This Week in Ford Racing July 9, 2002 NASCAR Busch Grand National Not only did Greg Biffle overcome a three-year-long string of bad luck at Daytona last weekend, but the driver of the No. 60 Ford Taurus also overcame early-season misfortune to...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 9, 2002
NASCAR Busch Grand National
Not only did Greg Biffle overcome a three-year-long string of bad luck at Daytona last weekend, but the driver of the No. 60 Ford Taurus also overcame early-season misfortune to regain the points lead for the first time since March. Biffle's second-place finish at the inaugural Busch Series night race was his first top-10 finish in three races at Daytona, which included one Craftsman Truck Series start and a pair of Busch Series starts. The second-place finish also vaulted Biffle to the top of the point standings, unfamiliar territory since the fifth race of the season at Bristol. Since leading the points, Biffle had fallen as far back as seventh place, 349 points out of the lead after the 12th race of the season at Nazareth. In the last six races, however, Biffle has posted consecutive finishes of second (Charlotte), first (Dover), third (Nashville), second (Kentucky), first (Milwaukee) and second (Daytona). Now, after 18 of the 34 races on the schedule, Biffle has accumulated a 39-point lead over second-place Jason Keller. Biffle spoke about the team's turnaround the past six races and his outlook on the remainder of the season.
GREG BIFFLE-60-Grainger Ford Taurus
YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED OUTSIDE OF THE TOP THREE IN THE LAST SIX RACES. WHAT'S BEEN THE KEY TO THE STREAK?
"None of the other guys that were ahead of us in points really had had any problems yet. And that's what gave us a little bit of a break, a couple guys had the kinda luck we were having. It kinda turned the program around for us and that's what we needed. We didn't want anyone to have bad races, but the luck cycled around."
OVER THE SIX-RACE STRETCH, HAVE YOU BEEN MORE FOCUSED ON GETTING BACK IN THE POINTS RACE OR JUST WINNING RACES?
I'm a little of both. Certainly, I want to run as well as I can every week and just do the best I can. We're looking to win; we show up to win every week. Sometimes there are situations where I think about maybe not trying to make that pass, but not really. I pretty much show up to get the best finish I can and run the best I can. I'm not really thinking about points. No matter if you're points racing or not, you're trying to get the best finish with the kind of car you have that day. I think I've learned that I'm not always going to win with a fifth-place car, and sometimes you have to settle for a top-three or top-five finish. I want to get in the top five to have a good run each week. One, you get paid well, and that's not just me, but the whole team, and, second, you get good points, and that's also good for the race team. One kinda goes in hand with the other."
THIS LOOKS LIKE IT WILL BE YOUR LAST FULL-TIME SEASON IN THE BUSCH SERIES, SO HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR?
"It's pretty important. I'd really like to win the Busch title to have one of each, one in the trucks and one in Busch. This is really my last opportunity probably for a while to be able to do it, unless I try to do double-duty for an entire season, which at some point will be impossible. NASCAR, all they have to do is make a small change to the schedule here or there, not intentionally, and it will be impossible for a guy to be two places at once. It's almost that way now. And, of course, you have Mother Nature to deal with, so this is really my last opportunity to do it. I think we have a great chance at it. We've got really good momentum, and it really looks good."
JACK SPRAGUE HELD A TRIPLE-DIGIT POINTS LEAD OVER YOU SIX RACES INTO YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON IN THE TRUCK SERIES IN 2000. DID YOU LEARN SOMETHING THAT YEAR THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO APPLY WHEN YOU HAD A TOUGH STRETCH OF LUCK EARLY THIS SEASON?
I definitely think we learned something in our championship season in the truck series. We were 100-plus points behind Sprague almost midway through the season, and we didn't panic when that happened and we ended up winning the championship by 200-plus points. We looked back this year five or 10 races ago to see what were we doing wrong. If you had done anything different - different crew chief, different driver, different team, different anything - I think the results would have been exactly the same. Stupid stuff was happening to us. Randy LaJoie ran into the side of us at Daytona on the frontstretch and wrecks us. Scott Riggs and Kenny Wallace crash at Talladega and wreck the whole field. LaJoie spins me out again in Nashville on purpose. The engine lets go at Loudon when we're leading. We were going to win Nazareth and Jeff (Purvis) had an engine let go. All of those things are so totally out of our control, and we couldn't do anything about it. The guys in the pits just had to sit and watch the stuff fall apart in front of us. Look at how we were running in all of those races. We were running fourth or fifth at Talladega, fourth at Daytona, leading at Loudon, running second and catching the leader at Nazareth, and at Nashville, we started at the back and were up to 10th in 40 laps. We were dominating, I say, all of those races, like we are today. We're not so much dominating the races today, but we're running a dominant top-five. We haven't changed anything. We're showing up to the track doing the same exact thing, the same exact mindset, the team has the same morale they did, and I hate to say it's luck, but there's that racing luck. I've told people that I've used up all of my bad luck; there's no more left to be had. I don't care what the situation is, we've had everything happen to us that should happen to somebody in two years, not the first 15 races."
YOU OPTED TO TEST AT CHICAGO TWO WEEKS AGO.
Where that sparked from is our race at Texas. We had the worst run of our Busch career at Texas. I was literally running 15th and couldn't pass a car on the track; that's just the best I could run. We were going to get the car better, of course, but we came in and had a lengthy pit stop changing stuff on the car and then it rained out, so we got a bad finish there kinda on our own. After that race, I said to (Randy) Goss that we really missed the boat here and that our car was never as good as we wanted it to be. The car didn't turn real good, that was our major problem. Tracks like Chicago and Kansas, you need your car to turn real well, and I said to Goss that we need to go test before we get into all of those races towards the end of the year. Before we do this again, we have to go test and figure out what we did wrong. I'm not sure if the tire's a little bit different or if we lost something in the off-season, so we schedule that Chicago test. That got us as close to the types of race tracks that we wanted to test for - Chicago, Kansas and those types of race tracks."
THE TEST AT CHICAGO WAS ONLY THE SECOND OF SEVEN THAT YOU ARE ALLOTTED. DID YOU GO INTO THE SEASON KEYING ON THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR?
We wanted to spend the first half of the year finding out where we're running good and where we're running bad and kinda save up the tests for the end of the season. We wanted to keep them toward the later part of the season where it's going to be important to have good races everywhere. We feel that we're going to be able to test and go do it. And, we thought with the season we had last year and the way we finished up, that we didn't need to go test everywhere right away. We felt we ran pretty good at all of these races. Later in this season, we're also going to use some Cup tests to help us with the Busch car. We're going to run Michigan and probably Charlotte, and hopefully Phoenix. So we'll be testing those places with a Cup car to kinda get us in the right mentally for the upcoming Busch race."