NASCAR Media Conference
November 10, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to this NASCAR CAM video teleconference. We're continuing to get the word out in advance of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
That's the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil. The ninth event in the 10 event Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Our guest today he's at the NASCAR Research Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. We have great, great, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford for Rausch-Fenway Racing. Greg is seventh in the Series points going into Phoenix.
He really looks like he's got a great shot to move up into the final standings over the next two weeks as the season winds down. Average finish of 15th in Phoenix in Sprint Cup racing. Greg also has three Nationwide Series wins at PIR and one win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series there. And looking ahead to Homestead Miami Speedway where the season finale will be held, he's won that race three times. So it looks pretty good for Greg over the last couple of weeks this year.
Greg, we're starting off these calls weekly with a question from our fans on our Twitter account. We have a Biffle fan in Savannah, Georgia named Will. He wants to know, where do you think your team needs to improve when you roll into 2010 compared to this year.
GREG BIFFLE: That's a great question, because we've been looking at that and digesting all the information that we have. And with the lack of testing, you know, we're putting a lot of importance on each race each weekend.
And looking forward to 2010, we know that the spots are figure out these front bump stops. Figure out the front geometry. Figure out how to get our cars to turn around the center of the corner, rotate so that we can put the gas back down
And that's what we're facing every week. Those are our issues. And we just got done going over for the last two hours what we're going to do at Phoenix this weekend, how we ran there in 2007 in both 2008 races and spring this year
So we're constantly trying to figure out how to equal that playing field, level the competition, if you will. And it's been a tough year for Rausch-Fenway and the 16 3M team as far as competition-wise. But the highlight obviously of our season making The Chase and missing a couple wins by just a little bit. But we hope Phoenix or Homestead bring us a win this season.
THE MODERATOR: Safe to say these next two tracks because of all the success you've had there in the past you still feel really comfortable coming back?
GREG BIFFLE: I really do. I feel like I have the best opportunity here these next couple of weeks. Good opportunity similar to all the other guys or as good an opportunity
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. I'm not sure why I'm even asking it at this point, but I was wondering the wreck you had Vegas a year or so ago in testing looking back on it how long did it take you to recover from that as far as your driving?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, it was two years ago that we had that accident in Las Vegas tire test. And it really took probably -- it took me about three weeks, probably, to really recover from that crash.
And mostly because I dislocated my right shoulder was probably my biggest hindrance in that crash. Other than that, you know, I was sore, bumped and bruised all over. But my right shoulder were a little sore after that crash because I did dislocate my right shoulder
But, you know, you can come back from these things fairly quickly. You might be sore in the car the next week, but other than that, these cars are really safe and our safety equipment is really good
Q. Do you think as far as your reflexes and reaction, that didn't affect that at all?
GREG BIFFLE: No, I don't think so. It's like any other kind of accident you get in or any other athlete. I mean, a couple, a week or so and you're back at it
Q. As far as the media coverage, what, if anything, surprised you when you got to Cup, now that it's more intense in The Chase, obviously but what kind of surprised you, you didn't know it was happening that way, and what would you share with fans who obviously, they're viewers, they're readers, but they're not right there watching what goes on and that kind of thing. Do you have a comment on that?
GREG BIFFLE: I really do. That's an interesting question, because there's so much that goes on behind the scenes, and there's so much that goes into the production of each show or each interview actually to make it informative, to make it come off like, to make it look good.
That probably to me, and the emphasis on this, how many people follow and how big of a deal it is. I came from the Camping World Truck Series to the Nationwide Series and then to the Sprint Cup Series. And each step along the way, it was a huge difference from the Camping World Truck Series to Nationwide.
And I thought, well, I have an idea what to expect going to the Sprint Cup Series, because of making that transition. And it wasn't even close. It's amazing the amount of coverage and what goes into letting all the fans know about our sport.
Q. And just a little momentum question. Does being in The Chase, do you feel like that -- do you look forward no matter what happens, do you feel like it's a good thing for next year for you and your team?
GREG BIFFLE: I really do. I feel like making The Chase this year was a lot of momentum for the team. And this sport is a lot about momentum. Certainly we'd like to win one of these last two races, but we're looking forward to finishing off the season the best we can in the points and then being better next year, being higher up on the points. Get locked in earlier in that chase and then compete for this title even better than we did this year.
Q. If you had to sum up your season to this point, what would be the overwhelming -- your overwhelming impression you would give from that and is there any particular point where you felt like the championship, the potential championship was slipping away from you?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, I mean, I guess the season has been a little bit disappointing for the 16 team the whole season. You know, I shouldn't say the whole season, because we came very, very close. We just digested this whole year a little bit for the last couple of hours in Erwin's office getting ready for this next couple of races. And we look back, we almost won California. We were right there at Las Vegas.
We would have probably won Texas had we not dropped a lug nut. Michigan, we would have won Michigan if we wouldn't have run out of gas in the last 800 feet from the start/finish line.
So we look back and look at so many opportunities that we missed that we were the fastest, the most dominant car of that event. And so that really is the highlight of our season.
That gave us the momentum to get into The Chase. What is disappointing is that we haven't been able to perform really the second half of the season, leading up to The Chase and the eight Chase races so far haven't been where we wanted them to be.
And we're working hard at it. I don't know how to explain any more than we're doing everything possible, humanly possible, to get our cars to be more competitive and faster. We're just going to continue to work as hard as we can, take advantage of the tire test that we're going to get invited to it looks like at the beginning, late January.
Just try and get best prepared as we can for next year and take these last two races and try and win and get our program turned around
Q. Do you feel like you've found some stuff in the last few weeks that is going to help lay the foundation for next year that will help you close the gap?
GREG BIFFLE: You know, the biggest gain for us was Kansas, the third race into The Chase. We felt we were on to something that had a lot of speed in it. That was a little bit different than what we'd normally been doing.
And we were trying it back in Richmond and couldn't get it to work. So when it came around to Kansas, we were experimenting and got it going pretty good. But we haven't been able to hit on anything since then.
So it's been kind of pin the tail on the donkey. We've been all over that map looking for things to get our cars better, and we feel like we're making gains. But we don't feel like we're gaining on our competition as quick as we'd like to.
Q. I'd like to get your take on The Chase, knowing what you know about the 48 and how it seems like time after time they always seem to come through in the clutch, are you in the camp that says it's their title, I don't see it slipping away? Or are you in the camp that says I think this is wide open now?
GREG BIFFLE: I really think, obviously up until last week Talladega was really the turning point in The Chase, I felt. Both Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon got in that wreck and Jimmie Johnson split through and finished sixth or seventh, and that was disastrous for those guys. Mark is on his roof going down the stretch and Jimmie Johnson is finishing in the Top 10. So that really hurt their opportunity.
If you look back at that one race, Mark might be leading the points today. You know, so is it over yet, I don't think so. Because anything can happen. There's a lot of pressure on the 48 team right now because of what happened last week. So he still has a fairly significant lead, but there's a lot of pressure on him, and Mark runs very well at these last two racetracks and so do a few of the other guys out there.
So I think anything can happen. I still feel like anything can happen.
Q. This is kind of like a follow-up to some of the earlier questions about going into next season. What's your initial impression of the engine?
GREG BIFFLE: What I've spoken to Doug Gates quite a bit about the engine, I'm really excited about the engine. We know it's going to take a little while, you can imagine how many engines and parts that they need to build up in order to ramp up next season to get the engines full time in all the cars.
So that's going to take -- we still have a big uphill battle in front of us implementing that new engine once we're satisfied with the performance and the reliability.
But I'm very, very excited about it. The engine looks promising. It ran well in the restricter plate races, both cars at Talladega. That was a huge statement for that engine not to have any issues in either car.
So I think it's full speed ahead with the new engine. It's going to take a little while for it to get implemented in all these cars. And I know that I raised my hand and said: You know, hey, the first third of the season instead of us jumping all over the map, because you really have to have these cars built differently for the engine bay to work, I said I'll run the old engine for the first third
Simply for the fact that our old engine has a lot of power, has a lot of reliability, and five or eight horsepower really isn't going to win or lose a race in, I don't think, that first third of the season. But after that I'm looking forward to having that thing in the car for the next five years to come.
Q. You do think that the tryout with Talladega was a good test and maybe would want to try it on an unrestricter plate test?
GREG BIFFLE: We're definitely going to try it -- I believe it's going to run at either Phoenix or Homestead. I haven't heard yet what the schedule is. But I'm confident that they're going to run an open race with it this season.
So I'm impressed that they ran that restricter plate race with that engine and had absolutely no issues. So they've really done their homework. My hat's off to those guys.
But I know they're going to run it at a down force open motor racetrack this year and continue to develop over the winter and get as many engines built up as they can to start the season next year.
Q. There's a story out that they're going to reopen North Wilksboro in 2010. Given the success that Rockingham has been a place for you to go test with the testing ban, do you think we'll get the same type of traffic up at North Wilksboro?
GREG BIFFLE: I think that we'll probably see some, I think everybody will at least go test it out or try it to see what they can learn from it. And then bring the data back and compare it to what racetrack will that actually compare to or does it have maybe one corner that works well that we can compare data and try different geometries and bump stops.
We'll just have to wait and see once that opens and I'm sure it will be on our list to go try and see what happens.
Q. What are prospects for Homestead? You've been the guy there for the last few years, what do you expect when you get down there?
GREG BIFFLE: I really look forward to Homestead. I look forward to Phoenix, too. I've got three wins there and a couple of second-place finishes. So I look forward to that racetrack. It's a fun track.
But I want to win a race this season, I've got two opportunities left. So we're just going to try as hard as we can and see what we can do.
Q. There's been some reports recently about possibly some management issues at the Milwaukee Mile. And you know this is recognized as if not the oldest but the oldest racetracks in the country. How important is it for NASCAR to keep bringing the Truck and Nationwide series to the Milwaukee Mile and Wisconsin?
GREG BIFFLE: I think it's a really important market obviously up there. I think the racetrack is great. It's a great place, great facility. You know, its location is a little bit difficult being in the center of all that stuff.
But I think it's important to maintain races at some of those facilities and that's definitely a great place, great part of the country to race in. There's a lot of racers from up that way and I think the Milwaukee Mile is a fun racetrack to race at. I wish it wasn't so far from Sonoma, I'd like to race there again.
Q. Also the announcement a week or so ago about Memphis shutting down, what are your thoughts on that?
GREG BIFFLE: There again, a little disappointing for me. My first win in the NASCAR ever came there and it came through the Truck Series. I love that racetrack. But again it's challenging -- I think it's a challenging geographical location. And they probably had a hard time selling that venue out.
But I think it's a great facility. It's a great place to have huge potential. It may be something where it shut down for a short period of time and then may come back even better.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Greg.
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