Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 60 Grainger Taurus, is one of 22 drivers participating in the second two-day test session at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for next month's Busch Series EAS/GNC Live Well 300. Biffle, who will once...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 60 Grainger Taurus, is one of 22 drivers participating in the second two-day test session at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for next month's Busch Series EAS/GNC Live Well 300. Biffle, who will once again team with crew chief Randy Goss in their quest for a second NASCAR championship, spoke about the test and the upcoming season, including his Winston Cup opportunity and the possibility of running one of Jack Roush's Craftsman Truck entries.
GREG BIFFLE-60-Grainger Ford Taurus
THIS IS YOUR SECOND TRIP TO DAYTONA
IN THE PAST TWO WEEKS. DID YOUR WINSTON CUP TEST HELP YOU PREPARE FOR
THE BUSCH TEST?
"I'm really pretty happy to be back here because I was just excited to test the Busch car. This series is our main focus this year; the Cup races are just icing on the cake. I think we learned a lot testing the Cup car, though. We learned a lot of what we did wrong and ways to improve on that to go faster in our Cup car, so we're applying a lot of that to this and I think it will show. Our new car is a good three-tenths faster than our old car and that rewards the guys for how hard they worked in the off-season. It still doesn't help us being nine-tenths off the fast time of the day. I certainly feel that we're still a little handicapped."
DO YOU FEEL ANY ADDED PRESSURE THIS YEAR KNOWING THAT YOU'RE THE ONE SOME
PEOPLE ARE PICKING TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"Not really. We're just going to come in and do the best we can every week and that's just what we're going to focus on good races and good finishes every week -- and we should be there in the points battle. We think we could have been there last year if we didn't have so many bad finishes. We had a great string of top fives and top 10s, but we just need to get rid of some of the bad finishes and I think we'll be right there."
THERE WEREN'T HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS TEAM AT THE BEGINNING OF LAST
SEASON, BUT NOW YOU'RE THE ONES WEARING THE BULL'S EYE.
"I'm going to do my best to hold up what the expectations are of us, but we want to improve upon last year. That's what we wanted to see when this deal came together. We didn't set points goals but improvement goals, and we're still expecting to see improvement this year even though we had a good year last year. I think if we do that at all, we'll be making a championship run. Being fourth in the championship points last year, if you make the small improvements, you're right there."
KEVIN HARVICK AND JEFF GREEN WERE YOUR MAIN ON-TRACK RIVALS LAST YEAR,
BUT THEY WON'T BE ON THE BUSCH CIRCUIT EVERY WEEK. WHO ARE YOU EXPECTING
TO BATTLE ON A WEEKLY BASIS?
"There is the potential to have a lot of new faces up there, and that's due in large part to the personnel changes in the off-season. Chad Little and Tony Raines really picked it up at the end of the season, and Scott Riggs is a good driver in good equipment. You expect to see Jason Keller pick up where Jeff Green left off, so I think he may be one of our toughest competitors, but you also have some new faces to this series. Andy Houston is here and Stacy Compton is coming back full-time, so I think you may see more winners than last year. I'm looking forward to that and I think that's one more reason that we need to eliminate the 30-plus finishes we had at a few races last season. Everybody knows the points system rewards consistency and not just winning races."
YOU'VE RUN THE FORDS AT DAYTONA DURING BOTH THE WINSTON CUP AND BUSCH
SERIES TEST SESSIONS. DO YOU FEEL LIKE THEY ARE BEHIND THE OTHER MAKES?
"I'm not going to complain because the Taurus is a great race car everywhere else, but when you see the GM teams bringing at least one Pontiac down to testing, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that one make is better than the others. When you handicap the Fords with a big spoiler here compared to the other tracks, I don't think that's right. Nobody wants to see it, but everybody should build a Pontiac for this race with the current rules. Our Ford is a great car, but when you put the big spoiler on it, it doesn't make it a great car anymore. What I don't understand is why Ford can't be at the top of the board. What's wrong with that? We haven't seen that in the Busch Series since 1995, and I often wonder why we don't see them at the top of the board at restrictor-plate races, and I'd like to see them get into the top three. Pontiac took ten of the top-eleven spots in qualifying last year and we haven't seen any rule changes that would indicate that this year will be any different. If I were a GM team, I guess I'd run a Pontiac here and save it for when we come back in July."
QUALIFYING FOR THE BUSCH RACE HAS BEEN SHORTENED TO ONE ROUND. HOW WILL
THAT IMPACT YOUR TEAM?
"I think it's better. We put so much effort into two laps. It takes a quarter of our budget and it wears the guys out. We don't have as many guys as our Winston Cup counterparts, so it takes more out of our team. When we go to Rockingham, the guys are just wore our; they're exhausted. It's like we'd been running ten weeks straight, twice a week. We only need one round of qualifying. Put your best foot forward, give it your best shot and then be done with it. We hope to qualify, and depending on what NASCAR does with our spoilers, we hope to qualify in the top 15. We've been to the wind tunnel and we've spent more time and effort with these two cars than anybody in the garage area, so there's no reason that we can't be as fast as them."
YOU ARE PREPARING TO MAKE YOUR WINSTON CUP DEBUT THIS SEASON. A LOT OF
TALK AROUND THAT SERIES CONCERNS THE NEW SINGLE-MOTOR RULE. COMING FROM
THE TRUCK AND BUSCH SERIES, WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS?
"I don't think there will be a big deal between the two. I think it's better for the Winston Cup Series because it keeps the high-dollar, two-lap grenades out of the picture and it makes a little less work for the guys. I think it will be better for the sport. I raced in the trucks and now the Busch Series with that rule and I think it makes for closer competition because teams don't have to allocate all of their resources into qualifying motors. In the Busch Series, the guys that qualify up front are the ones you expect to race up front, and I don't think you see that on the Winston Cup side. I think they had a record numbers of pole winners last year, but I don't know how many of them went on to win the race."
IS THERE ANY SORT OF MOTOR CONSERVATION THAT YOU USE IN THE BUSCH GARAGE
THAT WILL CARRY OVER TO THE CUP GARAGE WITH THE ADDITION OF THE NEW MOTOR
"Not really. We're careful about how we cool it down, but we don't try anything crazy. I don't know what the Cup guys do, but if they are doing some crazy things between qualifying runs, they'll have to adjust some of their procedures. Maybe that will play into our hands, but I think it may end up being a wash."
HOW MANY WINSTON CUP RACES ARE YOU PLANNING TO RUN IN ADDITION TO
"We're still not set on the number of races that we're going to run this year in Cup, and I think right now it's only two - Daytona and California. We're supposed to be doing seven, but we'll wait and see."
IS IT A DISTRACTION RUNNING TWO SERIES ON THE SAME WEEKEND?
"It really helps you; it's no distraction. As soon as everybody figures that out, they're going to understand why a guy does so much better. Look at me in Phoenix. Look at Jeff Burton in Phoenix. That was one weekend where I had the opportunity to run two divisions and I won both races. If that's any indication of what it does for a driver to run twice in the same weekend, that explains why Kevin had that kind of success last year."
THE ROUSH RACING TRUCK TEAMS ONLY HAVE ONE DRIVER SLATED FOR THE UPCOMING
SEASON. IS THERE ANY CHANCE THAT YOU MIGHT COMPETE IN ALL THREE RACES AT
"They've asked me to race the truck here, but we have our plate full right now. I just don't think that would be the best for us; it might spread us a little too thin running all three."
IS THERE ANY CHANCE OF RUNNING A TRUCK LATER IN THE SEASON?
"Absolutely. We look forward to running three, four or five a little later in the year. Daytona is a high-risk race track and a lot can happen. It's a high-profile race, but like I said earlier, our focus is on the Busch Series and there's not much for us to gain over here by running that race. There's not a lot to gain here versus a Phoenix or somewhere else. I think it's more luck here than anywhere else."