NASCAR News

Ford Five: Week 2 of the Chase to the Championship

 

September 20, 2005

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Greg Biffle
NASCAR

Tuesday's "Ford Five" teleconference featured drivers Greg Biffle and Mark Martin. Biffle is coming off a fourth-place finish in Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway while Martin posted a seventh-place effort. Both drivers spoke about the Chase for the Nextel Cup and a number of other issues.

FORD FIVE TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, will be trying for the season sweep at Dover this weekend in the MBNA NASCAR Racepoints 400. Biffle, who has five victories in 2005, is second in the point standings and trails leader Tony Stewart by 20 points.

GREG BIFFLE - No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus - YOU WON AT DOVER IN THE SPRING SO YOU MUST FEEL GOOD GOING BACK THERE THIS WEEKEND. "Oh yeah, we really do. Our biggest concern was Loudon, New Hampshire. We predominately haven't run that well there, but we got fifth in the spring and then fourth this last race, so that was a big hurdle for us. The whole team is really excited about going to Dover this weekend. We feel strong about another top-five finish and possibly a win. You never know what can happen with pit stops and tire strategy and things like that, so I definitely feel confident with a top five."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE PENALITIES HANDED OUT FOR ACTIONS AT LOUDON? HOW DO THE PENALTIES AFFECT HOW PEOPLE DRIVE NOW BECAUSE EVERYBODY WILL BE WATCHING FOR EVERY LITTLE INCIDENT? DOES THAT MEAN YOU CAN'T STAND YOUR GROUND OR YOU COULD BE PENALIZED BY NASCAR BECAUSE THEY THINK YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE NOT? "Those guys that have been in the penalty box, yes. They're gonna be extra scrutinized, but keep in mind Kyle Busch did not get a penalty. Michael Waltrip didn't get a penalty for wrecking Robby Gordon on purpose. He did not get a penalty for that. He got a penalty for what they said he made a gesture out the window. If somebody were to take somebody out this weekend, there's gonna be no penalty for that. It's when that guy gets his car put back together or gets back going again and runs into the other guy on purpose, that's where the penalty phase comes into play. The first incident is always a racing deal. It's the second and third incident that is purposeful, so that's typically how those deals happen. The guys that are in that penalty box are gonna have to be cautious because, of course, the eyes are on them. Now if Kyle Busch would have spun out Kasey and Kasey would have drove into the garage and said, 'You know what, Kyle got into us and turned us around and I hate for that to happen to our number nine Dodge car,' and got on his airplane and went to the house and then came back at Dover and when Kyle cut down in the corner happened to catch the front of Kasey's car, nobody would be in trouble. It's when you use a 3500-pound weapon, shotgun - whatever you want to call it - and go assault somebody else with it on purpose, that's the problem."

HOW DOES SUNDAY REFLECT ON THE SPORT AND HOW OUT OF CONTROL WAS IT? "It was pretty unusual that we saw that kind of reaction from people. It's clear Michael Waltrip spun out Robby Gordon on purpose and then Robby Gordon retaliated, obviously. He was very upset for getting wrecked on purpose. Now the Kasey Kahne-Kyle Busch incident, yeah, Kyle took him out. It's clear on that, but did he get loose? Did he do it on purpose? Did he lose his brakes? I mean, at that particular time nobody knows what happened. Did somebody get in the back of Kyle and then in turn Kyle got into Kasey? Those are the kinds of things that you don't know at that particular time. Whereas, in Michael's and Robby's case, Robby knows that he did that totally on purpose. The caution was out and spun him into the wall the wrong direction. There are two separate issues there, but the same result happened. It's a high-pressure sport. The pressure is on for us to perform and when you're out there doing your hardest and running the best you can and you get taken out of the race, it's tough. Your adrenaline is up. There's so much stuff going on that it's hard to control yourself at that particular instant. We looked like a circus. The NASCAR race at Loudon looked like a cheap wrestling match to me. It was a little out there, I think. One incident, yeah, that can happen. But to have a couple in the same race, I don't think was good for us. Drama and all that and excitement and who is gonna beat who and seeing people's real personality and people upset, that's gonna happen, but I think it was a little excessive."

FOR THE MOST PART, THESE WERE CHASE DRIVERS INVOLVED. HOW MUCH MORE DEFENSIVELY DO YOU HAVE TO DRIVE WHEN ALL THAT STUFF IS GOING ON AROUND YOU? "A bunch. You really have to pay attention. When those two guys are racing next to each other or they're battling it out like that, or you know there's a history between these guys, you've got to be prepared that something's gonna happen in front of you and you're gonna have to try and avoid it. You go from concentrating on your race car to trying to figure out how to pass a guy in the best spot, plus you've got a guy breathing down your throat from behind you. Now you're trying to watch out for somebody who is retaliating against somebody, so that's tough. It's really hard to do and we've got to stop the retaliation. I understand. I've done it. I've got fined. I got 100 points taken away for punching a guy through the window at Richmond. I've gotten money taken away for other things. It's frustrating, but you've got to be able to contain that because you're gonna end up catching an innocent bystander up into it."

HOW IMPORTANT ARE PIT STOPS IN THE CHASE VERSUS HOW THEY WERE IN THE PAST? "Pit stops are super-important. Track position is so critical. We know the championship was decided by eight points last year, so every single position is so valuable. It doesn't seem like it at the present time. Like I was racing Matt for position at the end of that race. I mean, we were dog-fighting for third place. That very well could have been deciding the championship. You don't know that now, but you have to race like that and the pit stops are the same exact way. That could definitely be a turning point. It is difficult to pass and that is a factor."

IS THERE ANYTHING NASCAR CAN DO TO MAKE THEIR POINT? OBVIOUSLY 25 POINTS AND $10,000 ISN'T GOING TO GET THE JOB DONE. "It's tough to say. I've said a long time ago, and I'm putting myself in that position because I've done the same thing in the past, I've retaliated, but, in order to get it to stop, what they have to do is they have to say, 'If you retaliate on purpose and we can tell that it was done blatantly to somebody, or spin somebody out on purpose, you will sit out the next week. No questions asked. There will be no discussions. There will be no anything about it.' Then you have to answer to your car owner, you have to answer to the sponsor, you have to answer to all these folks why you're not racing. But that's the only way it will ever stop."


Mark Martin
NASCAR

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, has four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series wins at Dover, including three straight fall race triumphs from 1997-99. He's coming off a third-place run in the spring and enters the weekend in seventh place, trailing Stewart by 54 points.

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus - YOU'VE FINISHED FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD IN YOUR LAST THREE DOVER RACES SO YOU MUST BE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE WEEKEND. "We are. I love that place and we couldn't be going to a better place right now."

WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT ALL FIVE ROUSH CARS MAKING THE CHASE? "I'm not sure how to do that other than to say that it is an incredible accomplishment for a man who has certainly worked for it and deserved it. I don't know what else to say about it."

IS IT DISAPPOINTING TO SEE ALL THIS TALK ABOUT PENALITIES AND RETALIATION, INSTEAD OF THE CHASE? "Yeah, it is. I don't like it, but to be honest with you, I watched the news when I got home to see what everybody said and to see what everybody did - and my wife is a great indicator - she's not the biggest fan in the world but she said that was the greatest race she'd seen all year because of all that stuff. Be real honest about it - the people love that stuff. Not that it's a good thing, I think it's a really bad thing, but it is news - big news."

IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT THE CHASE THAT YOU DIDN'T EXPECT HAVING BEEN IN IT ONCE ALREADY? "No, to be real honest with you, I've been in the top 10 15 times in the last 18 years and, really, the biggest difference in the chase in the way it was before was that if you didn't make the cut, now that there's a chase your opportunity is over. If you do make it, things are not that much different than they have been in the past, to be real honest with you."

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A RACE WHERE IT WAS RED-FLAGGED JUST TO GET TEMPERS IN CHECK? "No, obviously that was a first, I think, for everyone. It wasn't all a bad thing. I think they should just do that at every race before the green flag comes out and maybe we could have some real racing. As you noticed after that, it resembled a NASCAR race from the old days, where we ran about 60 laps without a caution, which is unheard of nowadays. I applaud NASCAR and I applaud the drivers for letting us have a little real racing going on there."

HOW IMPORTANT ARE PIT STOPS IN THE CHASE SEGMENT? "The pit stops are always incredibly important, but now that the spotlight is on 10 races anything that goes wrong can be the critical mistake, whether it's behind the wheel, whether it's on the race track, or whether it's just flat bad luck - if it's in the pits or whatever. So the spotlight is on right now and, in some ways, that makes the pressure a lot higher. But in the real world it's down to 10 races and that's quite a bit of racing and a lot of things happen. The championship won't be decided in the first race and it won't be decided, really, in the last race. It's decided by all 10 put together."

TALLADEGA IS IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS AND YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE IN THE TOP 10 WITH A WIN THERE. IS THAT AN ADVANTAGE AND WHAT ARE YOUR SENTIMENTS ABOUT THAT PLACE? "I wish we weren't going there in the chase because it's kind of like playing Russian roulette. Certainly having a win there, actually I think I've got two wins there, doesn't give you any advantage because it's kind of rare that people finish where they should. It's just a race of who is where they are when the shuffle goes on and if you were lucky enough to be in the right place when the shuffle goes on. One of the things I've always said about when you make a move on the race track and it turns out to be the right one, everybody makes you out to be such a smart guy. But that same move would be wrong if other people on the race track did something different and you don't have any control over that. So I say that there are just a lot of things that go on out there that you really don't have any control over and you have to hope that things turn out in your favor. The best that you can do is to try and have a good car, but it's really difficult to have a better car than everyone else when NASCAR governs every 16th-of-an-inch on the car from top to bottom and front to back. It's quite a challenge with all the wrecks that happen and everything there. It's certainly the biggest wildcard in the chase."

WITH ALL THE TALK ABOUT YOU COMING BACK TO THE 6 NEXT YEAR, YOU SEEM TO BE HAVING SO MUCH FUN. DOES THAT TAKE SOME OF THE LUSTER OFF WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO AND DO YOU THINK YOU'LL HAVE AS MUCH FUN NEXT YEAR AS THIS YEAR? "I doubt if I'll have as much fun next year as this year. I don't think about next year. I'm having a blast this year. The fans have made this the best year of my career and all the folks that I've been able to work with and the competitors and everyone have made it great. I'm not thinking about next year, obviously because I don't want to. I'm thinking about these last 10 and the final activities that I'm gonna do with the fans and the salute program. That's where my focus is."

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN AFFECT THE OUTCOME AT A PLACE LIKE TALLADEGA? THEY'VE GONE TO THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED, SO HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOURSELF FOR SOMETHING LIKE THAT? "I prepare for a wreck if it's Talladega with a green-white-checkered. We can do it and not wreck, but I think the last time we did it the sides of the car maybe looked like a Martinsville car. You can't help that. That's what the racing does. I'm not blaming that on the drivers, I'm blaming that on the set of circumstances that we have. We have a huge race track that is capable of 230 miles an hour and we're trying to go around it in 190. It's just like a bunch of guys out there in a little bitty underpowered go-kart or something. Everybody is fighting for the same piece of real estate. There's not anything that you can do about that, but just hold on and hope that everyone really respects one another and we haven't seen a lot of that."

Pat Tryson's Five Keys to Winning at Dover:

Pat Tryson, crew chief of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, won with driver Mark Martin at Dover International Speedway last season, and he offers these five keys to winning at the high-banked concrete oval nicknamed "The Monster Mile."
"The car has to turn really good in the middle."
"You can't get it where you're too loose off."
"You have to take care of your right-front tire."
"You got to be really good on long runs."
"You've got to have some luck go your way."

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