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Apr 11, 2014 - 08:39 PM
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2014 Darlington Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Greg Biffle
Posted by: newsla on Apr 11, 2014 - 08:37 PM
2014 Darlington Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Greg Biffle

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, met with media members Friday morning at Darlington Raceway in advance of Saturday night’s Southern 500. Biffle is no stranger to success at Darlington as a two-time winner and has sat on the pole twice as well and talked about his chances to add to that list.


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GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – I AM SURE THIS IS A PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET YOUR FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON AND GET INTO CHASE MODE. “Yeah, last week was a huge uplift for us. We had really struggled as a team and organization even though Carl (Edwards) got a win. We have struggled a little bit this year on speed, especially the intermediates which has been our strong suit - Las Vegas and California. We were fast right off the truck last week and had good speed, qualified good and ran good. That gave us some confidence coming here this week that hopefully we are starting to get the zero ride height and new aero package down a little more and going to be more competitive. We just got done doing a two day tire test and we’ve had a busy week at Michigan and felt like our car had good speed there too. We will continue to try to build on it and hopefully have a good run here. Maybe we can add to that list and maybe be in here tomorrow night talking about it.”

IF YOU WIN SATURDAY NIGHT, WITH SEVEN DRIVERS WINNING THE FIRST SEVEN RACES, WOULD YOU BE SO SURE YOU ARE IN THE CHASE? “I think so. I honestly do, just because I don’t know how it was last year out of the first seven or eight races but I really feel like if you get a win – let’s face it, you are going to have to be somewhere decent in points as well. It will fall back on points after wins. If you are 20-something in points, you might be the odd guy out so to speak. We feel like we are not great in the points, I think we are in the low teen’s but even if we are in the low teen’s and had a win, that would put us into the Chase probably. If we can maintain our point position, obviously get a little higher than we are, and if we won we would move up in points we would feel pretty safe. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went over 16 winners by a number or two but I think you are pretty safe if you have a win.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TIRE TEST AT MICHIGAN AND ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL FAST TRACKS WHERE TIRES HAVE BEEN THE BIG ISSUE GOING IN AND MICHIGAN WITH THE 200 MPH PLUS SPEEDS. “I think a lot of us are fighting – on these tire issues – a lot of it is team oriented. The tire hasn’t changed from last year. What has changed then? The ride height rule has changed and the car has a lot more downforce on it. That is what has changed the tire issue. We will probably have to continue to come up a little bit on left side tire pressure. The tire is getting so much load on it when it is on low air because the car is sucked to the ground so hard and has more downforce than it ever did. That is probably most likely what is causing these tire issues. The cars have more speed and more downforce. I would say that could potentially be a problem at any place we are going that fast and put that much load on the tire and low air. That can be a deal anywhere. Maybe those construction side walls and that tire combination is a little different. The left side tire at Michigan, I won’t say hard, but it is a harder tire. It may not have quite the grip level that those other tires did because of the surface of that race track. When you take an abrasive race track that wears tires out and needs a softer tire for grip unfortunately the tire pays the price when it is brand new because it has so much grip. Kind of like here on the old race track. The thing had light years of speed for like two laps and then it would slow down four seconds. Those two laps, because the tire was so soft, just punished the tire. When you add that to the extra downforce and zero ride height, that is what is fatiguing the tire at the beginning of the run and it is showing up late in the run. I don’t think we will see that at Michigan. With that repave the tire is a little harder. You could go to any race track and if you lower the air low enough on the left you will have a tire issue.”

Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:

Southern 500 (Darlington Raceway)

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED – TALK ABOUT THE TIRES HERE. “I think the same thing applies. You could go to any race track and lower the air low enough to have an issue. If you keep lowering the left side air down here for more grip and the data shows it makes more grip the lower you go on air pressure, it becomes a matter of how low you want to go before you have a problem. We have typically not gone that low. We started creeping down at Texas after the track got rubbered in but we still didn’t get down to where we felt like we wanted to.”

AT MICHIGAN I THINK YOU REPORTED A STRAIGHTAWAY SPEED OF 220. THAT IS ABOUT SEVEN MPH FASTER THAN YOU RAN LAST YEAR. HOW DID THAT AFFECT THE WAY YOU HAD TO RUN THE CORNER? “It really didn’t, believe it or not. It makes it a little more like a qualifying lap more than anything. The corner was about the same. Let’s keep in mind that it was 40-something degrees with a track temp of 66. So it was cold temperatures with high grip and they were testing tires that had more grip. They put a tire on the car that we are not going to race that went that fast. So on the standard tire I think the MPH was down maybe three or four MPH from that. I am not so worried about those end of the straightaway speeds. We slow down a bit in the corners, that is the thing. When they get sustained that high it makes it harder to pass and harder to race. Goodyear is trying to come up with a little more reliable tire and I think they have done that. I am thinking they are going with the dual zone tread possibly, or at least that is what they were leaning toward. We will see what they come up with after all the data. I think that is a better tire because it puts a little margin in the right front. They don’t want to blow a right front at that track.”

IF NASCAR FOLLOWS THROUGH AND CUTS THE POWER OF THE CUP CARS, SAY TAKING 200 HORSEPOWER OUT OF THEM, THEY WOULD DRIVE MORE LIKE THE NATIONWIDE CARS DO NOW. IS THERE ANY TEMPTATION ON THE PART OF YOU CUP GUYS TO GET IN A FEW NATIONWIDE RACES AND BASICALLY ACCLIMATE TO THAT? “We haven’t talked about doing Nationwide races for that particular reason but I have talked about doing a few Nationwide races just because I miss it so much. I miss driving those cars. It is funny, you put a restrictor plate on them and they go faster in the corner and slower on the straightaway and that really doesn’t accomplish anything if you look at it. Why do you want to speed the car up in the middle of the corner? That just makes it even harder to pass when you do that. I understand they want to take power out and maybe that is a little power and cubic inches or whatever they do is a good reset. If you look over the years it started at 600-something and now it is 900. It is kind of unique or odd that if you lower the power they go faster in the corner which is where you want to slow the car down. You want to slow the car down in the corner.”

THIS NEW PAVEMENT IS SEVEN YEARS OLD HERE AND I ASSUME STARTING TO GET SOME CHARACTER BACK. HOW CONSCIOUS DO YOU HAVE TO BE ABOUT YOUR TIRES HERE? “It is starting to get back to that a little bit and as Goodyear brings a softer tire as the track deteriorates grip and they bring a softer and softer tire that is more when you are going to have to take care of it. We are not quite there yet though. It is not too soft yet. You can still drive the car pretty hard and it doesn’t really hurt the tire. I think it will be a few more years and maybe a step or two softer tires before we see that.”

WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE OFF-WEEKEND AND HOW DO YOU SEE RICHMOND IN A COUPLE WEEKS? “I am going to the beach for a few days after this race for a little R&R. Richmond, we have been running good on short tracks so I am looking forward to Richmond. We ran really good there last year and our short track program continues to improve so I am looking forward to that track.”

Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:

Southern 500 (Darlington Raceway)

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DARLINGTON STRIPE AND THE WALL AND FIGURING OUT HOW TO GET THERE WITHOUT GETTING SNAGGED AND WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE? “I don’t know if I can tell you what it is like to drive around this track. It is pretty hard. I don’t know how every other driver feels but this is probably the toughest place we race at as far as concentration and what it takes to get around here. You drive the corner close to 200 MPH, about 190 MPH and the car slides up and hopefully stops about six inches from the wall as you are pushing the power to it. It just takes a lot. It is really hard to manage and it is easy to step over that edge and get a little stripe on the side of it. Hopefully it is a little stripe and not a big stripe and hopefully I keep the right side clean this weekend.”

WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT DAY YOU HAVE HAD AT WORK? THE MOST CHALLENGING RACE INSIDE A CAR? “One that sticks out in my mind is the Coke 600 when the helmet blower quite working on pit road before the start of that race ant it was hot that day. I remember that being a really tough day. My frustration level was high and it was really hot and it was a long time to breathe exhaust and burnt oil and rubber and everything else in there for that period of time. Then leading with a half a straightaway lead when the caution came out with the 48 blowing his engine with three to go and we ran out of gas and had to pit to get gas. That was one of the tougher days I can remember.”

ARE YOU ANY CLOSER TO A CONTRACT EXTENSION? “I think so. I think we are getting closer. There are a lot of moving parts to a contract and a lot of new people at 3M but I know the folks are going up there next week to visit some more. I have a feeling it is getting closer. I know there has been a lot of activity. The program works really well for them and we have the America Red Cross on the car this weekend so it is a good program for 3M and I think they are happy and it looks like we are closing in on an announcement. Hopefully here soon we will have something.”

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