Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 60 Grainger Ford Taurus, took over the NASCAR Busch Series points lead heading into last weekend's break with a fifth-place performance in the Channellock 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the series' fifth race of the...
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 60 Grainger Ford Taurus, took over the NASCAR Busch Series points lead heading into last weekend's break with a fifth-place performance in the Channellock 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the series' fifth race of the 2002 season. It took Biffle nine races into the 2001 season to accomplish the same feat, but along with assuming the top spot in the points, Biffle has also refueled the rivalry with the 2001 Busch Series champion Kevin Harvick. Both drivers are scheduled to compete in this weekend's O'Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, and Biffle shared his thoughts on the incident at Bristol, the rivalry between himself and Harvick and the season to date.
GREG BIFFLE -- Grainger Ford Taurus:
THE SERIES HEADS TO TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY THIS WEEKEND, AN ALREADY FAST TRACK THAT WAS REPAVED SINCE LAST YEAR'S RACE. ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF SOME SORT OF PAYBACK FROM KEVIN HARVICK THIS WEEKEND? "I don't think that Kevin is out for that. I think that he's upset about what happened at Bristol, but I also think he knows I didn't do it on purpose, obviously. I think Kevin has a great head on his shoulders, and he knows that he can't go to Texas, one of the fastest places we race, and pay a guy back because he's mad at him. I don't see that happening and I'm not worried about racing around Kevin, or if I see him in my mirror, being concerned at all about it."
HAS THERE BEEN ANY DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU SINCE THE INCIDENT AT BRISTOL? "I plan on talking to him at some point. I'll probably call him before we leave and get on track at Texas. I plan on trying to make sure the air is clean, but I was going to wait a week and let it settle down before I talk to him."
WAS THE PENALTY WORTH THE CRIME? "I don't really want to comment on that because that's not my job. I don't think that what Kevin did was really wrong. If you can't have an argument after a race about a disagreement you had on the race track, that's not racing in my mind. If anything, that will lead to more on-track paybacks because you haven't had a chance to discuss it and settle it man to man. There's nothing wrong with a good shouting match. Now, the way the big production that went along with it, I'm not sure about all of that."
IT ONLY TOOK ONE RACE TO REFUEL THE RIVALRY BETWEEN YOU AND KEVIN. ARE THERE STILL ANY ILL FEELINGS TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER FROM LAST YEAR? "None whatsoever. Again, it wasn't something I did on purpose, and it wasn't the only incident between two drivers at Bristol. I think it's more a product of racing at Bristol than anything. It just happened that the camera was on us after the race, and until a bigger story comes along, we may be the center of attention. I'm not worried about racing near or around Kevin on the track, so it's going to be business as usual at Texas this weekend."
WITH THE SPONSORSHIP WOES IN THE WINSTON CUP GARAGE, THERE ARE A LOT MORE FORMER CUP DRIVERS NOW COMPETING IN THE BUSCH SERIES. "I enjoy those guys coming back; it's competition for us. Like I've always said, the more competition, the better. When they're here, whether it's become a full-time deal or a race-by-race situation, the more I'm going to learn, the better I'm going to be and the better they force us to be. That's just what makes the world go round. It doesn't matter if it's a car manufacturer coming out with new product or anything, new talent raises the bar consistently to be better and I welcome all of that. What we don't welcome is those guys coming down and tearing up our stuff because all they care about is a win and they'll wreck the guy running fourth or third because that doesn't mean anything to them. That's what I won't put up with."
YOU'RE SET TO MOVE UP TO WINSTON CUP NEXT YEAR, BUT HOW MUCH OF A STEP DOWN WOULD YOU THINK IT IS TO MOVE BACK INTO THE BUSCH SERIES AFTER COMPETING AT THE WINSTON CUP LEVEL? "It's a little bit less competition, obviously, in the Busch Series, but I'm going where the competition is. I want to show up with the most competitive stuff I can, and to be honest with you, I really liked truck racing for the fact of their schedule alone. I like going racing 24 times a year; it's nice. The reality of it is that it doesn't pay the bills because the feature division is Winston Cup, so we're all striving for that. I'm going to race wherever I can."
LAST YEAR, ROUSH RACING STRUGGLED WITH ITS WINSTON CUP EFFORTS AND YOU CARRIED THE BANNER IN THE BUSCH SERIES. NOW, THE WINSTON CUP OPERATION IS UP TO THE LEVEL OF THE COMPETITION. HAS THAT HAD ANY IMPACT ON YOUR PROGRAM? "I think it has made us even better. What they're doing over there is great. I think it's the greatest thing ever. Those guys are proving that our Winston Cup program is getting better. We knew that it had some problems last year, in terms of being up to the level of the competition for various reasons, whether it was aero or chassis or engine or a combination of all of them. It's exciting to see that we're right on track with the competition level. We're right there with Hendricks and Yates, and I feel that we're a little better right now, posting two wins with two different drivers. I'm moving up to that level next year and it sorta puts my mind at ease knowing that there's a good chance that I can make the transition smoothly from Busch to Cup. We know that we have the best equipment in the Busch Series, and going Cup racing next year, you feel more secure knowing that you have the best equipment in that series as well."
YOUR FORMER TRUCK SERIES TEAMMATE, KURT BUSCH, HAS GOTTEN OFF TO A FAST START THIS SEASON. WITH YOUR PART-TIME WINSTON CUP SCHEDULE THIS SEASON, HOW MUCH HELP DO YOU EXPECT HIM TO BE TO YOUR OPERATION? "We're going to rely on all of them. We've been in our own little world, so to speak, for a year. We kinda went off and set up our own camp in Mooresville, and we've kinda done our own thing. We've asked the Winston Cup guys for help, but we're on a little bit different level than they are as far as what works for them and what works for us. Our program was a little bit better than theirs was last year because the transfer of data wasn't as solid. It's a lot easier when you have two teams to share information than with four or five. It's like playing telephone, some of the information gets lost or misinterpreted as it gets passed around. It didn't seem like they were on the cutting edge last year, where now it seems like they're more on the cutting edge and our program is as well. We're starting to transfer a little bit more information because our Winston Cup efforts are starting to evolve. We're looking for their help more now because we have something to relate it to with our Winston Cup deal this season. We couldn't relate the two last year, but we're starting to talk more about it, and now with California coming up and some other Cup races that we're going to do, I see it being Kurt and I and Jeff and Matt working more and more together."
KURT BUSCH WON HIS FIRST WINSTON CUP RACE TWO WEEKS AGO IN BRISTOL. DO YOU EVER LOOK AT HIM AND THINK THAT SHOULD BE ME? "Not at all. I was as excited for Kurt as anyone. I watched the last 10 laps of that race and I was the most excited I had been watching a race in a long time, to see him get his first win. I know it's a matter of time before I'm in that situation and those guys are going to be able to help me do that. That's all I'm looking forward to. I've got a solid program where I'm at. I'm on my way to a possible Busch championship. I'd much rather be leading the points where I'm at and going where I am going, so I'm extremely happy."
NOW THAT YOU'VE GOT YOUR ROOKIE SEASON BEHIND YOU, DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN POINTS RACE MORE THIS YEAR TO TRY TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think we'll points race a little bit more, and we won't be quite as aggressive. We learned a lot of what we did wrong and know what we need to change and I think that it's going to pay off for us. Last year, I just wanted to get that first win under my belt. I probably did some things that cost us some points trying to get to that first win, but I thought that's what we needed to prove ourselves as a legitimate championship contender. Entering this season, we were looked upon as one of the favorites to win the championship, so we were already ahead of where we started in 2001. This year, we know that we can get the wins and I think patience in the long run will help us, maybe not to earn us more wins than last season, but to earn us more points over the course of the season, and it's points and not wins that determines a championship."