NASCAR Media Conference
October 29, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to our NASCAR teleconference featuring Greg Biffle. Greg is currently eighth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He heads to Texas this weekend where he has two wins and 12 top‑10 finishes.
Greg, you're set to make your 400th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend at Texas. Congratulations on reaching that milestone first and foremost. What are your thoughts on hitting that impressive number at a track where you've had so much success?
GREG BIFFLE: I'm really excited about Texas. And the 400th start, it seems like a lot. I remember them talking about Ricky Rudd's 700th start. A little over halfway. I think they've dubbed him the Ironman.
Looking forward to Texas. That's a great racetrack. Glad that we're going there this week.
THE MODERATOR: I know there's a couple of other things that are very important to you, especially heading into Texas, an important cause that you're involved with. The 3M Hire Our Heroes Program will be activated. Talk a little bit about that.
GREG BIFFLE: Really an exciting deal 3M is doing, is giving returning veterans an opportunity to get into automotive after‑market and collision repair by providing tools and training and opportunities to all of our men and women. That's really important.
Chip Foose designed the paint scheme for the Hire Our Heroes Program, and everybody has put a lot of effort into it. The program is widely successful. Lots of guys have received tools and training, all kinds of things, to get into the business. So that's exciting to see our precious commodities get an opportunity back home.
THE MODERATOR: As the holidays are fast approaching, you've been involved for I believe nine years now on something that a lot of our fans look forward to, but that's the pet calendar. The 2014 version is getting ready to come out, is it not?
GREG BIFFLE: We just released it a few weeks back. It's so much fun to do this calendar every year. All the drivers are so generous with their time. It's exciting. Every year since we started the calendar, we've sold more copies the following year. That's just been the fan support, the people passionate about animals, like I am.
We're able to help so many groups across the United States from disaster relief from flooding and wildfires, to really helping the shelters and adoption people that go out there and work tirelessly, donate their time to help place animals, spay and neuter programs, things like that.
It's been a great success our foundation has. That calendar has been one of the biggest fundraising things. 3M prints the calendar every year for us. They've been so gracious to support the cause. It's a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: Two great causes, for sure.
Let's now go to questions for Greg from our media participants.
Q. Greg, you've been part of most of the Chases. You missed out on a couple. Can you just contrast the feelings when you're in it and when you're out of it as you go through the last 10 races. I assume it gets like an empty feeling if you're not a part of it.
GREG BIFFLE: I'll tell you what, I've said a long time ago, I've had to eat my words a few times, You're a nobody if you don't make the Chase. Those are pretty tall words, but what makes up the face of this sport is the Chase, are the Chase guys. That's what everybody talks about from the Daytona 500 on, the 12 or 13 cars that are going to be in the Chase.
It's really important, and that's been our focus. Let's face it, you can't win the championship unless you're in the Chase. I've been out of a few of them. I'll tell you, it's no fun. But sometimes you have years like that. You can't control everything. You just do the best you can.
We had a solid run this year. We weren't as good as we were last year. Our Chase has been okay. We've left some opportunities on the table. It's not over yet. We'll keep digging and try to get in the top three or four.
Q. When you do get in it, everything is so reliant race to race. The first race where you have a problem, how bad of a letdown is that? Can you recall any specific year when very early in the Chase something happened and you felt like the air had been knocked out of you?
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah. I mean, last year we were all excited. First race, Chicago, all amped up. We were leading the points the whole way. In fact, after the Richmond race, the checkered flag, we were the points leader. We go to Chicago. I'm like licking my chops. I think we come out of there 18th or something. We're terrible, way off. It was so discouraging that we had led the points for so long, we had such high hopes. To start it off like that...
This year we did a much better job of being prepared. But then we go to Kansas where we did two tire tests, thinking, Okay, this is definitely a spot we're going to win, or get a top‑three finish. We struggled completely that weekend.
That's what is so fun and frustrating about this sport, is you never know what to expect from week to week. I think that's why so many fans enjoy it and like to watch it is because you just don't know what's going to happen.
Q. I saw a tweet yesterday apologizing to Jimmie. What were you apologizing for? Did you see how quickly you flipped him around or were you upset you lost your cool?
GREG BIFFLE: It was multi‑layer. The biggest thing was I was getting a lot of hate mail on Twitter from all the 48 fans about the way I reacted. So I was apologizing to the fans, not Jimmie Johnson at that point. My apology to Jimmie Johnson was on the telephone. I know that's old‑fashioned, a lot of people don't do that anymore.
I was apologizing for probably the way I handled it. When I was walking over there, I was furious. We had a great car. Nobody knows this, but we had the fastest car the last 65 laps of that race. We closed in on the leader by five seconds from the start of that run to the end of it. We closed in on the 24 car by that much. I had to start to the back and drove to ninth.
The other misconception was that everybody said, You should be mad at the 88, he ripped your bumper off. We came in and fixed it and started at the back. The 48 car ran square in the back of my car, not inside of me, like his claim when I came up and talked to him about it.
I probably should have grabbed him by the arm maybe and voiced my displeasure. I wasn't going to do the old patented Jeff Gordon two arms to the chest. He's kind of got that one. But I was upset that I had to start at the back. I had a good opportunity to get a top‑three finish at Martinsville for the first time. Quite honestly after that thing was over, maybe a chance to battle for the win.
It just didn't transpire and I was a little upset about that. So I should have handled that a little differently with Jimmie. I didn't realize he was in the middle of his interview. I thought he was talking to some print reporters when I first went over there. I didn't realize he was on camera. I apologize for that. I should have maybe waited till he was done and then had my conversation with him in private with no cameras or media around.
Q. I know you were in TMS last week testing with a bunch of teams. Carl made the observation that he thought the track was taking on more rubber, the groove was getting wider. Did you find the same thing out there?
GREG BIFFLE: I tell you what, absolutely. I think it's going to be a fantastic race. The reason why is with a limited amount of cars there, we were running almost all the way up against the fence, on the bottom, and the middle had good grip. We were using the whole racetrack. There were only about 12 cars there, I'm guessing, 14 cars total.
I think it's going to be fantastic racing this week at Texas.
Q. We've had a lot of rain here over the weekend. Supposed to have more tomorrow. Will that track still be able to rubber up quickly with practice and everything?
GREG BIFFLE: Oh, yeah. That racetrack rubbers up in one practice session really, and will continue to take rubber. A little bit of light rain through the weekend, even if we had some, wouldn't be a big deal.
It's the gully‑washers that change it. I tell you what, a hundred laps in, 70 laps in, that place will be rubbered up from top to bottom.
Q. Could you talk about the pressures that you have on the track and all the extensive work you do off the track with all these different programs, charities, so forth? Talk about the balance of that.
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I mean, this last month has been absolutely crazy. We tested Martinsville, then we were testing Texas the following week. We flew down there. We figured out the weather wasn't going to be good enough. Rained out. We flew back home. We went back the next week. We just had so many commitments, so many tests, so many things going on, a charity event in the middle of all that. We're doing different meetings at the shop, trying to talk about next year with the new rules packages. We have NASCAR meetings. I tell you, it's been super, super busy for us this last couple weeks.
I sit here today looking at I'm going to be home for two days. Until after Homestead, only here for two days. It's been a busy year. I enjoy staying busy, but sometimes it's a little too busy.
We've had a good season so far. We'll keep digging.
Q. As far as making the Chase, not making the Chase, as difficult as it is for both, can you talk a little bit about that, how that wears on you over time do you think.
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, it really does. The last 10 weeks coming up to the Chase, you eat, sleep, think, every moment of every day is whether you're going to make it or not. How to get your cars better and faster. And if you do make it, how am I going to win the championship.
Then you have about two days of relief. That Sunday after Richmond is probably the best day of your life because you made the Chase, all the pressure's off, but you know Monday you got to figure out how in the world am I going to compete in this championship run now.
It's the best thing in the world to get in the Chase, then a few days later you got all the pressure of having to perform. And everybody is starting out at zero points, seeded by your wins. It is a tough balance. It's a tough balance. We enjoy it, though.
Q. Accepting that you want to finish the season by winning all three races, do you find yourself having a rooting interest for your ex‑teammate? Talk a little bit about Matt, what kind of teammate he was, what kind of guy he is.
GREG BIFFLE: Matt's a great guy. He was a great teammate. We're still pretty good friends. We do a lot of stuff together. But we compete with each other hard on the racetrack every week.
I mean, out of the guys up there in the title hunt, I think everybody has their own favorite or whatever, but I would like to see Matt win it. He's been a good guy over time. I think he deserves it. He's worked hard. Made a big decision to make a change. He's been at Roush a long time, like me.
You know, I'm happy for him. I'm glad he's been as competitive as he has been. He's going to be tough to beat. He may not need any help or any encouragement. You saw last week all the Roush drivers have been deemed, Can't drive at Martinsville. Just goes to show you that's not really the case when it comes to racing there. Matt finished second and led a lot of that thing, beat the 48 car by four or five spots, which was unbeatable at Martinsville the way you watched the TV coverage. Wasn't really the case when it came down to it.
Q. When you are in eighth place in the points, there's three races to go, how difficult is it to not turn your attention fully to 2014 and treat everything like a test?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, believe it or not, if you kind of analyze it, it's really easy to not do that. Each year, if you will, the season is graded by where you finish in points. So every position is very important when it comes down to the end of this thing.
Not only that, finishing third in points, or fourth or fifth, a big difference in where you end up, it's a big economic difference. The end‑of‑the‑year point fund money is a tremendous amount different between third and fifth, and seventh and eighth.
That being said, that's an increase for the team, for technology, all that. So that's what we work the whole season for. So certainly how much we would love to work on next year, our complete focus is to be as high as we can in points at the end of this thing.
Perfect example is last weekend in Martinsville, running fifth, having to come in, then come from the back all the way back to ninth with that kind of racecar. Just the difference between fifth and ninth last week was two positions in the points, from sixth to eighth in points.
You can clearly see how much is on the line. This is a sport, it's fun, short track is short track. But there's a hell of a lot on the line for the 13 drivers in this final bit. Now, maybe not the 12th‑ and 13th‑place guys, maybe not now. But for me there still is. I can get to third in points with a couple good runs. I win Texas, have a good run in Phoenix and Homestead, I'm looking at standing there third in points.
Q. No one really knows what next year's aero package is going to be anyway, right?
GREG BIFFLE: It looks like they've formed a pretty good outline around next year's aero package. That was my inclination when I sat in a meeting and they said they had six cars test the aero package at Charlotte. They were pretty confident this is kind of the outline it's going to look like. I think we have a good idea of what the aero package is going to be like. I don't think it's wide open. I think we have a good idea.
It's hard. We can't go test that because we don't have any tests. There's nothing we can really do about it until we get track time.
Q. In response to a previous question, you and Carl both said you're rooting for Matt. What does that say about the family atmosphere at Roush Fenway Racing even though he's not with the team anymore?
GREG BIFFLE: Well, you just have to look at it from a personal standpoint. I mean, I'm rooting for myself, okay? I'm rooting for myself, for those three guys ahead of me, four guys, that are a ways out there, to have trouble three weeks in a row. That's what any driver is rooting for, okay?
Besides that, it's multiple choice. Pick a guy from these three. Well, I'm pretty good friends with Matt. He was my teammate for a long time. We had a decent relationship. Process of elimination, what guy are you going to pick? If you got to root for somebody else besides yourself, I mean, he's the obvious one for me anyway.
THE MODERATOR: Greg, we appreciate your time today. Thanks for joining us. We wish you the best of luck this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
GREG BIFFLE: I thank you. Appreciate it.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks to our media for taking the time to join us today.
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