Biffle, Kenseth & Edwards Meet Media at the Monster Mile
Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards spoke to media members at Dover Internation Speedway, a track all three have had past success with.
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is currently seventh in the point standings, 191 points out of the lead. In 15 starts at Dover, Biffle has has brought home two wins, six top-five finishes and nine top- 10 finishes from the Monster Mile. Biffle took time to speak about green-white-checkered finishes, spoiler tweaks and what drivers can do at Dover to gain an advantage.
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – A THIRD OF THE WAY INTO THE SEASON, HOW HAVE THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED CHANGES AND OTHER CHANGES FOR THE FANS AFFECTED YOU SO FAR? “Well, it has been really exciting to know we are going to finish under green most likely. It has created a lot of chaos at the end because you really don’t know what to expect. So much of it is what lane you get in. Unfortunately, I have been on the negative side more than the positive side. I was on the positive side at Richmond in the Nationwide car, finishing second and almost won. Inevitable you are in the lane that is not preferred on the race track or a guy in front of you spins his tires and now you are three-wide and everybody is going by. It has been exciting. I like the two green-white-checkers and I am not sure about the third one. I has certainly created excitement. ”
THE CHANGES WERE OBVIOUSLY MADE FOR THE FAN. ARE THEY STILL TWEAKING TO FIND WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE FAN AND WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE SPORT? “I think so. I am an advoacate of two green-white-checkers. I know they implemented three, but as a fan, sitting for four or five hours, I belive that two is plenty of opportunity for us to get it done under green. It has worked so far, just how they have planned.”
HOW DOES THIS TRACK COMPARE TO A SURFACE LIKE DARLINGTON? “This track is completely different than Darlington. This is concrete and really fast, but it is unforgiving like Darlington. The straightaways are really banked and there is no room for error here. The track drives a lot different and looks a lot different than Darlington.”
A LOT OF YOUR FELLOW DRIVERS SAY THIS TRACK IS ONE OF THE MOST PHYSICAL ON THE SCHEDULE. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? “I think it is because like Darlington, it is very bumpy inside the car. You are really getting your body shaken around a ton here. You know you cannot make a mistake here or you are going to wreck. It takes a lot more concentration and focus here than most tracks which wares on you as well.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW HARD IT MUST BE FOR BRIAN VICKERS TO MISS THE RACE THIS WEEKEND? “Yeah, to us it is very scary. Brian is a good guy and we hope that he is well. Nobody has heard exactly what the issues are. Obviously it is health related and not something he has done to get into trouble. I look at it as that could be me. I could be laying in a hospital bed somewhere missing a race and it would be heart wrenching for me to go through that. Certainly anything can happen to any one of us and we just hope and pray that nothing happens to us and we hope and pray that Brian is able to get back with us soon.”
IT HAS BEEN SIX RACES NOW WITH THE SPOILER, HAVE YOU NOTICED A MARKED DIFFERENCE OF HOW YOU HAVE TO DRIVE OR HOW YOU HAVE TO SET UP THE CARS? “There is a difference between the spoiler and the wing, but it hasn’t changed the cars as much as I thought it would. It has changed the way they race around each other a little bit and the way the car starts to get loose. I think it turns better on corner-exit, but it is not dramatically different. I would have thought, personally, it would have been a bigger change. Like once the car got out of shape it wouldn’t be as easy to drive. They did put the big fences on the deck lid, the shark fin, which made a huge difference.”
IS IT GOOD IN THE GARAGE TO SEE PARODY AND NOT SEE JUST HENDRICK WINNING EVERY WEEK? “Yeah, it seems like we are sneaking up on them a little bit. Definitely the Childress and Gibbs cars are and we feel like we are right behind those guys. We are working hard at getting close. I think there is a lot of parody in the garage and I don’t want to throw mud or anything, but they have been lucky too. They qualified well which is not a knock against them. They got track position and that is important which allowed them to win some races early. Obviously Hendrick is a dominant force but I think that parody through the garage is obviously good for the sport.”
WHAT KIND OF THING CAN YOU DO OUT ON THE TRACK HERE TO MESS GUYS UP OR KEEP AN ADVANTAGE? “It is kind of limited actually. I feel like that is more practice. If we are running really good and a car pulls out behind us, we will pull in. When it comes to the race I want to keep my pit row speed accurate. If somebody wants to play games and you think they are doing it deliberately then I will run into the back of them to make sure they close up or don’t speed up and slow down. If you are coming hard enough and they want to change a lane, then you might get up and shove them out of the way. There are guys out there like Montoya and Tony Stewart, and a handful of other guys, aren’t going to put up with stuff for very long. I have the wheel and the gas pedal and the brake. If we are coming, it is time to get out of the way. It works the other way to. If a guy is coming up on my I am not going to block the guy, I am going to do my best to get out of the way. Montoya and Stewart are just examples of guys that will rub you to get you out of the way pretty quick, they aren’t going to wait for you to move. I think we are all like that to a degree. It just depends on the circumstances and you have to understand that when you catch a guy and he is racing the guy in front of him that he is already involved in a race.”
IS THERE ANY OTHER GAMESMANSHIP STUFF THAT PEOPLE DO OUT THERE? “Not that I have picked up on really, no.”
Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Scotts/Aflac Ford Fusion, will make his 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Dover International Speedway in this weekend’s Autism Speaks 400. In 11 starts at the one-mile track, Edwards has one win, five top-five and seven top-10 finishes. Edwards scored his only Cup win here in Sept. ’07 and has led 297 laps at the Monster Mile. Edwards stopped by the media center to discuss his finish at Darlington, and his frustrations so far this season.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Scott’s/Aflac Ford Fusion – CAN YOU START BY TALKING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AT DARLINGTON? “You know, Darlington was probably our biggest struggle of the year. We have had a lot of meetings this week to figure out how to make the car the very best we can coming into here. I think we have a pretty good car, but we will find out for sure here in a minute. This track has been very good for me and Greg (Biffle) and Matt (Kenseth) over the years, so hopefully we can have a good run.”
SIX RACES IN WITH THE SPOILER, HAS ANYTHING CHANGED IN TERMS OF HOW YOU DRIVE THE CAR? “It is a little different, but not as much as we thought it would be. It is hard to point at just one things and say it is different. We obviously haven’t quite figured it out. There hasn’t been an ah-ha moment for us with it. We are still trying to get a better handle on it.”
ONE OF THE MOST SURPRISING STATISTICS MIGHT BE THAT YOU HAVE ONLY LED TWO LAPS IN SPRING CUP, IF YOU CAN GET UP FRONT AND LEAD LAPS, HOW WOULD THAT HELP WITH MOMENTUM FOR YOU? “It really isn’t about momentum, it is about having our car fast enough. When we got done at Darlington, I felt like I did a better job, worked harder and drove smarter than some of the races I have done. If we can keep doing that, but get our car faster we will be fine. It isn’t the engine and it isn’t the actual car. It is getting the set-up right and if we can get better there then we will lead laps and win races. It is hard to explain to people that when the car is good it is easy. When the car is bad it is a lot of work. It felt good to run well at Richmond, and if we can run that well every week we will win some races, but we have to start running that well each week.”
MUCH HAS BEEN MADE OF JOE GIBBS RACING POSSIBLY CATCHING HENDRICK, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT AND WHERE DO YOU GUYS THINK YOU ARE IN THAT FOOTRACE? “We are not in that footrace right now. We are trying to catch up and get a handle on things right now. If we can consistently run top three or top five, like the Gibbs guys seem to be able to do, they yeah. They seem to be very capable of competing every week. We were like that in 2008. The amazing thing is that the Hendrick cars are able to do that every year and people make runs at them. I guess in a way, for the Gibbs guys to go out there and put pressure on them is good. We aren’t good enough every week to be in that race right now.”
THE DAYTONA NATIONWIDE TEST IS NEXT WEEK. ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO DRIVING A MUSTANG? “Yeah, that is going to be a lot of fun. Those Mustangs look great. I think that is one of the best things NASCAR had done in awhile, letting us run those cars. I would love to be the first guy to win in a Mustang in a NASCAR race, that would be really neat.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOU THAT YOU AREN’T GETTING FRUSTRATED? “I am very frustrated. We are all very frustrated. I have always believed that if you are frustrated about something, there are productive ways to use that. You won’t see Bob or myself or my guys yelling or throwing things out of frustration because we want to be constructive with our energy. Man, it is frustrating though. I wish we were faster, we just aren’t. We are working on every other aspect though and hopefully once we figure out whatever it is we are missing then we will be screaming fast.”
WHEN YOU OVERLAY YOUR LAPS WITH THE HENDRICK OR GIBBS CARS, WHERE ARE THEY BEATING YOU PHYSICALLY ON THE RACE TRACK? “I haven’t seen an overlay of a race lap. Sometimes those are frustrating to look at, but right now our cars are hard to drive. You go in a corner and I can’t make the car do what I want it to do. When I relay that to Bob, he isn’t able to change the car the way I want it to change. That come from the set-up we are running. It isn’t as simple as just lowering the track bar or putting some wedge in. It is tough. At Darlington for example, the car would be loose, tight, loose, tight … it was all over the place. It makes things very difficult. If you look at a guy like Jamie (McMurray), it shows you a guy that can go from a situation where you don’t like the feel of a car, to a spot where you are very fast. On one hand it is very frustrating to me , but on the other hand it gives me a big light at the end of the tunnel. If we can just make the thing drive well, then I can run that well too.”
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, brings a streak of four straight top-five finishes at Dover into the Autism Speaks 400 this weekend. Kenseth, who also won the 2006 spring race, took time to talk about what it takes to be successful at the Monster Mile and the importance of winning races and running in the front of the pack.
MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion – YOUR THOUGHTS ON DOVER? “I always love coming to Dover. It is probably my favorite track to come to. Our performance is usually better here than the rest of the tracks. It always gives us a confidence boost to get here and get out on the track.”
IT HAS BEEN A FEW RACES NOW SINCE THE WING AND SPOILER SWITCH, WHICH DO YOU LIKE BETTER? “I like it better like this. I think if nothing else it looks better. It doesn’t seem like it really made a huge change balance wise. I think NASCAR really did their homework to make sure the car had the same aero balance as before. I don’t think it has been a huge change, there has been some change, but not a real big deal.”
YOU ARE FIFTH IN POINTS BUT YOU HAVEN’T WON A RACE OR LED A LOT OF LAPS, WOULD IT BE A SURPRISE FOR YOU GUYS TO COME OUT AND CONTEND FOR A WIN HERE ON SUNDAY? “It would probably be a little bit of a surprise. I wouldn’t be shocked though. There have been races this year where we performed well enough to win. We finished second in Atlanta and we were second or third on that last restart at Martinsville. In Vegas I think Jeff and Jimmie had better cars but we ran second or third there all day. We have had the cars capable of winning in the right circumstance so I wouldn’t be shocked because we have been right there. This is one of our better tracks, if there is a track we have a shot at it would be this one.”
IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU, GREG, CARL AND THE OTHER GUYS TO GET WINS EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE FIFTH IN POINTS? “I can’t really speak for those guys, I can only speak for myself and my team. To me it is important to win, but more than that if this makes sense, it is important to put yourself in position to win and be up leading laps. If you look at Jeff Gordon’s year, I don’t think he has won yet but he has led like 800 laps and has been in position every week. It is just a matter of time until he wins. You always want to win every week, but more so for me it is important to have the performance of the car and the team, everybody involved, being a contender to win. If we are up there leading laps and in contention, eventually we will win. It is important for me to get out performance up to a championship level.”
TEN RACES IN WITH TODD ON THE PIT BOX, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHEMESTRY AND BONDING WITH TODD PARROTT? “It has been good. Like any new relationship there is a learning curve and ups and downs. You learn what you like and dislike about each other. I am sure he wishes we were doing better. I wish we were doing better, but it has been a positive change. It has certainly brought us some experience and leadership to the team, which has been good. It is a long season and whenever there is a change it is exciting and starts off good. What we have to do is keep that going through the rest of the season. Todd and Chip really get along well and are doing a good job of figuring out what we need in the cars and taking care of that end. It has been good.”
WE HAVE HAD SOME PRETTY EXCITING FINISHES WITH THE NEW GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FORMAT. HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT WITH RESPECT TO WHERE YOU WANT TO POSITION YOURSELF AT A TRACK LIKE DOVER. “Yeah, there have been some exciting finishes and there have been some wrecks. I wish we didn’t finish like that. I wish we had 20 or 30 lap runs at the end. Sometimes as a driver I guess I wish it didn’t come down to a two-lap shootout when you have been racing for three or four hours. It seems like more often than not there is a caution toward the end and we have those restarts. It changes the strategy and makes it tougher on everybody to figure out everything that comes with that. We have to concentrate on short runs much more than we used to. We have to work on all that stuff a lot harder than we used to because it seems like more times than not it comes down to that.”