NASCAR Media Conference
January 6, 2010
DENISE MALOOF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the first NASCAR teleconference of 2010. We appreciate your participation.
Kicking off the new year for us is Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. Welcome, Greg.
GREG BIFFLE: Thank you. Glad to be here.
DENISE MALOOF: We want to remind folks that you finished seventh in last year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
First, Greg is among a group of many NASCAR drivers participating in this weekend's fifth annual Sprint Sound & Speed presented by SunTrust event in Nashville, Tennessee. That means over the course of two days, Friday and Saturday of this weekend, drivers will team up with country music stars to raise funds for causes, the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The best part of it is they'll do it alongside the fans. They'll participate in two Friday night shows for special Opry at the Ryman performances, one at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and on Saturday a FanFest at Nashville's municipal auditorium, which runs from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m.
You can visit www.soundandspeed.org and www.NASCARmedia.com for more ticket and event information.
Greg, it's certainly energizing to begin the new year with some good music and reconnect with NASCAR fans.
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, absolutely. It's so exciting to do events like this where you meet up with so many influential people. And the music industry is so passionate. It's fun to go to Nashville. I think a lot of the NASCAR fans obviously can relate to this. It's such a star-struck event.
The most important thing is it gives them an opportunity to come out and get autographs, attend a Q&A, in a setting they can get a little one-on-one time, get a little closer. When they go to the municipal auditorium, there's going to be a lot of -- these are the stars of the sport you don't get a chance to get up next to too often, plus all the music acts. It's going to be a really fun event.
DENISE MALOOF: We'll go straight to some media questions for Greg.
Q. Greg, can you talk about this event this weekend and why country music and NASCAR is put together. It's kind of a natural mixture, relates to kind of the some demographics.
GREG BIFFLE: I mean, it really does. This is one event a year that I think a lot of us really look forward to because, you know, number one, we're not around the racetrack, we're not around the racecars. We're in a setting where we can relax, have a little bit of fun, get to spend some time around these guys that are very talented men and women in the music industry that I look up to.
I'm so not musical at all. I couldn't play an instrument if I tried in my life. I'm not ever going to try to sing karaoke at the bar. It's so neat to listen to these guys, see the performances, be around them, talk to them, be up close.
It's a great opportunity for the NASCAR fans to get a double whammy: to see the NASCAR drivers and see these guys perform, it's pretty neat.
Q. An another note, can you talk about Danica confirming this week she'll join NASCAR this year with Nationwide, talk about what kind of impact that might have for the sport.
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I mean, I think we all know it's going to be great for our sport as far as recognition and awareness, bringing some popularity over, bringing some of her fans. It will be our first female driver in a while. So that will be good for us.
You know, I'm looking forward to seeing how she performs on the racetrack. You know, I think it's a win-win for everybody. I'm glad that she's decided to come over and give it a try. It's very difficult. I hope she does well. Looking forward to racing with her a little bit.
Q. What are some of the challenges she will face?
GREG BIFFLE: You know, same thing some of these other guys have, Sam Hornish, Juan Montoya, some of the other open-wheel guys, Scott Speed, that have come over, you know, really tried to get a handle on these cars. These cars are very hard to drive. I mean, the list goes on. Max Papis, right on down the line. There's a bunch of guys. Ron Fellows, very successful road course drivers, not open-wheel or anything like that, but very talented.
This oval track, these cars are very, very difficult. We see them have huge success road racing, have won road races, but then compete, you know, have a tough time competing on the ovals. You know, I don't know what it is about it, but it is difficult. If it's not what you've grown up with or what your reflexes, instincts, car controls, everything you're used to in your environment, it's difficult to adapt to.
A lot of people, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, a lot of those guys come from sort of those type of cars and have been very, very successful. Certainly it's possible.
Q. What have you done over the winter to return yourselves to the front of the pack? Can you, without any track testing, get any real sense of where you guys are now or will you have to wait till Daytona and California to know that?
GREG BIFFLE: Really truly we need to wait till California, Atlanta, some of those other racetracks. Daytona is kind of in a class of its own. You know, it's hard to get a feel for where you're at competitive-wise at a restrictor plate track.
But we've worked very hard this winter, getting weight out of our cars, getting our cars more center of gravity down, working hard on our data acquisition, trying to understand our modeling better, working on aero.
Combining the technology somewhat from the RPM Group, the deal with Evernham stuff, has helped us a little bit I think. I think we were able to help them a little bit. So we've put two technologies together. We did a tire test in Phoenix for Goodyear. Kasey Kahne did one in California for Goodyear. I'm doing a test next week in Texas. So I think we're going to have a good mixed bag of data coming back into the organization from those three racetracks before the season starts, and hopefully more throughout the season. Hopefully Carl gets a chance and David and Matt to, you know, do some more tire testing.
Then if NASCAR makes a few rule changes along the way, that gives a chance for all the cars to get onto the racetrack. You know, if they're going to do a mass tire test like before Indy, those kinds of things help us. We just look forward to those opportunities. If they ever come up, we're right there to take advantage of it. I think we're doing everything we can to be better.
Q. Last year there were only seven full-time Fords in the field. This year there's going to be 10. The addition of a couple extra cars, how much difference does that make in the body of knowledge that you will have to draw from?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, certainly we've added a couple good-quality guys that won races last year and came close to winning races. So that's certainly going to help us, you know, help the Ford camp pick up some more wins. So we're really excited about that. Like I said, we've already consolidated some of those technologies. I think it's really helped us and is gonna help us.
Q. With the Petty-Yates merger, all of that coming into the Ford camp, obviously that's going to help you guys. How much do y'all actually share information? Do all the Ford teams share information or at least between I guess the eight that Roush Fenway and Petty is going to have? Is it almost like one big team?
GREG BIFFLE: Yes. Last year we shared information across the board with the Yates organization. We really feel we've worked hard. We've talked a lot about it, that we feel like this year we want it to be the same as it was last year, you know.
I think they're all for that. They've really said it's gonna be an open book across the street. So I think it's gonna help both of us. We're going to put our bump-stop technology together, our steering and all the things that we can do. I think it's gonna help us all.
Q. On the tire test at Texas that you mentioned, can you sort of take us through what actually goes on during the course of a tire test, how much input you may or may not have, and how much of an advantage is it being able to do that? Is it almost like a test or is it not quite like a test because you don't have as much control?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, it's not quite like a test certainly 'cause you don't have as much control. But you do get, you know, some track time, get on the racetrack, get your car running good. They want a good, drivable car, kind of like a race setup, so that they can put sets and sets and sets of tires on it, so you can give 'em a good, accurate comparison of the sets of tires and not how your car's handling.
You get a few hours to work on your car, get it driving good, get to try a few things you might not in a normal race, but that's about it. So then you'll go through all those sets of tires. Usually when you finish up or you get close to the end of the second day, you look forward to possibly getting a couple more hours or another hour to try another combination or another setup that you can try and get some data on.
That's the other thing that's important, is we've got onboard data during these tests which we don't on race weekends. In turn, we can bring that back home and study it for the next month or two and see if there's anything to be learned from that data going back, if we can decipher anything from it that might help us.
You know, you get a little bit of extra extended practice than you would for a race weekend, but it's certainly not like being at a two-day test.
Q. Looking ahead to this weekend, are there any country music stars that maybe you have been star struck or have been excited to meet?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, I mean, certainly I just enjoy being around all of those guys. I mean, Hank Williams, Jr., members from the Diamond Rio band are going to be there, Chris Young. There's going to be a bunch of talented guys there. So it's just cool being around those guys, seeing what they can do. Jason Michael Carroll. I've heard all of their music. It's pretty neat to be rubbing elbows or shoulders with those guys.
Q. On the flipside, have any been star struck and really excited to meet you?
GREG BIFFLE: I don't know (laughter). I think we all appreciate each other's talents, you know. They know what it's like driving a car each weekend. I certainly couldn't imagine what it's like performing in front of a packed auditorium of people or making a record or doing all those things.
We certainly have our own things. I think I appreciate any other athlete, whether it's a singer or a different series of racing or any of that, you can appreciate what they go through and how hard they work.
Q. We're here in the new year. Every year you come out with a calendar. Can you tell folks who is in this year's calendar for your charity?
GREG BIFFLE: Absolutely. The 2010 pet calendar, we got it done in I think October. It's been on sale since. It's just going great. All through the holidays it's done well. Actually January and February are some of our strongest months because, you know, people are still needing a calendar. It makes great gifts.
Some of the regulars, a few new guys. Kasey Kahne. Carl is in it. Kurt Busch. Jeff Burton is in it this year. Tony Stewart. Kasey Kahne. Denny Hamlin. Jimmie Johnson. Kenseth is in it. Casey Mears and his new wife to be in about five days or four days. So it's a great cause. We help a lot of animal rescue groups. The GregBiffleFoundation.com, it's on sale there. We cover all the administrative costs, so all the money that we collect off the sale of the calendar goes straight to animal rescue groups, adoption, spay and neuter programs.
Q. How much of your time during the off-season was spent on things to improve next season? I know you have just a little bit of time to yourselves.
GREG BIFFLE: You know, I've spent the last few weeks, up until prior to Christmas, we really just talked about what we needed to do. We worked on it some. We did have a tire test in Phoenix that we went and did. But really since the new year, this week, we've worked really hard, been at the shop every day. We've been in meetings, doing different things.
We've got a lot of exciting stuff. You know, we've lightened our cars up, which we feel is going to be important to help get some more ballast in them, get the weight balance correct. You know, we've come up with new geometries, new shock packages, bump-stop stuff. Some of it's been through the merger, some has been through what we've learned. We've worked very, very hard.
All the guys are really, really excited about it. We can't wait to get to the racetrack with our cars. Texas, next week, is going to be our first real true test, our first opportunity to get on the track.
Q. Greg, when you get time off, does that charge your batteries or when you get back into the seat of a racecar after some time off, does that charge your batteries?
GREG BIFFLE: Actually, getting some time off does. You know, this off-season I'm doing a little bit more traveling. You know, it's a little busier than it was last year. Last year I kind of really laid low, really stayed home a lot, didn't do a lot. I'll tell you, when Daytona came around, getting ready to go to Phoenix, all that, I was really, really charged up, ready to go, looking forward to driving to the airport, getting on the airplane, going to the racetrack, versus when you get to the middle of the season and the end, it's like, Gosh, I can't wait till it's over. But that really charges your batteries up, having some time to spend at home.
But we have some tests scheduled, a sponsor summit. I've got a few appearances right before the season starts. Planning to go to the desert with my buddies. Going to do a little three-day vacation before I go to Daytona. The month of January and beginning of February is pretty active prior to the 500.
Q. The adventure you get in a racecar, it's more than what we average folks get in the course of our job, does that diminish the thrill of any other off-track adventures you do?
GREG BIFFLE: I don't think so. You know, maybe like driving something, some kind of activity like that, you would find more of a thrill out of it than I would, you know, because of what we get to drive on the weekend.
But everything else that you get to do, you know, snow skiing, going on a vacation, going to the desert, I'm going motorcycling riding, or stuff, that I really enjoy. I don't think what we do on the weekend diminishes that at all.
DENISE MALOOF: Thank you very much, Greg. We appreciate your time today. Thanks for spending it with us. Enjoy Nashville this weekend.
GREG BIFFLE: Absolutely. I can't wait. I'm looking forward to going over Friday night for all the activities. I hope all the fans get a chance to come out and see us all.
DENISE MALOOF: Sounds good. We'll see those of you in the media on our next call.
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