Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, has been in the top five of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings all season and comes into this weekend fourth overall. Biffle held a Q&A session at his team’s hauler after practice to talk about this weekend’s race.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS RACE AND THE 500 FROM A CONDITION STANDPOINT? “It feels the same. It’s been a while since even Talladega. It seems like it’s been almost a year ago with some much going on between these restrictor plate races, but I took off of pit road and started pushing Carl and I got to the end of the backstretch and I was shoving water out, so it’s like it was, I guess, if I remember correctly. The idea is not to push around here and pack race, which seems to be what a lot of us like to do anyway, and then of course at the end we’ll be pushing.”
HOW CAN YOU AVOID GETTING SPLIT UP AT THE END, LIKE WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU AND MATT AT TALLADEGA? “The reverse happened here in the 500 and then we got split up there, and then it’s just a matter of getting it perfect. He came out of the gas a little bit to try and keep against my bumper and he still pulled away from me. Matt’s restrictor plate cars are pretty fast, as we saw in February, and I couldn’t stay on him. We both learned from both of those situations. I learned from him pulling off my bumper and me not being able to catch him for the 500 win, so we learn from every experience or situation we get put in and we just go about it a different way.”
WILL WE SEE ANY TANDEM RACING OR WERE YOU JUST SEEING WHAT YOU COULD DO AT THE END? “I think we’re practicing to see what we’ve got for the end. Like I said, I couldn’t push Carl but for about a half-a-lap and I was pushing water out, so certainly that’s not gonna work. You could push for a half lap and then you’ve got to get off of him, but that’s not gonna do you any good. It works well for trying to make a pass or something.”
HOW WAS PACK DRAFTING? “It was pretty good. I was in the front of it for most of the time, behind Tony, and then we weren’t in a big pack again. There was only about five cars, but what little bit I got my car seemed to drive OK.”
DOES THE PSI ADJUSTMENT MEAN MORE OR LESS TIME FOR PUSHING SOMEONE? “It translates into about an equal amount of time we could do in February because of the hotter ambient temperature. It’s hotter outside, so they give us a little more PSI so we don’t overheat or can stay tucked in a pack. That seems to be about all it’s done.”
SOME DRIVERS HAVE SAID THE TRACK HAS AGED FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS AND IT’S CHANGING. DO YOU AGREE? “It’s slick this time of the year. I was out there and the front end is sliding, so it might not be too long before we’re having to come out of the gas a little bit again.”
CAN YOU PUSH A GUY FOR AN ENTIRE LAP IF IT’S THE LAST LAP? “Sure, you can go until it quits running however long that’s gonna be, normally about two laps (laughing). It’ll shove the water out for a lap, and it’ll run about a lap with no water in it and then it gets angry.”
HOW MUCH HAS THE TRACK CHANGED SINCE FEBRUARY? “It’s about the same as it always is. When we come here in July we know it’s a lot hotter and the track gives up grip, and that’s exactly what we saw today. It’s about what I expected it to be, but that wasn’t a huge pack. When we get out there in a huge pack, we’re gonna be sliding around a little bit.”
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO YOU PARTNER WITH AT THE END – A TEAMMATE OR WHOEVER IS AROUND YOU? “Nowadays, it’s back to more of the big pack racing, so it’s whoever is in front of you. That’s good because it leaves it up to the drivers to decide. Yeah, if I had my choice, I’d go with a teammate or a Ford car, but I’m not married to that anymore because you’ve got to work together so much. That’s what was nice about getting rid of that tandem racing, you could go with anybody.”
WHAT IF IT’S SOMEBODY YOU DON’T LIKE OR TRUST? “Use them until you don’t need them anymore. Just push them until you can go by them. That’s what happens anyway. Whether it’s your teammate or not, the deal is you’ve got to push somebody and normally it’s the guy who is in front of you.”
JUNIOR SAID YOU DON’T WANT TO BE A JERK AT THE END OF THE RACE BUT THAT’S WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETIMES TO GET YOUR BEST FINISH. “Yeah, you don’t want to hang a guy out or leave your teammate hanging or shove somebody out of line or end up three-wide, but he’s right. You have to do it because it’s about yourself at the end. It’s not about anybody else or any other friends. On the last lap you don’t have any friends, so you have to take care of your car first and do what’s best for you and what you can do. You certainly don’t want to wreck cars, but at the same time you can’t help anybody else, unless, in turn, it’s gonna end up helping you and that’s what it boils down to. That’s what he’s talking about.
WHAT MAKES NEW HAMPSHIRE SO UNIQUE? “Just that it’s different than everywhere we go. That’s what’s fun about all these race tracks. It’s super-flat, kind of challenge, hard to get a hold of. We still kind of run down on the apron and then back up on the race track, so it’s just a fun race track. It’s different than everywhere we go all the time.”
YOUR THOUGHTS ON BRUTON SMITH’S IDEA OF MANDATORY CAUTIONS? “I’ve commented about it a few times now. We don’t want to create WWE or create something that one could look at it and say, ‘Oh, well that’s set up,’ but I do agree that cautions create a little bit more excitement for the fans. This is an entertainment business. Fans are sitting in the grandstands and watching at home and restarts tend to create a little more excitement and a little more action. We know that from sitting in the car, but, there again, now you’ve got to talk about how would you ever do that. The other thing I mentioned is if you look at it and dissect it, the caution is always benefitting somebody. The guy that’s about to go a lap down or the guy that just got in the lucky dog spot. When the caution comes out, it’s helping those two guys so it’s always disadvantaging somebody and helping someone else. So you’ve got to figure out how to not do that if you want to create some kind of caution.”
ARE YOU ABLE TO TRY SOME STUFF NOW WITH YOUR POSITION IN THE STANDINGS? “We’ve got to watch a little bit. I screwed up last week at Kentucky. I thought I had a flat tire and pitted and got us a 21st-place finish. I still haven’t quite gotten over that yet. I’m agonizing over that, so we need to watch our p’s and q’s, but the only thing that matters for us is wins. We think we’re gonna make the Chase, so the only thing that will improve our position when we get there is to win like Brad did. He’s got three wins now, we’ve got one. It’s pretty simple math. We need wins for bonus points and that’s really all that matters.”
ARE YOU ABLE TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX? “Yeah, we’ll do what we can, but we’ve also can’t afford worse than a 15th-place finish for that gamble. There’s always risk versus reward. The risk is what? How bad of a finish could we possibly have? You can risk some, but you can’t bet the farm and finish 35th, so we can kind of go outside the box and since we’re just hunting those wins. We’re not right on the bubble.”