Early morning rain showers in the Atlanta area forced the cancellation of today's Aaron's 312 qualifying session, and the field of 43 cars was set by the NASCAR rulebook.Â Current points-leader Greg Biffle will start tomorrow's 203-lap from the...
Early morning rain showers in the Atlanta area forced the cancellation of today's Aaron's 312 qualifying session, and the field of 43 cars was set by the NASCAR rulebook. Current points-leader Greg Biffle will start tomorrow's 203-lap from the pole position, while fellow Ford Racing driver Jason Keller will complete the front row. Biffle currently leads Keller by 105 points in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, but both drivers have recorded four wins each. Biffle and Keller spoke about the points race and how the rain will affect their race strategies tomorrow.
GREG BIFFLE-60-Grainger Ford Taurus
YOU TESTED HERE A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO IN A CUP CAR AND START TOMORROW FROM THE BUSCH SERIES POLE.
"I just hope we get Cup qualifying in because I won't make that race unless we qualify. But, we learned a little bit from the Winston Cup car that might help us in the Busch car. We ran really well here. It seems like I haven't been here in forever. March last year was the last time that the Busch cars were here. We're pretty excited about being here. I think we have a really good car for Atlanta. We certainly want to get the race in tomorrow. I'm pretty excited about starting up front. Of course, I'm not excited about my rival starting right next to me. Maybe his car needs to go through inspection again or something. It's just a heck of a points race between Jason and I. Let's hope it continues and hopefully we can maintain our 105 points here at the end."
YOU LOST SOME OF YOUR LEAD LAST WEEK IN MEMPHIS.
"Hopefully I don't have two bad weeks in a row. We had 168 points going into last week, and we were leading the race with about 40 laps to go and got wrecked by a lapped car. That was pretty unfortunate. Jason wasn't running that well. He had not a real good day. He was running about 15th and it would have given us a 238-point lead with four races to go, which, in my eyes, would have sealed it up for me. Just four more solid starts would probably have gotten me the championship. Nevertheless, we still have a 105-point lead here. I think that's still enough of an advantage. That gives us a little breathing room, but we certainly have to be cautious the last four races of the season."
YOU FINISHED SECOND HERE LAST YEAR IN YOUR ONLY START AT AMS. "I learned a lot from Michael Waltrip. I followed him around the top of the race track. I tested here and learned quite a bit more about the race track. I'm pretty excited about coming back here for my second time. Hopefully I get a little extra practice in a Winston Cup car here and maybe that might help me a little bit. I feel really confident about a solid top-five run. Really, that's what I need to do to protect my point lead. If I finish in the top five even if Jason has a better day than us, it probably won't affect the points that much."
HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU ABOUT THE FINAL FOUR RACES OF THE SEASON?
"The last three tracks on the schedule, I feel pretty good about. I predominately run fair to mid at Rockingham. This spring, we went a lap down about middle way through the race, got our lap back and finished second to Keller, so we're decent there. I won both races last year in the truck and the Busch car at Phoenix, so that's a really strong track for me. I've always run really well at Homestead and like that race track. These last three race tracks, I feel that if I would choose any of them for the last three to be, it would be those with the exception of Rockingham. Just survival there for me. I can stay in the top 10 pretty easily even if I have a conservative day; I can stay in the top 10. That's what I really need to do. We want to win every race we can. Certainly we're going to run the best we can there, but in the worst-case scenario, hopefully a top-10 run at Rockingham."
YOU STATED AFTER THE RACE AT CHARLOTTE THAT YOU HAD TROUBLE SEEING OUT OF THE WINDSHIELD AND THAT YOU TRIED TO REMOVE THE WINDSHIELD TEAR-OFF FROM INSIDE THE CAR.
"They weren't impressed with me saying I loosened my seatbelt to try and pull the tear-off off, which probably wasn't the smartest thing for me to do either. I felt that was safer than not being able to see where I was going. That didn't seem very safe to me; it's a touchy subject. It's not NASCAR's decision when I need to take a tear-off off. We're allowed to do it at any time with seven men over the wall, but one of my concerns is when they determine it's necessary to give us the eighth guy to pull the tear-off off. One tends to think that's what that guy is for and they're making the decision for you on when to take the windshield tear-off off. That's what frustrated me. I was looking at it from my point of view, not from their point of view. I just felt that they were opening themselves up for a possible situation being the one to dictate when to take the tear-off off. Very easily it could have been a bad situation. Coming down pit road I could not see my pit box. I couldn't see the pits, I couldn't see if people were walking down pit road, driving down pit road. I was looking out the side window to guide myself down pit road and that was a scary situation for me because, certainly, I don't want to run over a guy out sweeping lugnuts up or anything like that. After the fact, I see that our jack guy needs to pull that tear-off off. We need not to rely on the eighth guy for the guy to be able to pull the tear-off off. We worked our problems out. I just don't want to see them put in a position where they're making the decision on when we need to get our windshield clean. And that really isn't it. We just need to clarify that better for next time."
JASON KELLER-57-Albertsons Ford Taurus
"We gained some. We've been running good and hopefully we can continue that. We think if we try to do something different, we might mess up, so we're just going to try to stay with what we've got."
"I don't want to say the energy, but the mentality has been kinda tough to try to stay on a high note for long period of time. This has been a roller coaster year for myself, Greg and for everybody to stay motivated more than anything. As far the energy, I don't think has been a problem. But, it has been a long year, but there again, I looked at it recently and we only have four races to go and this is one of the most exciting years that I've ever had in my career, so I kinda don't want it to end."
"No because I haven't won them a championship. I think there's more pressure on me to win a championship. It helps from experience. Harold Holly knows how to win championships, and hopefully he can add to the comfort of me and Steve that he can pull us through."
"I'm really excited about going back to Rockingham after what we did in the spring. Hopefully we can do that again and run good. We're going o Greg's playground in Phoenix; he always runs good there. But who knows? Some of these places we go back with a new tire and it changes, so you try to go with what you had in the past and it doesn't work. I think the ball is still in his court, but I think we still have a good chance, but he needs to make another mistake and we'll just run the best we can."
IF IT COMES DOWN TO HOMESTEAD, ARE YOU COMFORTABLE AT THAT RACE TRACK?
"I'm very comfortable there. We had some mechanical problems in the race last year. We qualified great and we practiced great, but had some mechanical problems in the race, but I'm very confident to go back there, and I would rather it end on a flat, slick race track than a real high-banked race track like Atlanta. If I had my druthers, I'm glad we end there."
"The thing I'm going to tell the media is that I'm not thinking about it, but I go to sleep at night having to think about it. I've been racing for over 20 years and I thought about it 20 years ago. To say I'm not thinking about it now would probably be a lie to you guys and I don't want to do that. But, I try not to let it affect myself on the race track. If anything, I try to race the race no matter what, how it unfolds. You do think about it. It's human nature and you think about it."
"I think the more I think the worse it is sometimes. Very good advice from people who have won championships like we were talking about - Harold Holly and people. I have to go back to when I was 14 years old. I won my last national championship in go-karts. I haven't won a championship since then, of any kind. Anybody who has the experience is definitely better to listen to than I am."
"Greg had some problems last week at Memphis and we just need to continue to run well and starting up front here in Atlanta is something I have rarely done. It's going to be a different race for me to be starting up front and hopefully we can build off of our test from a couple of weeks ago here and run well."
WHAT DID YOU LEARN HERE DURING YOU TEST?
"I definitely feel more confident here. I learned a lot of things. I learned a lot of things not to do, which hopefully we won't do tomorrow. We just really worked hard on our race setups, which I'm glad we didn't spend a lot of time doing our qualifying setups because qualifying was rained out. So luckily for us, we didn't waste a lot of time there. The race track typically changes from when you test to when you come back, but hopefully it will be close to the same. The second day we tested it was overcast ad now it's overcast. It's kinda forecasted to be a little bit overcast tomorrow, too, so hopefully the conditions of the race track will stay the same and we can use a lot of the notes that we have."
DO YOU HAVE A RENEWED SPIRIT AFTER LAST WEEK?
"Yes and no. I had hoped we would run a little better last week to be able to challenge Greg, but unfortunately we didn't. We just qualified mediocre and just ran OK all day long. We didn't run great. We need to run better. If we're going to have any chance to beat Greg we're going to have to beat him no matter what. We just need to be smart and race our own race. I know Greg and I are starting side by side tomorrow, which hopefully won't affect me too bad and we can just race our own race and be smart about it."
"I'm going to try not to worry about him, but there again, we only have four races to go and I'm only human. I'm going to be knowing what he's doing. It's been a long time coming to put myself in this position and situation, but I'm going to try not to let what he does dictate what we do in the race. Hopefully we can race our own race and be smart and get a good finish."