NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Ford 400
Topics: Ford 400
November 19, 2006
MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined with our race winner, for the third straight year, Greg Biffle, number 16 National Guard Ford has driven to victory lane at the Ford 300 here at Miami Speedway. We also have team own are Jack Roush up here, back-to-back wins for Jack on Saturday and Sunday.
Greg, talk about sweeping the last three here at Homestead, your second win of the year, great to finish on a positive note, I'm sure.
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, it certainly is. As everyone knows, it's been a tough year for us. Seems like we haven't been at the right place in the right time and haven't had fast enough race cars, and have had a few mechanical failures, but this is something else, to come down here to Miami and win again for the third year in a row is pretty incredible. I really, really like this racetrack, and every win has been different. Every win has been different tire, different aero combination and different everything. So it's been challenging for us.
Today was no exception. It was very difficult to get my car to handle like I needed to, and the temperature, when the temperature drops into the evening, it made the middle part of the racetrack fast enough, because that's the only place I could really run effectively was in the middle of the racetrack or upper part of it. I couldn't run right against the fence like all of though other guys were. And to be perfectly honest, I went up and raced some in the middle part of the race when I had to, and it's really no fun driving four inches from the wall lap after lap, just right around the top. You know, there's just really not a lot to that. I really like racing down in the middle of the racetrack where you can pass people and get a lot of racing going on.
I think that's a product of the tire, being a little bit harder, and it's forced us to move all the way up against the wall to find grip. And when the night fell and it cooled off, my car came back to life there in the middle part of the racetrack.
MODERATOR: Jack, talk about Greg's win tonight, third straight here at Homestead Miami, and finishing on a positive note.
JACK ROUSH: Well, it's been a great Ford weekend here, championship weekend for us. The Ford 150 on Friday night and the Busch Grand National win yesterday. We've surely enjoyed coming to Miami.
I liked the racetrack the first time I saw it and I think Greg did, too, and of course it was made even better with the changes they have made. The Car of Tomorrow, you know, is supposed to be saving us money by reducing the number of cars we have, but turns out, I was getting my -- I asked how many times we've run this car and where has it won and it turns out that Greg has won all three of his races with this same car and nine times with it throughout the time he's driven it. That really speaks volumes for the car of today and how few of them it could take, if you get them right, how few of them it takes to really get the job done.
It's been not a great year for me and for Greg and for Doug Richards together. Like most of the teams except for Jimmie Johnson and Rick Hendrick, they had the same problem that we had last year and the year before that, if things are going really right for you, you don't want to make much of a change because you're just afraid that you'll screw it up because it was so good. And we just turned out, we didn't make the preparations we needed to over the winter. We didn't anticipate what other people were doing. We came back with what we thought was going to be enough to close the deal without taking unnecessary risks and turned out not to be enough and we chased it all year. Plus, hopefully, as I think Greg and I both kept our sense of humor as the year got going, man, glad we piled that problem into this year because that won't happen for another decade.
We got all of those things out of the way. We are going to rebuild Greg's program next year around Pat Tryson who is a championship contender. He's a card-carrying guy who has a real strong team and good pit crew that's organized with him. So we are going to bring those to bear and rebuild with Jimmy Fennig, a new team around David Reagan for the 6 car. So what we've got, we are still talking to Doug about what he would like to do next year. But we had 15 cars here this weekend, 15 entries, and we've got lots of positions and with Doug's experience, that will be important to us in a lot of places.
It's great sadness we see that this was the last race for us, at least for the time being with National Guard. Greg and I are both patriots, and we are very much in support of our military people putting themselves in harm's way for the benefit of all Americans. I don't feel good about the fact that we were not able to put that deal together, but we'll be supporters of the military every place they go regardless of whether we have them on our car next year.
So many compliments to Jimmie Johnson, he's raced hard a lot of years getting ready for this and he closed the deal. I said days ago it would be a travesty as good as he's run in the last nine races if he don't close the deal. My congratulations to Rick and Jimmy for what they have done, and we expect to be there with them next year and have another fight for it.
Q. Where did this come from today, summer, fall, everybody figured you had fallen on your butt or something and all of a sudden today you pulled one out of your hat?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I forgot how to drive actually most of the season. And I just decided that it was end of the season, so I might as well work hard.
You know, it's tough. I mean, it's really tough. I have not -- I have not been able to get my race cars to do what I need them to do all season.
And you know, I know, I have an idea what it is. And what it is, is you know, good year, we blew out a bunch of tires last year. Every race we went to, the story was, how are the tires wearing, what are the tires doing, there's cord showing, and that's constantly what the problem was. And then people blew tires and they put a stop to that. They made the tire hard enough that people didn't blowout tires this year, and it took away, to me, it took away some side-by-side racing and some good racing. It made the cars more dependent on aero, because you've got to keep in fresh air to keep that hard tire stuck into the racetrack.
The way I ran my race cars, I wasn't getting a tire dug into the racetrack good enough this year. And so, you know, the coil bind deal that everybody's heard about, we've been working hard on trying to figure that out, and still don't have it figured out, because we were like that tonight. We've been testing like that and ran in Charlotte like that and a few other places. Obviously didn't work at Phoenix. You know, I mean, I thought I would have had a chance to win at Phoenix and ended up, you know, four laps down, just because they wore the tire out, maybe we didn't it right. The reality of it is, if the race car will go around the corner, I'll drive it. And I loosened my race car up here to run this race. I finally got sort of pissed off in the second practice and just told them to keep stacking regular spring to it and keep, you know, I raised the track bar up, I took all kind of things, I took the sway bar out of it and I did all kinds of things to make it loose. I went out there in the first practice, the thing was so loose, I could hardly drive it and we were pretty fast after 15 laps. The second practice, I wouldn't drive it, I couldn't make a fast lap, so we tightened it back up just a tiny bit and I said, just leave it alone for the race, I'll just suffer with it. I'm either going to be hauling butt or I'm going to be too loose. But I haven't had a too loose race car all year and I haven't experienced that yet. I wanted to, you know, kind of experience that.
And then, see the, the groove is, everywhere we go, the groove is two inches off the fence and everybody just sits up there and circulates a couple of inches off the fence, and it doesn't -- I mean, I don't know how it looks from the grandstands or whatever. But we've got all that real estate down there; let's use some of it for racing. We're using, you know, 15 feet of it right against the fence everywhere we go, and that's a product of having to go up there to find grip because you took the tires, the wheels left when you're up there, you know, and it's a big, wide radius. You start going lower on the race track, you've got to turn the wheels sharper and the cars won't turn. Nobody's car turns, so that's why everybody drives up there.
Q. This is the third straight year you've been in here winning the race, I'm sure you'd like to trade it for being out there celebrating your championship; do you think the changes that Jack has proposed for your team will send you in that direction for next season?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I mean, it's going it give us -- definitely give us an opportunity. I'm still worried about being, you know, winning or in the Top-5. Let's face it, Matt struggled a bunch in the Chase, was off a lot. And it seems like all of our cars are.
You know, we're not -- it's not a matter of people that are just going to snap our fingers and fix it. But we're going to definitely have to work at it. And Pat's racing in that group is capable, and myself, we are capable of continuing down the road we're going and figuring it out. Obviously we had a better race car tonight than Pat prepared for Mark. And it's just, you know, a combination. Pat and I are going to hit it off good, time sure. We're going to take this race car, and one of Pat's race cars to Las Vegas and test and do a tire test for good year, which is going to be great for us. It's going to give us a head start on next year. I feel honestly that it's an unfair advantage because Pat and I are going to spend some time together before the holiday season, we're going to get to know each other, I'm going to get to know the team guys some. And come Daytona time, we're going to feel like we've got a weekend under our belt before we take a holiday break.
So I'm really looking forward to that.
Q. Jack, can you talk about the fact that you guys won all three races this weekend, and that's got to be high, and this being Mark's last race, can you address your emotions on both of those?
JACK ROUSH: Whenever we get an opportunity to perform before the Ford folks the way we did this weekend, we suit up for it and draw up something extra, if we have any left, we go ahead and use it. The anniversary of Ford Motor Company, we managed to pull that off at MIS last year, or I think it was two years ago.
But anyway, we enjoyed playing for our manufacturer and doing things that would help him through his, through their issues. And Alan Mulally, the new CEO was here and we had a chance to meet him, and Mark Fields, the North American guy in charge.
So it was great, for Ford, the truck market is real important and as we have a chance to do things that would enhance the trucks to their potential customers, that's a great thing. Yeah, Ford weekend, this is a favorite track for the guys, we clearly had a number of different setups out there that -- some of which worked and some of which didn't, and we'll try to analyze that data.
The thing that we talk about, what we're going to try to do for next year, Dan Davis and Mark Fields and Alan Mulully have all made the commitments to us on what we think we need technology-wise and it's available, the simulator, the apparatus that you use to test things in the shop.
And right now one of the challenges that all of the teams have is because there are not tires to go test with, you can't get a cheap answer to a problem. You have to go get very scientific data and have very sophisticated equipment operated by expert people to figure out what's going on and they stand with us realizing that we have not done as much as some of our contemporaries have and we have to get going on that.
Mark's last race, I surely hope -- it was great that he won the Truck race the other night and it was a disappointment that we had all the things happen in the Chase that caused the problem that really frustrated his effort.
I think if he had run clean there -- was Jimmie Johnson and Rick Hendrick's year, I think it was going to be for not. I hoped the last race would be something he would remember with more positive feelings, and I'm sure he will. The car wasn't as good as he thought it was going to be in practice, and that was a disappointment.
Q. Can you rate your victories here in terms of difficulty and where you thought this particular race you had it?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, to be perfectly honest, this is probably -- this is probably one of the more difficult ones. I mean, every one is difficult, because we qualified 22nd. The other victories, I qualified second once on the front row and led a lot of it and the car was really fast.
Here I worked my way up, worked my way up, worked my way up and the 10 car when he was pitting knocked the tire out of the carrier's hands and so I went back to 20th again and had to work my way all the way back to the front by passing cars on the race, and constantly changing things on the race car, wedge in, wedge out, raise the tires, lower the tires, we were trying everything every stop. So it was a lot to -- it was a lot to win this race, and it wasn't handed to us. I'm not saying the other ones were handed to us, but we had a pretty bad-ass race car in those other races, and it was a lot easier to win.
I remember the one was kind of hairy getting into turn three last year. I don't remember if it was last year or the year before, but somebody ran out of gas, and we almost ran into the back of them. I was up in the middle, Jimmy Johnson, we were two or three-wide and I ended up winning the race. But I remember that one was pretty spectacular as well.
I tell you what, this obviously was a little easier, I was thinking that through my head when we are were getting ready to go back green, Kasey and I were going to be side-by-side on the start/finish line and hopefully I'm a foot in front of him when the checkered flag flies. I think Kasey spun the tires on the restart, and I was committed to paying attention and got my tires warmed up and didn't use too much throttle and then pushed it down as I felt the tires could take it and got a good, clean start.
Q. People always say nobody remembers who finishes second, well, you've been the guy who won on the weekend when somebody else won the championship, three years in a row; I just wonder, did you feel like you're always getting overlooked by winning this race? (Laughter)
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I do. But I tell you what, I still get the check and I still get the trophy and when I go to Daytona I'm the most recent winner.
Unfortunately, you know, I've been -- come up short a few times last year. It would have been something sweet to win the championship and the race. You know, obviously we were 35 points behind Tony, but Tony was really close to going a lap down last year and got a mercy caution flag and kept him on the lead lap.
Well, it would have been tight. Who would have known that we'd have only been 35 points. We came into the race 100-something back or 70-something back, I don't know what it was; it was a lot. And then we picked up a bunch of positions. I never even thought I had a chance of winning the title. But it was pretty close.
Q. Jack, you know how hard it is to win these things, what does it say about Rick Hendrick that he's been able to win six championships now with three different drivers?
JACK ROUSH: I'm a slow study, 18 years we won two and 17 years we won one. And of course we come up short last year, a little, with second and third, and this year we were not as close as we were last year.
You know, it just takes a tremendous effort. You know, this thing goes from the middle of February to Thanksgiving time, and it really consumes your life and the lives of all the people that are doing this. You've got to have focus on it. It's unbelievable, you know, how much energy goes into this thing, and for them to be -- for the Hendrick organization to be friendly, competitive, has certainly set a standard for me, and that's what I request, and the goal that I set for my organization as well. Unless they have found some shortcut on things, it's a monumental job and they have got a lot of people working really hard at it and they certainly deserve what's happened to them.
Q. Jack, for the last decade, two decades, NASCAR has put a great deal of effort into making the cars more alike in almost every area, Chevrolets have won 10 of the last 11 races and 24 for the season. So my question is, what's the use of all that effort?
JACK ROUSH: Oh, boy, you really want to get me in trouble? Left to my own device, would I have a ruling that says you came to the racetrack at the assigned time and you had four tires and you burned gasoline. That would be about all I would require. I would pretty much run what you run left to my own devices. They are pretty determined to where it's convenient for them and not necessarily easy but it's possible for them to regulate it and officiate it even-handedly and fairly. And to that end, they make every effort to take the racing out of all but just a few things. They don't want us racing -- there's very little room for innovation in the car of today. And particularly with the Car of Tomorrow is going to have, you don't have the off-sets that you can deal with. If you looked at a handful of drivers like the Roush Organization have and one guy is really just nervous when he's got a loose end condition, so you have to put the aero torque into the thing, you have to put the side force in in order to stop it from being loose. And then other guys like Mark, they said, well, I don't care if it's a loose grip, just get me all the grip and downforce that you can and that's a different set of off-sets. But what they have got going for the Car of Tomorrow, is it going to be a narrow variance that's going to be much, much less than it is today and I tell you this, there's going to be a lot of people that won't be able to drive those cars that will be able to drive cars today where they could compensate or adjust the setup on the air match of the car to suit the preference of the driver.
There's going to be winners and losers on this deal, it is not necessarily going to have the desired effect. At the end, there's less that we can do that is low cost to be able to optimize the cars for our team and unfortunately end up spending the money on technology that we would rather not have to spend it on in order to find an edge to suit the needs of a driver that you might be committed to.
Q. If you could compare the mindset, last year you came in here, you were still in the title chase, you knew that you had to win the race in order to win the title. This year you come in, you're in a title race; does it make it any easier to go out and try to get the victory winner when you're in the situation like you're in today?
GREG BIFFLE: Yes and no. There really was not any pressure this weekend but I did feel some pressure when I got going and got to racing out there.
You know, a lot of people like to talk about points racing and pressure and all that, and we really, we try and win every time we show up. You know, that gains us the most amount of points and you know, I've done that the last 10, 11 races, I thought I could win in Phoenix and that turned out not to be true. I felt I had a car that I could probably win with here, but wasn't real sure about it. And turned out that I could have.
But, you know, maybe the pressure leading up to the weekend, all of the things in the media and all the stuff I had to do. You know, race car drivers, we enjoy that part of it, because they are talking about you. And if you don't have a camera in your face and nobody is wanting you and nobody wants to talk to you, that's when you start worrying.
Q. Can you tell me about having Harvick on the racetrack? There were several complaints from drivers and I wonder what you saw from your window?
GREG BIFFLE: I don't know. I guess we had a little altercation, but my tire got knocked off out of the carrier's hand by the 10 car and so I ended up having to start back at 20th, and he was running, I don't know, around 17th or so or 15th.
I was coming through the cars pretty fast because my car was really fast and I got inside him to go down the back stretch and when we got into turn three, he turned into the bottom, and I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he didn't know I was there and, you know, got my nose -- I hit the brakes as hard as I could and my nose hit the ground and my car got sideways and I missed his rear bumper as he came down to the white line. Just put the throttle down and slid up and came off the corner on the high side of him, and going down the front stretch, and he swerved at me, like I had done something to make him mad, I don't know what that was all about. I didn't know that anybody else had any other issues. I didn't know that anybody even saw that. But I don't know why he swerved on me going down the front stretch, but he was -- I don't know. Maybe his spotter didn't tell him I was inside him. We never touched or anything. But I saved his bacon for him.
Q. You've been around the track a couple of times, why did Denny Hamlin have such a successful first season?
GREG BIFFLE: You know, I think the same reason why Carl did. You know, they are very good, really exceptional equipment, and to be perfectly honest with you, it's hard to screw it up when you've got a really, really good race car, really fast race car. You can take about any of these drivers and put them in, and if you have something that's handling good, turning, got great power, the car is easy to drive, you can stick just about any one of these guys racing in the NEXTEL Cup series in the car and he's going to be able to win races or be able to run up front.
We all have a fairly lateral amount of talent. It's each team, how they put their mouse trap together is a lot of it. He was in really good equipment. He had Tony Stewart over there that won a couple of titles, and those guys are not dummies, and that has a lot to do with it. Same with Carl last year. He came into the program and Matt and I had great race cars, and he copied a lot of what we were doing and then about middle of the year, went off on his own and we were winning races, all of us were.
Q. Is there anything special or magical about this track that suits your driving particularly? And also, someone said, I didn't know if it's true or not, you had difficulty finding victory lane even though you've been there wise?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, there were so many people on pit road, I couldn't see where I was going. I knew where it was, but there was a massive amount of people crossing pit road to go out to the front stretch.
So you know, when you're inside there, it's hard to find stuff. I couldn't see anything from inside the car.
You know, I like the progressive banking-type racetracks. They put on great races because you can run right across the bottom, you can run the middle, you can run the upper part of the racetrack. I've just adapted. You know, really we ran very well at mile and a half racetracks all over last year and we obviously still have some of that magic that we can run fast on them.
But this type of racetrack, I just like it. I like the way the corners are laid out. I like the way it races, and I think it puts on a good show.
Q. Your teammate, Carl Edward, came in last night and said that on Thanksgiving, he goes to Denny's to eat, I guess his Thanksgiving meal. What are your plans for Thursday?
GREG BIFFLE: Oh, I can't wait for that day. I tell you what, I'm feeling a little under the weather right now, and I didn't have a great week last week, and I have to work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this following week on photo shoots and commercials.
So Thursday is my official first day off. I'm going to cook a turkey, I'm going to go to my mountain property and cook a turkey, I have no telephones, build a big, huge fire and sit back and enjoy myself.
MODERATOR: Congratulations. Have a good holiday.
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