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Feb 13, 2014 - 08:32 PM
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2014 Daytona 500 Q&A (Media Day): NASCAR Sprint Cup - Greg Biffle
Posted by: newsla on Feb 13, 2014 - 08:31 PM
NASCAR News
2014 Daytona 500 Q&A (Media Day): NASCAR Sprint Cup - Greg Biffle


HAVE YOU EVER DONE SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR A FAN? "I have. I’ve seen fans and given them hats. I’ve done a lot of things like that. Pick up the tab - lots of different things - and the setting is unique within that format. You’re sitting there, you meet them, you’re talking to them and there aren’t a lot of people around so it’s a relaxed environment. It always changes how it happens, but unique fan interaction like that is kind of fun."

 

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WHAT EXCITES AND CONCERNS YOU ABOUT THE CHANGES THIS YEAR? "I don’t really have any concerns. When I look at the points format change it’s good when they change it and under the new format you would have won two championships, so I think that’s good for me. We’ve made the Chase the last five out of six years and been fourth in points twice going to Homestead, so it puts us in the position to be eligible for that title spot. The thing that does feel a little bit different is that we’re determining our champion a completely different way than we historically have in the sport, meaning you had to be good at the mile-and-a-half, one-mile, half-mile short track, and you had to accumulate those good runs. It was a matter of who is the best team not making mistakes versus, ok, this playing field for today. So if you miss a lugnut or something happens, that’s it. That’s definitely gonna be different going forward, how we’ve determined our champion in the past. Not completely different because there have been three guys eligible before. Their argument is, ‘Well, last year there were technically three guys or two guys, so it’s the same thing.’ But going in all four of them the same, that is definitely different."

WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR WORK ETHIC FROM? "I think about that a lot. You see people’s work ethic outside of the sport just in general and I got mine very, very young. My parents owned a small steel fab place. They had about three or four people work for them and both my mom and dad worked there and my brother and I, our first jobs, obviously it was just something for us to do so we didn’t have to have a babysitter, but we made 50 cents and hour and kept our own quarters and went to the arcade or did whatever. I learned early on about work hard and a reward for working hard. I think that needs to be done more today. If I work hard and I get a little bit of money and I save it, I can do something with that."

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST WHEELS? "My first real wheels to me was a motorcycle. I got a motorcycle when I was four or five. I remember coming home everyday and riding my dirt bike. I’d run up to the house and put my book bag down and jumped on my bike and off I went with my school shoes on. I came back full of mud every day."

WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING CHANGE FOR YOU WITH THE RULES? "I think the most exciting change is going to be the qualifying format. The thing that doesn’t concern me, but the thing I’m worried about is the general fan doesn’t get the whole scenario and how dramatic and how many things are going to be going on at one time. This is gonna be huge. There are gonna be 15 of us sitting on pit road waiting for that cloud to come over - 12 of us are gonna try and drive off the end of pit road at the same time. There’s probably gonna be beating and banging. One guy might slide up off the apron, one guy is gonna spin out, the caution is gonna come out, the motor is hot, the tires are hot. I mean, the guy that just decided to wait for the next cloud is gonna be the guy that has the fastest lap. What I’m saying is that the guy sitting up there that doesn’t really get all of the strategy and knowing things like, ‘What’s the big deal about the engine being hot?’ That’s important. ‘Oh, they had to take a little bit of tape off. That’s no big deal.’ Or, ‘They had to make an extra pit stop to take the rear bumper off, that’s no big deal.’ Well, it is because now the engine doesn’t run as good, you lost all of your downforce and you had to start at the back. So I think it’s gonna be really exciting. I think it’s really gonna spice things up, it’s just that we’ve got to get all of those fans watching to understand everything that’s going on and then it will be really exciting for them too."

DOES IT PUT TEAMS IN A CONUNDRUM OF WHETHER TO BE IN QUALIFYING TRIM OR RACE TRIM DURING THE DAY? "Yeah, it’s gonna put the teams in a huge position. One thing hasn’t changed - your fastest lap at most everywhere we go is gonna be your first lap, cold tires, car taped completely off. That lap is two to three-tenths faster than any other lap you can possibly make. That has not changed. Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, I can make four or five laps.’ Well, that’s ridiculous because you can only make one and then the engine is overheating and the goody has gone off the tire. So look at how tight qualifying is. Pull out the sheet from Chicago and say, ‘OK, I’m gonna go four-tenths or three-tenths slower because I already have the goody off my tire or I got my motor hot. Well, you’re not even in the hunt because there are five, six or eight guys within a tenth, so now you’re two or three tenths off and you’re 40th. That’s what I’m saying. There is so much to this and it’s gonna be so exciting, but it won’t be if someone doesn’t really know what’s going on. That’s gonna be the exciting part about it is telling everybody, ‘Hey, this is what’s happening right now.’ And it’s gonna be on the announcers, for the people that are watching on TV, to dramatize what’s going on here and what all the guys are doing. So we’ll wait and see how it unfolds. I don’t think any of us know how it’s gonna go."

AS THIS SPORT BECOMES MORE COMPETITIVE HOW EASY IS IT TO MAINTAIN FRIENDSHIPS? "It becomes difficult because sometimes you’ve got to cut your neighbor off to get out on the track first. That’s a good point. When everybody is lined up on pit road waiting for their lap and the guys drives down the left side and goes out and takes the hole you’ve been waiting for for 20 minutes - everybody has been on the off-ramp and the guy drives up the shoulder and pulls in line, and then the next guy does, and then the next guys does and you’re like, ‘I’ve been waiting my turn.’ And sometimes that can be your buddy, right? And it’s him or it’s him. So, yeah, it’s gonna make a difference in that qualifying type of format."

WHEN HAS A FRIENDSHIP BEEN CHALLENGED? "I can’t think of a particular situation. Last year, Matt and I raced each other pretty hard in some spots. Think when you’re in that situation with your adrenaline and your focus. You try to drive respectable but you’re the most competitive. I think it was California when I went up to side draft him to suck up on him. I may have moved up a little quicker and he may have come down some, and we hit together and he had to pit because he cut a left rear tire down. That was a huge deal for us, but it was just racing. I didn’t mean to do it. He was a little upset about that, but that’s a perfect example when you’re racing hard. We’re not teammates, but we’re friends. We used to be teammates, and racing for position things happen. In this competitive world when you’re running that hard and that close together, things are gonna happen out of your control, and so is qualifying when you’ve got 15 of us waiting for that cloud. We’re like, ‘All right, go,’ and everybody starts up."

SO HOW DO YOU GET THROUGH THAT WITH MATT? "We talked and it felt a little standoff-ish for a few weeks. We got racing each other again. We don’t see each other as much as we used to, but we got to racing each other again pretty hard somewhere and respected each other’s cars and abilities, and I think that trust kind of came back. That was a racing deal and that’s the way it is."

WILL THERE BE DRAMA IF SOMEBODY WRECKS DILLON IN THE 3 CAR FOR THE WIN? "I suppose in the fan’s perspective that would be a little bit of drama, but for us the number on the side of the car, we’re racing Austin Dillon, we’re racing Richard Childress. We’re not racing the 3 in my eyes."

DID YOU EVER RACE AGAINST EARNHARDT? "I did not race against the 3. I don’t remember that 100 percent, but never door-to-door racing the 3 car. I think he ran a few Nationwide races possibly, but, you know what, some fans will be passionate about that because there are people that have 3 tattoos all over their body and I’m a huge Number 3 fan. I’d rather see it hung up on the wall in the Hall of Fame or wherever, but it’s on the race track this year and, to be perfectly honest with you, it’s not any different than any other car."

DOESN’T IT BELONG ON THE TRACK INSTEAD OF BEING RETIRED? "I can make the case either way. I guess we don’t want to lose sight of what it actually was five years from now. Is it gonna be Austin Dillon or is it gonna be Dale Earnhardt? That’s kind of the way I look at it."

SOMEBODY DROVE THE 16 BEFORE YOU DID. "Yeah, but I wasn’t one of the star athletes of the sport for a long time…"

WOULD YOU WANT YOUR NUMBER RETIRED WHEN YOU’RE DONE? "No, I think that’s different. I think a lot of people feel that’s different."

IF JIMMIE WINS THE TITLE THIS YEAR WILL HE REPLACE PETTY AND EARNHARDT? "I don’t think anybody can take those guys’ place because they were all done in different eras. I’d say that he stands on that same plateau as them. Petty was first, Earnhardt was the second, and potentially he’s the third. I wouldn’t say he takes the place, I’d say he’s the modern day Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt."

IT’S PROJECTED THAT JIMMIE IS ALREADY ONE OF THOSE FINAL FOUR, SO IT’S LIKE YOU GUYS ARE ALL BATTLING FOR THE OTHER THREE SPOTS. "Yeah, that’s tough. You could say that, but think about this, though. The way the format is, if you don’t win one of the prior three and you have one bad race, you’re out. So let’s say you don’t win one of the three and you get a flat tire or you spun out or you rolled a tire on pit road or ran out of gas - who knows what happened - you’re out. It doesn’t matter how many you’ve won, it doesn’t matter how good you are, if your engine blows up, you’re out, you’re done, you’re not there anymore. There is a lot of luck involved at the same time."

HOW MUCH NEGOTIATION GOES ON WITH TEAMS AS FAR AS DETERMINING TEST DATES? "If it’s up to me, and we’re running good enough to make the Chase, and it was my decision, I would take all four tests at Homestead."

COULD YOU SELL YOUR TEAMMATES ON THAT? "Probably not. I probably couldn’t see anybody on that, but you just asked what I would do."

I THINK SOME PEOPLE TALKED ABOUT MULTIPLE TESTS AT HOMESTEAD. "Why wouldn’t you? That’s the championship. That’s it. You could make the point to say you’ve got to get there. Yeah, we understand we’ve got to get there, but it’s about winning the title and if you don’t get there, then you don’t get there. But if you get there, you’ve got to be able to win it. So take your chance on getting there, but be sure if you get to that plateau that you….that’s kind of bold and kind of out there saying go and take all four. Take the 48. He (a fellow reporter) said he’s just guaranteed a spot going to Homestead, so why would they not take every test there? Would you? I would if I felt like I was a lock. Why not? Try whatever springs, shocks, setups and just wear the place out to be the best you can be."

WHAT IF NASCAR MADE WINNING A CHASE RACE AN AUTOMATIC QUALIFIER FOR THE FINAL RACE AT HOMESTEAD? "In my opinion, there are 100 ways to skin the cat. In my opinion, that’s a great idea because we want the emphasis on winning. Some people have said, ‘Oh, they just points race.’ Well, yeah, we actually all points race because the highest finish is the most points, so if I win I get the most points, so I’m trying to win. But you are right. You could do that and then you’ve got six or seven or how many different winners you had in those first 10 races. There probably aren’t gonna be seven different guys, it’s probably gonna be four or five, so potentially maybe you’ve got a nine-car or eight-car field at Homestead. There are a bunch of different ways of doing it. I think the one thing we can’t lose focus of is you’ve got to have a little consistency still be a part of it."

WHEN IT COMES TO THE FINAL LAP LIKE LAST YEAR HERE WHEN YOU WERE SECOND TO JIMMIE, DOES THIS NEW FORMAT CHANGE YOUR APPROACH AS FAR AS TRYING TO HAVE A GOOD POINTS DAY. "We never do that. I’ve never in my life not ever tried to win every single race I’m in - ever. Not one time."

HOW DO YOU THINK THE NEW EMPHASIS ON MANAGEMENT LIKE ROBBIE REISER TAKING THE LEAD AT ROUSH FENWAY IS GOING TO HELP THIS YEAR? "I think Robbie kind of ran our organization already. It doesn’t feel a lot different to me. Robbie’s role is changing a little bit, more into the engineering and paying a little more attention to that and I don’t want to call them secretary, but not worry about so many of these other things - maybe a little more concentrated and focused on certain departments a little bit more. Like he’s kind of sliding back into helping make some decisions and following a little closer on certain things, so I think that’s gonna potentially help us."

YOUR CONTRACT IS UP AT THE END OF THE YEAR. HAVE YOU HAD ANY TALKS WITH ROUSH FENWAY? "Yes, absolutely. We’ve been in that for about the last half of last year and over the winter talking with 3M and it’s kind of a mutual negotiation, so we’re well on our way to probably announcing something I would think in the first quarter, but we’ll wait and see."

SO YOU’RE CONFIDENT YOU’LL BE BACK? "Oh yeah."

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