FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Memphis 200 Advance May 4, 1999 Memphis Motorsports Park Greg Biffle is coming off a season-high, fifth-place finish at ...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Memphis 200 Advance May 4, 1999 Memphis Motorsports Park
Greg Biffle is coming off a season-high, fifth-place finish at Martinsville on April 17. The strong finish vaulted Biffle and the # 50 Grainger/Roush Racing Ford F-150 into the top 10 in points for the first time in 1999. The 1998 NCTS Rookie-of-the-Year is confident that he can duplicate his pole-winning effort from last year and possibly get his first career NCTS win at the upcoming Memphis 200.
NCTS TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
GREG BIFFLE - 50 - Grainger/Roush Racing Ford F-150 WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH THE PAST TWO WEEKENDS OFF FROM NCTS COMPETITION? "I've definitely been racking up the frequent flier miles. My first weekend off I went to Mexico and did a little fishing on my boat down there. We've also been working really hard on our short track program back at the shop. The Exide (Roush Racing teammate) team has been to the wind tunnel. We went to a short track up in northern Michigan and tested some stuff. Then I flew out to Portland to run in a local Late Model show that unfortunately got rained out. So I'm getting ready to fly to Memphis in the morning. I've definitely been on the go even though we've had a two week break going."
LAST YEAR AT MEMPHIS, YOU QUALIFIED ON THE POLE AND LED THE FIRST 109 LAPS OF THE RACE AND THEN RAN INTO SOME TIRE PROBLEMS. YOU HAVE TO FEEL LIKE MEMPHIS MIGHT BE THE PLACE FOR YOU TO ACHIEVE YOUR FIRST CAREER NCTS WIN? "I feel 100% confident that we have a great opportunity to win there. We definitely had the truck to beat last year. I've never had that kind of race truck at any of the races even up to today. It was unbelievable that we were able to find a set-up that worked so well at Memphis Motorsports Park. It is a nice fairly smooth surface with new asphalt. Last year was a rookie mistake. We simply forgot to stop for tires. It was a lack of decision-making on all of our parts. You're only going to go so far on a set of tires. We ended up blowing a right front tire. It was definitely not the tire's fault after running literally 130 laps, I believe. What a great truck we had there. We've learned a lot since then and I'm excited to be going back.
MEMPHIS HAS BEEN CALLED BOTH A SHORT TRACK AND A SPEEDWAY. WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION? "I drive it like a short track. I like tracks about that size. Memphis is a perfect size track for the truck series. It gives us lots of room to race, yet it's not a speedway, so drafting is not real important. It's really a great racetrack. It promotes two-wide racing really easily. Memphis is a really nice facility with a newer race surface. It gives us lots of grip. It is a little bit flatter track which is complimented with the new asphalt. It's fairly smooth but has a little dip where the access road comes in off the back which doesn't really affect the trucks at all because it comes in way before the corner. Other than that, it's a really fun track to race on."
YOU SEEMED TO BEGIN GAINING MOMENTUM AT AROUND THE SAME TIME AS LAST YEAR'S RACE AT MEMPHIS. HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED THIS YEAR AS YOU RETURN TO MEMPHIS? "I think that the momentum for us is still there. We have really good qualifying efforts so far this year. But our race set-up has been off just a click so we're working desperately to try and correct it. I've made some mistakes at the first two racetracks this year where we had really good trucks and were running up front and leading laps. We just failed to tighten up the chassis late in the day on the end of the run. I got a little bit better with that over the next two races. The team is so focused and we have good momentum coming into Memphis and the tracks coming up for us. I really think that we've got a great opportunity to pick up a win here soon, especially in Memphis."
THERE HAS NOT BEEN MUCH RACING ON THE MEMPHIS TRACK SINCE YOU WERE THERE LAST YEAR. WILL THE TRACK BE EVEN BETTER ON TIRES THIS YEAR? "Actually it was great on tires last year. I went about 130 laps on the tires. That's way further than we expected. Guys had made three pit stops for tires before I even stopped for one side. We didn't want to surrender the lead. We got out of the pit sequence so we wanted to wait until the next pit sequence so we could stay out front. I had torn up a lot of race equipment up till then and was just starting to get settled down and learning the trucks. It was simply that my crew chief didn't want to put me in the back where you are more susceptible to tearing up race equipment and losing the race. By not doing that, we ended up blowing a tire. But I think they had a great tire there and I don't think tire wear was a huge factor for us."
YOUR ROUSH PARTNER (MIKE BLISS) IS ALSO FROM THE NORTHWESTERN PART OF THE COUNTRY. YOU'RE BOTH WITH TWO SEPARATE TEAMS. HOW MUCH DO YOU TALK WITH EACH OTHER AND COMPARE NOTES? "I think that it really does help. It gives the guys at the shop a second opinion to what our problems are and what might make things better. In NASCAR, we don't have any data acquisition capabilities on the trucks. The driver is the only source of information for the teams to go off of. So having two opinions is definitely better than one. Our driving styles are so similar, which I was so surprised with. I thought that it would be somewhat similar, but not this much. The input with the guys works well. They are able to obtain what the problem is and try to find a fix for it. Last year with Joe (Ruttman), he drove extremely different from his years of experience and that made it tough to correlate information. Now we both come back and technically say the same thing. And Mike and I talk on the phone after every race or in the pits and that really helps us. It's definitely a plus."
NOW THAT TEAMS ARE USED TO DOING LIVE PIT STOPS, IS THERE A SMARTER THINKING GOING ON IN THAT AREA? "I think so. Of course the guys practice pit stops daily at the race shop. We sit down and go through scenarios with pit stops and we can gather a lot of information by watching our friends in the Busch and Winston Cup series. It helps us to learn and develop our skills for pit stops. That is where we are lacking. I feel that our weak spot on our team right now is just the ability to make the right decisions during the pit stops. Whether it be my lack of experience on what to adjust on the truck or our lack of experience on when to stop and actually what to do at that particular time. We're great at the stops as far as speed and things like that but it's just a little bit of the strategy we need. We're improving every race and I feel that we're getting better."
WITH THE MEMPHIS RACE BEING RUN ON MOTHER'S DAY WEEKEND, WHAT KIND OF INFLUENCE DID YOUR MOTHER HAVE ON, NOT ONLY YOUR RACING, BUT ALSO YOUR LIFE AS WELL? "It is absolutely incredible that she never missed a race until I started the touring series and started to travel to races that were further out of town. She was in the grandstands for every green flag and every checkered flag. Both of my parents were major supporters of the series and of course my mom will be there at Memphis this weekend and what a treat that would be to sit in victory circle. I distinctly remember the first race that she did miss on the Northwest touring series; I won that race at Twin Falls, Idaho. I remember calling her after the checkered flag and telling her that I had won and she was probably heart-broken that she missed that race. She has been a huge influence and a huge factor."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN DURING YOUR FIRST NCTS SEASON LAST YEAR? "We don't have enough time for me to tell you all that I learned! I'll tell you that I learned so much stuff, it was quite incredible. The pit stops were a major factor for me to try and get used to and we're still learning every day about the pit stops. A lot of the guys didn't come from a pit stop background. So that was a major thing. And just getting used to the way these guys race, getting used to the competitors, how to be patient and conserve on the tires, and when to be aggressive and when not to. The biggest thing that has helped so far this season is just plain experience at every racetrack that we've been to. I was at Memphis last year so I know what we did and what we did wrong. I know how we're going to improve it. That is the biggest one factor."
YOU WON THE ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR TITLE LAST YEAR. TALK ABOUT YOUR CLOSE COMPETITION WITH ANDY HOUSTON FOR THE TITLE. "Andy was a great competitor. It was right down to the wire. Before the last green flag, there was one point differential. So it was a tough race. It is so nice not to have that pressure there to be in the top five or top three and trying to get the point lead. The added pressure of that rookie battle was fierce. I think that it is going to help me in the future when it comes down to being third or second or even being the point's leader. When that day ever comes along, that points race last year taught me some discipline."
TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JACK ROUSH. "Jack is a very demanding team owner as most of the other team owners probably are. Owners want to win and they don't want to tear up equipment. Jack has been a great influence. He has given the team and myself guidance. He is great to work for and what a great operation. He has great people in place to manage the teams and run the organizations. I'm just glad to be a part of it."