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Greg Biffle Preseason Thunder Q&A
Q: Last year's NASCAR Nextel Cup Series runner-up. First series win came at this speedway, the 2003 Pepsi 400. Is that the confidence that stays with you every time you come back here?
Greg Biffle: Really does. We ran extremely well that race - ran up in the Top-5 and the situation, we had to stop and put tires on and fuel because we avoided an accident and slit the tires so that set us up for the run at the end. But we had a really fast car and then came back and sat on the pole with that same car, so that's a lot of confidence. We haven't been able to find that magic again and I think that it's clear that some teams can get it and then lose it. The 20 team has been really fast on restrictor plate tracks, so is the 24. So those are kind of the two guys on top and we're all trying to catch them right now. So -- our National Guard car is running decent. We're about -- we feel we're around 7th or so, heads up, without any help, but the wind is kind of playing havoc now on us. It's really hard to see any changes in the race car now with the wind.
Q: Daytona, is it aero right now or is it horsepower? Is the deal right now who has the best aero or horsepower, or the best -- like we got some tricks out there...
Greg Biffle: You know what, it's more -- power means way more here than it does at any other -- any non-restrictor track. Like when I won Michigan, I remember they dyno'ed the cars, that was 24 horsepower off of the 24 car and then like 16 off of the '88. So horsepower there is really irrelevant. It's how the car handles and how you can really use the throttle.
Here, three or four horsepower are very crucial. It makes a big difference. So it is hard to answer that question because it is a little of both. You need the car as slick as you can get it; to get through the air as best you can, but if that guy has got 5 horsepower on you, restrictor plate horsepower, it's going to be really hard to beat him because it's hard to make up that 5 horsepower in drag.
But horsepower is really on restrictor plate racing it's kind of the king because you can suck up to the guy, you can pass; you can drive out there in clean air, you know, if you have got the power. So I would say the power here makes a bigger difference than anywhere.
Q: The questions for you going into this season are a little bit different than last season because of the way your term performed last year. Do you feel like a favorite to win the Championship? Address the different level of expectation.
Greg Biffle: I have had that question a few times, what are your expectations this year compared to what happened last year. You start thinking about it and it's like, gosh, I hope I can do the same thing I did last year because that was quite an accomplishment to win six races and finish second in points.
Obviously my goal is not to finish second in points. My goal is to win the title. But I'd have to be begfull to end up -- obviously the first thing is make the Chase. We got to get in the Chase. That's going to be our main focus and then from there it's going to be get to the last 10, you know, lock ourselves in; then worry about the last 10. I prefer to start the last 10. Right now I don't want to run the 26 races. I want to do the last 10, and it's nerve-wracking. I am thinking about it now, you know, what if we get involved in a wreck or what if we have something happen or anything, you know, in that last 10, you know, it's like okay, now you got to look forward to 2007. Then you got to look forward to 2008. So the window is very small for margin of error in that ten races; whether it's mechanical, tire issue, anything. It's the guy that has the least amount of trouble, you know, is the guy who is going to win.
Q: Have you done any racing yet with your teammate in the 26 car? What kind of report do you see there?
Greg Biffle: We haven't. I will have a better idea of that question after Las Vegas because that's more where the driver kind of interacts with the setup of the race car and, you know, and other drivers, while you are testing.
Here, it's, you know, I hate to say it, we're almost just like test dummies here. You see a lot of guys filling in, having other drivers driving their cars, in fact, I got, doing the Busch test because, you know, we can't really do anything to make the car go any faster. So I can't really talk to Jamie right now about the way his car is driving. When we get in the drafting trim, yeah, I will be able to interact with him some, but really -- what really tells the tale and where we can start seeing how each other works, is at Las Vegas, when we get into an atmosphere like that he seems to be -- I have talked to Jamie before and I talked to him before he came over to drive for us, and I think he's going to fit well in the program. I think he's going to do good.
Q: How does it feel because you are in a precarious position where your greatest competition for the title is all within the Roush stable?
Greg Biffle: Yeah, that's -- you know, I mean, that's good and bad. That's good that we have great equipment, we've got good cars and we have good people to try and learn from. It's bad that those are the guys we have to race against, you know, you always like to treat your teammate a little bit different or better than everybody else. It's hard to race them and not let them get 5 points. Try and loosen them up, you know, aero-wise and try and pass them, you know, and that -- that's very difficult. I doubt whether we will have 5 cars in the Chase this year. That was pretty extraordinary last year.
I certainly hope we do. I hope everybody runs that well, but odds are that, you know, one of us, you know, may have some trouble along the way. Matt barely made it last year. He came on really strong; didn't look like he was going to make it for a while, so anything can happen to anyone of us. But that was pretty extraordinary to have 5 cars in the Chase.
Q: You said that the window, the opportunity is so small. With that in mind, during the off-season, how many times did you think of a lug nut from Texas?
Greg Biffle: About every time I thought of racing. And it's hard to go back and, "what if," but that is a pretty cut and dried situation, you know, what if I didn't get involved in the restrictor plate wreck at Talladega. What if Tony didn't wreck at Charlotte, you know, spun out and wrecked, he was running decent. There's a lot of what ifs. We were leading the race at Texas. We weren't just running wherever. We were leading, and had that problem. So, that makes it worse, makes it pretty clear that all I needed to do was finish 10th at Texas and would have secured the title for me. And for us to finish 10th there would have been pretty easy, I think. So yeah, I thought about it several times, but I look forward to this year to try it again.
Q: With you and Carl finishing with the same number of points last year, I am wondering do you have any side bets between you for who is going to do better this year?
Greg Biffle: (Laughs) I don't know. Not yet, but we're both in great situations. We got great race cars, you know, we got ex -- a bunch of talent on our race teams and so it's just going to be up to who has the right track position on the racetrack and we got beat by Carl a few times last year where we had a better car and ran better than him all day and then you know, Carl beat us, you know, because we didn't have -- we made mistakes. And then we beat Carl when we shouldn't have. He was a little bit better than we were at Homestead and we got track position on him and were able to make that work. You know, it's all those gambles that can change the outcome, and it just who makes all the right gambles pretty much throughout the year, to see who is going to end up on top.
Q: You were here last July and you were sitting in that same seat and you were saying I am just glad to be here and have the points lead and shortly afterwards you lost it. You look back and regret saying that and then second part, is -- do the drivers at Roush ever get together and say, gosh, is this going to keep going like this, you know, this is a huge pool that we are all drawing off of and at some point it's got to go away or do you all look at it and say, hey, we're stronger because we're such a big team?
Greg Biffle: You know, I think that we have figured out on our race cars what is making them competitive and we're always searching for that little bit of an edge. And so I think that's what is going to continue to keep us on top is, you know, our guys are working like we are, you know, behind the competition right now. That's how hard they are working to make our cars better, better, better and better. And that's what -- you know, when you are searching to find out what is going to make you run in the Top-5 or what is going to make you competitive and you don't know what it is and you are searching for it, that makes it really difficult to try and get there. Like the Childress team or some of those other teams, they are trying to find out what do we need to build to be the fastest and we're trying to refine it and then how can we make it better. That's what we're focused on all the time, is -- we won't be satisfied until we make it a lot better and better yet. So that's what we're building on. So I feel really confident that when the season starts we're going to be a threat at, you know, California, for sure; and Atlanta and all those places again. We're going to be right on top of the competition, I think
Greg Biffle: Being here last July, oh, yeah, you know, I was nervous about this race, and it was unfortunate that we got tangled up.
We got in a wreck in every restrictor plate last year, and that was tough. That was really tough. It takes a lot of excitement out of restrictor plate racing for a driver to be in four restrictor plate races and to be in four wrecks. It seems like no matter what you do, you are riding along minding your own business; then all of a sudden something happens or you are up front, pretty close to the front, something happens. So it is frustrating, but hopefully we'll get -- lead the points sometime this year and hopefully we can lead it longer than one week.
Q: With the new year just starting what do you think about the new testing policy and does it put more of a premium on the driver and the team?
Greg Biffle: Yeah, I think it does. I understand the -- what the testing policy is for, is to restrict the large teams from having an advantage at so many tests, but -- I mean, I don't make the rules, I don't think about -- they don't ever come and ask us how they should do it, but I feel like possibly it could have been a little bit better if they would have restricted - and I understand there's a tire issue as well because I went to them and talked about it - they needed everybody together in order to manage the tires. But I felt it would have been better served if they allowed each organization to pick the five race tracks they wanted to test at and then forced all five cars to go to those particular race tracks. Because if you take, for instance, a 10 and 14 team or excuse me, 14 and 01, and say that organization needs to focus on their mile and a half program. To give them a chance, they can go and test three or four if they wanted to and work on those, and then if we needed to work on short tracks, we can go do that. It won't give an advantage where we have 5 teams and one guy go here, go there and then we can test every racetrack and have the data.
So I think the testing policy, they needed to do something because it was unfair for a team that had 5 cars because we look at Matt's test data from Dover and then I can modify it because I know how Matt drives and how I drive. So I can modify it a little bit and I can be light years ahead of not going there and testing. So, yeah, I mean, they needed -- to do something, and might have been better served for -- they are trying to help the small teams if they let them go where they needed to go versus making the whole series go the same place.
Greg Biffle: Absolutely. Because you got to look at it, you are only going to have one restrictor plate test; you are only going to have two mile and a half tests all season, so you got to bring all your stuff and figure it out.
Q: I wanted to ask you about Kurt Busch and what kind of teammate and is Ryan Newman getting in him and how is he at sharing information and stuff like that?
Greg Biffle: Kurt was extremely good at sharing information. He was really knowledgeable as a driver and it's like we almost get more information from the team engineer and the crew chiefs, you know, but the information, you know, through them, I think is going to benefit Ryan Newman to have a teammate like Kurt; not that there's anything wrong with Rusty, but that relationship, as I understood wasn't that great, and didn't pass on a lot of information. So this may help Ryan, you know, with information flow; might re -- start on a clean slate so to speak. So it might help them both. But Kurt is a great driver. He will do good in that organization.
Q: At the beginning of the year your team was big picture, big picture. You all seemed to be just like cranking on one cylinder. At what point do you think you maybe lost that, people get tired, what would you do differently in the whole momentum of the deal and where if you were ranking yourself would you rank yourself if you were a preview magazine ranking Greg Biffle?
Greg Biffle: Last part of the question I think I would rank us in the Top-5 for sure, put us in the Top-5you know, we won all those races at the beginning of the season, we won 5 of the first 15, which was extraordinary, but when we got later in the season and seemed like the race tracks we were going to had changed a little bit and our -- maybe our aero platform wasn't as good as our teammates were and they may have, you know, found something that worked a little bit better on a slicker racetrack which is what you get in the later months of the year. They may have found something that worked a little better which we're going to investigate that, but the problem is testing now is such an issue, that makes it difficult to prove out those things.
And then it's the right place and the right time, it is. We finished second, I don't know how many times, you know, Bristol and Chicago to Matt, and a lot of other places, so we're just missing those wins by a little bit. That's normally how it goes. But early in the season we were just right place at the right time every single time. So I will be happy if we come out this year and win three races. That's about average for a season really, if you are running very well and up front and make the Chase, you got to think that you are going to be able to do that
Q: The speeds are dramatically down today. The factor of the wind. Secondly, as we get closer to a common template, do you notice that the change from the Tauris, to the Fusion, these changes are becoming less gradual because the car's essentially the same?
Greg Biffle: Yeah, you know, there's a noticeable difference between the Fusion and the Tauris. The Fusion is, I think is going to be a lot better car for us. We're still just in the preliminary aspects of figuring it out, and we had pretty much optimized the Tauris. We have been racing that car for a long time or at least I hadn't until Jarret and guys like that have been racing the car for a long time.
I think that this Fusion is definitely better race car and, you know, doesn't correlate but I think it's a lot better street version car as well. So I think Ford has done a great job in bringing that new car out. I think it fits for our series really well and I think that they are going to get back in the car market with that car.
The wind is a big issue today. We're making changes on the car. We go out and make another run and it is slower. So it's like, it should have been faster but it's slower, so it is really hard. Right now only thing we can do is look at what everybody else's times are, and then realize that everybody else is kind of slowing down a little bit too. It makes it very difficult to make a change in your car and to go slower and you go, well, that must have been better, so it's really difficult, and you know, it's what we have to deal with. Those are the cards we're dealt. We have keep comparing each car to each car and sometimes you have to A.B.A., meaning you have to put it back, to see if back repeats the time and then put the change on again and verify it twice to make sure. But the line is so long at pit road, you know, we can't get any you know, lines extremely long. We're sitting out there for, I don't know how long, a long time. So that is making it tough too.