|No. 16 3M Ford Fusion Driver, Greg Biffle|
(Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing, joined the media Wednesday afternoon to talk about his season so far. Biffle is the current points leader for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, having one pole qualifying position, three top-five finishes, and four top-10 finishes.
Biffle started the Q&A session by stating what a relief it was for him and his entire team to have gotten off to a great start this season like they have. He reported Bristol and California as being the tracks where they knew they needed to be a little better and weren’t as competitive as they had hoped to be. Despite being a top-10 car, Biffle and his team are not satisfied with that. He said he and the team have a little ways to go before being the best and being on top.
When asked by a member of the media about his thoughts on Tony Stewart’s start this season and whether or not this start concerns him, Biffle admitted that it obviously concerned him and his team. Saying that he was still trying to figure out what exactly happened in the previous year, he called Stewart’s championship a "storybook thing." He then went on to say he played a small part in it because he, Clint Bowyer, and Stewart were all battling for the 12th position in points to get into the Chase. He chalks it up to Stewart’s team finding “something that’s working for them and is making their cars better than everyone else” and went on to say "that’s what this game’s about." Biffle then mentioned Ryan Newman and his team, stating that this combination has trickled down to the No. 39 team, in reference to Newman running much better this year than last.
Biffle talked about his points lead and responded to a comment about how the past has shown a lot of guys lead points early in the year, then lose the momentum as the season progresses. He says that he knows, and he believes the team knows, they won’t lead the points the entire season. He’s happy that they are working hard and continuing to maintain the points lead, but he faces reality and knows that if and when he loses the points lead, he will not let that "take the wind out of his sails." He says it all boils down to attitude and the team has a positive attitude and will continue to have one, whether in the lead or not.
When asked about his relationship with crew chief Matt Puccia, and whether he believed Puccia could lead him to a championship, Biffle had nothing but praise for his crew chief. He thinks that if anyone can take him to winning a championship, it’s Matt. “He’s the hungriest guy I've ever seen in my whole life and is the most focused to win a race. I cannot wait. I can’t wait till we win a race because he deserves it.”
Biffle also gave a lot of credit to Puccia for how well he is doing this season. He also gave credit to the shop, the engine program, and the new fuel injection. He called the changes a "seamless transition." He claims that he’s not doing much of anything different behind the wheel of a racecar. He says he is staying focused and giving it a hundred percent all the time. He says he is just doing all the things he has been doing all along, but with different results this time.
Looking ahead to Martinsville, Biffle admits that it isn’t his favorite track. However, he says he already has a spot picked out for a grandfather clock and he wants one “so bad.” Despite running well at Martinsville in the Trucks and Nationwide, he states that Martinsville just hasn’t been one of the best tracks, as a company. He isn’t sure the team has a chance of winning there this weekend, but he thinks there is a solid chance of bringing home another top-five finish. That being said, Biffle confidently stated that he “likes challenges and Martinsville is going to be a challenge… I’m ready to go there today.”
Biffle also credited Martinsville at being the track where he is most concerned about qualifying. Having qualified in the top-10 in every race so far, he says that Martinsville will be his biggest challenge, qualifying-wise. He credited close qualifying times and tiny errors placing you far back in the pack as the reasons behind this, calling it a very “technical” track.
The subject of Dale Earnhardt Jr. also came up in conversation. Biffle agreed that it would be great for the series to see Dale Jr. in Victory Lane. He believes it would take pressure off the sport because Dale Jr. is such an "iconic figure." He’s also glad it’s Dale Jr. and not himself having to deal with that pressure and go so long without winning a race. He says that there are often jokes about “getting him a win” in order to "let everybody think about something else for a while."
Biffle also debunked conspiracy theories in which people say that certain events are “fixed” in NASCAR. He referred to the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 when Dale Jr. was leading coming to the white flag. Biffle said he himself was leading with half a straightaway. He says that he "had that thing sewed up until Jimmie Johnson’s engine blew up." He said, had a caution every come out, Dale Jr. would have won that race, and at home. In his eyes, he thinks that is proof alone that NASCAR isn't "fixing" anything. He claims it is "pretty cut and dry."
In regards to his pit crew this year, Biffle says that he now has the entire over-the-wall team of David Ragan’s former No. 6 Cup team. He says there was some downsizing with team members and he has a few guys from Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s Nationwide team, as well as a few guys from his old 16 team and so on. Despite the changes, he claims it to be a "good mix of people." He again gives credit to his crew chief and company for assembling a great group of people.
Biffle also talked about maintaining a sense of humbleness while on top in the sport. He says that it really boils down to the fact that NASCAR is about winning and “you’re never happy unless you win or are winning”. He then asked himself if he and his team are happy finishing in third (or whatever)? His response was "Yeah, we’re happy because we went there, we gave it a hundred percent, and that’s the result we ended up with. But we’re going to continue till we reach that Victory Circle."
Biffle finished the session by discussing how being a driver does require leadership skills, to a certain degree. He claimed the driver has to be "part of the solution, too." He broke this down by talking about how there were two kinds of drivers. He said, “There’s some drivers that don’t want to be involved or are kind of disconnected, get in the car and just drive, try to say what it’s doing, and the crew chief just works on it. Then there’s another driver that has more of a sensory system, can detect a problem and try to be part of the solution or figuring out what’s wrong with it.”
It definitely seems as though Greg Biffle falls into the latter category of drivers he described. With his season so far, there is no doubt in this media member’s mind that Biffle is a problem-solver. And, it looks like the problem of how to win a championship could very well be solved this year. Only time and more races will tell and I look forward to watching it play out.