Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing - Q&A
17 June 2013
Talk about your win here, the race team, the victory, the significance of winning this 1000th win for Ford, as well.
Yeah, it's definitely a special day. It was Father's Day, my first, Emma's first victory lane today, so that was pretty special for me.
You know, we certainly didn't probably have the fastest car today at times and kept working on it, kept making slight adjustments on pit stops, and you know, track position is huge with our car, and it's been well documented that we feel like we've been a little bit behind this season. We've been gaining on it. We've probably gotten a little more than we deserved the past two weeks with a second and a win, but we certainly have gotten much, much better, and it looks like we're well on our way to getting some speed back in these cars, and continue to work on them and figure them out and get them to be just a little bit better yet.
It was fun racing with those guys. The #29 was coming at the start of that last run there, and then he kind of started to fade, and then the #48 was coming, so then I stepped it up a notch, run just about as hard as I could, and so I was matching his lap time for lap time, and turn one got really slippery with about six or eight to go, I'm not sure why, and I don't know exactly what happened to the #48, but I about busted my butt down there a couple times trying to get all I could get.
I am just super excited for Ford. It's the 1000th win for them, and we got to go drive a bunch of their cars and trucks over at the proving grounds this week, see some of the great 2014 and 2015 stuff coming to market. It's really exciting to see all that and all the racing heritage, and to be able to be a part of that with the 1000th win, I think I contributed over 50 of those, which is a small number compared to 1000, but still sure excited to be the number 1000.
You've talked the last few weeks about trying to find something, get the cars right, second last week, first this week. Would that lead us to believe that you have found something?
Well, I think that I certainly don't want to downplay our success at all because this is pretty exciting for our team and what we've done. But we feel like ‑‑ I feel like we've just scratched the surface of how much better our cars are going to get, and we're going to work towards getting them better until the end of the season.
We were nowhere near competing with the #48 car and the #5 and a few others last week at Pocono, but we got up there, got track position, our car was fast in fairly clean air and we finished second. And here today it was obvious that the #48 was a little bit faster than us again. So we've gained on it, definitely we've gained on it. But we're not celebrating quite yet.
If you want to put it on a scale, we've probably found half of the speed we needed to and downforce or front suspension or whatever. But we've got some work to do still. Qualified 19th; we need to qualify better. We were way off when we came off the truck, and we got better, and we thought we could have been better qualifying, and then Saturday got the car felt like where we wanted, and just kept dialing it in all day and getting track position. And we had a real tough time on pit road. We lost track position every pit stop that was under yellow and gained every - well, broke even or gained under green.
It was kind of a long answer, but we definitely feel like we've made gains, 100 per cent. We're certainly not celebrating that we've found everything yet.
Did you have a sense for what you had left and what you could have done at that point?
Well, my car wasn't as fast off of the green as I needed it to be. You know, right when they throw the green, they got jumbled up and I got about a 20‑car‑length lead, 25‑car‑length lead. The #29 was able to run me down to about a ten‑car‑length deficit, and then my car, the balance started coming in, and I started pushing the envelope a little bit harder and started to drive the car harder.
I was kind of taking care of it when they were 25 back. When he started getting closer to ten back, I started standing up on the wheel a little bit. And when he started falling back a little bit, then they told me the #48 was catching him, so I continued to drive as hard as I could. I had a little bit left in the gas task but not much. I didn't want to make a mistake, but I was driving pretty hard.
When we got down to ten to go, I started just doing everything I could, run as hard as I could, picked the best line I thought I could around the track, and the three laps that he was behind me in clean air we were able to match his lap time, within a hundredth of a second, or pretty close to it. So I felt pretty confident at that point he wasn't going to catch me. But I was running as hard as I could get. Then turn one started to get - I don't know if it's because I was running as hard as I was, but turn 1 started to get a little funny on me. It snapped out from under me, almost lost it, and wrecking while you're leading is probably not the most prestigious thing to do, but I almost did, and I said I can't let this thing get out from under me down here, so I tried a little bit different line and it was chattering all four tyres and I was still able to maintain the same lap time, and then he got in the fence.
I don't know if that was a product of what happened to the racetrack or if he truly got a flat tyre or something happened, but I was able to hold him off at that particular point. But to your point, he was quite a bit faster than we were, it's obvious, and we needed to continue to ‑‑ like Matt and Jack said, we've got to continue working on it.
The guy started tenth and was behind me with ten to go. That's a fast race car. To start tenth and be catching me with ten to go or be 20 back or whatever he was, however close he got, until he could start averaging his lap time out. We're not to that level yet, but we're going to ‑ we're certainly a lot closer than we have been. You know, that's the work we still have left to do. And it doesn't seem like his teammates are quite that fast, either. I mean, they're pretty fast, but it seems like maybe the ‑ I heard the #5 was pretty fast today. I didn't get to see him, but the #48 and #88 and #5 are a little bit behind that #24 car, too.
Jimmie said he wore out the right front trying to catch you because he was pushing the envelope, and some of us heard on the radio that you said something to the effect of I love it when the #48 crashes when he's trying to catch up with me. Could you kind of expand on that? I assume it comes from the fact that it was the reverse of last week when you were trying to catch him at Pocono.
Yeah. Well, let me clarify that a little bit. I don't want to see anybody wreck; I should have said make a mistake. And that's truly what he did is he made a mistake. He pushed the envelope, and we all do that. I almost did that; he almost busted me, and basically that's what I was referring to was breaking him. We got him to make a mistake, we got him to falter, and we pushed the envelope, and that's part of racing and part of running hard and being competitive, and it makes you feel good when you push the guy over the edge, and he made a mistake. And that's what makes you feel good is that you outsmarted him or you beat him at his game, and he definitely had a fast car and we got him to make a mistake today, and I don't think he was going to catch me, but at the same time he made a mistake trying. We all do that, but today it was him.
Right before your final pit stop Carl had to come in because he was overheating a little bit, had something on his grille. He thought maybe you should have come back and helped him. I was curious if you even got a request, or I think you may have also had something on your grille at the time.
I had something on my grille, also, and I was 280 degrees for the last 15 laps of the race. I couldn't find anybody to back up to me to get stuff off my grille. These races are very, very hard to win. You look at when the last time was I win here, or the last win I had was here.
This is a competitive sport. If it's not the last pit stop of the day or it's not coming down to the last pit stop of the day ‑ we had so much ‑ it would be different if he was eight car lengths back, and I didn't know when I passed him he had something on his grille or I'd let him get it off then. And I don't know if he did have something on his grille. When I looked up in the mirror and he was 25 car lengths back, and they said, Carl has got something on his grille, I said, I can't help him, not in this ‑ not right now. This is my chance to win today, right here, and the #48 is coming. I don't know if you know that or not, but the #48 is coming.
There were other guys coming behind Carl that were going to pass him, and I didn't feel like I could take that risk at that particular time to back up, lose all that track position and ‑ it may have changed the outcome of the race because the caution did come out, and I was fortunate enough to stay in the lead lap and start up front again.
You know, I don't know all the timing and where we were at, but it's possible that I wouldn't have had the lead when all that cycled through. The caution came out and I was on pit road. We try and help our teammates as much as we can, and if it would have been the middle of the race, not a problem?
A lot of talk this week about what's wrong with Ford and the sharing and not sharing and what should you share. If you could express in your inner circle how much anxiety was building up and how much of a relief is winning today?
Well, there was, I guess, anxiety building because we weren't as competitive as we wanted to be. We aren't as competitive as we were last year, and the sharing really has nothing to do with that because last year Penske wasn't Ford and we weren't sharing with them anyway. And we were better than we were.
You know, that wasn't really a result of our performance, either gaining or a result of why we weren't performing. But going forward if we can share a little bit, there's not as many Ford teams out there as there are other manufacturers, so for us to share a little bit and have to race the #22 and the #2 every week, with them having a little bit of what we do or us having some of what they do, that may not be a bad thing. You know, that clearly ‑ you know, versus us racing for each other for 15th or 14th, I'd rather race them for top five. And so if we can help each other be better ‑ and it's not going to be one‑sided. You know, there's stuff certainly that we can bring to the table,
I'm sure, but you've just got to make a decision on how much you're going to share, what you're going to share ahead of time so everybody knows. I think overall we're still a little bit behind the other two manufacturers, and we'll continue to narrow that gap over the next ten weeks or as we get closer to the Chase.
I know you touched on this, actually talked about this earlier, but is is it just frustration on Carl and Jimmy Fennig's part that they ended up with the finish they did because they did seem upset afterwards that you didn't slow down and allow them to clean off their grille?
I saw the #99 car had already pitted. And back to Jimmie and Carl, what you've got to remember is there's 43 cars out there. They could have got the stuff off their grille on somebody else's car. You're constantly passing lap cars, and look in your mirror and see how far ‑ you've got a guy 25 car lengths behind you, if it's that hot, we all know it's painful, but you roll out of the gas and you let the guy in third catch up to you and you have a spotter tell him, hey, I'm hot, I'm going to let you go, I've got to get the piece off my grille, will you give me a favor and let me get it off my grille.
So you're backing up to that guy. It's a two‑way street, right? You ask that guy up there to climb back down the rock to help you or you wait for the guy that's coming that way and ask him for help. There's two ways of doing it. It's not just get me back up or I've got to pit. There's lots of options, you know, to get stuff off your grille. And I had to get stuff off my grille several times.
The race took a certain complexion in the second half. What from your perspective did you need to capitalize on in those 100 laps to get to the point you did to lead the race?
Well, our biggest thing today, probably our biggest struggle went unknown by probably everybody around, I think, is we pitted behind the #36 car, and every time the caution came out, when we weregetting ready to go he was coming in. So we went from eighth to 15th, 16th, I don't know what, and then the next pit stop he's coming in, we hit together. I ran into him and had to back up and lost a bunch of track position. So that's the reason why we weren't up there leading earlier or up there running with the guys in the front.
We felt like we had a fast enough car, but we just kept ‑ I don't know how the timing worked out that we kept running into the other ‑ the guy pitting in front of us. Usually you have a problem one time and you get it ironed out or get it fixed somehow, but we were unable to fix it, so it happened three times to us, and that was our biggest struggle today out of anything. That was what we struggled with the most. It was very, very hard to pass here, or anywhere, and it's very hard to gain track position, and we lost track position a lot every time we pitted.
Can you talk about just what today's success or just a win in general means to you personally and professionally?
You know, I hate to say it, I've been doing this a fairly long time now, and you never know when your last win is going to come. And every time I've won, it doesn't matter at what level, you never know when the next race is you're going to have a chance, an opportunity, to be at the right place at the right time, your engine doesn't fail, you hang a lug nut on a pit stop the last stop of the day, you decide to take four, everybody else took two.
You just never know when the next one is going to come. They're so prestigious to have, I'm thankful for every one I get. And this one was special today because of Father's Day, and I've been thinking when I'm going to be able to take him into victory lane and get a picture. That was important for me to do that. That's what made today so special.
Given the situation and the win today, do you feel there's enough time left that you can be serious contender for the championship?
You know, if you'd have asked me that two weeks ago, I'd have said no, we don't stand a chance, I don't think we'll make the Chase. We went to Pocono with a good car and finished second, got ourselves tenth in points. When I left there I still wasn't a believer that we're all in the safety zone yet. Now I believe that we've gained a little bit more on it, on the setup, and we're gaining bits and pieces on the aero. I think if we continue to work hard over the next ten weeks or something, we'll be pretty competitive when it comes time for the Chase.
You know, years past we've been kind of at the top when the Chase came, sort of. This feels different. This feels like we're rising up as we're coming to the Chase. So maybe that momentum as we get better and better and better and stronger, maybe when the Chase starts, we're going to be top dog or competing with the top five cars. And that's what you've got to do. You've got to compete with the top five cars every week, or you don't stand a chance in the Chase. We're at that point at Pocono at here, but we've got to do that at all these other racetracks, as well.
So we've got some work to do, but I feel like we can be a serious contender over what we've just done in the two short weeks, I think we continue to work hard in the next ten weeks, we'll be there.
Transcript courtesy Ford Racing Media Relations.