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NASCAR Media Conference

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR

NASCAR Media Conference

Greg Biffle
Adrian Fernandez
August 8, 2006

HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome again to this week's NASCAR teleconference. We're looking ahead to Sunday's trip to Watkins Glen International for the AMD at the Glen. That's the season's second and last road race. It's also the sixth event in the Race to the Chase. That's the 10 races that precede the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.
Today we have a two-part teleconference on tap. We're going to open up with Greg Biffle, No. 16 National Guard Subway Ford. Greg was last year's runner-up in the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings, came oh so close to becoming the first driver to win the championship in all three of NASCAR's national series.
At approximately 2:30 we're going to switch over and talk to Adrian Fernandez, driver of the No. 57 Lowe's Chevrolet. He's entered Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race at the Glen, the Zippo 200.
Greg comes into the Glen 12th in current points. Only five races remain before the Chase begins. Time is running out. If anybody can get in there, a lot of people feel it will be Greg Biffle pulling the late rally.
Greg, what could you feel about your chances of such a late rally of getting into the Chase?
GREG BIFFLE: Certainly I thought it was a lot better before this last weekend. We had a good weekend until four laps to go.
I still feel, you know, five races is a lot of time. We saw drivers go from being in the top five in points to being out and then back in in a matter of four races or three. Certainly, you know, people can move around a lot.
But this is the time of the season where teams and drivers are being more consistent, are getting their stride, so to speak, getting their consistency down. So that makes it difficult as well.
HERB BRANHAM: When you look at the statistics, especially early in the season, you could look at everything and say it's been a pretty good year despite being 12th. How has that been to balance out the actual race results with the stats behind those results?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, absolutely. It's been an up-and-down season for us. I was just looking at an email that said Matt was 168 points out after Indy, had finishes of 18th, 3rd, 1st, 7th and 2nd and made the Chase. Certainly we need to average top-five finishes. It depends what the other guys do.
I feel like we have an opportunity to make it in. We're coming up on two good tracks for us, California, Michigan, we run very well at. We run very tell at the Glen. We haven't had the finishes to show for that. We also run very good at Bristol and Richmond. These are good tracks for us.
HERB BRANHAM: Thank you, Greg. We'll now go to questions for Greg Biffle.

Q. There was a story yesterday saying Jacques Villeneuve is considering coming to NASCAR. We've seen Juan Pablo Montoya who is making that jump. What is your idea about these Formula One guys coming to NASCAR? How do you think they'll do in a much different series?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, I mean, certainly those guys -- I mean, any race car drivers that's successful in the series he's in doesn't obviously mean automatic success in the series they move to. But drivers have a certain amount of ability, car control, feel for the race car, knowledge of what's going on around them, awareness inside the car, kind of expertise on gas, brake, shift, those kind of things.
I can't say they'd be successful in any series they went to, but typically if you take the top tier drivers in any series, they should be able to, with reasonable equipment, be able to make a transition to another series and be moderately successful.
I mean, some drivers may want to come over and drive our cars. They're completely different. Our racing is completely different. It will take some time for them, not a long time, but it will take a few races or tests for them to get the feel for our heavier cars. I'd kind of phrase it as how unresponsive they'd be compared to a Formula One car. They do things a lot slower, whatnot.
But, I mean, I think you can take any competitive driver and put him in that series, like Jeff Gordon went over and did some Race of Champions out of the country. Robby Gordon and Jimmie Johnson both came from off-road racing, have won the Baja 1000, Baja 500, I know Robby has. I mean, there's a lot of people that have tried for years and years to win the Baja 500 or 1000. So he's won in that series and has been able to be moderately competitive in the Nextel Cup and Busch Series.
I don't think those drivers will have a big problem transitioning. It will take them a while.

Q. Have you seen the new movie about NASCAR, Talladega Nights, and what your feeling is about the film, how it portrayed drivers?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, you know, I mean, I guess the general public has to understand that it's kind of a spoof. I mean, I think a lot of people do. It's kind of a joke. It's entertainment, it's a comedy. For those people that don't watch our sport, have no idea, go see the movie, maybe they could conceive that some drivers may be like that.
I think anybody that has ever watched a race or watched any interviews or watched anything about our sport, if they've got SPEED Channel in their house, obviously they know it's a comedy.

Q. Still in the hunt for a top 10 spot, even though it might be a struggle, do you think NASCAR should consider relaxing some of the rules on who makes the Chase or do you think 10 is going to be the magic number for quite a while yet?
GREG BIFFLE: I like 10. I think 10 is a great number. They've talked about putting a wildcard driver in there, which I could agree with, that would be fine, somebody that's won the most races is not in the top 10 or something to that effect. They've talked about that. I wouldn't have a problem with that.
But I really think that 10 is a good number for people to run for the championship. Let's face it, a playoff, and that's what we're creating, a playoff is to eliminate teams. When you start a playoff in football, baseball, any other kind of sport, any other kind of anything, it eliminates the teams each week. There's less and less teams that compete for the magic prize.
We don't. We run all 10 weeks, all drivers do, all 10 drivers. In fact, the rest of the series still competes with us. So I really think that by narrowing it to 10 is really a good, balanced number, I believe.

Q. The partnership between Roush and Robert Yates Racing, the 38 and 88 are both having an off year. Are there currently any efforts at the track between the two organizations that might help them start running a little bit better?
GREG BIFFLE: Personally I cannot comment to that because I've never seen any of the 38 or 88 information at the racetrack. I've never seen any of their shocks, springs, setups, sway bars, anything they're doing to their race cars, wind tunnel data, nothing.
I would say that we don't -- in our alliance, I don't believe we share all of our information collectively together. With the way things go today, the way things are happening, it almost seems like it really doesn't matter. Like if you gave me Jimmie Johnson's setup at Indy, all his springs and shocks and everything, tire pressures, down to the last little bit, I don't believe my car wouldn't have run any better knowing all that information because my car is just a little bit different. The body might be a little different or my driving style might be a hair different. So what works on some cars doesn't always just bolt it on and work on others. In fact, even in-house it doesn't work that way.
But to answer the question, no. Our engine program is identical because it all comes out of one building, but our teams are completely separate.

Q. I want to ask you about the cautions, when they especially come at the end of the race. On one hand you can't blame NASCAR, they want to make sure there's no accidents. On the other hand, what do you see, the caution affects the end of the race. Given the end of the race, can you talk us through your thoughts on that?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I mean, it's really tough. NASCAR has a tough spot. One is, you know, they can easily affect the outcome of the race by displaying a caution. Two, there are so many things going on that they have to take into consideration: debris, track safety, what's going on right now, is there a guy scraping the wall, is there possibly some pieces laying out on the racetrack that could injure another driver if he runs over it and gets a flat tire.
We say, Oh, what is that caution for? Is it just to help the 8 or the 48 or the 17 or the 16 because they're leading or they needed a caution? I mean, I believe -- I believe in my mind that every caution they put out is for a valid reason.
But it's a difficult situation because they're sitting there, what if half the field is pitted, half is still out there, a guy spins out getting out of pit road, knocks the cone getting out on the track, but gets going again? Do you throw the caution or wait till everybody made their pit cycle? It's so hard. What is the right thing to do? It's so difficult.
But I feel that NASCAR takes safety first. Yes, they take into consideration how it affects the competition, I'm sure, but they have to make the decisions they do on a split second. They don't have a lot of time to think about it, as well. I mean, they don't have a few minutes to discuss it; it's got to be like, you know, right now.
I'm sure they've put the caution out and the guy got going again. They're like, Dang, I guess I didn't have to do that. Now the caution is out, now I got to open pit road, now I got to do all this. I mean, we all are in that position, you know, whether in some capacity or another.

Q. Is there any suggestion you have for making it better, any way to change it?
GREG BIFFLE: You know what, I mow my own grass. I couldn't even imagine. Kurt Busch at one point went up and watched them officiate a Busch race, I think. There's so many things going on at one time. You got lap cars pitting under green, what is that guy doing. You know, just like watching the race, you know, two-and-a-half-mile track, you got to have so many eyeballs all the way around it to watch 43 cars. It's a wonder they see half the stuff that goes on really.

Q. You mentioned Robby Gordon before. Could you sum up what happened at the end of Indy? You're obviously on one of the best teams in NASCAR. He's in a different spot. Can you put yourself in his shoes about how tough it must be each week on the series?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I mean, it's difficult, being a single-car team like that, trying to come up with all the information yourself. You know, I've rephrased what happened at the end of the race a couple times. The first time I said, well, it wasn't his fault, what happened. But I had to rephrase that. I mean, it was his fault, but he didn't mean to do it, you know. I mean, he didn't mean to go down in the corner, spin out, get a last-place finish. Certainly that wasn't his intention.
But he just got in the corner probably too hot, maybe needed to back off a hair earlier, and the car wouldn't have got out from under him. I don't know. I couldn't see what happened. I haven't seen a replay of it. I don't even know if they have it.
I left him plenty, plenty of room. We could have put three-wide. You could have put another car between us going in that corner so that I didn't affect his race car. My object wasn't to try and drive in right on his right-side door and try and get him loose because my object was just to salvage the best finish I could.
I saw him starting to get lose underneath me. Yes see him at first, but I saw him coming up. It was certainly nothing I could do to try and get out of the way or do anything. You know, like I said, I was a long ways out there. I was way out above him.
He just lost it, you know. I mean, maybe the 10 was right up under his bumper, two inches off him. I have no idea. That certainly could have been possible. I saw that happen to a few guys. I got underneath the 07 at the beginning of the race and he almost wrecked. But he had a long ways up the racetrack to save it, where in this particular instance I was up there at some point.
I mean, I can't be upset about it really. I'm not happy it happened. I lost 10 spots probably or better, 15 maybe. But, you know, it's all part of racing. I shouldn't have been there to start with, let's put it that way. I got myself in that position because I got in the fence coming off turn two trying to pass my teammate for 9th.

Q. As far as the Glen goes, can you expound a little more? You won there in the truck. How have your experiences been? Do you like it there, hate it there? Talk about Watkins Glen.
GREG BIFFLE: I really like Watkins Glen. I mean, it's the funnest road course that we go to that I've ever really been to. We have run extremely well there. If you look at our results, 38th, 31st, certainly doesn't spell success, but I sat outside front row to Jeff Gordon first time there in a Cup car by 1/1000th of a second he beat me by. That was our rookie year. They told us in the rookie meeting that if you miss the chicane, you must slow down and not gain time or position. So I was passing Jimmie Johnson for fourth, and Rusty had a broken transmission going into the chicane. I could not stop in time. I was going to hit the 2 because I didn't know he was down there, cause a big accident. I went straight, lost from 4th to 12th in position on the racetrack, then they still black flagged me for not coming to a complete stop in the chicane. It was the updated rule after they had already told a small group of us behind closed doors not to gain time or position. So that was my first year.
Last year, we broke a transmission. The year before, Sterling Marlin and I had a little incident. He came back and retaliated and spun us out, put us out in the gravel trap. I think the oil pump belt came off, that's right. We went through the gravel and the oil pump belt came off.
Predominantly we've run very well at that racetrack. I expect to go there and run decent. We'll just keep our nose clean and hopefully come out of there with a top five or top six or seven.

Q. How much involved is a road course race mentally, physically? What is going on with the shifting, all that, than just a normal weekend at an oval?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, I mean, it's a lot more -- it's a lot harder on the driver. Certainly you're going both directions. You're shifting a lot. There's lots more opportunities to make mistakes. We're shifting so many times a lap, getting on the brakes, downshifting, you know, turning at the right point. Normally we're used to four corners, and now we've got a whole bunch that are both directions.
There's certainly a lot more opportunities to make mistakes at a road course, a lot easier for things to happen.

Q. We hear a lot about the shifting on the road courses. Dumbing it down for me, can you take me through a corner, the mental process, hand-eye coordination of shifting through that?
GREG BIFFLE: The thing about road racing for me, I don't know if -- it appears like it's the same for other drivers. If you screw up in one corner, like three corners later your rhythm's off. It's like running down, doing that deal when two people got their legs tied together. The problems keep rippling forward.
For instance, going into turn one, you know, we shift down to second gear going into turn one, you make the corner, then you go from second, you shift to third, then you lift on the throttle and turn up the S's. You're trying to go flat on the throttle up through the S's. It's a pretty sharp right-hand corner, left, then back right again. You have to go back to high gear at the top.
For instance, if you get a little fast into turn one, then you're kind of up on the racetrack, sometimes you get up on the rubble strips. You don't quite have your speed. You're not quite to the point to shift to third by the time you get to the bottom of the S's, so now your speed is too slow, but you shift anyway. Now your corner entry has changed, you know. It multiplies so quickly when you make a small mistake on getting to the brakes in time or too early.
In fact, if you get to the brakes too early, you're going too slow around the corner, it can be detrimental to your rhythm as well because the car didn't do what you intended it was going to do. Your speed is slower so your gearing is off.
Man, there's just so many things, getting into a rhythm, doing the same thing lap after lap after lap. You know, when you pass cars, of course, it does the same thing.

Q. What is your thinking going into Bristol? When you think to that place, are you thinking there's going to be a bunch of wrecks?
GREG BIFFLE: Not really. You know, we've run really well at Bristol. Knock on wood, we've been able to keep our nose clean for the last few races there, have had good finishes. I really like the racetrack. It's a lot of fun to race on.
But, you know, you are nervous because you're all bunched up. Qualifying decent is important there. We've been able to do that. I kind of look forward to going there actually.

Q. Does it bother you any that everything is so crowded like in the garage with the Busch and Cup cars, nowhere to move for crew or fans or drivers?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, that's one of the tougher places. You know, it's so loud. It's really loud in the garage area there. But it's just a fact of life. That's what we have to deal with. When you're on a short track like that, there's really nothing... It's real loud at Martinsville. They're both like that.

Q. The guys that you're battling to get into the Chase, do you pay much attention to those guys on the racetrack? Do you want to know where they are?
GREG BIFFLE: I pay attention to them a little bit. It's possible that you could start thinking about, Geez, I really need to push the issue here because they're in front of me. I'm not saying that's what happened to me this weekend. But really all the guys I was racing for that position were in front of me. I was trying like heck to get by the 99 to gain a position. The 11 was falling back and was right in front of him. You know, the car got tight behind the 99 and got in the fence coming off of turn two. Instead of finishing 12th or whatever, I was going to end up finishing 11th. I don't know. I finished 33rd.
Even though those guys are in front of you by five spots, you don't want them in front of you by 25. I've kind of vowed to not worry about where everybody else is and just concentrate on our team and not worry about where the points are or anything because the points are going to be what the points are. We're just going to do the best we can do. I got five races to do it.

Q. Of those races, if you get by this weekend, is this the key weekend? Looks like the rest of the tracks you have done fairly well over the years.
GREG BIFFLE: You know, when I was talking earlier, we actually do really well at Watkins Glen. We run very well there. We've had crazy things happen. One, I got a penalty. Two, transmission broke last year. The oil pump belt came off the other years. We were running top five in all those races and have finished in the 30s. Certainly that can happen again. If it doesn't, I feel like we're going to be in the top five. All those other tracks are really good tracks for us.
All we can do is put together five top five's. Whatever that does for us, it does for us. If that puts us 11th or 9th or 13th. You know, we can definitely go backwards running in top five if those guys beat us. We'll see.

Q. At the end of the month, there's a big drifting event before the California race. Kasey Kahne is leading the group of NASCAR drivers doing it. Are you familiar with this?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I am.

Q. Have you ever gone drifting before?
GREG BIFFLE: Never, never. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm really excited about it. I can't wait till I get an opportunity to do it. I've got a scheduling conflict right now I'm working on. I have a Coca-Cola appearance that evening from 5 to 7. I'm trying to work with Coke to get that moved around where I can do both events. May have to helicopter between it or miss some practice at the drifting event, which would cost me, but I'd still be able to participate.

Q. What is the appeal of it for you? Have you watched it on TV?
GREG BIFFLE: I've seen it on TV. I've seen stuff about it. I've read about it. It looks fun. I mean, anything that has to do with cars and driving 'em and things like that, I think about any driver's into, you know, go-karts, anything. We just love to do that. I think it would be fun.

Q. I was reading your comments after Sunday's race. Sounded like there's a lot of frustration in there. You mentioned your cars weren't driving well in traffic. Was that an Indy thing? Has that been a problem for a while?
GREG BIFFLE: No, I think it's been a problem for a while. Our cars just aren't as good as they have been in the past. We're off a little bit. I mean, I think the drivers are making up for a lot of it right now. You know, Matt, Carl, Mark, myself. I think our competition has got us beat a little bit, certainly more than they did last year.
My car at Pocono was the worst car I've ever driven in a race since I've started racing. We found out that the right front ball joint was bound up after the race. That kind of excused the way that car drove. The race before that was Chicago, or thinking back to Chicago, we ran 11th and weren't that good. My car didn't drive exceptionally well there either. So then we go to Indy. Still the car, shoving the front tires. They're sliding across the track. The car won't make the corner. I can't even make a full lap, you know, to get enough speed to make it worth going to the start/finish line. I mean, it's like, shoot, I'm going to have to pull in and keep working on it. Going by and doing a second off of the pace lap doesn't even make any sense.
We struggled very bad for the last couple weeks.
In the final Happy Hour, we kind of got the car going better by loosening the car up a whole bunch. To put it in terms, there's two ways to get a car to turn. One is you turn the steering wheel and it will turn with the front tires basically. Sounds like common sense. Two is you kind of get the car to rotate with the back, meaning you kind of turn the wheels, and the back of the car sort of doesn't really slide out but sort of is on the edge and kind of helping the car turn. That's the only thing I've been able to do to get my car to go, is to get the thing trying to turn it with the back like a dirt car. It won't turn with the front tires. That's been our issue, frankly.

Q. Does that give you less confidence in making the Chase?
GREG BIFFLE: A little bit. It's frustrating for sure. Then we were able to take a car that wasn't that great and just keep good track position. But you saw the minute that I got back 4th, 5th, 6th, got other cars around me, my car just wouldn't drive, the thing wouldn't turn. Inevitably ended up shoving the nose out into scraping the wall.
We sat down today, went over our aero numbers, all our things, kind of mapped some stuff out. We're going to change some things around on the front noses, make some adjustments. We're working on Michigan obviously. We're going to try and make a go of it.
HERB BRANHAM: Thank you, everyone, for getting on the call to talk to Greg Biffle. Greg is going to take off and we'll switch over and talk to Adrian Fernandez.
Greg, best of luck to you. 12th place. Plenty of time.
GREG BIFFLE: Thank you very much. I appreciate all the questions.
HERB BRANHAM: We're joined now by Adrian Fernandez. Very happy to have him on the call. This weekend, Adrian is going to attempt to start his eighth NASCAR Busch Series event. Big week for Adrian. On Monday the latest issue of Mexican Leaders magazine named him one of the 300 most influential people in his native country. That's the fourth time Adrian, from Mexico City, has made this prestigious listing.
Adrian, busy week ahead. You're going to race in the Rolex Series sports car race on Friday at the Glen. How eager are you to get back out there into the NASCAR Busch Series?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Firstly, thank you for the opportunity. I'm extremely excited to get back on the track on the Busch car and represent Rick Hendrick and Lowe's. We've done two races already in the road course. We've been very extremely competitive. Obviously we've been in Mexico.
But Watkins Glen has been another racetrack that I have really enjoyed tremendously when I run the nine hours -- actually, the Six hours of Watkins Glen last time in the Grand-Am Series. It's a beautiful track. I feel we're going to have a very good car there. It's going to be exciting. I'm going to be doing two races, the Grand-Am with Mario Haberfeld in the Lowe's car, and I'm going to be driving the No. 57 Busch cars with Lowe's also and Rick Hendrick in the weekend.
It's going to be good. It's going to be exciting to race against some of my old friends that will be racing. I think there's quite a few open-wheel drivers that will be participating, like Max Papis. It will be a fun weekend for sure.
HERB BRANHAM: We're now ready to take some questions from the media for Adrian Fernandez.

Q. How difficult has it been to balance your driving with your team ownership?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: It hasn't been bad, to be honest. I have a great partner in Tom Anderson. He's been able to take a lot of the day-to-day running of the team away from me. I can focus more on the future of the team, signing the deals and things like that. I really have a nice balance right now racing the amount of races that I'm having.
I'm for the first time really in my career having a nice balance of a personal life, which I never had. I was always full-time racer since I wake up till I slept, you know. Now I finally married, looking for kids. Hopefully soon we will have one, just things like that.
To be honest, I feel like I'm driving better than ever. Every time I get into the race car, I feel fast, I feel good. I keep in shape. I'm enjoying the part of ownership. It really hasn't been a problem.
The NASCAR side, to be honest, it's just been a pleasure to participate with the whole organization of Rick. I have been very fortunate to meet him and have become one of his good friends and meet a great company like Lowe's. The whole experience has just been tremendously exciting. Everybody there are very well-organized. I think that helps me because I'm also a very organized person. It just fits everything very well. I have a lot of time to do other things also.

Q. How optimistic are you going to the Glen?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: I'm pretty optimistic. To be honest, we've been very close, as you've seen on my last few races on road courses. I think Mexico should have been the same this year, if it wasn't for the contact that I had with Jamie. We've been very strong. I believe that if I stay out of trouble, you know, I think we should have a shot at winning the race. Obviously, the competition is always strong, but I have a great team behind me. I feel if this time we keep our nose clean and we don't have any problems, I think we should be strong for winning.

Q. Do you receive a lot of help from your teammates when you go to these tracks?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Well, since it's a road course, it was the other way around. Kyle in Mexico came to me and tried to get some advices from me obviously because I knew the racetrack. He had not much experience on road course like I do. They did the same when I was doing all these oval races last year with Jamie and Kyle. They did the same to me. They actually helped me a lot on the ovals.
But we share a lot of the information. I think Kyle and myself, we sort of like the same sort of car that we run in Mexico. I think we will be able to work really close. I know now what he likes, and we work really well together. Hopefully we can both work towards bringing the Lowe's car to the front.

Q. Juan Pablo Montoya has already made the jump to NASCAR. Now there's talk of Jacques Villeneuve. What do you think that would be for stock car racing, NASCAR in general? How well do you think those guys would do?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: I think firstly the appearance for open-wheel drivers outside of how competitive is is deceiving. I think Juan Pablo will be surprised how competitive and how hard it is to get used to these cars. The same with Villeneuve, if he gets in. It's not a coincidence it has been a problem in the past for open-wheel drivers to get used to it quicker than you think.
The first race I competed in an oval, they told me if I was going to finish in the top 20 the first race, that was going to be an excellent result. I thought these guys were out of their minds what they told me that.
I practiced really well. I practiced in Fontana. I was really quick. I was actually one second quicker than I actually practiced that weekend. There is a lot of things that changes. We are not used to these cars in terms of setups and things like that. It doesn't matter how many laps you do at the beginning. There is nothing like keep racing and racing and racing and getting the experience of these cars. It just takes time.
I think the smartest thing that Juan Pablo has done is to sign a long-term deal. I know it's going to be tough for him at the beginning. He knows that. I'm a good friend of Juan Pablo. I have always been a big fan of him as a driver. I met my wife through him in Colombia. My wife is Colombian. I have a lot of ties to Colombia now. We're good friends. My wife is friends with Connie, his wife. I think he's doing the right thing. He's jumping with the right team.
Obviously, he's very inexperienced. Doesn't matter how much experience he has in the other thing, the only thing that will help him is he's a very talented individual. I think that should short him the distance of learning period. But there is no question it is going to be tough. But I see guys like Dan Wheldon, everybody jump, they just want to try. It's good to try, but they'll be surprised how tough it is. Look at Paul Tracy when he tried it, Scott Pruett, Michel Jourdain, myself. It's just not easy. We can be competitive straightaway on a road course, but on an oval it just takes time. It's just because the cars are totally different. They're very heavy. They have very little grip. We're used to light cars, cars that really stick to the ground. Reaction is a lot faster in these things. These things, you cannot push them like we push ours cars, especially in an oval.
I tell you what. It gave me a lot of appreciation doing these six oval races last year and realize that this sport is not easy and it's extremely competitive.

Q. What caused you to make the crossover?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: For me to do some NASCAR races? I never really did completely the crossover. What happened is I was racing the IRL. I was winning races. Then I have a problem with one of our sponsorship. I was not going to compete in 2005. I got an invitation from Rick Hendrick and Lowe's to do the Mexican race in the road course, which we did very well. After that, they invite me to do six oval races. That was a totally different thing. I enjoyed it. But then I realized that at this stage I'm not a young guy like Juan Pablo and these other guys. To start brand-new for the whole thing, it would be tough commitment that I was not ready to do.
The balance that we found at the end of doing the Grand-Am Series, sponsor with Lowe's, do some road course races with Hendrick in the Busch car was a perfect combination for me.

Q. We've talked what it would take to get Hispanics to come to NASCAR, make this into something that Hispanics would appreciate. Seems like you mentioned Juan Pablo has the best chance having a long-term contract. Do you think he's the one that's going to finally break the barrier and get more Latins into the sport?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: At least he's the first one that is going to have a solid contract and a long-term and he has the age to do it. Nobody has ever had this opportunity like him. I don't think even Scott Pruett had it. I think he had it for one year. I think he was out after that ride.
He has a long-term contract which no other Latin driver has ever had before. So for sure he's the first one that has the opportunity to do it because of that, and probably he will be the first one, yes.

Q. This week you were named one of the most influential Mexicans. How proud are you of that achievement?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: I'm extremely proud. I'm always proud of what I have achieved in my career and that has helped my country, my fellow drivers, to make our sport better. I have always tried to give the message in Mexico to help the kids and get more involved in sports and things like that. Obviously to be named like that and to help the image after so many years being supported by your country, it's a tremendous feeling.
I mean, I'm at a different stage of my career now. I have enjoyed tremendously my success, my career, the success of bringing the races in Mexico, having your country supporting you. I have enjoyed tremendously every stage of my career.
This is a very nice recognition at this stage of my life where I'm enjoying also part of the ownership and still driving and still doing something for your country.

Q. Do you feel your job as driver is more stressful than your job as a communicator and representative of your sponsors?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: To be honest, I don't find it that stressful. To me, stressful -- I mean, the part of driving is the thing that I enjoy the most. When I was not driving in 2005 at the beginning that much, I was starting to miss it a lot. Being in a race car, especially when you can be competitive, strong, it's a great feeling.
The other part that I've been experimenting -- not experimenting, but doing with Lowe's, it's been a pleasure to me, that hasn't within any stressful, we've been doing a lot of commercials with them for Hispanic TV. It's been a lot of fun.
To be honest, I haven't found anything in this program that I'm doing that is that stressful. Everything is in place. We have our contracts in place. Lowe's is happy. We're happy. Team is doing well. We're doing good. I'm not stressed like I used to be in the past when I have a lot of responsibilities. The whole country, your sponsors, everything. Now I'm more relaxed, and that's why I feeling I'm driving -- I'm enjoying driving better than I used to.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks to all the media for participating today. Thanks to Greg Biffle. And, Adrian, special thanks to you for joining us. Best of luck this weekend at Watkins Glen.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: Thank you. My pleasure.
HERB BRANHAM: Appreciate the coverage, media, as always.

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