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Feb 14, 2013 - 01:55 PM
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2013 Daytona 500 Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Greg Biffle
Posted by: ASkyler on Feb 14, 2013 - 01:50 PM
2013 Daytona 500 Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Greg Biffle

GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion - TALK ABOUT THIS NEW CAR. HOW DOES IT DRIVE? WHAT DO YOU FEEL BEHIND THE WHEEL? "I guess it is kind of hard to explain but they drive a fair amount different than the other car. If you think about what is different, three-quarters of the chassis is basically the same. From the rear end forward is kind of the same but we have a whole new body which changes the aerodynamics. By the way, I think they look awesome. That is the coolest part about the car, the look of it. When you drive down into the corner and the car gets into the corner - Texas is the first place I drove it with any speed - It has better rear grip and isn’t slid out as much in yaw. We don’t have as much axle steer and doesn’t have the camber of the old car. That makes rear grip in the car and makes it drive quite a bit different than what we were used to. It is a different feel and drive and so far it has been a lot of fun."

IS SATURDAY NIGHT GOING TO LOOK LIKE THE LAST TIME CARS WERE HERE FOR THE TESTING? "I think so. These cars don’t have a lot of downforce in the restrictor plate configuration and I think the Sprint Unlimited and the 150 and the 500 are going to look similar and be hard to drive."

YOU SEEM TALENTED AT DRIVING THE CAR SIDEWAYS. IS THIS CAR LOOSER AND WILL THAT BENEFIT YOU? "It is hard to tell when you are in a big group. It is hard to drive a car sideways in a restrictor plate form because there is no forgiveness. I spun out off of four and blew two tires and was fixing it when the wreck happened on the back during the test here. It is hard in the restrictor plate format to drive the car sideways because of the way it drives. Vegas, Texas or Phoenix might be different."


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A 20-LAP FINAL SEGMENT SATURDAY. ARE YOU SURPRISED THE FANS VOTED IT TO BE THAT LONG? "No, I don’t think so. If you give the drivers a gas pedal, brake pedal and steering wheel we don’t care and we are going. We will have fun no matter what. It will be a longer segment but I like that though. I think that will be good. A restrictor plate race I don’t think you want a five-lap shootout. It is going to be more strategic getting into position."

DO YOU STILL GET BUTTERFLIES BEFORE EVERY RACE? "I think you get them before every race but mostly before the Daytona 500 because it is such a big event with so many people and fans and press. Half the time the President is here or somebody similar to that. It is a big deal. You get nervous that all those people are here to watch 43 of us. There are a couple hundred thousand people here to watch 43 of us."

HOW DO YOU HANDLE THAT? "Take it in stride. Do what you can to not put pressure on yourself. Once you put your helmet on and start the engine it is all kind of gone. You go into tunnel vision and smell the thing running and feel it and are on the race track and then you settle down."

DOES IT COMPARE TO ANYTHING ELSE YOU HAVE EVER DONE? "No. It is hard to compare to anything else. It is a unique thing that your adrenaline and mind take over once the green flag drops and your focus in completely different."

DID YOU GET TO HAVE ANY FUN DURING THE OFF SEASON? "I got to have some fun. I just came back from the desert with my off road and sand cars and UTV’s there. I did a fishing trip and we did an overnight fishing trip in Charleston which was a marathon event. We got there at midnight, left the dock at three in the morning and went 65 miles out and caught some Black Finned Tuna. We have been sticking close to home with a lot of testing and getting the batteries charged up for this stretch."

WHAT IS THE ONE THINGS THAT JUMPS OUT TO YOU ABOUT LAST YEARS DAYTONA 500? "The jet dryer being on fire. Racing Monday night which I keep forgetting about. It seems like it was a long time ago. A lot of thing happened in that race with the delays and Monday night and everything that happened. It was just so nerve-wracking coming down to those restarts. You don’t want to get hung out to dry. It is so hard to make the right decision. You wish you could go back and do it over again but I am very lucky to have been in contention the last few races and have a chance at this thing."

THERE IS SO MUCH ATTENTION ON THIS RACE. IN TERMS OF STATURE HAS IT CHANGED IN TERMS OF CHAMPIONSHIP BEING BIGGER? "You know, I think they both have their place. To me, this is a huge race but career wise you want to win a championship. This is not secondary but they are two different animals. Everyone wants to win the Daytona 500 because it is such a prestigious event. I think that given the choice, you have have to win a championship. You are an icon of the sport forever if you do that. My focus right now is the Daytona 500."

WHAT ABOUT QUALIFYING THIS YEAR? "It will be different. It is going to put pressure on teams and drivers to make the show. We used to do it all the time. It is going to be surprising when we potentially see some good teams not make a race at some point throughout the season if they get off to a tough start."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO RICKY ABOUT DATING DANICA? "No I haven’t. If I get some time when we are riding in the car or something I might take a few jabs at him but I haven’t yet."

AS A TEAMMATE, ARE YOU WORRIED THAT HE MIGHT CHOOSE HER OVER YOU ON THE TRACK? "I would be heartbroken if he did that. I don’t think so because you are going to go with whatever car you think is your best opportunity. If that is her car at that moment then go with her car. I have that same choice. If I had to choose between my teammates and her car has been fast all day and I can push her car better than someone elses car or Tony (Stewart) versus my teammate or Matt (Kenseth), it doesn’t matter. What the race car driver does is go with his best opportunity to win or get to the front and get a finish. That is what we are going to do."

DO YOU KNOW HIM WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW HOW HE WILL HANDLE THE EXTRA ATTENTION? "I don’t know him well enough for that but I am sure he will get a lot of extra attention. I am sure he has gotten it already. I am sure he is polished up by now."

DOES IT CHANGE THE DYNAMIC OF THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CHASE? "It gives it something more to talk about but I don’t think it will change the race much. I think Ricky will win it and it will probably make it more interesting to talk about."

DOES KESELOWSKI WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP MAKE HIM ELITE IN THE SPORT? "I think it has to. When you win a championship your name is inked in the record book forever. It is over a period of time. It isn’t one race. Anyone can win possibly one race if a fluke happens. You hit a seagull and take out your oil cooler so someone else ends up winning. To win a championship is different."

DOES HE HAVE ANY NEW FOUND RESPECT FROM THE GUYS IN THE GARAGE? "I am sure he does. I respected his talent prior to him winning the championship but certainly now it make a statement. I picked him after our first two races were a disaster. His weren’t great but I personally thought that he would be the guy when it came down to the end because of the race tracks and because of the way he had run and the way that team was on the upswing. All of those things. Also I don’t like to be the guy to pick the normal guy. I thought he would be hard to beat because I knew he would be good at Homestead and a few other tracks we went to. I had a gut feeling."

NOW THAT HE IS IN THE FORD CAMP, IS IT LIKE A "FOX IN THE HENHOUSE" TYPE OF DEAL? "Yeah, I think so. It is nice that they are a Ford team now and I like Ford. Ford does a great job for us and their vehicles they build for the street and it is nice that they have more representation in the sport. That is what I am happy for as well. If we can have an alliance or work together it will help both of our teams."

WHAT EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR RICKY AS A TEAMMATE THIS YEAR? "I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins a race this year. There are some race tracks that he is really good at and is comfortable. We have really good cars and you look at the way the 17 team ran last year. It is basically the same team and same car. Different body but different internals. Winning two championships in the Nationwide series, I won a championship and it is every bit as tough to win those as it is to compete in this series. He will do well."

HOW DO YOU PICK UP THE PROGRAM AT MARTINSVILLE, NEW HAMPSHIRE AND PLACES YOU GUYS HAVE STRUGGLED. HOW DO YOU DO THAT AND HOW DOES THE NEW CAR PLAY IN? "That might be an advantage for us. Working with a new car we might find some things that will work better. Loudon has been a pretty good track for us, just the last time we were there was pitiful. We finished 18th or 20th and just couldn’t run any better and we had finished 3rd there in the spring. I felt like if I was this much different I would have a chance at winning. I don’t know what happened there. We finished in the top-10 at Martinsville so we have gotten a lot better at those tracks but still have some improving to do and the new car could help us."

YOU HAD A SHOT TO WIN THIS RACE LAST YEAR IF THINGS HAD BEEN SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT. "Yeah, I just wish I had one chance to do that over again. Five different opportunities on when to pass, what I should have done. I am still with everybody else when they were like, ‘oh, he was dragging the brake and wanted the 17 to win.’ The 88 couldn’t push me up beside him or up to his back bumper. I was so surprised that that happened. It was the first time all night that three cars had been broken away from the field and there was nobody behind the 88 at that time. The two of us couldn’t really make it. We we stagnated at the speed of the 17. What I needed to do was put the brakes on down the back stretch and get a gap to the 17. I would have sent right by him. It is that adrenalin in the moment. We were getting closer, ever so slightly, but we never really go close enough to where we could get beside him to where I could draw air off of him. It is so easy to Monday morning quarterback and say what you would have done. If I would have made my move here instead of there. I didn’t want to pass him before the white though because everyone that does that gets passed back again. This year I will do it differently if I get that opportunity."

HOW WILL THAT STRATEGY CHANGE WITH THESE CARS? "It will change and that could bite you. You can’t push as easy with these cars and that has to be a consideration. I hope I am leading and they are trying to pass me coming down those last few laps. I hope that is the deal. I think that will be harder to do."

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