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Aug 29, 2014 - 05:43 PM
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2014 Atlanta Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Greg Biffle
Posted by: ASkyler on Aug 29, 2014 - 05:43 PM
2014 Atlanta Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Greg Biffle

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Ortho Ford Fusion, is holding down the final Chase spot going into this weekend’s Oral B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Biffle spoke about his bubble position with members of the media after today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session.

GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 Ortho Ford Fusion - "We’re really excited. We were much closer unloading off the truck than we have been. We just got done with a test at Chicago this last couple days that I felt like we didn’t find as much as we wanted to, as much as we did at Michigan, but it certainly helps a little bit here unloading off the truck. I’m pretty happy with the speed. Qualifying, we had one good lap and two slow laps, so we’ll see in a little while later tonight how that turns out."

HOW MUCH EMPHASIS IN PERFORMANCE DO YOU PUT ON LEADING LAPS? "We put a lot of performance emphasis on leading laps. Leading laps is important because it puts you in position to win. We just plain and simply haven’t been in that category this year. We haven’t had fast enough cars to compete all year and except for the restrictor plate races, we’ve gotten up front a few times by strategy and staying out, but now we’re really making speed in our cars the last six weeks and we’re getting to the point where we feel like we’re gonna get in a position to lead some laps here in the near future. But it’s obvious this year, it’s real plain and simple that we haven’t been where we want to be and that’s why we’ve been doing the testing and working as hard as we can. I think the performance over the last six weeks shows that we’re moving in the right direction. Up until that point, quite honestly, we were going in the wrong direction. The harder we worked, the more we tested, the slower we went. That was quite frustrating for some time until we kind of shifted directions and since we’ve done that, the Michigan test is really where we turned the corner, so to speak. Our performance since then has shown that we’ve made huge improvements. We’re not there yet, but were getting really close."


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WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM TONY COMING BACK THIS WEEK AND YOUR REACTION TO NASCAR GIVING HIM A WAIVER IF HE QUALIFIES FOR THE CHASE? "It’s good to have Tony back in the car. It was a very tragic situation and I think it affected a lot of people. It was a tough situation and I’m certainly glad he’s back at the race track. I’m sure it shifts his focus and makes him feel like he has something important, and I don’t really have a comment on NASCAR’s decision."

YOUR THOUGHTS ON CHICAGO SERVING AS THE KICKOFF FOR THE CHASE? "I’ve seen it five of the last six years. I don’t know how long we’ve been in Chicago for that kickoff, but hopefully it will be six of seven here coming up. I’ve got some work cut here for me. We’re running good here this weekend and I’m pretty optimistic that as far as what we can do, what’s in our control, we feel like we can manage that and get ourselves in. But it’s really neat to be able to launch our Chase in that market. I think Chicago is a neat city and there’s definitely a lot of media around that. It’s a fun event and I just hope I’m part of it this year."

DO YOU PLAY FANTASY FOOTBALL? "I hate to knock the wind out of your sails, but I don’t do fantasy football. I watch a lot of the playoff games and this and that, but I’m not glued to the TV. I’m working on my off-road car, UTVs or I’m out fishing or doing something else. I love to be an outdoor guy and do all that. I enjoy watching football, but I’m probably not as avid of a fan as some other guys."

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED -- WHAT HAS BEEN WRONG WITH ROUSH FENWAY THIS YEAR? "I wasn’t specifically calling our team out, I was more specifically calling our organization as a whole, Roush Fenway. We let go of our guy who was the head of engineering a while back. We don’t want to point fingers in our organization, but we plain and simply didn’t keep up with the Joneses. We got behind in simulation. We are still behind in simulation. We’re trying to roll out a new model that is gonna carry us on into the future and make us as equal as some of these other teams are. And quite honestly the worst we ran, the harder we worked, the more we tested, the more meetings we had, the worse we ran because we were pushing down a wrong road on aerodynamics and our theory and balance and everything else. You can clearly see that it’s plain and simple we were headed kind of in the wrong direction and since we’ve kind of righted that ship, we’ve really woke up so to speak and saw what we were doing wrong. We don’t know everything yet, but we saw a lot of what we were doing wrong. Michigan is a perfect example. I had a 28th-place car at Michigan in the first race and that’s one of my best race tracks with four wins, and that was so devastating for us. We finished 20th, but literally had a 28th-place car and we go back there we had a 10th-place car - a solid 10th-place car, maybe a little better than that. So that’s a huge swing. We can’t celebrate yet because we weren’t leading the race and leading laps, but that’s a huge celebration within the organization that we kind of turned the corner and are going in the right direction. That’s all I care about is getting the trajectory going better not worse, then we’ll win races and we’ll lead laps. But it’s just gonna take a little bit of time."

HAS PENSKE’S SUCCESS ADDED TO THE FRUSTRTION? "It’s done both. It’s added to the frustration, but at the same time it’s given us the confidence that these cars are capable of that. And Penske has helped us a ton. Penske has allowed us to compare our cars to their cars some, which has shed some light in some areas that maybe we needed to work, and they’re only gonna share so many things with us through our alliance with Ford, and we appreciate the help we’ve gotten from them. We’re looking at their cars more than the competition trying to figure out how to make cars the same because we have the same type of car. We’ll get there. Unfortunately, this season has felt frustrating for us. Now Carl is a helluva a driver and he’s put himself in position and won some races, but he’ll admit too that we’re not certainly where we need to be - competitive enough - but we’re getting there."

DO YOU THINK THIS NEW CHASE FORMAT IS A BENEFIT TO YOU WITH WHERE YOUR TEAM IS AT? "I think it’s a huge benefit right now for us. You look at the last four races we’ve got four top-10s and, there again, we’ve gotten better finishes in a couple of those races than we deserved. We finished fifth at Pocono and we clearly didn’t have a fifth-place car at Pocono, but we did finish 10th at Michigan with a 10th-place car or possibly better. So what I like about the ratio is we keep improving every week and these next couple of weeks will be important. If we make the Chase, quite honestly we could start turning the next page to winning these races. I remember Tony Stewart said a few years ago he didn’t deserve to be in the Chase and I absolutely felt the same way up until four or five weeks ago. Now I feel like we’re a candidate for it, but I would certainly like to see what happened to him a few years ago happen to us. We get these cars running faster like we are and this Chase starts, maybe we have a crack at making a championship run."

DID YOU GET A CHASSIS FROM PENSKE TO LOOK IT OVER AND SEE WHAT ROAD YOU WERE GOING DOWN? "I don’t know all of the specifics, so I hate to comment on that. I know that we got some pieces or got a chance to look at some of their stuff. I think maybe it was just a clip or something like that, so it’s hard to tell from that piece what we might be doing wrong. A lot of what we were doing wrong was aerodynamic and with the body of the car. But they’ve certainly helped us a lot."

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED -- YOU ARE STILL LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO REPLACE YOUR HEAD ENGINEER. BETWEEN NOW AND THEN WHAT DO YOU DO? EVEN THOUGH THEY SAY RACING IS CYCLICAL IT SEEMS YOU GUYS ARE MORE CYCLICAL THAN OTHERS. HOW DO YOU COME BACK FROM THAT? "The results the last few weeks have shown that we’re still looking for a guy to help lead our organization. I think everybody is taking up the slack, all the engineers, all the crew chiefs, all the team guys, the drivers. We’re more involved at trying to bridge that gap until then and it’s more than one person. We need a few people in there to help make sure and that will stop being cyclical -- if you don’t make the same mistake two or three times or whatever - you kind of keep going in the right direction all the time and not ever back up."

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