Ford Racing Places Three in Top Five at Kansas; Carl Edwards Finishes Second
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M/Sherwin Williams Ford Fusion (finished 3rd) – "We were just off a little bit all day. We fought it tooth and nail. Man, we did everything we could to this race car. And, toward the end, I was elbows up like I had been the last two races, and that's all I had, you know, third place. I think that's good for us. That was a goal we set when the Chase started, top-five finishes, and certainly this is not a disappointment at all to us to come here and finish in the top five – especially how poorly we were off the truck when we first got here. We were a 37th-place car when we unloaded and finished up a third-place car, so I'm pretty excited about that."
CARL EDWARDS and GREG BIFFLE press conferences
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M/Sherwin Williams Ford Fusion (finished 3rd) – "It was an eventful weekend. When we got here we weren't very good, we 36th right off the truck, so we had big-time improving to do, and we did that. We worked really hard and get our car going good. And probably just not enough practice, we just didn't get right for the race today. We adjusted on the car, we just couldn't get the balance right. I'd go down in the corner and I would slide the nose and then I was too loose on the gas. I think a lot of people fought that; some more than others. At the end there, it felt like Dover all over again, me and Jeff Gordon fighting for third and fourth place. It was a pretty hard-fought battle, but I ended up getting by him on the last lap going to the stripe, so we're excited to finish up third."
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion (finished 2nd) – "The car was real good in practice, and we started in the back and for some reason it just wasn't that fast the first couple of runs. We got into a small wreck on pit road and went to the back and fought around back there for a while. And then Bob [Osborne, crew chief] made some adjustments that were really great. We took off and had a great race car, and got into one more small incident on pit road at some point in there, but everybody did a good job in recovering. And there at the end my car was just a little too loose. I could just hang with Jimmie, I couldn't get him until the last couple of laps when I just started bonzai-ing it around on the top there. He was what I was doing, so he went up there to block, and that last lap I just figured the hell with it, I don't want to finish second here, I want to win this race more than anything in the world, so I kind of bonzaied it in there. I wanted to make sure I cleared Jimmie. I went probably just a little too far and hit the wall harder than I planned on hitting it, and he got back by me. It was fun, though. I've always kind of wanted to try that. Now I know that it doesn't work quite the same as video games, but it was fun."
WANTS TO WIN HERE AT KANSAS. "I want to win this race more than any race on the schedule, and I thought we could do it today. So, yeah, it was very frustrating. I'm recouping right now. I'm getting better. I'm coming around. We just did the best we could. Wins here feel so good just because of how many people come here that I know and grew up with."
WHY ALL OF THE INCIDENTS ON PIT ROAD? "I don't know what all the trouble was on pit road. I didn't know if other people were having the same trouble I was having, but it seemed like we were running into a lot of people and getting run into, all that. I don't know what was going on."
FOR THOSE WHO DON'T DRIVE RACE CARS, HOW WAS THAT MOVE AT THE END SUPPOSED TO WORK? "The ideal situation would have been me diving under Jimmie just fast enough to either not hit the wall or hit it less hard, and not slow enough. The big thing I didn't want to do is drive in there and not commit enough, and then you get in that no man's land where you've driven it in harder than you can stick the car – you slide up into him and wreck both of us, because I know he wouldn't do that to me. My number-one thing was, make this slide job a real deep one so that I don't collect Jimmie, and then hope for the best. You never know what's going to happen. He can go in there and get surprised and it can all work out, you know."
DID HE SLOW DOWN? "He did exactly what every smart racer does when he sees somebody bonzai in, you just lift a little bit, let that guy go run into the fence and then you go by. I've had it go both ways. We were going to run second if I didn't do it, so I figured why not?"
BIFFLE, continued – ON LAST LAP WERE YOU FIGURING THAT FIVE POINTS WAS FIVE POINTS? "Yeah, that's the way I was thinking about it. Coming down to Homestead, it'll be five points, and I just wanted to get by him so bad. But it was same thing that Carl experienced. Once I got to him, I moved up. I couldn't catch him on the bottom, so I moved up, and ran him down on the top, and was going to pass him, so then he moved up, and took my groove away. There at the end, I wasn't sure which way he was going to go, but he went back to the bottom, I think he had a little more speed than he had planned, and he kind of slid up a little bit off the bottom, and I was able to get around the bottom and get inside of him coming off four. So, it just worked out. I mean, I really wanted to get that five points, so I'm excited about that."
DID THIRD PLACE EVER FEEL SO GOOD? "Yeah, I mean, really, our focus coming into the Chase was top‑five finishes. Certainly, we can't be disappointed with a third‑place finish. I mean, that's a great finish. It seems like again we're 1‑2‑3. The three top in the points are 1‑2‑3 again. So, that's tough."
ON LOSING GROUND IN POINTS. "Yeah, I thought I was losing ground when I was winning because I never gained anything. I won twice and I was still third. I finished third and I'm still third. It's going to be a tight points battle the whole way. We know that. You just drive your ass off every weekend, and end up with what you end up with."
EDWARDS, continued – THE TOP THREE AGAIN ARE THE TOP THREE IN POINTS, SO IS THIS RACE GOING TO BE A CASE OF WHO BLINKS FIRST? "You never know. I mean, this is 30 percent over, so there's a lot left, I think. I don't think you can tell how this is going to end up. Talladega will be interesting for sure."
BIFFLE, continued – "Yeah, I mean, I think so. I don't think it will come down to who runs the best, I think it's going to come down to who has the least little hiccups here and there, you know, small stuff happen – get a pit-road penalty or something, have to go to the back, finish 14th, you know, something like that. That's probably what it's going be like, because all of us are running competitive enough. I doubt whether it will go all 10 races just like this, this tight, but it might."
EDWARDS, continued – YOUR CREW CHIEF WAS GIVING YOU A LOT OF POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT OVER THE RADIO. IS THAT USUAL? DO YOU LIKE THAT? ARE YOU MUCH MORE OF A REALIST IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT KNOWING WHAT'S GOING ON? "It's fine. Bob can say whatever he wants on the radio. Any time you get positive reinforcement, I think that's good. If I wanted him to be quiet, I'd just tell him to be quiet. I can just tell from his voice – it does motivate me a little bit. It's good when you know all your guys are down there cheering for you. That's a good reminder."
WHEN YOU'RE TRYING TO CHASE DOWN THE SAME DRIVER FOR 50 LAPS, DOES THAT WRING YOU OUT? "It's really a lot of fun. I truly believe that at the time when the green flag dropped, I thought we weren't going to have any trouble with Jimmie. I thought I'd be able to just follow him for a little while and we'd go right by him, like we had the run before, the last two runs. But they did a really good job of getting their car better. But, yeah, it is fun to follow somebody for that long and try to work them over. Man, I just wanted to win this race. I wish we could start it again right now and run it again, you know? But it is a good points day. That's the bright side."
WHEN YOU QUALIFIED WHERE YOU DID, WHAT DID YOU FEEL YOUR ODDS WERE OF HAVING A CHANCE TO WIN THIS RACE? AND, WHEN DID YOU SENSE THAT THE ADJUSTMENTS THE CREW MADE ON THE CAR TURNED IT INTO A REALLY GREAT CAR? "After practice on Saturday I really felt like we had a chance to win the race. Every week when we do this, we kind of get a feel, I've gotten a feel for how practice goes on Saturday and what that says about Sunday's chances, so I felt pretty good then. But when I really truly believed we could win the thing was about halfway through the race, a little past halfway, when Bob made one of those adjustments and we drove essentially right to the lead from, I think, 12th or 11th or something. So, that was a real good time. I was having a good time there."
MOST DRIVERS IN A POINTS RACE WOULD TAKE SECOND-PLACE POINTS AND MOVE ON, AND NOT RISK CRASHING, BUT BASED ON THE LAST LAPS IT LOOKED LIKE THAT NEVER CROSSED YOUR MIND. "No, it crossed my mind, but nothing's guaranteed, not another race, not tomorrow, nothing. So, I get what I can while I can. I just figured, man, I'm not going to be able to live with myself. It's going to be hard enough to go to sleep tonight, but there's no way I'd sleep a wink if I didn't try something on the last lap. You've got to try."
YOU DESCRIBED THAT MOVE AS A SLIDE JOB. WAS THAT SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU USED TO DO AT SHORT TRACKS AROUND HERE? "Yeah, I mean, everybody knows how to do a slide job. By the way, that's not the exact way to do it, the way I did it. I've won some races making that work and I've got gone in a little too easy and gotten in some wrecks, and that's a bad scene because it really just looks like you drive right in the corner and hit the guy, and that's a bad deal. Summit, Missouri, I remember one race in a Sportsman dirt car, a guy named Danny Crane did that to me. I was leading going down the back straightaway into turn three, last lap, and here comes this black '78 Camaro or whatever going about plus 50 on me and he slid in front of me and I thought, ‘Wow, he's going to make that work,' and then he went right off the end of the race track into the woods. I felt like my buddy Danny Crane today. I'm sure that for a second Jimmie thought, ‘Oh, my God, he's going to win this thing.' Then he went, ‘Nope, physics win again.' But, you know, that's the way it goes."
AT THE END, WERE YOU CATCHING HIM OR WAS HE SLOWING DOWN OR WAS IT A COMBINATION OF BOTH? "I was catching him. I had my eye on the real high side there for a long time, but there was a lot of trash and stuff up there. So when it came down to three laps to go, I realized I was not going to be able to pass him doing what I was doing. I started running the very top. It was way faster, but it was really the last 10 inches up to the fence. Since my car is wider than that, Jimmie could go up there and kind of block that. I knew if I went in the last lap, I went in there up high, I was just going to go up there and I'd be right behind his bumper, and be tight and all that. And that actually happened, the lap before, I hit the fence a little bit, got behind him and got tight. So, I was definitely getting faster. I just wasn't willing to take that risk earlier in the run and bounce the thing off the fence, and then have to have a restart and get passed by more people, so I wanted to wait until the end."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SLIDE JOB LIKE THAT ON ASPHALT AS OPPOSED TO ON DIRT? "It just depends on what's at the edge of the race track. If there's a wall, like today, then that's pretty much what it looks like. If there's a cushion or some more grip up there, whatever – a lot of times you can get in front of the guy, get it parked up there, and you kind of almost block him, and if he doesn't run you over, spin you out, then you've got position, you kind of set the pick there and you could move on. It's really hard to do in these cars at a big track because there's so much space and things happen relatively slower, a guy can watch you. Jimmie could watch me come by and go, ‘Okay, I'm going to lift off the gas a little bit, let him slide up,' because it's not the fastest line. You're really just setting, kind of butting in line a little bit, and he has to check up a little bit for it to work. I don't know if that explains it very well."
YOU SAID IT WAS A GOOD POINTS DAY, BUT YOU ALSO LOST THE POINTS LEAD. CAN YOU FIND SOLACE? "It's a great points day for us, actually. The lead doesn't matter right now. It's however many points you can get, and that's that. If it's Greg and Jimmie and I running 1‑2‑3, swapping the spots back and forth for the next however many races, it just takes one of us to have a bad race and that guy is out. So, yeah, it's still a good points day. If you finish second every week, I guarantee you'll win a championship. So, we just have to keep working this hard."
YOU CALLED IT A "BONZAI" MOVE? "Yeah. I guess my dad used to always say that, ‘bonzai move.' I don't know exactly what that means. I know there's a tree called a bonsai tree – looks nothing like that move. But, I don't know. Kamikaze maybe is where that came from. It's the Midwest, sometimes people don't know."
WHY DIDN'T YOU TRY THAT EARLIER? BECAUSE IT WAS TOO RISKY? "Yeah, and that's the thinking. Honestly, I didn't know what was going to happen when I hit the wall, so if the thing just broke the front suspension, and skidded around to the start-finish line, I just knew I could make it that far, but not for five laps or something."
WERE YOU TRYING TO MAKE A COMBINATION DIRT TRACK-DARLINGTON STRIPE MOVE? "Yeah. I mean, it's simple. I just needed to be in front of him, and that's the only way I could figure out to get in front of him. The mistake there – if you could go back and practice that over and over, I'd run in just hard enough to miss his bumper by an inch, and then barely hit the wall and keep going, but you just never know what's going to happen. As soon as I turned under him, he could have turned down and run on my door, and in that case, it would have been real hard to clear him. I just did the best I could."
HOW MUCH APPREHENSION DO YOU HAVE GOING TO TALLADEGA AFTER SUCH A GREAT START TO THE CHASE? "I hadn't really thought about it much, I'm thinking about it now. I'll probably be glued to Jimmie, no matter where he's at. If him and Greg and I can just stay together, and make sure we either all avoid or either all get in the same wrecks, then we'll probably be all right. If I'm running fifth and Jimmie falls back to 40th to ride around and watch some action, I will probably be following him back there, and vice-versa, I assume. If somebody said, ‘Hey, will you take 10th at Talladega, right now? You don't have to run the race.' I'd take in it a heartbeat. I'd pay a million dollars for it, because you just don't know what's going to happen there. But as it stands, when you go there and race, and – if I've got a shot to win the thing, it could be awesome. But that place, there's a lot that you can't control and you have to respect that, you know?"
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (finished 5th) – "We just got behind in the pits and then I spun out that one time – I don't know if that was my fault or what really happened to be honest with you there. There was just too much ground to make up. It's just hard to get back in the front, harder than it's ever been, and to come back through and get fifth is a pretty big accomplishment, I think."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TWO STRAIGHT SOLID FINISHES AFTER WHAT HAPPENED AT NEW HAMPSHIRE TO START THE CHASE? "We have, but you know I really think we probably would've gotten the most points for leading the most laps. I don't know, I think we would've ran in the top three. With 10 races to go and being so far behind from New Hampshire, you just can't afford to have any mistakes. We'll just move on from here and dig hard next week, and try to get 'em again."
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford Fusion (finished 8th) – "It was kind of what we needed. We've had some pretty good cars the last few weeks and hadn't had the finishes we deserved. Today we made our AAA Ford better throughout the day and the guys had great pit stops there at the end when it counted. We had a sixth- to a 10th-place car, I think, and track position meant a lot at the end. I am happy to get a top 10."
ON NOT TRYING TO GET TOO MUCH OUT OF HIS CAR. "I've learned that you only drive as hard as what you car's capable of going, and I think we had a sixth- to a 10th-place car today and that's where we finished. When you get in trouble is when try to get more than what your car's got. I've learned that from a lot of guys – Jimmy [Fennig, crew chief] and Jack [Roush, owner] and a lot of different people. But, it's solid. It's not where we want to be, we want to be up there racing for the win, but we've just got to start somewhere."