would get down in the corner and it would bottom out, the thing would jump sideways a little bit and the throttle was on the floor. I was sawing on the front wheel trying to keep the back of the car and managed how much steering input I had in it coming off the corner. I knew that's what it was gonna take. Whatever I have to do to stay in front of my competition I'm gonna do. It doesn't matter how hard I have to work. I'm willing to work harder than anybody else to win these races and that's what I do every week. I just work as hard as I can and if I've got the race car that can do it, I'll get it done."
WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR START TO THIS YEAR?
"There are so many factors that we probably don't have enough time to talk about all of them. Like Jack mentioned, it's difficult for a start-up race team to achieve the level of performance that all of the other race teams are at and, really, our turnaround was the middle of last season. Doug and I started understanding our race cars a little bit better. We started understanding the aerodynamics a little bit better. We got onto some shocks when we won the Michigan race that gave us better grip. We use those shocks about everywhere. I don't know if we had them on today, but I think we did. So it won here, Miami, California with the same set of shocks, so we found a bunch of small things that have made our race cars turn the corner. Ninety percent of it is the team's focus and hard work, and Doug. If I can keep him in the shop and focused on working on these race cars and going to the wind tunnel and spending all of his time that he's awake giving me better race cars. He called me the other week and said, 'I have a better car than you won California with. We just got back from the wind tunnel and it's a better piece.' It makes me excited when he tells me things like that - that those guys in the shop are working that hard. It's the whole organization. Our engine program has gotten a ton better. It's not any one thing. It's so many small things that make a race team. Like the DEI cars have struggled until they ran better at Martinsville and today they ran good. It's not one thing that they've fixed, it's a lot of things."
WHO MADE THE FINAL CALL ON WHAT CAR TO RUN TODAY?
"As soon as I caught my breath after I hit the fence over there I told the guys that I was OK and to get the backup out and they started unloading it. I mean, it was a hard hit. We may find some more things wrong with that race car, but it was a hard hit. We still had practice left. I didn't think the car was repairable. I figured motor mounts were probably bent and headers and everything else. I mean, it was a hard lick. As soon as I caught my breath, I told them I was OK and to get the backup car out. They did look at it in the garage and think about maybe fixing it, I don't know."
Continued in part 2