This Week in Ford Racing May 28, 2002 NASCAR Busch Grand National With nine wins in the first 13 races of the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series, one prominent Ford Racing driver has yet to add his name to that list - Greg Biffle. Biffle, who won five...
This Week in Ford Racing
May 28, 2002
NASCAR Busch Grand National
With nine wins in the first 13 races of the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series, one prominent Ford Racing driver has yet to add his name to that list - Greg Biffle. Biffle, who won five times last year in his rookie campaign, has finished in the runner-up position three times this season, most recently at Charlotte last week. Biffle spoke about the progress his team has made in recent weeks, and the prospects of a win in the not-too-distant future.
GREG BIFFLE-60-Grainger Ford Taurus
AFTER THE RACE LAST WEEK IN CHARLOTTE, YOU COMPLAINED OF SORE RIBS AND SHOULDERS FROM THE ACCIDENT IN NAZARETH. HOW IS YOUR BODY MENDING?
"My ribs are just a little bit sore, but I'm doing pretty good today. After last week's race I thought that I may have had a broken rib, but I think it was just some soreness. All in all, I think everything is healing and that I'll be fine in Dover. Dover is a pretty physical track in terms of the g-forces that are placed on your body in the cockpit, but I don't anticipate any problems."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU FROM YOUR ROOKIE SEASON TO THIS YEAR?
"I think we're learning how to use our notes from last year to compensate for the lack in testing. When you're a rookie you get 12 test dates, and now we've only got seven to work with, but there's always something that changes from year to year, whether it's the track surface, tires or a rule change. When you have those extra test dates, you show up to the track with a better baseline setup. We're saving our tests for a little bit later in the year. We're testing at Chicago with a Busch car, so that's our next test. That's kinda coming up pretty soon, but we only have a few left because we only get seven this year. I think we've burned three tests and we only have four left, so that only leaves three for the rest of the year and we're not halfway yet. It makes it a lot tougher because you have to really go off of your notes when you raced there last year. I may not have even had the setup close to begin right at a place like Dover, and I've got to go back there and race again this year and have to build what I did last year. All I can do is go back saying this didn't work, so it does make it difficult."
IS THAT WHERE THE MULTI-CAR OPERATIONS LIKE HENDRICK AND PPC HAVE BENEFITED?
"I think it has probably helped the ppc guys more because Scott Riggs is a rookie and he has 12 tests. I think that's very valuable, and it's paying off for a veteran like Jason Keller. I think that's really, really valuable for a team to gather that information because Scott is a good driver and Harold Holly is a good crew chief, so they're going to get the thing close and be able to pass that off to Jason."
WITH THE STRATEGY YOU USED AT CHARLOTTE, IS WINNING A RACE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE POINTS CHASE RIGHT NOW?
"Not really because it was my call totally on the tire deal, so I'm the one, being the driver, that took the chance. I was thinking about winning, but I was thinking about points as well. I was thinking what's the worst-case scenario. I've got brand-new tires, there's four laps to go and I've got 10 cars, so worst case, I'm going to get back to third or fourth. That was the absolute worst-case scenario. I was running second and now I got third, so I only lost one, maybe two spots. But, there's also another way to think about that. What if I didn't come and the guy behind me, Scott Riggs, who was running third, got by me on the restart. Riggs was closing on us in that last segment, and who's to say that we wouldn't have been passed by him on the restart? That's the thought process that we use - what do I have to lose and what do I have to gain? I've got a shot at the 21 on the restart, so that's maybe worth it, but my car's not better than his, so I don't know how I'm going to pass him, and I potentially stand a chance of the guy behind me messing with me versus coming forward with new tires. I knew that if I had one more lap, I would have won."
AT THIS POINT LAST YEAR YOU HAD ALREADY WON TWO RACES. DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS TEAM IS PERFORMING BELOW YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
"We feel pretty good about this last week. We've run like that the whole year. We just haven't gotten it done at the end. I think people expect us to be winning more, but you don't have to read too far down the results page to find us a lot of the times. Nothing has really changed. It's not a shock to me that we ended up where we did on Saturday; we've always been there. It's just we finally finished the race. The only bad race that we've had, which I say is a bad race, was Texas. I totally missed the setup on the race car. I was out to lunch there. I was running 15th, and that was the best I could do. We were certainly going to work on it to make it better, but it got rained out, but in all aspects, we've run in the top five in every race this year, we just haven't finished there."
HAS ROBERT YATES RACING'S RETURN TO THE BUSCH SERIES AS AN ENGINE SUPPLIER PUSHED YOUR ENGINE DEPARTMENT TO ACHIEVE MORE?
"I think so. Jack Roush has an analogy on the engine situation this year. Let's say you're coming in to build motors in this series, or let's say that you're going to make die-casts. You're first going to look at what everyone else is doing. You're going to study their program. You're going to study how they build their engines, what RPM they're running and how much power they're making. You're going to study the same on the die-cast. How nice it is? What does it weigh and what are its features? You're going to get down to the nitty-gritty, and you're going to know the whole entire package. Yates has built engines in this series and the truck series before, so he's knows what he's doing. He compiles all of this together and builds a better piece than we have because we've been the benchmark. Basically, they've built a piece as tough as ours or even raised the bar, and now we've followed suit. You always find small gains in the production, but in this sport, you never look for the big gains until someone forces you to. We were caught not being able to turn our engines at as high of an RPM level as the Yates guys were. We solved it in three days worth of work. They went to the Spintron machine, figured out where the problem area was, and poof, we've got it fixed. We can now turn the same RPM or more than anybody can now. Like Jack told me, we will not be RPM-limited to the other competitors. It just took some incentive for us to find that gain. Someone had to push up to get us to the next level and that was the Yates guys turning their engines at more RPM than us and beating us off the corner. We went and put the gear in we felt we needed at Loudon to do the same and broke a valve spring, but now we've corrected the problem and it was an easy fix and we didn't have to change our cams or anything. We just changed some components around and it works perfect."
THERE ISN'T THE TALK ABOUT THE YOUNG GUNS IN THE BUSCH SERIES LIKE WINSTON CUP THIS YEAR. ARE THERE LESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR ROOKIES TO COME INTO THE BUSCH SERIES COMPARED TO WINSTON CUP?
"I think so. We don't have a lot of rookies coming in with multi-car teams with the experience to carry the rookie. Hendrick, with their organization and how smart Jeff Gordon is, even though that's a first-year team, they have all of the right people. They've done their homework and did not show up like a first-year team. Ryan Newman took over Jeremy Mayfield's spot in a race-winning organization and Kevin Harvick jumped into the seat of a championship team. We didn't have that kind of turnover in our series this year. You can't compare that to the Busch Series because we don't have those situations. Here, the only one we have is Scott Riggs. What if they put Jon Wood in my car? They would probably do as well, but you're not seeing that because those situations aren't here."