Ford Michigan 1 Thursday Advance (Greg Biffle)

[media-credit name=”www.mispeedway.com” align=”alignright” width=”175″][/media-credit]Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:

Quicken Loans 400 (Michigan International Speedway)

Thursday Advance (June 14, 2012)

CarParts.com
American Muscle

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, lost his points lead last weekend but heads to Michigan as one of the favorites at a track he and his Roush Fenway teammates have dominated over the years. Biffle talked to media after the extra day of testing on track Thursday at the freshly repaved track and talked about what the new surface was like and more.

GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – HOW HAVE THINGS GONE SO FAR WITH YOUR TEST ON THE NEW ASPHALT? “Things have gone pretty well. I felt like I needed to step it up a little bit. I was like 32nd on the speed chart and felt like I was going as fast as I could go. Man, this place is really, really fast. I never would have thought we would be running 35.80. Every lap is like a qualifying lap and you are holding your breath. You make about three and come in and think about it for awhile. Our car picked up speed and we kept working on getting it down out of the air and working on different things and drivability. We got it pretty decent there at the end. I am pretty happy with it but don’t know what it is going to turn out like here. I am curious to see when the temperature heats up in the afternoon and the track starts taking rubber, where the speeds go. The one thing that I have like and seen so far is that the track is pretty wide. The groove is all the way up in the middle of the second groove and that is certainly going to help racing around here at those speeds because it gives some options.”

CAN THESE SPEEDS GET TOO FAST? “I think we are approaching some safety concerns at the speeds we are going. I don’t know that we are quite there yet though. The thing you worry about is if a piece breaks on the car, an engine breaks at an inopportune time coming off the corner or getting in the corner. If a spindle breaks or component because we are going faster than we have ever gone before and we are probably loading these cars more than we ever have so we are certainly testing the components of the car. The mounts and sway bar hind joints to make sure they are strong enough. We are certainly pushing the envelope and with the extra speed, the wall still isn’t going to move when you get there. It can be somewhat of a concern if the track continues to pick speed up.”

HOW FAST IS TOO FAST?  “That is hard to say. Guys have gotten hurt at Richmond before. It is not necessarily the sheer speed of what causes a bad accident or what not. Certainly the higher it gets the easier that the intersection line can be.”

WHEN YOU COME IN THINKING ABOUT THE SPEEDS ARE YOU THINKING YOU AREN’T SURE IF YOU WANT TO GO BACK OUT THERE? ARE YOU IN QUALIFYING TRIM? “No, we are in race trim. We aren’t in qualifying trim yet. Qualifying trim will be spectacular I am sure. It is just how fast this place is. I mean, I knew it was going to be like this when they repaved this place because it has some banking and is wide. The corner entry is a real long arc. It just has a lot of grip and that is how it is going to be. We tested at Texas World Speedway and went this same speed. We went 218 there like five years ago, or maybe longer than that now. These big places, they are going to make a lot of speed.”

IS THERE A SENSE THAT DURING THE RACE IT WILL SETTLE DOWN?  “Basically what makes the speed is the grip. If the race track starts to give up grip, it is supposed to be 80 or 90 degrees on Sunday and this is our first day. As this track takes rubber and takes rubber and gets hot and slick, you could easily slow down a second like that. Easily. Then the speeds are more reasonable. Right now we are out there running 35.80 or 36-flat and that is pretty damn fast for a race pace. I think as the track rubbers in and that speed starts to drop down that I think that is what you are going to see in the race. You always see slower race pace, even at Pocono we saw it a second slower in the race than we practiced.”

IS THIS VERY MUCH DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU WERE EXPERIENCING LAST WEEK? “Not a lot different but this track is a lot different. Entering the corner at 211 at Pocono we slowed down a tremendous amount. Here you don’t slow down a lot. You enter the corner at 218 but we looked at our brake trace and we are using them at 175 psi which is just barely dragging the brake pedal. That is hardly putting any brakes at all. We aren’t putting the brakes on at the end of the straightaway at 218, we are just turning it into the corner. At Pocono you are slowing down for the corner. That is what makes this much faster, the center corner speed is dramatically higher than that situation.”

DALE JUNIOR HAS GONE FOUR YEARS WITHOUT WINNING A RACE. CAN YOU IMAGINE? WHAT DOES THAT DO TO THE DRIVER WHEN YOU GO THAT LONG? “Oh, it has to be terrible. I would think about retiring. (laughter). I better quit teasing. Everyone is going to hate me. You know, it is really tough. Last time I went a year and a half or something like that. You know, it wears on you. It does. It really does and the other thing that is actually worse for him right now is that he is running so good that it seems like when you run as good as he is running the pressure is even greater because you know a win is just around the corner, if that makes any sense. When we started out this season I hadn’t won in a year and however many races, 40 or 50 or 60 or whatever it was. So, We were running so good and then you start thinking about it. ‘When are you going to win, when are you going to win?’ Him running as good as he is, we all know and his team knows and I know that he is going to win a race. He was close at Pocono and is fast again here. He ran good at Dover and they are going to win. It almost puts more emphasis if you will on when. I don’t know if that is more pressure for the driver. I certainly felt pressure at the beginning of the season, as good as we were running and leading the points, how we needed to get to victory lane. It was quite a relief when we did get that win. We have been close on the second, so we just need to keep working at it. It weighs on you, but it is kind of funny, if you are running 10th, 15th, 18th, it isn’t at the top of your mind because you probably aren’t in the position to win at that point. Right now, he is in position to win and running good enough to win, so the emphasis is there.”

HOW MUCH INFLUENCE WITH THE SPEEDS WE ARE SEEING NOW WILL HAVE ON THE NEW CAR THAT THEY ARE STILL TWEAKING WITH? “I don’t think so because we have to race everywhere. We aren’t too fast at Dover or Richmond or all these other places, just here. It is hard to do something to the car to slow it down at one race track versus everywhere. I don’t know that there is anything they can really adjust on the new car to not have as good a race or car at Loudon and some of these other race tracks. I just don’t know what they could do to the car.”

DO YOU THINK A RESTRICTOR PLATE IS POSSIBLE THIS LATE IN THE GAME? “I would be surprised if I saw a restrictor plate but I have to admit that if I was on the other side of the game I would be a little bit nervous right now with the 218. Like you said, it is kind of late in the game. Who know what it would do, that is the biggest unknown. We know it slows the car down a little bit but where do you start? Are these engines capable? That is a lot of unknowns.”

YOU JOKED ABOUT NOT BEING THE POINTS LEADER ANYMORE, BUT IT IS YOUR TEAMMATE WHO IS. HOW DANGEROUS IS MATT KENSETH RIGHT NOW AS FAR AS CHAMPIONSHIP AND EVERYTHING? “It is unfortunate we gave the points lead away with a broken engine. Certainly we were running third when the engine broke and Matt finished seventh. When we were running third we had a strategy to stay there the rest of the race. It is quite possible I would have finished in front of him and extended my lead by a couple of points maybe. Maybe I finish fourth, fifth or sixth, at least in front of him. That is kind of unfortunate that it happened that way but we understand. I understand that things happen and quite frankly I contributed to that engine issue. I followed the 27 car through the dirt accidentally. I was right against his bumper and I couldn’t see. I just went where he went. Getting into turn three we were off the track and trying to miss that big pile of grease sweep that the track just put down where there  was no oil on that corner. We were trying to miss that. We knew we had to stay under it, otherwise you would slide way up the track and I went off in the dirt and plugged the front grille up and we ran the oil too hot for too long a period. That resulted in breakage. Matt is going to be tough to get back in front of. He runs good here and all these places. We will see.”

HOW LONG DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE BEFORE YOU CAN RUN ANYWHERE YOU WANT TO ON THIS RACE TRACK? “That is probably going to be awhile, simply for the fact that as we continue if you look at the arial view of this place where the black is, in order to run any higher than that is more distance and the only reason why you would run there is if there is less grip. From at least the center all the way to the bottom. This place is so damn wide, I love racing here, but right now we are probably, it is probably eight grooves in the corner and we are running three and a half. You could put probably three cars side-by-side in the corner right now, minimum two for sure. I don’t see it going a lot higher. I don’t think there is going to be any more speed to be had the higher you go.”

SO THE GUYS THAT HAVE TRADITIONALLY RAN IT AROUND, YOU DON’T SEE THAT HAPPENING? “I don’t see that happening, just because you are barely out of the gas now and if you drive up any higher it will just be further of a distance I think. It will probably go some, but it won’t go that high I don’t think. I have been wrong before though. I have only been wrong once though.”

DO YOU THINK IT IS GOOD FOR THE SPORT OCCASIONALLY TO HAVE A TRACK LIKE THIS WHERE THE SPEEDS ARE WAY UP THERE? IS THAT DANGER GOOD? “I think so. I don’t see anything wrong with this. It definitely is going to gain some attention going 218 miles per hour and I don’t know, it has been a long time since we have gone that fast. I think that it is good for our sport to have a little – lets face it, controversy is why we have all these reality shows right? – a little action and controversy doesn’t hurt us from giving us something to talk about. It is worthy of talking about. It is fast and a new track and not quite as smooth as Pocono was but it is pretty fast.”

SOME OF THE CRITICISM HAS BEEN THAT THE SPORT HAS GOTTEN TOO SAFE AND SOME OF THE REASON PEOPLE TUNE IN ON SUNDAY IS BECAUSE WE ARE NOT CRAZY ENOUGH TO GO 218. “Yeah, but we don’t want to kill anybody either. We have to walk that fine line of not killing people and creating excitement. I think the biggest thing is that when people say that it is too fast or whatever is that it makes it hard to race other cars at that speed. You look at the places we go the absolute fastest and sometimes those aren’t the best races to watch. Sometimes the tracks that are a little bit slower put on a little better side-by-side action and more bumping and grinding. I promise you that you aren’t going to bump somebody at 218 mph, I promise you that. It isn’t going to happen. Saying that just because we are going that fast, doesn’t mean it is going to be a great race. Just because the speeds are the thrill or excitement. TV tames it down a lot. Watching in the grandstands here and watching on TV at home is a lot different. It numbs you from that speed. High speed doesn’t always mean exciting racing. Sometimes a little slower speed actually could be a little more exciting and thrilling. You are seeing guys root and gauge and go.”

WILL WE SEE DRAFTING?  “The whole thing you have to remember about drafting is you only want to draft on the straightaway. When the corner comes you don’t want a car in front of you. It isn’t Talladega or Daytona. The car will just slide up the race track because it doesn’t have air on it from the front. It is looking for that 2,000 pounds of down force to stick. When the corner comes you don’t want a car in front of you. When you come off the corner and get straight, you want a car in front of you to help it down the straightaway. These straightaway’s are just long enough to get the affect of a draft but then you drop down and go above them when the corner comes.”

HAVE YOU NOTICED IT IS EASIER TO DRIVE UP AND GET BY SOMEBODY IF YOU HAVE A SLIGHTLY FASTER CAR? HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT THE LAST FEW WEEKS? “I can’t say that I have. At Dover, certainly not for me. My car was not right for Dover. It is possible that we see that and it is going to be certain tracks and certainly not here. We have the softest rear springs that we have in the cars and we have the right side skirt back down. They took an inch off it or whatever and we have it dragging the race track again at this place. You can’t do that at Dover or other places. You can’t seal it off. This particular track, we have it sealed off. It makes the car drive. The car needs that aero when it goes into yaw on the corner, it needs that aero side force to make it drive right. The places you can’t get it down, the car won’t drive with that soft a spring in it. It just won’t drive, so you have it up in the air. Dover was a bad example because I wasn’t that good there.”

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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here