Ford Racers Talk About the Pepsi MAX 400

       Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, has a pair of wins
this season, including last week at Kansas Speedway.  The win allowed
Biffle to move within 85 points of leader Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series point standings.  He spoke with reporters after
Friday’s practice session.

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – HOW HAVE THINGS GONE SO FAR?
“I’m certainly really excited about coming off a good week last week
and the car is fast right off the truck again – good in race practice
and we switched to qualifying practice and I think we ended up in the
top five, so it looks the same as last weekend so far.  It looks like
we’re gonna have a decent qualifying run, although we’ve got to back
it up on the race track now.  We’ll see what happens here in a little
bit, but I feel really good about this race track.  I like it here.
We run well on this race track and I just can’t wait for Sunday and
can’t wait for qualifying, hopefully get a good lap and look forward
to the race.”  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAVING ONLY ONE CALIFORNIA
RACE NEXT YEAR?  “Obviously I’m not real excited about that.  This is
probably one of our best race tracks that we race at, so getting cut
down to one time – me personally – it’s gonna hurt.  I’ve got a lot of
family here and get back to the west coast a little bit.  I’ve got
friends and family who come from Washington and Oregon, where I grew
up.  I see a lot of people here I used to race with and fans, so it
gives all the west coasters a chance to come and visit this race
track.  So I think it has a pretty good draw from a lot of different
states.  As far as that goes, one is the personal side of it. I really
enjoy coming to Southern California and get to see everybody, but two,
I run really good here so that’s kind of a double thing for me.  I
guess the bright side of it is, if there’s a positive, is at least we
get to come here once a year.  Unfortunately, we’re not gonna get to
come twice.”  DO YOU THINK THE FR9 IS COMING ON AT THE RIGHT TIME AND
WHY OR WHY NOT?  “I was hoping that this was gonna happen.  It was
kind of ironic that the FR9 engine came in right as Ford had struggled
for so long.  We really struggled with our cars.  Our engines have
always been great and made great power and been reliable, so it was
like, ‘When are we ever gonna get our cars turned around and get our
cars running better and be more competitive?’  And right as we did
that, we were integrating the FR9 engine into the program, so it sort
of makes it look like the FR9 engine is really our saving grace in the
whole thing, and that’s part of the piece of the puzzle, but it’s not
as big as what some people from the outside would look at that don’t
know a lot about the sport.  They say, ‘Oh, they’ve got their new
engine.  Now they’re winning races and really competing well.’  So
really, where the turnaround was, if you look back at our stats, was
Chicago for all Roush Fenway cars.  The RPM cars had outrun us for the
better part of the season, so we kind of switched to more of their
suspension package in Chicago and I think Carl has three second-place
finishes then, I’ve got two wins and was running second when the
engine expired at Chicago that very race, so, really, that was kind of
our turnaround race.  We really turned our program around and the
engine came on board, so with the two combination, it certainly made
us a ton better.  Some of the things about the engine, it makes a
little bit better mid-range power, which the passing takes place from
the center of the corner to the corner exit.  When you put the gas
down, the guy whose car handles the best and puts the gas down the
earliest is normally the guy that will make the pass, but also that’s
where you need the engine to have its most power.  So this engine does
that a little bit better and then the cooling package, we’ve really
caught up to all the other manufacturers on our cooling package.  It’s
a little bit more efficient, so we’re able to match the tape on the
front of the car as the other guys, so those two things – and it’s got
the lower center of gravity.  It is a little heavier than the old
engine just because we had to make our engine a little bit longer to
match the other manufacturers, so it has plusses and minuses to it as
far as what it does.”

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED — ARE YOU FEELING MORE COMFORTABLE WITH IT NOW
AND CAN PUSH THE LIMITS MORE?  “Yeah, I definitely do, especially
after last week because we definitely tested it last week.  The engine
was on the chip for three-quarters of that race from just past the
flag stand all the way to the corner.  The engine shop said, ‘Make
sure you don’t run this engine on the chip.  We don’t want it running
on the rev chip.  Run it right before it.’  When you start making it
miss on cylinders it gets angry inside with all the parts and pieces.
Of course, we listened to them and then ran it on the chip for
three-quarters of the day and the thing lived the whole time.  I got
preliminary reports back that everything looked good in the engine –
the valvetrain looked good, everything looked good – so maybe in the
future we can get another 100 RPM and get the blessing from the engine
guys to run the engine another 100 RPM.  It’s not that you can’t run
it another 100 RPM if you feel like it, it’s just particular tracks.
Like here, we’re turning 9400 RPM or so – 9350 or so, and then in the
race we’ll probably turn only 9100.  So that’s an extreme from last
week when it was turning 9600.  This week during the race it’s
probably turning 9100 or 9200, so it just depends on the race track
and the temperature of the day as far as how many RPM the engine
runs.”  IN THREE OF THE LAST FOUR RACES THERE HAVE BEEN FIVE OR FEWER
CAUTIONS.  AS A DRIVER, HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT  AND IT IS MORE
DIFFICULT TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS DURING THE RACE?  “Yeah, I can
definitely attest that there have been less cautions because we are
unfortunately sitting here eighth in points because we pitted at Dover
and the caution came out the next lap and caught us two laps down and
the caution came out only one more time.  So with a top 10 car we
finished 19th and here we sit 85 points out of the lead.
Respectfully, we should be about 40 points out of the lead or maybe 35
if we would have just got our laps back that we lost because of that
caution flag.  So, yes, I have seen more green flag running, although
last week it seemed like there were more cautions – a few more than
there were at Dover.  I think the trend is kind of up-and-down and as
we figure these cars out and we all get better at driving them and
more proficient, I think as drivers and teams we make less and less
mistakes, and, of course, that means the caution comes out less and
less as we go.  I think it’s just a product of everybody getting
better.  The engines getting better – if you remember, it wasn’t
uncommon to lose an engine and now it’s a lot more rare to see an
engine failure because technology has gotten better and the guys have
gotten better about building them.  And to be honest with you, these
cars are easier to drive than the old cars.  The old cars you really
had to be on your toes.  These cars are a lot easier to drive.
They’ve got a lot of sideforce, the sides are real big and tall,
they’ve got a huge spoiler on the back of them, so the cars are much
easier to drive and they wreck a lot less.”  IS IT MORE DIFFICULT TO
MAKE CHANGES WITH MORE GREEN FLAG STOPS?  “Yeah.  You’re worried about
getting on and off pit road, which is okay, that’s really not the
biggest thing, the biggest thing is you don’t get a chance to
experiment.  If a race has a few more cautions or a normal amount of
cautions, then you won’t be afraid to put some wedge in it and change
the tire pressure.  Well, when it runs green for four cycles in a row,
if you’re off a little bit, you can get lapped or lose a lot of
positions in a hurry.  You have to be much more executed on the
decision you make because the chance to un-do it if it’s the wrong way
is normally about 70 laps later when you’re out of gas – then you get
to come back and try it again.  Under that scenario, it’s not as
easy.”

GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED — MARTINSVILLE IS THE SMALLEST AND SLOWEST
TRACK.  WHY DOES IT CREATE SUCH A BIG CHALLENGE?  “I think that is the
challenge – the smallest race track is probably the biggest thing.
When you take 43 cars and there’s really one lane that makes the
fastest way around the route, it’s hard for everybody to get in that
same lane and make things happen.  That’s really the biggest thing
about it.  The bottom is the fastest way around it because it’s so
flat.  It doesn’t provide any banking, so you can’t really effectively
run the top much faster.  If it had a little bit of a progressive
bank, the top might be a little bit faster, where you could kind of
run up and down the race track, so that’s really the biggest thing is
you’re trying to put so many cars in a circle in one lane around the
bottom of the race track and that’s what makes it so hard – just makes
it really, really difficult.  You get bottled up from the guy in front
of you, the guy behind you can get the gas down and turn underneath
you, sticks you on the outside and even though you’ve got a good car,
you just got checked up a little bit because the guys up there are
playing bumper cars, and, all of a sudden, you get shuffled to the
outside and you can lose 15 spots before you can get back in line.
It’s kind of a gamble.”  HOW DO YOU TRAIN YOUR FOCUS ON WHAT YOU’VE
GOT TO DO EVERY RACE AND NOT LET  THE 48 BE A DISTRACTION WHEN IT
LOOKS LIKE THE SAME SCENARIO PLAYING OUT AGAIN?  “It’s pretty easy for
me because the way I look at it is I worry about the 16 car and get
the best finish I can here at California.  I’ve got to beat Tony
Stewart, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jimmie Johnson and all the rest and
it really makes no difference who I’m racing for the lead or who I’m
racing for fifth as far as what car it is.  What he does, I don’t have
any control over, so I focus on getting the best finish and not making
any mistakes.  Whether it’s sixth or third or a win this weekend, I
just do the best I can.  Last weekend, when I finished the race at
Kansas I had no idea, and I still don’t today, who finished third,
fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh.  I guess that’s bad of me, but I’ve
been so busy this week I haven’t looked at the finishing order.  And I
didn’t know Jimmie finished second until I was in the media center and
somebody said, ‘Well, what do you think about the 48 getting second?’
I had no idea where he finished.  I didn’t see him all day.  I didn’t
see him one time.  The guys later told me he was running in the teens
with about 40 laps to go, or something like that, and they made some
adjustments and got better and whizzed their way up to second place.
That’s a perfect example of paying attention to what we’ve got to do
and do the best we can.  I can’t control what they do.  Unfortunately,
they got all the way back to second, but we’ll just see.  Hopefully,
they’re off one of these races and we can gain some points on them.”
WHICH TRACK IS MORE AGGRAVATING FOR YOU AS FAR AS TALLADEGA OR
MARTINSVILLE BECAUSE THEY’RE VIEWED AS THE TWO WILD CARD RACES?
“Probably Martinsville because there is so little room to race and so
little you can do on that race track.  We predominantly as a company
and as a team have not run as well at Martinsville as we would like
to, so, with that being said, my vote is Martinsville is probably the
nemesis more than Talladega.  We’ve run restrictor plate races and
you’ve got more room to try and get things done and draft and pick a
lane and do those kinds of things, although we did get 10th in the
spring at Martinsville.  We can go back there in the fall do that or
better that by a little bit I think we’ll be good.  And Talladega,
we’re just like everybody else.  I’m ready for it.  I don’t let it
affect me, that we could get caught up in wreck or that somebody else
could.  You just go in there and run the race, when they throw the
checkered flag you look where everybody finished and head to the next
one.”

       Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion, finds himself
53 points out of the points lead thanks to fifth and sixth-place
finishes the last two weeks.  Edwards, who will be a guest on
tonight’s Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, spoke about his team’s
improvement after practice.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON
THIS WEEKEND?  “Our Aflac Fusion is pretty fast.  I believe that last
week was a good test for us.  That Kansas race track is a lot like the
Auto Club Speedway.  It’s going to be a really hot, slippery race on
Sunday.  It looks like the temperatures are gonna be pretty high.  The
track temp will be really hot, so, hopefully, we can get a good
qualifying effort in here in the next hour or so and start up front.
I feel like our team has been marching towards this points lead just
little bits at a time and I think this track is an opportunity for us
to do that again.”  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AS WE GET READY TO GO TO
MARTINSVILLE?  “The spring race, Matt Kenseth had a chance to win that
race and I think, if you ask Matt, that’s not a great race track for
Matt.  Our car was pretty fast.  We’ve had on and off days there, but
I look at that race track where if we can qualify well and can run
like we’ve been running, we’re gonna be good, but it’s a bottleneck.
It’s a spot in the chase that I’m a little bit nervous about, but
we’ve just got to qualify well there.  I think that’s the thing that’s
hurt us the most in the past.  Once we get out there running I always
feel like we run okay, but we’ve just got to make a good lap.”  TEXAS
IS SHORTLY AFTER THAT RACE.  WHAT CAN YOU DO IN A NATIONWIDE CAR THERE
THAT YOU CAN’T DO IN THE CUP CAR AND DO YOU PREFER ONE OR THE OTHER?
“Texas Motor Speedway is a lot of fun to drive in any car.  The
Nationwide car there is just so hammered down.  You’re on the throttle
so much that it’s a different kind of race than the Cup race, but I
like them both.  There is no carryover or transfer of information.
The Cup race there is spectacular.  The track is very well suited to
the Cup cars.  You can run different lines, the speeds are extremely
high, and the track has a little bit of character with the way the
transitions work and there are a couple of bumps that make it a fun
track to drive.  But for me, the biggest thing at Texas is just that
crowd.  Seeing that many people at a race track and that many real
race savvy fans, that’s a really special place to win.”  HOW DOES THIS
RACE BEING 400 MILES CHANGE THINGS FROM THE SPRING RACE?  “Oh, so this
is a 400-mile race?  I thought it was a 500-mile race all weekend.
Man, I’m glad we covered that.  That’s gonna go quick.  The thing is
it’s gonna be hot and starting at noon, a 400-mile race here should be
over at about 3 o’clock or 3:30 at the latest.  It’s such a fast race
track, so that will change things a little bit.  I was really looking
forward to the 500 miles.  I like the grueling aspect of this race
track and that long distance race, but I think for the fans things are
gonna shake out.  The fastest car will probably be leading by the
400th mile, so if that makes it a more exciting race, then that’s
good.”  YOU HAVE A BIG DEFICIT IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES, JUST LIKE
LAST YEAR.  IS IT THE SAME PHILOSOPHY OF TRYING TO GAMBLE A BIT TO
CATCH UP?  “Our Nationwide program, we’ve just got to go out there and
learn the most we can and take the most risk we can to try and win
races, but, really, it’s about building for next year.  I’ve committed
to running full-time next year.  I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to
race for the championship or not, but we’ll still keep our own score
if we can’t.  We just want to go out and be the best we can for next
season, so that’s what we’re really focusing on right now.  There are
a lot of changes coming to the Nationwide Series and I think that what
we do now is we just focus on building towards that.  Brad has been
doing a great job this year.  They’ve got a really big lead and
they’ve earned it and, unless something major happens, I think they’re
gonna be able to keep that lead.  So we’ve just got to go for it, I
guess.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED — WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT NATIONWIDE CHANGES
FOR NEXT YEAR?  “I don’t know how many guys from the Cup Series are
planning on running full-time.  I think it might just be me.
Hopefully, Brad will run again.  It would be great if Kyle would run.
It’s fun to be able to race with those guys for points.  That’s fun.
I think what NASCAR is trying to do is they’re trying to make an
opportunity for the Nationwide Series to be more of a development
series.  I think by eliminating the ability for a guy like myself to
run for the championship, I don’t think that changes the face of the
average Nationwide race.  Kyle Busch has won 11 races this year and
he’s not racing for the championship.  There’s nothing that would keep
him from doing the same thing again next year, or our team winning 11
races next year – whether or not I was racing for the championship.
The only thing it does hurt is team’s ability like ours to go out and
get sponsorship to run for the championship.  That’s an important
thing to Copart and Fastenal is for us to have an opportunity to do
that.  I know they’re looking at it from all different angles and I’m
glad they’re doing that and not making a rash choice and, hopefully,
they come up with the right decision.  But I don’t know what it is,
yet.  Nobody has told me.”  IS YOUR SETUP DIFFERENT FOR THIS RACE THAN
EARLIER?  “It is a little bit different because the track will be
slicker, the times will fall off more, it’ll be a different race, so,
yeah, the car has to be set up differently.”  DO YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF
CAR YOU’LL BE RACING AT THE RACE OF CHAMPIONS LATER THIS YEAR IN
GERMANY?  “No, Jim Hancock from the United States team is here and we
haven’t had a chance to talk about everything yet, but I know he’s
here and he can talk to you about that.  Travis Pastrana has committed
to going.  I’m committed to going.  It’s in that big soccer stadium,
but I haven’t seen what kind of cars we’re gonna race yet.  We’re
gonna go there and get all the practice we can and try to beat up on
those Germans (laughter) the best we can, but they’re pretty fast.”
WHY DOES A LONGER RACE WORK BETTER FOR YOU.  YOU SEEM DISPPOINTED THIS
IS A 400-MILE RACE?  “I work really hard to be as fit as I can be.  My
trainer, Dean, from Carmichael Training Systems, we work really hard
to be prepared for these long races.  I can’t believe I didn’t know
this was a 400-mile race.  This race track just seems like one of the
hottest race tracks we go to sometimes.  When the sun is out here
there is no escaping the heat, so I feel that those long races play
into my strengths physically, and then I feel that from a handling
standpoint and the way the car drives, I think the hotter and slicker
it is suits me and our team as well.  I grew up racing at dirt tracks
and I really like when the car moves around a lot.  I really enjoy
that.”

Advertisements

One thought on “Ford Racers Talk About the Pepsi MAX 400

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s