NASCAR Busch Grand National Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 60 Grainger Ford, held an 82-point lead heading into last weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway, but when his engine expired after 18 laps, it looked that lead would all ...
NASCAR Busch Grand National
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 60 Grainger Ford, held an 82-point lead heading into last weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway, but when his engine expired after 18 laps, it looked that lead would all but evaporate to second-place Jason Keller. Biffle, even with a 42nd-place finish, managed to only lose 26 points of his lead to Keller after the No. 57 Ford experienced a similar failure on lap 104. Now, as the Busch Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the 24th of 34 races on the schedule, the points battle remains as volatile as ever, and Biffle will try to hold on to a 56-point lead at the fast-paced .533-mile oval. Biffle shared his thoughts on the events of the past week, the points battle and the role of being the hunted rather than the hunter.
GREG BIFFLE-60-Grainger Ford Taurus - SINCE TAKING OVER THE POINTS LEAD AFTER DAYTONA, YOU'VE GONE FROM THE HUNTER TO THE HUNTED. HAS THAT CHANGED THE MENTALITY OF HOW YOU APPROACH EACH WEEKEND?
"It hasn't changed a tremendous amount. We're still focused on showing up every week and practicing in the top five, qualifying in the top five and trying to race in the top five. That's really been our focus the entire time, and, still today, we're trying to work on that part of it. Definitely, this weekend was probably one of the worst ones that I've had on a while, that's for sure."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU'RE WEARING A BULLSEYE NOW THAT YOU'VE GOT THE LEAD?
"Maybe, but I don't look at it that way. I'm just focused on what we're trying to do. We really got hurt this weekend because of the rain. We had an engine problem when we showed up there with the Busch car and didn't realize it. I mean, I realized that we had a vibration so we changed the drive shaft, the rear-end gear, and we changed a few things around because I was complaining about a vibration that was vibrating the mirror. Something was wrong in the engine, something wasn't happy in there, and we didn't have any practice time to figure out that we had a problem. We were just on qualifying runs, and without running the thing for more than a couple of laps, it's hard to determine or isolate a problem and that's the same reason I didn't make the Cup race. We only made three qualifying runs in a 30-minute period and really didn't focus our time in between to make the right changes and execute. We were like, 'Let's hurry up and make another one,' and didn't address the problem and adjust the chassis and make wholesale changes like we needed to. So, that's kinda what trapped us, the weather. It backed us in a corner in both series."
HOW TOUGH IS IT WHEN YOU GO OUT EARLY IN A RACE AND HAVE A CHANCE AT LOSING THE POINTS LEAD?
"It's terrible. I was disgusted. I was sick to my stomach. I was just frustrated because there's nothing you can do about it. And then, we're on the way to the airport and we hear that he (Keller) goes out of the race with engine problems, on pit road with the hood up. At one point, it's like a relief that you're not going to get hurt so bad in the points, but then it reemphasizes the fact that you're out of the race and could have capitalized and didn't get the opportunity to. But you can't be greedy, but it's like, 'Man, there was my opportunity to gain 100 points on him today.' It doesn't matter who went out first, but you've got to think about it, and the aspect that you're both out and that's just the way it is."
THE TOP FIVE IN POINTS HAVE ALL HAD THEIR SHARE OF PROBLEMS THIS SEASON.
"This is probably the first time in a long while the champion won't have the perfect season. It's definitely playing out that way right now. We had a tough year at the beginning. We really, really struggled. And then, things turned around for us. I believe things are continuing to stay good for us. Last weekend was just a little hitch in road for us, but I think we're going to continue to do well. In the truck series, I think we were eighth in points starting out. It seems like we never start out perfect and keep going perfect the whole time. That's the thing about auto racing, there will always be some ups and downs, but it's the team that can keep the downs to just one or two races that will win the championship. Hopefully we've had our share of downs for the season and I just hope that I can stay in the lead."
WITH THE SHORT TRACKS OF BRISTOL AND RICHMOND COMING UP IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, WILL YOU BE MORE CAUTIOUS TO TRY TO FINISH THOSE RACES IN ONE PIECE?
"A little bit, but we still have to be plenty aggressive. I got bit one time in the truck series by trying to be too cautious at Flemington. I had a 20-point lead and wanted to be cautious and didn't race as aggressive as I normally race, and we kinda raced defensively and it hurt us. We don't try to change up our menu. When you get up in the morning, you do the same routine every time. For you to start changing that, or do something different or take a different way to work, it can nab you. If you keep doing the same thing you're doing, you know what to expect, and that's kind of my philosophy. I just keep doing what I'm doing. I race aggressive. I realize that there's danger of getting involved in an accident, but I know that if I race different - if I'm too cautious or don't drive into the corners hard or try to finish sixth instead of third - that that will bite you, too, just as easy as doing normal routine every week."
IS IT A TWO-PERSON RACE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP BETWEEN YOU AND JASON KELLER?
"I don't believe so because we just completed a 280-point swing in just nine races, and Riggs and Sprague caught up to us a tremendous amount this weekend. The same thing that happened this past weekend could easily happen again to me or Jason in the future. It doesn't take much to put a person right there on your bumper."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO ATTEMPTING ANOTHER CUP RACE?
"I wasn't looking forward to it after Michigan, but now, after I had a day to think about it, I feel ready to go back and do it. I know that there were extraordinary circumstances presented to me. I'll be honest with you, we were off on our setup on both cars for what people are doing today for qualifying. And we kinda got slapped in the face with it this weekend. We were off a little bit on our qualifying program for those mile-and-a-half and two-mile tracks. If you look at where we qualified at Kentucky, Texas, California, we were in the top 15; we're not in the top five like we normally are. We were getting beat just a little bit in qualifying in the near past and didn't really catch it that must and just thought that we needed to work on qualifying a little bit more. Guys are doing things to get their cars down out of the air. They're doing things to keep their cars down on the race track, keep them turning, all of those things you've got to do in qualifying to make one really good lap."
YOU'RE WINSTON CUP CREW IS LARGELY MADE UP OF YOUR BUSCH CREW. HAS THAT MADE IT MORE DIFFICULT ON THE WEEKENDS WHERE YOU TRY TO ATTEMPT BOTH RACES?
"I don't think so. It wears them thin a little bit. It puts extra pressure on them, but those guys are pretty dedicated to the programs. The Cup program had no reflection on us qualifying poorly in the Busch car. If anything, missing the Cup race helped us with the Busch car, or is going to help us with the Busch car with our qualifying, simply because it's going to raise us to a new level."