Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, will be going for his third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Biffle, who is only 10 points out of the lead, held a Q&A session during a break in testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway for next month's Bank of America 500.
GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 3M Ford Fusion - CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GREG AND HOW IT'S GROWN? AND THE RELATIONSHIP YOU HAD WITH PAT TRYSON BEFOREHAND?
"I had known Pat prior to him becoming my crew chief. He had been at Roush a long time, so I knew him and had a little bit of a relationship and knew something about him, and then when we got together we became decent friends and felt like we worked pretty well together. It wasn't particularly anything against Greg, it was more liking not to change stuff up all the time. We talk so much in this sport about continuity and the teams gelling and believing in the leader and all those things, so that was morally what I was up against is not wanting to make another change right away. Another thing that happens in our sport is speculation. When a team doesn't perform, the first two or three things they change is the crew chief, a couple team guys, another crew chief, and then the driver, so I didn't want to get into that spiral of not spending enough time with crew chiefs to make it work, so, to set the stage, I had spent my whole career with two crew chiefs up until that point. I spent a long time with Randy Goss and then a fairly long time with Doug (Richert), so I hadn't jumped around a lot. In fact, it was probably quite a long time in the sport for a lot of people, so, that being said, we had a change. Pat was almost interim - a mid-term crew chief. He was there only nine weeks? I don't know how long, so it's kind of difficult to count that as jumping around so much, but it was morally that. But once I had my choice - Jack had a couple options of guys - and I didn't really have an opinion of either of the guys he was looking at because I didn't really know a lot about him, and I really gave him my support on whichever one they wanted to pick. They already made up their mind that they were changing Pat, so it was 'take your choice between these guys.' So I kind of supported them and felt, 'whichever one you think is gonna fit in the company the best and whichever one you think has the best potential, I'm with you on making it work with whoever you pick.' So that's kind of how Greg's position came around."
WHAT MAKES IT WORK?
"What makes it work with us is Greg's engineering background. I think in today's world that's an advantage for a crew chief. Unfortunately, there are a lot of great crew chiefs out there that have done a lot of great things and the trend has moved to engineering type backgrounds and the trend has moved to younger drivers as well, so those are two things in our sport that has changed. He has that engineering background and we get along well. We understand each other. I understand the car really well and I understand the race tracks and I understand what this track is gonna do, and I can provide that information for him. We were sitting in the trailer just talking about it just now and not that I have all the answers, but I can feed him a lot of information about what I think about this race track, what I think about what it needs to do and then he can work on how to make it do that. That's probably something he hasn't had before is the knowledge of what I anticipate what we're gonna need come Sunday. So we get along really well together. I think we complement each other fairly well."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TEST SESSION AND A PREVIEW FOR THIS CHARLOTTE RACE?
"For starters, I can't be happier with my race car right now. We unloaded with the All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 setup in the car. We figured that was a great place to start since we finished second in both of those events and the car is super-easy to drive, and it has a lot of speed. I'm pretty happy about that for starters. In fact, I looked at the monitor before I got in and I saw some guys running 29.70s was about the top of the board. I made my first lap pretty conservative and it was 30.40 and I thought, 'Wow.' Normally, the first time out you're kind of getting your feet wet and I figured I had a second-and-a-half because I was thinking it was 28.70, and then the next time I come by they told me I was second-quick. I've got a computer monitor up in my window and saw it was a 28.75 or something like that, so I instantly knew that our car was pretty decent if it was driving that good and had that much speed that easily, so that's exciting. We haven't really changed much yet. We've been messing around with some steering and we have some new data components on it this time, some different load sensors on different parts of the steering to see what the tires are doing in the middle of the corner, so we're kind of playing cat and mouse right now understanding what some toe changes and miscellaneous stuff does, and then feedback from me inside, so we haven't got to bigger changes, but I think you're gonna see a great race here, I really do. This race track and this tire are really starting to come together. I think the 600 and the All-Star race were pretty good races too, chasing guys down at the end. Kasey and I had a pretty good race in both of them, but I think you're gonna see another pretty exciting race."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT OTHERS ARE SURPRISED YOU'VE STARTED THE CHASE SO WELL?
"I don't know. I think so. It doesn't really affect me. They've talked at length about me being the dark horse or people thought we were capable of it but weren't really expecting it. If you look at our history, we've been really, really close to winning this year several times - as close as California. You take Jimmie Johnson out of the picture and we clearly had a dominant car - faster than third, fourth, fifth - all of those cars, but yet we couldn't beat Jimmie. So we had an excellent run there and we actually had a fairly good run at Richmond. Our results didn't show it, finishing 14th, but we've been right on the verge of winning and I think it was just focus and effort and we executed those two races perfectly so far, and we've been able to capitalize. One thing that gives me a lot of confidence is we're going to Kansas where we won last year, so I feel really good about going there and defending our win at Kansas. We were talking about it in the truck and we're really ready. The whole team is ready to go to Kansas."
HAVE YOU CIRCLED THE THREE NON-MILE-AND-A-HALF TRACKS AS PLACES THAT COULD MAKE OR BREAK YOU?
"Yeah, I mean, everybody is a little worried about Talladega. We know that's kind of our wildcard race, sort of. Everybody has deemed it that way a little bit because there can be an accident that catches a bunch of cars up or what not, and they tend to get pretty hairy at the end - people pushing and shoving and all kinds of things happen - so that's really the only one I'm concerned about at this point. I know that we can run up front and as long as we can keep our nose clean, I think we can at Talladega, I think we're gonna have a good run. There aren't any other tracks that really make me nervous at this point. We're really good at Phoenix and how well we ran at Loudon, New Hampshire, I think, is gonna reflect how well we're gonna run at Martinsville. All the rest of them, we're really prepared for."
THE LAST FEW RACES HAVE BEEN GOOD. IS IT A CASE THE TEAMS ARE FIGURING OUT THIS NEW CAR OR HAS IT BEEN THE DIFFERENT VARIETY OF TRACKS? HOW WILL KANSAS BE, A TRACK THIS CAR HASN'T RACED ON YET? WILL THERE BE A LEARNING PROCESS?
"I don't think so. I think we understand this car so well and the cars are so much the same from car to car, that we're gonna be able to go to Kansas and be pretty close to on the money right out of the truck and adjust on it. I think you're gonna see a really good race at Kansas because that race track is a lot flatter than most of the mile-and-a-half tracks we go to, so I think you're gonna see the bottom, the middle and the top really, really work at Kansas. So I think you're gonna see a good race. I think you're gonna see three-wide and two-wide battle for positions. Hopefully, it's a sleeper and the 16 is out front. You always dream about those races, but then you hear everybody talk about the race that we just saw at Dover. It's nice when it's over and you've been involved in something like that, but going in that's not what you want to see. I know that's what the fans want to see, but we'd rather have it be a snoozer from the driver's seat. But I think you're gonna see a great race at Kansas, I honestly do."
IT SEEMS TEAMS ARE STARTING TO KNOW HOW CERTAIN ADJUSTMENTS WILL AFFECT A CAR AND THEY'RE GETTING MORE USED TO THOSE CHANGES.
"Yeah, we really are and I've learned a lot about it in the last six weeks with this car and the feel from inside the car, and really concentrating on Saturday what I think the car is gonna drive like on Sunday. I missed it a little bit at Dover. I was too loose on Sunday all day and I had to pit on lap six and lost all of my track position. I qualified right up front and then pitted right away and started clear at the back, so that was a little dangerous. We don't want to be in that situation because you can get caught up in a wreck real easy doing that, but I just missed it on Saturday and we were really fortunate to be able to win that race. But, yes, we are understanding these changes and figuring it out a little better."
DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO THINK ABOUT WHAT A TITLE WOULD MEAN TO YOU OR ARE YOU LOST IN THE PROCESS DAY TO DAY?
"I've been thinking about that since 2005. I've been thinking about what a championship would mean for several years and that's really what I've been focused on and that's what's given me a lot of drive here in 2008 is we were so close in '05 with 35 points out of the lead. I'm really thinking about what I need to do. What we did wrong in '05 and what we can do right this year and really focus and concentrate."
WHAT ABOUT FITNESS FOR DRIVERS? HOW MUCH OF A RESPONSIBILITY IS THERE ON YOU TO BE AS FIT AS YOU CAN?
"I've had a new, I don't if it makes a difference, but I've had a new determination about five or six weeks before the chase and I told myself I had to be physically and mentally ready for this. I've been running every week and working out at night and really watching what I eat and staying hydrated. I just want to stay mentally focused. I've changed the way I live completely – just what I do everyday and what I eat when I work out. I've changed it so that I've made a reason to change my focus - I got myself out of my normal habit. You get up in the morning and you have a cup of coffee or you do whatever - you go here, you go there, you do what you normally do and I've changed that routine some so I can stay mentally focused on the chase and think about every race I've got to go to right now and that's helped me a little bit. You can want it as bad as you can, but that's not gonna will you into a win. I think just staying focused on what I need to do and concentrating really hard on it, I think, is helping me."