Ford Thursday Advance (Biffle and Edwards)

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, held a Q&A session in the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield media center after Thursday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session. He was followed shortly after by Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards.

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – “I’m really excited. We ran extremely well in the All-Star Race and we brought our car that we finished fourth with in Texas. I feel like we have a really good race car. The car was decent in practice. We went a little bit early there for the final run and then a big cloud kind of moved in, so, unfortunately, we got bumped down the list quite a ways by all the guys that went late with about two minutes to go. So we have a little bit of an early draw. It’s really hot, so a late draw is gonna be really important here, but it’s a 600-mile race and I don’t know that it’s super-important on where we start, but pit box is important as well, so I’m feeling a little pressure to try and put down a good lap here in a little bit. I think we have a great opportunity to run 600 miles here and be pretty good at the end.”

THE NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES WILL HAVE ITS 400TH RACE AT KANSAS AND YOU WILL BE DRIVING THE PACE TRUCK TO THE GREEN FLAG. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? “I’m more nervous about that than racing here on Sunday night for 600 miles. It’ll be the first time I’ve driven a pace car to the green flag, so, hopefully, I won’t make any mistakes. I learned so much in the truck series. They gave me my start and gave me my opportunity. I really miss the truck series and all the people there, so I’m looking forward to going back and getting an opportunity to visit with the officials and spend a little time with them before bringing the field down to the green. I’m pretty excited about it. I can’t wait.”

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YOU GUYS HAVE FOUND SOME ADDED PERFORMANCE SINCE THE START OF THE YEAR AND IT LOOKS LIKE TEAMS LIKE RCR HAVE FALLEN OFF A BIT. IS THERE ANY REASON TO EXPECT YOU WON’T BE THAT GOOD AGAIN THIS WEEKEND? “I think you’re gonna see that again, although Jeff Burton was the fastest in practice, so they’ve got their car going good here in qualifying trim. He ran pretty good in the All-Star Race, so I think teams are picking it up. I still feel like we’ve got a little bit in the fuel tank. We’re getting better and better, and I think we’re gonna continue to get better for the next month or two with our cars. We’re going to some of our really good race tracks coming up. We feel the pressure, the 16 team of winning. We know we have to win. Let’s face it, we show up every week and try to win – all drivers do – but it’s important for us to get that win. We’re trying every week, but we know we need it to get in the chase.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY GOODYEAR IS BALANCING THE TIRES? “Not many people pay enough attention to come to that analogy you came to and you hit it on the nail head. What’s changed in our sport, I’m not gonna say the old days but about five years ago, if you had too much camber in the right-front, the car is too tight, you were too hard on the right-front tire, it would blow out. You would have problems or issues. The driver had more responsibility inside there behind the wheel. We cannot make it to where it is absolutely childproof inside that car, where you can do anything you want and nothing is gonna happen. I understand we kind of painted and pushed Goodyear into a corner. People don’t want to see on TV a Goodyear tire blowing out. The general public says, ‘Oh, that tire failed or blew out.’ Well, it’s not always the tire’s problem. When you hit a curb or something in your passenger car and break the wheel, it’s not the wheel’s fault, it’s your fault because you hit something. They don’t want tires blowing out. It’s a safety issue. We can’t just say, ‘OK, if you drive too hard your right-front tire is gonna blow out and you’re gonna go in the fence at 200 miles an hour.’ So that’s not safe either. You’re right, there is a balance there. Some of these race tracks we’re getting a softer tire back. They tried at Bristol and Bristol is a good example. Goodyear brought a soft tire. The thing had a ton of grip. It slowed down, but it ran out of rubber too soon, so they brought in a different tire for the race, changed the Nationwide cars 25 laps into the race onto a different tire – an unprecedented change – so they’re working as

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED – “hard as they can to try to bring us a tire that is as absolutely competitive as they can make it. But these new surfaces and new cars, the way they’re designed and built, who would have ever thought they’d be two-by-two at Daytona? Nobody anticipated that when they repaved it. It just so happened to when we showed up, so I don’t think anybody has really planned what has happened, but I agree that some of the tires used to be softer, they’d run fast at the beginning and then start falling off, and when that green flag came out, you had to come and get tires, or at least two, and not just whoever is out front was the fastest car. It’s put a lot of pressure, and when you make all the cars the same. When everybody is the same speed, all cars through the field, the top 15, it’s hard to pass. Before, you’d have a couple fast cars and then this guy is not as fast and not as fast. When you make them all the same, it’s really hard to get one guy in front of the other guy because he doesn’t have enough speed difference to be able to pass him. We’ve always been aero-tight, always. But the cars are so sensitive now and we’re so close to the same speed that when you get within five or four car lengths of him, you can’t really get any closer. That is a difficult thing. Nobody is playing it that way, it’s just evolution with what’s happened.”

HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED A SPEEDING TICKET? “That’s a loaded question (laughing). In my younger days I have driven a little faster, probably, than I should have a time or two. I never got pulled over or never got a ticket for doing that, but the fastest I’ve gotten stopped is maybe 85 or 90 – something like that. I think I got pulled over going 90 out in California. I was on my way to the desert one time, going through the desert with tumbleweeds and was on Highway 8 or something like that. That was probably the fastest I ever got a ticket for, but there is obviously a time and a place for going a little bit faster than we should at times. You just have to watch your P’s and Q’s.”

DO YOU WATCH IT MORE CAREFULLY BECAUSE YOU’RE A NASCAR DRIVER? “I do. I will always make sure I take advantage of the nine miles an hour over the speed limit, but, beyond that, you have to be careful how fast you go. Certainly, you don’t want to cause an accident because that’s probably the worst thing to have in the newspaper being a NASCAR driver, so you have to take a little precaution when you’re on the road around other cars.”

HAVE YOU BEEN IMPRESSED WITH COLE WHITT IN THE TRUCK SERIES? “Yeah, I have. He’s done a great job and performed exceptionally well. Again, a lot of it has to do with the equipment. You’ve got to be in good equipment. I was fortunate enough and Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards to be in good equipment, but I am very impressed. He’s doing a good job.”

CAN CARL SWEEP THIS WEEKEND? IS THERE MORE PRESSURE ON HIM? “I can promise you I’m gonna make it very hard on him. That’s for damn sure. I thought I had a car probably as good as he did last week and I didn’t capitalize on it, so I’m gonna take advantage of capitalizing on it this week and not make that same mistake. A lot of it is track position. He got out front and seemed to be the guy, but he’s got a fast car. They’ve got the setup that won and we know he’s gonna be tough. We know the 18 is gonna be tough. There are about four or five cars that were fast in that All-Star Race. The 00 came on at the end, so we’re gonna have to beat those guys as well.”

IS THIS IMPROVEMENT MORE THAN JUST SIMULATIONS? “Yeah, we talk about this so much and it’s so many things. Every time we come to the race track it’s like, this is the lightest car we’ve built. And then two weeks later they’re like, ‘This is better.’ And not necessarily just lighter, but aerodynamics, components. We found this or that or some new whatever. We changed some products in the car. We’re building new dashes. We’re using less wiring or smaller wiring. We’re able to move some things around inside the car. We’ve got the new engine. Doug and those guys are working on the engine every week trying to make more and more power. We’re running stuff now that was R&D’d in the All-Star Race a year ago and during the All-Star Race, and by the 21 car that was raced a few times earlier this season. Now they’ve implemented it into our engines – maybe a couple more horsepower here and there. It’s just a combination of things. It’s the power.

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED – “It’s getting the weight down in our cars, getting the center of gravity lower, getting better aerodynamics, understanding the suspension and bump stops better. We know so far up to this point is it’s never one thing. One thing can screw you up, but not one thing can make you go fast, it’s always a combination.”

KANSAS IS NEXT WEEK. WHAT ABOUT THAT TRACK? “Kansas is a really fun track to me. I like it because it’s a little bit less banking, it drives a little flatter and there’s a little more technique involved. There’s a little more difficult for a mile and a half. I like the way it’s laid out. We’ve run really good there. I’ve been able to run up the race track, down the race track and it’s just suited my driving style – kind of like Darlington and a few of the other places. I’ve really taken a liking to that race track and these mile and a halfs. We haven’t been that good at Charlotte over the last two or three years, but this year in the All-Star and so far we’re really running good here and I’m happy about that.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – “It’s been a great week. That was a huge win for us. We went and did some road course testing this week, which is a lot of fun. I had the Speedway Children’s Charity Gala last night and that was a lot of fun. I was really pleased with how many folks showed up to that and donated money to Speedway Children’s Charities in honor of Bruton Smith and all that he’s done over 30 years with the charity, so it’s been a great week and we’ve got a couple fast race cars here for this weekend. I’m ready to go racing. This is gonna be fun.”

THE TRUCK SERIES WILL HAVE ITS 400TH RACE NEXT WEEK AT KANSAS. YOUR THOUGHTS? “That’s huge. If it weren’t for the truck series I wouldn’t be here. Mike Mittler reluctantly hired me to drive his truck in 2002. I ran seven races for Mike, so if NASCAR hadn’t come up with the truck series and guys like myself didn’t get those opportunities, this sport would look a lot different today. One of my biggest wins in my career, hands-down, was the truck win at Kansas in 2004. That was a spectacular win and it meant a lot to me. That’s cool. Four hundred starts at Kansas, that will be a neat race.”

HOW MUCH DOES IT MEAN TO YOU WHEN YOU DO CHARITY EVENTS? “The best way to describe that is I think you hit it right on the head, we talk a lot about how much people in this sport do for people in need, but I learned a huge lesson in that with my first trip to the Aflac Cancer Center. We went to the Cancer Center and I thought, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go brighten someone’s day here.’ And I got there and I saw children who were more courageous and had more positive energy and were kinder than I could ever hope to be, and they inspired me hugely. I thought, ‘Man, I came here with a totally different take on what was gonna happen.’ The reality is much different. I can speak for all of us here, when you run into a kid that’s gone through the things no one should have to go through and they’re eight years old and they have a smile on their face, and you can tell they really believe in themselves, I think that’s inspiring and I’m grateful to have met a lot of those people.”

TREVOR SAID YOU SAW HIM AND TOOK YOUR GUITAR. “That guitar is something very special. Trevor is one of those guys that I think we can all look up to for a number of reasons, but I learned a lot about Trevor with that trip. I walked into the room right when they were telling him they didn’t really know what was going on and it was a really scary moment, but the strength that he has is amazing. But that guitar was a gift to me from Zak Brown of the Zak Brown Band. It’s a little traveling guitar that he said he wrote a bunch of songs on for the last 10 years and he gave it to me and said it was something that always inspired him. When I went up to the hospital I knew Trevor needed something up there to do and I thought that guitar would be a good thing for him to have and it was neat to be able to bring it.”

DO YOU PLAY? “I play just a little bit. In fact, there’s a guitar company – Dean Guitars – just sent me a guitar that’s really neat and I was playing it in the motorhome before I went out for practice today. But I’m no good. You’ve got to give me a little bit of time and then maybe I’ll play you guys something. I’m no Monte Dutton for sure.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED — WHAT WAS KIMI RAIKKONEN DOING IN NATIONWIDE PRACTICE THAT IMPRESSED YOU? “They need to take about 500 pounds of right-rear spring out of that thing. He is loose and he was driving the wheels off it. I was just surprised. I didn’t know who was in that car. I had no clue, and then I saw that Perky Jerky on there and I thought it might be him, but he definitely has some car control, that’s for sure. That’s not lip service. That was pretty amazing. I might have seen smoke off the right-rear.”

WHAT DID YOU SEE IN TREVOR DURING THAT VISIT? “I don’t know what kind of details he’d like me to share, so I’m not gonna share any details, but, essentially, I felt like I didn’t belong in that room. I needed to leave and he said, ‘No, no, no, no. Let me show you exactly what we found out.’ And he went through everything and explained everything to me and I thought, ‘Man, he’s just learning all this stuff. I can’t imagine what’s going through his mind.’ We’re not old friends or anything. I’m a guy that he works with, so for him to stop and be so considerate to me and explain what’s going on and, maybe to his detriment, he has a trust of people that is something above and beyond what I’ve seen. He would walk in here and tell you guys, if you ask him a question, he’s gonna tell you the honest answer no matter how personal it is. He really believes in people. I don’t know if I’m explaining that well, but he was just very generous with his time and his explanations and extremely well composed in the situation he was in – much more than I expected. It was shocking.”

WERE YOU NERVOUS TO GO THERE? “I wasn’t really nervous to go up there, I just wanted to make sure he knew that we were thinking about him, but I didn’t expect that. I don’t know how to describe it, but I guess composure is the word. He just seems to be a very strong person.”

IS THIS SETTING UP TO BE A BIG NIGHT FOR RFR ON SUNDAY? “It could. It could be a huge night. I think one of the things that’s hard about this place is it’s so competitive and I think that the pit strategy is gonna play such a huge role in the outcome that it’s hard to just go into it and say we’re going to be dominant and we’re gonna have a shot at winning. I know we’ll have a shot. What I saw out of that All-Star Race is that the last pit stop can make or break anything, whether you’ve got a great car or not. It could really make things hard if you don’t have a great pit stop, but, overall, our performance has been there and it has been at these mile and a half tracks. We’ve been really, really good. It kind of reminds me of 2005. Every time we went to a mile and a half it seemed like all the Roush cars would be in the top 10. I hope that’s the case, but I still am a little hesitant. I don’t want to get too confident just because it’s a long race and there’s still a chance – you saw what happened with Tony Stewart at Vegas. I mean, he had the field covered and Matt came out of nowhere as far as I was concerned. I didn’t expect him to be that fast in the race, and I think there’s an opportunity for some guys to surprise people on Sunday.”

YOU MENTIONED YOUR TALK WITH KEVIN HARVICK LAST WEEK. HAS THAT BEEN A POSITIVE STEP FOR BOTH OF YOU? “Yeah. Let’s face it, we’re all competitors. If you go through the garage, there are a lot of people that you go through times like that with and there are a lot of people you really don’t like at certain points, but we’re all competitors. The biggest thing for me right now is just to focus on what we’ve got going on with our team. I’m grateful that I don’t have any big issues with anyone. We’re just racing. I think it’s good. I think it’s better for me and I’m grateful for it.”

WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN IN NICK HOFFMAN IN THE TRUCK SERIES? “I think Nick Hoffman is a guy that you guys are gonna hear about a lot in the future. His father and his uncle are amazing racers. Nick has been doing really well. He’s been running dirt modifieds and doing great with it. He does a backflip when he wins, which I think is really neat. They’re a family that are true racers. When I moved down to Charlotte and Jack hired me and I was looking for a place to live, I lived at their house for the first couple of weeks while I was in Charlotte, so they’re just good people. Nick is driving Mike’s truck. I think they’re going to Kansas with it and he’s a very smart racer. He’s got the gifts that it takes, it’s just a matter of him getting the right opportunities and him and Mike getting him that experience that he needs.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED — ARE YOU AMAZED IT’S NINE YEARS SINCE ROUSH WON A POINTS RACE AT CHARLOTTE? “That’s a stat I did not know. I’d say we’ve got a really good opportunity to end that streak, but I know I have run really poorly here. There have been some races where we’ve really, really struggled. I think the progress here is emblematic of the progress we’ve made overall. I think it’s a really good sign because this has a place we’ve obviously struggled. I didn’t know it was that bad, so for us to run the way we are right now here, I think is another little piece of evidence that we have made real progress. This is not just a flash in the pan. We have become better and that’s good.”

WHAT ABOUT THE PROSPECT OF SWEEPING THE ALL-STAR RACE AND 600? “It would be huge. It probably would have been easier with the other race car, but that is my fault and my problem, I guess. I joke around about that, but I think our car that we have right now is as good or better, so I don’t think that will really be a factor. But that would be huge. I don’t think about things like streaks and goals like that. What I really want to do is win that race because we want to win, first of all, but, second, I really want those bonus points going into the chase. I want that second victory to really lock ourselves into the chase with the wild card spot if something should happen. But, most of all, I just want to win that Coke 600. That’s a big race.”

THOUGHTS ON TWO RACES AT KANSAS AND IS THERE ANY FRIENDLY COMPETITION WITH BOWYER ABOUT WINNING THERE FIRST? “He can’t win there before me. That would be terrible. I’d like to race there every week. That’s a lot of fun. For me it’s a lot of fun because so many people from Columbia, Missouri go to that race. Yeah, there’s a healthy rivalry that dates back about 150 years with us and the guys right across the border there. If one of us could win that race, one of us is gonna win it before the other, I would definitely like to be the one to win that first. There would be a lot of pride. I think between Clint and I that would be a big deal.”

DOES IT DESERVE TWO RACES? “Yeah, I think Kansas deserves two races. I think the fans really love racing. If you look at Iowa, the fans there are really hungry for NASCAR racing. They’re real racers. There are more race tracks in that area of the country than there are anywhere else – it’s a lot like New York. There are a lot of dirt racers, a lot of really savvy racers, and a lot of racing families in history. So I think the people there really love the racing and I’m glad they have two races and I think they deserve them.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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