Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 60 Ford, will attempt to pull double duty this season, competing in both the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series. Biffle, the 2002 Busch Series champion, took part in Q&A session during the lunch break of Tuesday's Busch ...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 60 Ford, will attempt to pull double duty this season, competing in both the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series. Biffle, the 2002 Busch Series champion, took part in Q&A session during the lunch break of Tuesday's Busch Series test at Daytona International Speedway.
GREG BIFFLE -60-Charter Communications Ford Taurus
ARE YOU PULLING DOUBLE DUTY THIS YEAR, RACING BOTH NEXTEL CUP AND THE BUSCH SERIES?
"We're going to race all of the races, both Cup and Busch. The Cup test went fairly decent down here, better than we've been past years. I tried to qualify here in 2002, but broke an engine in the qualifying races. I had a pretty good car then, but this year we were better than we ever have been. I don't know what reflection that has, obviously it's the guys back at the shop doing harder work than everybody else or we're just getting more caught up, so that's exciting news. On the other hand, the Busch car isn't up to speed like we need it to be. Our other car didn't get done in time so we've got basically a spare car here that we don't anticipate bringing back, except maybe as a spare. That being the case, this is a lot of wasted time if you're not going to race this car, so we're kinda going through the motions right now. It's possible that we'll bring this car back, so we've got to be here right now to know that we've got something to bring back in case something happens to the other car, if it doesn't run fast or we crash in practice."
DID YOU REFLECT ON YOUR PEPSI 400 VICTORY WHEN YOU CAME BACK FOR THE CUP TEST SESSION?
"Yes, I did. I didn't think about it at all until I walked through the garage. I parked the car, came through the tunnel and started walking to the garage, and then it dawned on me that the last time I was here I won. The last time I was here I was in victory lane, so it was pretty exciting to think about that again. That was kind of a charge to get going. That was kinda fun. I've always run good here in a Busch car. I enjoy racing here in a Busch car, so I'm excited to be back and ready for the season to get going."
WILL THIS TEST AT LEAST HELP YOU LEARN ABOUT THE TAURUS' AERODYNAMIC TENDENCIES?
"Normally the air acts pretty much the same on the cars so anything we find, tweak this or move that on this car, we can apply to our other car and bring it back. The problem is we're not going to take them together and test them somewhere to see which one is the fastest. We're going to put the other car together thinking it's better than this car and just bring it, so you'll never know whether that one sitting up in the trailer is faster than this one. You just have to choose and make your decision."
NASCAR ANNOUNCED A NEW POINTS SYSTEM FOR THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES. WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ON THE NEW SYSTEM?
"I like the no comment. It's going to different, that's about all I can say, it's going to be a lot different. It's going to change our sport tremendously. It's going to change sponsor packages, driver contracts, it's going to impact the sport a lot further. I'm sure they've thought out everything prior to making the decision, but it certainly is going to make an impact."
WILL IT CHANGE THE WAY YOU DRIVE EVERY WEEK?
"No, we try to win every week, that's what we do. That's what everybody does, no matter if you're in a tight points race or not, you can't crash out of the race. You're not going to do stupid stuff. You try to use the same mindset every week, and that's get yourself in the top 10, be consistent, stay on the lead lap, get in the top five and you're there for the wins."
THERE WILL ALSO BE A CHANGE IN THE POINT SYSTEM STRUCTURE FOR THE BUSCH SERIES, WHERE THE RACE WINNER WILL RECEIVE AN ADDITIONAL FIVE POINTS. WILL THAT HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE BUSH SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP RACE?
"Sure, I think it's going to make an effect in the Busch Series. I don't think it will affect the points in the Cup Series because they're starting over with 10 races to go, so what difference does the five points make?
That was my thinking, but maybe it will come down to five points at the end of the 10 races. It will have an impact on the Busch Series because the points carry over till the end of the season, which determines the champion. That's going to make a difference, whoever can win three, four or nine races. I won nine in the truck series and Ryan Newman won a bunch of them. That's going to make a difference if a person can do that now. He can keep those points and try to use them to win a championship versus starting over."
WAS THERE A NEED TO CHANGE THE POINTS SYSTEM?
"I think they needed to modify that a little bit. Maybe they did need to put some emphasis on the last 10 races of the season. I like the idea of bonus points for the top-10 guys. Give them one-and-a-half times the points if you're in the top 10 and finish in the top 10. Or maybe give it to the whole group so that it makes a difference and has a bigger impact of where you finish. It's going to work itself out. It's going to be interesting, certainly."
DO YOU THINK IT WILL MAKE PEOPLE JUST OUTSIDE THE TOP 10 DO RISKY THINGS TO TRY TO GET IN THE TOP 10 FOR THE FINAL 10 RACES?
"I don't know. That's a tough question. I doubt it. It's the same difference now. And then people thought that if you're not in the top 10 you're going to be more careless, you're not going to care. That's true and not true. I'm out there racing around Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and they're in a tight points race for the championship. I'm conscious of that with 10 races to go whether the points are like they are now or the way they were last year. I had Earnhardt, Jr. behind me and Matt in front of me, and I was like, 'I need to be a little cautious right here because these two guys are running for the championship and one of them is my teammate.' Certainly I don't want to be a factor in deciding that. Nobody wants to be a factor in deciding that, so it could go either way I guess. I'm not going to drive any different. I'm going to do the best I can and try to get in the top 10."
HAVE YOU WORKED OUT THE LOGISTICS OF GETTING BACK AND FORTH TO THE TRACKS WHEN NEXTEL CUP AND THE BUSCH SERIES ARE IN DIFFERENT CITIES?
"We're still working on the logistics of getting back and forth right now. There are some travel issues there that we're trying to bridge that gap with finding some aircraft to lease or do something with. We're working on that part of it, but that can be done pretty easily."
THERE ARE TWO NEXTEL ROOKIES RUNNING BOTH SERIES AS WELL. WHICH TITLE DO YOU FEEL IS MORE IMPORTANT, NEXTEL CUP ROOKIE OF THE YEAR OR THE BUSCH SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP?
"Rookie of the year in NEXTEL Cup is pretty prestigious thing to have. I came up short of it this year, but championships are important as well. The major league deal is the NEXTEL Cup thing and that has to take priority, it does in my deal, so that's what we're focused on."
WHO WILL QUALIFY THE BUSCH CAR WHEN THERE IS A CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TWO SERIES?
"We're talking right now with Mike McLaughlin. I haven't actually talked to him. I haven't been able to get a hold of him, but Brad (Parrott) has talked to him briefly and we're trying to work through getting him to do our qualifying stuff for us."
DO YOU THINK PULLING DOUBLE DUTY IS BURNING THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS?
"No, I don't think so. I did it a lot last year. The only time that I felt I was busy is when I ran the Cup and Busch race at Charlotte. That was pretty busy on Saturday for me. I won the Busch race so it got your adrenaline going. It doesn't matter what kind of race it is. After you win and you go through all of the drama the whole race, then I had to race that night in the Cup race. It was hard for me to get any sleep. I couldn't really sleep so I laid down for a little bit and got something to eat and drank some water and was ready to go. I felt good, but at the same time, I felt run down after doing both of them in the same day. But doing them back-to-back days is fine. It's just like when Tony Stewart did the (Indianapolis) 500 and came and did the other race, and he's got IVs sticking in his arm. I didn't have to do that, but you can tell it wears on you a little bit."
YOUR BUSCH SERIES CREW CHIEF BRAD PARROTT HAS MENTIONED THAT THE FORDS SEEM MORE HANDICAPPED THAN THE OTHER MANUFACTURERS WHEN IT COMES TO THE SPEEDWAY PACKAGE THAT INCLUDES ROOF FINS AND WICKERS. WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS?
"It's kinda weird. My question would be why does it affect a Ford more than a Dodge or a Chevy? What makes it different? The funny part about it is why are we always on the short end of the stick? His concerns have come true. We're struggling for speed and I guess the Ford Busch cars were this last weekend as well. I heard the 25 and some of those guys were pretty slow and weren't very happy and concerned about their engines. You start pointing fingers when your car doesn't go fast. I don't know, but it's unfortunate luck I guess that it's slowing our cars down more than everybody else. We're 17th or 18th on speed right now and not getting any faster. That puts us around 34th or somewhere on qualifying speed as group I guess with both groups here. We'll keep working at it. I've been to that NASCAR trailer too many times to go try to lobby something for the Fords, so we'll just have to let them (NASCAR) use their best judgement because they've already said that they're not going to change anything before Talladega so we'll just have to wait and see."
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE NEW TAURUS IS FOR THE NEXTEL CUP SERIES?
"We haven't done any downforce testing at all, so the only time that we've had the 2004 car on the track is here. This is really a bad baseline to try and see how your car is going to be. I care about the other 32 races we're going to run and how the car is going to act compared to the restrictor-plate tracks. Right now, the wind tunnel stuff is coming along and the car says it's going to be better than last year. I still think we're a little bit shy of where the Chevy is going to end up and possibly the Dirge, but we'll see. Certainly we don't know until we get testing. I'm anxious to go to Vegas next week and test the Cup car on the downforce configuration; I'm looking really forward to that."
YOU'VE BEEN WITH ROUSH RACING SINCE 1998. IF SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU BACK THEN THAT JACK ROUSH AND ROBERT YATES WOULD BE COLLABORATING ON ENGINE BUILDING WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID?
"I would have said you're crazy for one. Doug (Yates) took me through the engine shop yesterday over there at Yates, and, man, they've done a fantastic job. Both Jack and Robert, and Doug and everybody else that is involved, and Ford is certainly involved in that, I applaud them for it. I was talking to Doug about some things that we had with our engines and things we were doing and he's like, 'You guys really had a great package on this, this and this, but we were way better on these, these and these.' We're able to combine that together and make a lot better end result, which is great for us. It would be a bad day for us if DEI and Hendrick decided that they were going to share notes and engine components; that would be a bad day. It's great for us. Ford had to do it I feel, we had to do it because we don't have 17 teams in the Cup Series or whatever the number is. We have two, so we need to work together. I've been telling them that for a while now, and it's funny that it happened. I said, 'Man, we've got to get together and work together.' We don't show up to race the 38 and the 88, we show up to race the 2, the 19, Ryan Newman and everybody else. To heck with racing the 38 and 88, so it's good that we've done this."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT YOU HAVEN'T BEEN MENTIONED AS A FAVORITE TO WIN THE BUSCH SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR?
"I think it's great. Are they saying we're not one of the favorites? That's good. We'll just sneak up on them then. I really haven't sat down and looked at the Busch Series and who are the major contenders for the championship. I haven't really asked that question of myself. I know racing the Busch Series last year that it's a lot tougher than three years ago when it was my first year in the Busch Series. It's gotten a lot tougher. The closer those teams get together on competition, the harder it becomes. It's becoming more and more like NEXTEL Cup every day, and the better and better the teams get, the harder it is. The cream rises to the top and there's more and more of them every week. I'm not going to say that we're behind, but we may not start out like a ball of fire but we need to be conservative and consistent in the beginning to get going because we have a pretty rookie group of guys it seems like. I can tell just here working together today, we're kinda learning what to do and each other, and this guy is jacking the car up and that guy is changing a spring. We're not the veteran team we need to be a championship contender yet, but I guarantee we will be in a short period of time."