Ford Performance NASCAR: Greg Biffle Talks About Kentucky Rules Package

Ford Performance NSCS Notes and Quotes
Quaker State 400 Advance – Kentucky Speedway
Thursday, July 9, 2015

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Ortho Ford Fusion, stopped by the Kentucky Speedway infield media center to talk about the new rules package for this weekend’s race and what the cancellation of testing means for Saturday’s race.

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 Ortho Ford Fusion – WHAT ABOUT THE RULES PACKAGE THIS WEEKEND?  “First, I wish I was in here talking about how I got the pole in qualifying, but we’ll save that for later.  My second thought is we should be racing in California more because they really need the water and everywhere we’ve been it has rained.  I don’t know if it’s following us or what the deal is, but I’m really excited about this rules package for several reasons.  One, a lot of us feel like this kind of gets us back to, and I’m gonna be careful of what I say, back to the old days so to speak.  It gets a little bit of downforce off the car, gets the car not as aero dependent as it has become over time of the ride height rule, the thing being down on the track and sealed off.  There are ways to kind of recreate that and we’ll see how this happens when we all get on the race track and see how the car responds to it.  I think it’s gonna be exciting racing.  Cars are definitely gonna be slipping and sliding around a little bit more, and I think another component of this rules package will be the tire.  If we continue to go down this road is the tire providing a little bit more grip, a little less aero grip, a little more tire grip, and that tends to allow the car to slide around more and be more forgiving.  The harder the tire is and the more downforce, the car is stuck until it slips and then it’s gone and you can’t drive it.  That makes it difficult to race around your neighbor.  If the car is right on the edge, slides, comes back, slides, comes back, that’s easy to race around your neighbor and be aggressive.  I think this is definitely a great opportunity for us to get out there and see how this package works.  Hopefully, it shows some good promise and we can continue to maybe look at this opportunity.”

HOW MUCH DOES THIS NEW RULES PACKAGE BRING BACK THE SKILL OF THE DRIVER?  “I think that is definitely a factor.  In my opinion, that’s what this sport needs is more about the driver and the crew, and making those right decisions and seeing it out on the race track versus all the technology back at the shop and the wind tunnels and everything else, trying to drive – who has the best race car when you show up.  So I like this and still the technology and the bigger teams, the guys that have the aero right, are still gonna have an advantage, but I think it does possibly put it back a little bit in the driver’s hands, and we won’t know that until we see it because it is still way different than the way it’s been in year’s past even though we’re kind of arriving at less downforce.”

IS THIS AN IDEAL WEEK FOR THIS TO BE TESTED?  “I think these teams and the technology that we have are so smart, and I think everybody has had this package in the wind tunnel.  We don’t know what it’s gonna drive like, but we know it’s gonna be OK.  This isn’t like, ‘Oh, I hope this works.  We’ve got to get some practice in.’  It would have been nice to get some testing in to kind of hone in that setup a little bit, but at the same time it’s fair for everyone.  It’s a level playing field.  I didn’t get to test.  They didn’t get to test, so when we get on the race track it’s gonna be fair for everyone.”

IS THERE ANY IMPACT OF LOSING FOUR HOURS YESTERDAY AND TWO HOURS TODAY?  IF YOU DON’T PRACTICE TOMORROW COULD YOU RACE THIS PACKAGE WITHOUT PRACTICING IT AT ALL?  “I think we could probably race this package without testing it.  I doubt whether that will happen.  I think that we’ll at least end up getting some practice.  I think we’ll need some practice on the race track to race this package because we have gotten as close as we can with the setup and the springs and the shocks and the wedge and the front swaybar as we could possibly get, but I think we’re gonna need at least an hour practice session to get it, ‘OK, it’s not spinning out and I’ve got it fairly decent.’  Now, do we need four hours of testing and then an hour-and-a-half of practice and qualifying and all that?  No, we don’t need all that, but we do need some track time.”

THOUGHTS ON THE HIGH DOWNFORCE PACKAGE FOR MICHIGAN AND INDIANAPOLIS.  DO YOU THINK THAT’S A GOOD DIRECTION FOR THOSE TRACKS?  “Everybody has their own opinion and I really kind of reserve my opinion on that until we get on the race track with it and actually see what it does because I really don’t have any idea what it will do.  Typically, historically, the more downforce the front guy has, the more difficult it becomes for the trailing cars behind him.  The more aero dependent the cars become, the more difficult it is for the guys back behind him to get the little scraps that are left over, so to speak.  The less aero dependent the car becomes, then typically the better those cars in back can do.  Now, having big, long straightaways, having all that drag, maybe it can produce passes.  Obviously, we’re gonna be single-file when the corner comes, so I don’t really know how that package is gonna play out at those particular race tracks.”

WILL IT BE LIKE A SLIP STREAM WHERE THE GUY IN SECOND GETS A RUN LIKE THE INDY 500?  “I think so, but it just depends on how much of a run you can get.  I don’t know how it’s gonna work, but I would think the leader would be fast enough being in clean air that the guy in second can’t get enough of a run at him around the corner because he’s in dirty air to catch him on that big, long straightaway.  Now, if you want to talk about third, fourth, fifth, sixth-place cars, that’s gonna be completely different.  But that lead guy, when he has clean air, he’s gonna potentially be gone or stay far enough away because once you get in that wake your car won’t stick to the race track – you can’t get that run off the corner to catch him on that big, long straightaway.  These are things we won’t know until we get there.  What we’re doing here, we kind of have a basic idea of how that’s gonna work.”

WHAT DID YOU SEE IN THE AUSTIN DILLON WRECK AND WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION?  “We definitely don’t want to see big wrecks like that, and typically when we get bunched up in big groups that potentially can be the outcome.  Your first reaction is that these cars are really safe.  It concerns me and probably everyone everytime we see a car in the fence to any degree because there can be parts and pieces or then you’re relying on the fence to hold up for that vehicle and we don’t like to test those.  Personally, I don’t think we like to test those things, and one other observation I had.  I went back and looked at it because I was about 13th, 14th, 15th depending on how the line came across.  When we crossed the start-finish line I was about four rows back is it seemed to me we wrecked after the start-finish.  The race was over and then we had an accident.  Technically, the race was over so I had to go back and kind of look at what happened.  That could have been the white flag lap or lap 100, so that’s really irrelevant.  The accident did happen and it was scary, definitely.  None of us want to predict what the outcome could have been if the car would have hit up there differently.  It was definitely a scary incident.  I’ve heard a little bit of rumor about the speed we’re going.  These cars, when you get bunch up and one guy gets jammed underneath the other guy and you’re pushing these cars, they’re gonna get upside-down or flip up in the air no matter what speed we’re going.  If we’re going 125 miles an hour when you jam a wedge underneath another one, it’s gonna pick it up in the air.  It’s just a testament to how safe our sport is.  NASCAR has done an unbelievable job with SAFER barriers, and run-off areas, and paving areas.  I think about how dangerous Pocono was and how safe of a race track it is now with all of the paving and the SAFER barriers they’ve done on the inside.  I know it takes time for these tracks to react to these situations, but it just goes to show you that the engineering and what-not on that fence is what it needs to be and what it’s supposed to be and it did its job.  The safety equipment did the job inside the car and the good thing is we can learn from that and try to make improvements if we can.”

HOW WILL THE TRACK SURFACE AFFECT THE NEW PACKAGE THIS WEEKEND?  “This is kind of one of the bumpier race tracks that has a lot of character to it than the other race tracks we go to.  I think it’s kind of standard typical for us.  Some people said this may not have been the ideal spot with how bumpy it is with flat corners and what-not for the aero package, but I think it’s gonna be a good package for here with the surface.  We just have to get rid of the rain so we can get out there and experience it.”

THERE IS TALK ABOUT OTHER TRACK SPECIFIC PACKAGES.  IS THAT A GOOD DIRECTION TO GO?  “I have to say that I would have never expected NASCAR to do something like this in a long, long time.  I can’t applaud them enough on the decision they’ve made to do the low downforce package here and the high downforce package somewhere else and look at other packages.  Those are bold moves and it just shows you that they’re not afraid to make changes and make decisions on improving racing and passing and the excitement of our sport.  I still can’t believe we’re sitting here with this aero package and the aero package that we’re going to Michigan and Indy with.  I think it’s the greatest thing we could have done.  Now, whether they’re all gonna be right or all gonna be wrong or everybody likes them or agree with them, that doesn’t matter.  What matters is we’re doing it and we’re gonna see what works in real life races.  They’re gonna be exciting no matter what and then we can go from there.  Just like the double-file restart at the All-Star Race.  Why do we have double-file restarts now?  Because we did it in the All-Star Race and everybody loved it, so here we are.  Would this have been a better package to race at the All-Star Race this year?  Absolutely, but we just weren’t in that position yet.  We weren’t ready.  I think that’s an opportunity we missed, but they’ve implemented it here.”

THE BUMPINESS OF THE TRACK, HOW MUCH DOES THAT HELP GOOD DRIVERS ELEVATE THEIR PERFORMANCE?  “You’re probably chipping away at the edge of something that could be, but it’s still really team driven and car driven, and guys have a better package about getting over these bumps better.  Maybe some drivers are a little bit better at being used to the car moving around like that, but I wouldn’t say just because you’ll run well here or well there I wouldn’t necessarily say that makes a good driver, but you’re right.  This may adapt to someone’s ability or skill set better than other places.”

WHEN THEY INTRODUCED THE COT AND GEN-6 THERE WAS ALL THIS TALK ABOUT COST CONTAINMENT.  HAS THAT GONE OUT THE WINDOW WITH ALL OF THIS AND TRYING TO PRODUCE THE BEST PRODUCT ON THE RACE TRACK?  “The good thing about the way our cars are designed and built today is that it’s easy to shift that downforce and the drag, so the things that they’re doing are basically just accessories on our car more than a car change.  So by going from a three-and-a-half-inch spoiler to a nine-inch spoiler or a seven doesn’t necessarily cost a team really any money at all.  It’s a piece of aluminum, so that doesn’t really cost us anything.  And then changing the width of the front pan, which changes the downforce, there again it’s simply a piece that’s added or taken off the car.  The cost part of this experiment is fairly inexpensive, other than maybe the wind tunnel time and those kind of things, but as far as the change in the actual car it’s really superficial and minor.”

IT DOESN’T AFFECT THE CHASSIS?  “No.  Now if we start changing the chassis and start changing the rear-end housing and start changing all that stuff, yes – or the brakes or something else – that’s gonna cost a great deal of money.  But when we take the bolts out and change the rear spoiler, that didn’t cost us anything.”

FOR TEAMS THAT HAVE MORE MONEY TO SPEND ON THE FINER DETAILS WILL THAT HAVE AN AFFECT?  “I don’t think so because we’re already doing that, so that’s not really gonna change anything.  I’m saying when we got this package we had to put it up front and spend a short amount of time in the wind tunnel we probably weren’t expecting, but I think everybody did that so I think the teams have already experienced that.  With the way they’re doing it is not costing the teams a lot of money, in my opinion.  I’m not running the team, but I know about changing spoilers and pans and that doesn’t cost anything, technically.”

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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