Biffle wins sprint cup pole at dover international speedway
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice Friday morning at Dover International Speedway.
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DOVER? "We're certainly still searching for our first win in 2008 and I feel that this is a place where we definitely have a great opportunity to win here. We've won here before. We finished second to Carl at the end of the season last year. This is one of our better race tracks that we go to and we run very well here, so we've been getting our cars better and better. We're understanding the new car and feel like we made some small gains at Pocono, which doesn't have a lot to do with Dover, but continuing to build on learning more about our new car and getting them better and better every week. I'm really looking forward to getting in the car. I got done with Nationwide practice and was disappointed I had to wait until 11:30. I went back and looked at the schedule. I was all ready to get in the car, but we've got to wait a little while longer here to get going."
DO YOU FEEL YOU GUYS HAVE A GOOD HANDLE ON THE NEW CAR? "We knew we were behind and we were able to wwwit it. We stepped up to the plate and said we were behind on this car and we need to get better with it. As a company, we took all the necessary steps to get better. Robbie Reiser really headed up that thing at the end of last year, even though he was still Matt's crew chief. He was a big part in putting together a test team, the test program, getting engineers lined up to better understand this car and get it up to speed faster and we've done that. Certainly, we've closed the gap on a lot of our competition. At the end of last year, Carl won a couple of times and we finished second twice at the end of the season. Then we fired off this season right about the same as we finished up and have been getting better and better. Arguably, we feel like we had the fastest race car the last couple of races and that's exciting for us. We know now we just need to put the whole thing together to be able to win with it. At Darlington, we put ourselves in position by qualifying on the pole and had a very fast car, and then the all-star race we felt like we had the fastest car and got aero-tight behind Kasey. And then in the 600, there at the end we finally got the thing running good and ended up second. So a lot of things have gone on with us and this car, but we've definitely closed the gap to the competition. We're not the best. Certainly it's clear that the Gibbs car and, in particular, the 18 is a little better than us right now. But we're trying to close the gap on him as well."
WHAT IS YOUR CONTRACT STATUS? "I just signed a multi-year deal to go F1 racing (joking). No. This last week we got back with Roush on what we were looking for and trying to get that deal finished up. Like I said, I've told everybody that we've been working on it, really, this entire time and still working to finalize a deal with Roush Fenway to get a multi-year extension. That's what I've been working on and still working on, and I think we're making some progress on that. The ball is sort of in their court, I guess, right now and we'll just wait and see. They've got to position themselves with sponsors and all kinds of things. This thing is kind of complex, but we're moving forward on it and trying to get it done, but, really, no groundbreaking news to report at this point."
WHEN A TEAM NEEDS A KICK IN THE PANTS, IS THERE AN APPROPRIATE WAY TO DO IT? SHOULD IT INCLUDE THE MEDIA? "I don't think it should include the media. I think you'll here drivers frustrated because what happens is we're in that race car and we're driving our heart out. I saw Kyle Busch's team drop a lugnut somewhere and what happens is that's frustrating when they're in control of the race and they end up finishing third or fourth, and then they come over and do an interview about 48 seconds after he gets out of the car. Naturally, he's not gonna be happy and be upset about the pit stop he had and how it could have been detrimental to his finish. That doesn't necessarily mean he was using the media to let his team know, and I just used that for an example, I'm not saying he did that. But it could be construed that he used the media, I suppose, to crucify his team in that aspect, but, at the same time, he's simply stating the fact that they dropped a lugnut and that's probably what cost him the finish that they did. The reality is they know that happened and they know they've got to get better. We have meetings every Tuesday – production meetings – and we go over all that stuff on Tuesdays in the meetings, so that's where we as a company really address all that stuff."
WHAT DIDYOU THINK OF THE HAAS CNC PENALTY? "I don't have a lot of information on that, other than I know that their spoiler braces or what-not weren't correct. I think NASCAR is continuing to send the message that we don't want you messing with these cars. They fit the template and they're supposed to fit the template and that's a cut-and-dried rule. There's no gray area with these cars. I don't know all the details of that infraction. What they did, was it premeditated. Did they do it after the car had been through inspection, or whatever. I can see that NASCAR's penalty would be greater if we had got the car through inspection and then were working on it on pit road or in the garage or whatever. We've seen that in the past, anytime that you do that. My guys four years ago thought they should be messing with the spoiler at Talladega and we got penalized before the start of the race for that. So they get upset because that's what the inspection process is – to make sure it's OK. Well, if you're gonna adjust it after we go through inspection, there's really no purpose of having an inspection. So NASCAR gets upset with that, but, like I said, I don't know what the case was on that particular thing. If it came to the race track like that or they were working on it, I don't know. But I do know that NASCAR means business when it comes to messing with brackets or spoilers or whatever on these cars."
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, held his weekly Q&A session before Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Dover International Speedway.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DOVER? "Dover is one of the neatest race tracks we go to. It's definitely the one for me that has the highest sensation of speed and it's a lot of fun. We won the last race here, so I'm definitely excited to be back. It's a fun place to race, that's for sure."
NASCAR CAME DOWN HARD ON THE 66 AND 70. YOU'VE FELT NASCAR'S WRATH, SO IS THIS GETTING EVERYONE'S ATTENTION? "Oh, yeah. The point is that if there's something illegal on the cars, let me tell you, those are huge, huge penalties. I can only speak for our case. Everybody is gonna say, like they have, that what we did at Vegas was intentional. It wasn't, but the result was that it was something that could have made the car go faster, so NASCAR is making sure with these penalties – and points in particular – that people are doing everything they can to not break these rules. I know we are. We are hyper-sensitive to anything that could be outside of the box on rules and that's because of those penalties, so, yes, everyone is paying attention to it and we all understand the weight of those penalties for sure."
CAN YOU SYMPATHIZE WITH THE FANS WHO HAVE TO PAY SO MUCH FOR GAS AND FOOD THESE DAYS? YOU WERE ONCE WORRIED ABOUT LOSING YOUR HOUSE AND THINGS LIKE THAT. "Yeah. To be clear, I was not gonna lose my house. My mom was gonna kick me out because she was gonna sell it, but, yeah, I am very conscious of that. I actually stopped by the Save-A-Lot food store down the road yesterday just to check it out and they said that in this time their business is doing a little better just because they offer discounts. More people are shopping for better deals. We're all in this together. For me to go up and down the road and doing what I was doing 10 years ago, passing out business cards and traveling around and all that, it would have been extremely tough if fuel was $4 a gallon. It would have been very tough for me to go to the races and definitely would have been tough for me to travel anywhere, so I'm conscious of that and I think we need to have our eye toward the future and understand how we can offer something for the best price we can – make it as easy as we can on the fans to come enjoy this sport. I don't know what that is, but I guarantee you that we're not gonna be immune a couple of months from now when people have had to buy this fuel and these groceries for a while. It's gonna be a big crunch. I don't know how we fix it. I don't know what we do."
DO YOU EVER THINK YOU'RE A LESSER TEAM THAN THE START OF THE SEASON BECAUSE OF KYLE'S HOT STREAK – OR WHAT ARE THEY DOING? "Yeah, it's very strange. You're exactly right. I think about it everyday, every night before I go to be. It's like, ‘What can we do?' There are times you show up at a race track and you're just fast. Everything is great. I think seeing it with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff and those guys, they were so fast last year. They're not as fast. I don' know whether they're having trouble. We were extremely fast at the beginning part of the year and you just don't know. We could go out here and dominate practice, dominate this race and be right back there on top. It's not like we went anywhere, it's just so competitive that a tenth of a second or two makes a difference between you being a winner that weekend or running seventh. The way the perception is, if you run seventh for a few weeks all of a sudden you're slow. Seventh is not slow. It's strange how it's perceived and what's really going on."
YOU MAKE IT SOUND LIKE IT'S MAGIC. "Yeah, it's not exactly magic, but there are so many variables. If you have one bad pit stop, it's like you went from being the guy that can win the race to you're fighting your guts out for a seventh or eighth-place. Everything's got to be perfect. The only thing that's great about running the 18 team run so well right now is that it's gonna be hard to do that all year, so maybe they're gonna peak right now and we'll beat them like a drum at the end of the year. That's what I'm hoping for. I don't know if it's gonna happen, but it is very tough. It's hard to stay on top all the time and I don't think anyone has done that for a while. I'll tell you, we're working as hard as we can. That's it."
CAN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR POCONO TESTING? "Testing up there was pretty fun. They paved a section of what we call turns five and six – the last corner there they paved a section of that and made it kind of fun. You go around the top up there and can be pretty fast. I thought the new car handled a lot better than I expected there. I was telling somebody the other day, I didn't really think much about the new car until I was coming off turn two there – looking at the tunnel turn – and I thought, ‘Wow, I wonder how this thing is gonna go through this corner?' And it was great, so I think it'll be good. There won't be anything too different. I think it's gonna be fine. It was a good test."
HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK ABOUT ADJUSTING THE CAR OFF THE TRUCK IF IT'S GOOD? "For a while with this car of tomorrow, if you unloaded slow, you were done. You were junk. We couldn't fix it, but we proved to ourselves that was wrong at Darlington. We were the last position on the chart at Darlington the first practice and we finished the race second. Second place is not winning the race, but it's a lot better than 43rd, so, yeah, we kind of got out of that mindset of throwing our hands up in the air. We work hard and practice doesn't really dictate the race as much. We know now that we can change some things and get the car better."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT JOEY LOGANO AND HIS RISE? "It's amazing. Joey Logano has an amazing amount of energy behind him from the media, from his teammates and from everybody that knows him. It seems like he's just a phenomenal talent. We were talking about that the other day. On my 18th birthday, that night I was at my buddies shop. He was helping me put trailer lights on my little open trailer so I could go dirt modified racing. I could not have imagined on my 18th birthday to be preparing for something of this magnitude. I felt like everything was very quick for me – getting to this level when I was 24 or 25 or whatever it was – so I can't imagine how quick it must feel. That's amazing."
ISN'T THERE SOME EVIDENCE THAT THE BOX SHOULD BE BIGGER AND TEAMS SHOULD HAVE SOME ABIILITY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS WITH THIS CAR? "I know what you're getting at, but it just doesn't work like that because information travels so fast. If you said, ‘OK, we're gonna let you adjust this rear wing a little more,' in about 30 seconds everybody would have the rear wing right where it was the best and everybody would be right to the edge of the box."
BUT WHAT ABOUT THINGS LIKE GEAR RATIOS AND CHASSIS THINGS? "Yeah. You might be right there – maybe tune the engine, have some gear ratio differences. I don't know. I don't have the answer to that. I kind of feel like for me, in a way, I like the idea of cars being the same and knowing that I'm going out there and I can make a difference. I kind of like the idea of racing against guys and knowing my car is the same as theirs. I think that's neat racing. Some people don't agree with that, but that's how I feel about it."
YOU'RE GOING TO ELDORA AGAIN AS THE DEFENDING CHAMP. WHERE DOES THAT WIN RANK? "Eldora, to any dirt racer, that's the same as Daytona or Indianapolis. That's an amazing race track, so to be able to go there and race was huge. To win that race was great because it's Eldora and I got to race against Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch – that was huge. The true thing that makes that so special and the reason all of us go do it is because it's benefitting Victory Junction Gang Camp. I think that just puts the icing on the whole deal. It's fun because we race and then it's really fun to realize that we're raising almost a $1 million for such a great cause. So, for me, that ranks very, very high on my list of accomplishments in my life."
BEST BUY 400 QUALIFYING
TRAVIS KVAPIL – No. 28 Yates Racing Ford Fusion (Qualified 12th) – "It seems like when they don't feel very good they are fast, and when they're nice and smooth and easy, they go slow. I'm pretty happy. That's just a tick better than what we did earlier today in practice when the track is really heated up and it seems like a lot of guys are having a hard time repeating what they did earlier today. We put some effort into qualifying today, more so than we have in the past. We feel like we always race pretty good on Sundays, so we want to try and start a little closer to the front. So far, so good. We've got the plain white car here, so hopefully we run good with it."
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion (Qualified 23rd) – "That's gonna be about 20th maybe. I'm wishing we could have run at least a .50 or something and that would have been good. We've got a real good car in race trim. We just spent a little more time on our race setup in practice and that usually shows up in qualifying. We've got a real good AAA Ford Fusion. It's a little free and we've got to work through some small issues, but I think we've got a lot of speed in our car."
JAMIE MCMURRAY – No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion (Qualified 5th) – "This place tends to get free, so we tightened the car up – maybe a little bit too much. It just seems like at Dover if you're a little bit tight, you can go a lot quicker if you're just a little bit loose. So probably being a little tight wasn't bad. I thought our lap was really solid until Greg went out and he kind of made the rest of us look like fools. But that was a good lap for the Crown Royal Ford Fusion. We unloaded pretty good and certainly all the Roush Fenway cars were fast off the truck, so we've got good setups to start with."
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st) – HOW MUCH NERVE DOES IT TAKE TO GET AROUND HERE? "Yeah, it does take a lot of nerve, but when these guys give me cars like this it makes it easy on me. I just drove it off into one. The car stuck real good in practice. We were actually third-quick our second time out in practice, so we drove it down in the corner and the car really, really stuck good. I went to the gas super-early and didn't know if I would be able to keep it down and I was actually able to keep it down, so that's the soonest I've ever gotten back to the gas at Dover driving it off in the corner. I let them down last week. We had a good enough car to be on the front row at the Coca-Cola 600 and I made a little mistake. Today I hopefully paid them back by not making any mistakes." DID IT FEEL THAT FAST? "Actually it didn't. It didn't feel quite that fast. It ran up the hill a little bit in three and four, but probably had so much speed down the backstretch that it naturally went up the race track. It's just a great car and I'm gonna have a great car for Sunday. I'm pretty excited about it."
BILL ELLIOTT – No. 21 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion (Qualified 24th) – "I think we're learning a lot. It's just baby steps and being a single entity it just makes it so hard. You're just so much behind. I keep saying that, but I think I ran up here the first race, but we never did come back and being in and out of the car at these places hasn't helped, but it's just an ongoing evolution. All of this stuff is just constantly changing."
GREG BIFFLE POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE – TELL US ABOUT YOUR RUN. "I tell you what, normally Dover is one of the toughest places to qualify – you're always on edge. Obviously, last year I qualified and the first lap by I was on the pole and the second lap I spun out. Fortunately, I didn't damage the car and ended up starting second last year. So we're one spot better than last year being on the front row, but I've learned not to do the second lap after last year, but the car just stuck to the race track so well. These guys are making it so easy for me as a driver, giving me these race cars that are this fast. I'm just real excited about it. We've been running so good. We ran great at Dover and great at Charlotte last week. We had a fairly decent test at Pocono. We showed up not real good and then we come here and, again, really, really fast off the truck. We just fine-tuned on it and here we are."
THE QUALIFYING HAS IMPROVED. WHY? "It's funny, the less time we spend on qualifying, the better we qualify and I can't explain that at all. We knew that weather was a threat for practice tomorrow, so we made the decision as a team to spend the entire time today working on race runs. It's sort of a double-edged sword because right at the end of practice we tried a little bit different spring in the front of the car and it picked the car up about a tenth of a lap. So we really liked it and we left that spring in to qualify and, ironically, it probably picked the speed up qualifying. So we stayed in race trim longer than we did. We only switched over with about seven to nine minutes left in practice. We made one qualifying run and were third on the speed chart. The guys went back and made some adjustments to it and kind of paid attention on pit road to what everyone was saying and made a tire adjustment before I went out to qualify. I'm telling you the car was absolutely perfect. The car was just perfect."
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WIN ON SUNDAY? "Well, if we get Kasey to quit beating us, we'd be one step in the right direction. We got a couple of second-place finishes this last week, but what we need to do as a team is me not make any mistakes as a driver on Sunday and have good pit stops – keep our track position. I think we have a fast enough car to win here on Sunday, but it takes a lot of luck in this sport. You've got to be in the right place at the right time, not make any mistakes to win these races. They're very hard to win. They're real easy sometimes to finish in the top five, but it's really difficult to win in this series. Hopefully this weekend we can get there."
HOW MUCH MOMENTUM WOULD A WIN GIVE YOU GOING INTO THE CHASE? "I think it would build the momentum huge for the 16. Obviously, we haven't won this year and winning would be a big boost for us. Running like we are is already a huge boost for us – running up front like we did at Darlington and Charlotte, but, yeah, definitely winning would certainly do a lot for the team and myself. As we know, the wins seed you in the chase, so certainly that would help us to get a few wins."
WHAT HAPPENED DURING YOUR BAD STRETCH EARLIER THIS YEAR? "I've got a bad memory so I don't really remember all the races, but we did have some terrible luck. I remember Texas because we had about everything go wrong that could have possibly gone wrong in one race to us. It was kind of comical actually, but a bunch of little stuff at Texas and ended up breaking a carburetor float, if you can believe it, was the last thing that broke and took us out of the race and had us finishing almost dead last. And then, of course, Darlington we had a timing belt break, which put us in 43rd place there and that took another pretty big hit in the points. Actually, we finished second last week and didn't even move in the points at all, so we gained some back but we're pretty far back right now. A few more top fives will make up for some of that loss we had about four weeks ago."