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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 5, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the NASCAR Cam Video Teleconference in advance of this weekend's NASCAR events at Auto Club Speedway.
Joining us today is Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford for Rausch Fenway Racing.
Sunday's Pepsi Max 400 is the fourth chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup event, and Greg is among 12 drivers eligible to compete for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title during the season's final 10 events, or The Chase.
He heads California 8th in the standings, 85 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. He's fresh off last week's victory at Kansas Speedway, his second this season.
One note moving forward, for all joining us today in the media, Greg is the only driver who has the opportunity to win the Series title in all three NASCAR national series.
He's the 2000 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion and the 2002 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion. All he lacks to make history is the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
Easier said than done, I know, but with some momentum from last week, I know you're anticipating this week's trip to Auto Club where you and your Rausch Fenway teammates really seem to thrive.
GREG BIFFLE: You're right, Denise. I left the most difficult one for last. And it would sure be something to win the Sprint Cup title, but we've got a lot of work to do being 85 points out of the lead and of course the four-time champion leading the points.
So Auto Club has been a great racetrack for us. We qualified well there last year. Ran well. Like going out west. I've got family in the area and it feels more like home. So looking forward to a good run this weekend. And certainly coming off a lot of momentum from last week.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Greg, I was going to ask you about this triple crown possibility. Couple of years ago we talked about it, when you were 2nd or 3rd in The Chase. What would something like that mean to you to be the only guy to do that? And the other championships weren't in these Chase formats, but having been through that, does that experience help you at all as we go down the stretch here?
GREG BIFFLE: I certainly think being in any championship hunt kind of gets you in the mindset and the discipline it takes to win in a championship. I've been in The Chase, this will be my fourth appearance in The Chase, and came right down to the wire in 2005. And we were close in 2008, finishing 3rd.
So I feel like I've got the experience. I feel like the other two championships have helped me. But it would mean so much to me to be able to win the Sprint Cup title. Not it only being my third title in NASCAR with the other two coming or one in every series. But just to win the Sprint Cup title itself so much goes with that.
It would be a dream come true for me. And certainly fulfill my career. I plan on racing in the Sprint Cup Series for a lot of years to come. But certainly would kind of complete, if you will, a trifecta or make your career complete at any event.
Q. You mentioned Jimmie Johnson back in first place in The Chase. Several drivers close to him. But knowing his experience and success in The Chase, how concerned are you that he's there and no one's going to catch him now?
GREG BIFFLE: I don't think that's going to be the case. I mean, they didn't get off to a good start at Loudon. And certainly everybody is vulnerable. They've had a lot of races or they've had more races this year hit and miss than the 48 team normally has.
So I feel they're not clearly running away with this thing yet. So it's not -- we're not going to throw in the towel. And I don't think any of those other guys a lot closer are.
So we'll just wait and see. I think we're going to have to wait three or four more races before we get a clearer picture of how they're going to be.
They're going to have to perform. Obviously they're good at performing at these racetracks. Jimmie's won a lot in California. So we'll have to wait and see. Maybe California, he doesn't come out of there with a win or even a top 5. So we'll just have to wait and see how this shakes out.
But we're going to continue to try to do the best thing we can as the 16 team and try and close in on him.
Q. What is your take on sort of the ramifications of the Kyle Busch/Reutimann situation Sunday? Do you have a concern about racing around non-chasers and getting into an altercation that might take you out of this thing?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, certainly it doesn't matter if you're in The Chase or out of the chase or it's the end of the season, beginning of the season, third race of the season. Doesn't matter.
What you have to ask yourself is it worth it for me to wreck a guy to get him out of my way, to spin him out. And that's the decision that happened this last weekend. It looked like to me you know we've seen a lot of racing deals.
We saw Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin get together at Loudon and spin. Looked like a racing deal to me. It looked like the 18 ran straight into the back bumper of the 00 and spun him out and wrecked him. Doesn't matter who you are, you're probably not going to get away with that in our sport today.
And he made that decision to do that, and there was ramifications for him through that. And I don't think being in The Chase or out of The Chase or whatever makes a difference. I have to ask myself: Why did Kyle Busch spin out David Reutimann would be where I would start.
Q. This hasn't been a terrible good year for Ford, and last week you just blew everybody away winning the race by the biggest margin of the year. Is everybody going to be startled by that? Is it night-and-day difference?
GREG BIFFLE: We've been getting better and better, and I talked a lot about the Chicago race this season being the turning point.
Even though we blew an engine up in Chicago, we were on our way, it looked like, to win that race like we were in Kansas. And Carl Edwards ended up finishing second in that race. Then we went to Indy, nearly won that race, finished 3rd. Went to Pocono and won. Went to Michigan and led the most laps. Really our mile-an-half, two-mile program has been super strong ever since Chicago and I feel Fords are back on track.
We still have a lot of work to do on our shorter track program or slower racetracks, I'd like to say. But as far as the bigger tracks and the faster places, I think that we're right in line with everybody else. And we're going to get our fair share of wins now.
Q. Crew members can remember, they can rattle off real quick how many wins they have in their total crew, not much less last week. Drivers get trophies. Could you describe what that winning mood does and how long that lasts? And the other thing is what do team members get to remind them? They may get to look at a trophy, something like that, but you get one for your mantle, what do they get?
GREG BIFFLE: It's interesting you asked that. Because the team guys got trophies for the Pocono win earlier in the season. And we're probably going to talk about doing the same thing with the win at Kansas.
So the team guys get to take home a memory as well. And I like to do that with Christmas presents and things to dignify our season, what we've been able to accomplish. The guys that build these cars and go over the wall and set the car up at the racetrack are all different groups of people.
And all of them work so hard to get our cars as fast as they can. It means a lot to me. When I cross the start/finish line or take the white flag lap, I'm thinking about the team guys. I'm thinking about Ford. I'm thinking about 3M. And I'm thinking about Rausch Fenway as a whole, versus myself.
I've been able to win 17 or 18 races in the Sprint Cup Series. Granted I love to win. But it's more satisfying for me to see all those guys happy that their car won.
Q. Can you name some of the main issues that you and the 16 team need to focus on to win this championship?
GREG BIFFLE: There's a couple main issues. One is the slower racetracks, and that being Martinsville and Phoenix. Phoenix has been a great racetrack for us. I like it.
But the last couple times there we've been off a little bit. It seems like with our cars, not just the 16 team, Rausch Fenway, when we get to racetracks that don't have the sheer speed, Richmond, you know, Martinsville and some slower racetracks, slower center of the corner racetracks, we haven't been as good as our competition. When we get to the faster miles, mile and a half, mile and a third, Darlington, two-mile racetracks, we're right there with our competition. That's what we need to work on. We need to work on the slower speed, little bit smaller racetracks and being as dominant as we can be on the mile and a half, two-mile racetracks. And I think the cards will fall into place, and we're working hard at that. And we know that's an area we need to focus on to be able to win this championship.
Q. Seems to be a lot of lead changes every week, point standings for the drivers is tighter than ever. Yet the TV ratings are down the last few weeks. What are your thoughts on that?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, I don't really know -- I haven't been able to watch the or I don't get all those stats. But one thing I do know and I do feel is that there's so many other ways today -- and I think we're going to continue to fight with this TV rating until we have a way to measure another way of finding out, keeping up with the race. Because you can get it on your computer. You can get it on your computer. You can get it on the phone. Everybody's tweeting the updates or lap by lap. So today you don't have to sit in front of the TV.
You don't have to watch it to still be an avid NASCAR fan and be involved in the sport and find out who is doing what and who is running where. There's so many other avenues, I think. I think that has a lot to do with it. Because I still see as many people as ever that are excited about our sport that are paying attention and watching it.
And you know a lot of people in the grandstands. So I don't really know the answer to the TV rating, why that's not where it needs to be.
Q. Greg, can you explain to the people listening out there how much more stress is involved with being in The Chase as, say, driving during the regular season?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, I mean, there's a lot of pressure and stress because this is our chance. This is what we worked all season for. And not what we've worked all season for. This is what we've worked our entire lifetime for, is an opportunity to take home the top prize.
And you know I go back to just a week ago at Dover, where we were fighting tooth and nail for a top 10 finish. We had a top 10 car we ran 7th, 8th, 9th even in the top 3 and ended up getting caught in a caution flag, got two laps down, got one back and finished 19th.
If that wouldn't have happened to us, we would be 30, 40 points out of the lead right now. So there's a tremendous amount of pressure to make every position count, not to make mistakes driving the race car and in the pits, to try and make the right calls, because our championship is on the line right now.
And we know that every spot -- I've lost one of these championships by 35 points. And I hope that I don't lose again by 35 points, because I'll be thinking about that Dover race for a long time to come.
Q. Going back to the other two series championships, do you have a favorite moment, favorite memory from winning each of those two series?
GREG BIFFLE: The one thing that comes to mind in both of those series is my very first wins, my first win came at Memphis in the Truck Series. I've won my very first race there. My first win came at Nashville in the Nationwide Series.
So those are memories I have along the way of winning championships in those series. I've got so many memories from the three years I spent in the Truck Series and the two years I spent battling with Harvick. Battling with all the other guys for the championships and battling Kerr in the Truck Series, my teammate, and Mike Wallace. I have fond memories of both of those series.
The first wins clinching the title. There's a lot of neat things. Probably the Truck Series more than anything. Clinching the title at Texas to be kind of being put in that elite group that have won a championship in one of the top 3 NASCAR series. That was probably a big day.
Q. First Cup win was July Daytona?
GREG BIFFLE: Definitely was. To win your first race ever at Daytona was pretty special as well. Thank you.
Q. Along the lines of those championships, when you broke first -- you probably worked just as hard when you broke into Cup as you do now, you mentioned your teamwork and everything else. Can you compare your approach to driving to that first year when you broke into Cup that you came in as a champion as being in a champion quest right now?
GREG BIFFLE: You know, it's funny because I thought when I got done with the Truck Series won the championship, been there for three years, when I moved to the Nationwide Series, I thought I had an idea what the racing would be like and the competition. And I wasn't even close, the expectation what the difference between the Nationwide Series was. After winning the title in the Nationwide Series I thought for sure I've got an idea what it's going to be like because we've been in a lot of the same tracks as the Cup cars. Then I felt like I know what it's going to be like to compete in the Cup series, different drivers. I already competed with Matt. Mark Martin. Jeff Burton, all of those guys have come down and run the Nationwide Series before.
And man was I ever so far off when I started my first year in the Sprint Cup series in '03. Just from competition to media coverage to all the things that go around the sprint Cup Series it was pretty overwhelming for me in that first season in 2003 and 2004.
Then we started winning some races in 2004 and 5. We won more than anybody did. So the transition periods have been a lot bigger than what I expected.
Q. My question has to do with qualifying. I wanted your take on, should NASCAR have the 12 Chase drivers qualify together as a group instead of having you spread out among the top 35?
GREG BIFFLE: That could be one consideration to do is put us all together. We did that with the go or go home guys which is important because qualifying draw means a lot. I think that's been part of our sport, though, is the luck of the draw.
The more elements you take out of that, the more consistent that the sport becomes and the more kind of unknown factor, if you will. Because there is such a difference drawing for qualifying does make a difference.
So I would be -- I'm okay with the way it is. But I would be okay if they said, okay, all the Chase guys are going to go just prior to the go or go home guys. I don't know that it would be fair to send us first on the racetrack.
So by grouping us together right prior to the go or go home cars, I think, would be -- I think that would be a reasonable thing to do. I would be okay with that.
Q. I have a question about the Boyer situation. How closely do you watch that? Has it changed the way you think about what's under you when you get in the car each week?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, it has a little bit. I've got a lot of confidence in our Rausch Fenway cars and team body guys and engineers, that we bring our cars, get them certified and don't change them after we've had them inspected and certified.
And so I feel confident that when we bring our car back, like this weekend after we won at Kansas, our car -- we just got it back today -- our car passed inspection pretty much the way it was when we brought it over here to get it certified.
But there is that feeling in your stomach when you are in victory lane and I was doing interviews, that did cross my mind. Because anything can happen. You know, the car could be low. A spring could fail or something at the racetrack. But when they bring it back to the tech center and put it on the fixtures, then from that point I was fairly confident in a controlled atmosphere we'd be okay.
You always worry about going through inspection, if something has moved during the race that you have to pass heights at the track. You know, you always think that in the back of your head to make sure that everything's okay.
Q. How closely have you been following it?
GREG BIFFLE: Actually today because of the Clint Bowyer controversy. I came out of a meeting 20 minutes ago about our car and how it fit. We get a sheet on measurements on how our car fits the gauges and whatnot and we're well within tolerance.
And I asked the guys, I said, "Hey can we be a little closer to the edge?" Where these guys have been, but not step over that line. And certainly we don't want to be penalized but we want to take advantage of it as much as we can. And that was a discussion we had today. But we're all paying attention, because we know it makes more down force and the car drives better the closer to the edge that we perform and we build the cars.
Q. This is the last weekend how close midway is going to be in The Chase, they're of course adding Chicago to the schedule for The Chase, which would you rather happen seeing, Chicago coming on board or would you better have kept California?
GREG BIFFLE: Both racetracks are great racetracks for me. So I'm okay with either one. If I can convince them to take Martinsville out and put Chicago or leave California in, then I think I'd be in much better shape. But between California and Chicago, they're both great racetracks for us.
And I really like California as a racetrack to go to. I enjoy going out west. But I'm good with either one.
Q. Greg, you Carl Edwards and Kenseth have been teammates for six years now. How important is it for you both personally and for the good of the team to continually have that core group of teammates remain intact year after year?
GREG BIFFLE: You know, I think it's really important, because we rely on each other a lot. And we look at each other's setups and notes and I know Carl's driving style, Matt's driving style, and if Carl has this spring or that spring or this much wedge I know laterally about where I need to be or where I would like to run my car. So it's good to have that continuity, if I'm off a little bit or Carl's off, he does the same thing, he'll look at our setup and kind of deduct something from that, maybe a little modified towards his driving style.
So it's good to have that continuity between the teams and we share a lot of information.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
End of FastScripts