Atlanta: Pole winner interview
GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 Lumber Liquidators Ford Fusion (Qualified 1st)
"That was a lot of firsts. A first for Atlanta, a first for the season. I'm kind of surprised we don't have a pole here. We run very well at Atlanta and enjoy coming here and racing. Our car was really fast right off the truck. One of the problems I was having when we switched to qualifying trim is when I'd do my warm-up lap, I'd get to turn three and four and the car didn't really want to turn real good across the bottom and then we'd get really loose and I lost my speed coming to the green. The next time I adjusted that a little bit and we ran second-quick in practice, so I knew tonight I'd just have to be cautious about that part of it. I was somewhat concerned when Kurt Busch went. I knew that was really, really fast lap he put up and then Dale Jarrett right after him. Nobody else seemed like they picked up speed. I knew the 48 was fast and some other guys, so I was concerned with what the track was doing. Was the track actually picking speed up, so when I went out to make my run, I knew three and four was gonna be the key getting up to speed to get the green, so I probably left a little bit too much out there. The car just went around the bottom so good in three and four, it was unbelievable. I thought to myself, 'Geez, I wish I wouldn't have slowed down that much getting in,' but once I took the green, then I knew the track was good and really drove it off into one a long ways and the car kind of took a set and was right back to the throttle quickly. In three and four I didn't come out of the gas all the way, it just felt like the car stuck so good down there that it was gonna be still sticking to the race track. I came off at about a quarter throttle is all -- off the floor -- and kept the throttle down down there, so it was just a great lap. The car handled so well. The track had so much grip that I'm surprised there weren't more guys down in those 28.80's or 90's."
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE EDWARDS-KENSETH INCIDENT?
"I can't believe you asked me that (laughter). Well, what do you think about the souvenir sales out at the 16 truck (joking)? Pet calendars. We have them out there for the first time now. All the money goes to a good cause, so visit that. I encourage people to go out there (joking). I feel like we've thrown a lot of stones over the last week at everybody involved in this thing, but, really, the moral of the story is that Carl was a little bit out of line and I think we all know that and he's admitted that. We just need to mend that relationship between him and Matt and they need to race each other better on the race track, and that's what this boils down to. It doesn't boil down to a personality conflict. It doesn't boil down to how a person acts. It doesn't boil down to who is friends and who isn't friends, it boils down to how you race one another on the race track. We've all been taught to treat people how you want to be treated, or at least I have growing up and that's all it is. Carl was three-wide with Matt at Kansas and they bumped and he got a fender into the tire. That was Carl's choice to race three-wide at that point. Carl made the conscious decision to go out there and try to make that pass at that point in the race on the restart, so that was his decision. And then later when he went out of the race for unrelated reason, he crashed out of the race, it had nothing to do with that at all and was very upset with Matt. So that's where it all started obviously, and then at Martinsville I saw the whole thing, I had a front row seat. Carl got in the corner a little bit too hot. He should have started slowing down a little bit sooner or whatever the case was.
"If you've got a brake problem, then you start backing your corner up so you don't use the guy that's outside of you to stop you when you go down in the corner and they got together. And then they got together again on the corner exit, so it wasn't like, 'Sorry about that. I'm gonna try to leave you more room. I didn't mean to bump you.' So I think that upset Matt. If that would have been anybody. Let's not say it was Carl and Matt. Let's say it was Carl and Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson or me or Denny Hamlin or anybody else, and they went down in the next corner and Matt kind of bumped the back of him and moved him up the race track. We saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. do it the whole race. We saw other guys do it. That's what you do at Martinsville, you nudge the back of the guy and you get him out of the way and you move on, and that's what he did. In my eyes, I don't see anything out of the ordinary there. And, again, Carl was really upset about that, but if you bump into a guy, you expect him to bump you back and that's all it comes down to. It's not gonna be one-sided. I think that we've got that taken care of. We've communicated that to Carl and he's gonna have to work harder about racing around his teammates and maybe other guys around the race track as well, so we don't have that problem in the future. Where we need to get to, I said, if I'm in the middle of the corner and Jamie comes down and runs into my door, I know he made a mistake -- something happened. He got loose, somebody ran into the back of him, whatever happened he made a mistake. Right now, let's say Carl comes running down the corner and runs into Matt, we can't say that right now. We can't say, 'Oh geez, that was a mistake,' because it's a recurring thing and it's escalating. We need to get back to where if something happens you chalk it up as an accident and you go on without even talking to the guy. You've got to make a split-second decision that, 'shoot, something happened and I'm gonna cut him a break.' That's about all there is in a nutshell there."
DO YOU HAVE TO PACE YOURSELF IN THIS RACE OR DO YOU GO ALL OUT ALL THE TIME?
"It's a little of both because what can happen is if you get kind of running along and you don't push the issue a little bit and you're real happy with the car, let's say you're running third or fourth or wherever and you feel like your car is really fast, then when it comes time to put the hammer down -- there's 50 to go and we really have to step on the gas here and try to push the envelope, then all of a sudden you get too tight or you get too loose. So you've got to run your car hard enough to understand it's gonna get tight or loose. So typically throughout each tire run of the day you try to put your car at 100 percent. Maybe when you've got three or four car lengths in front of you or three or four car lengths behind you, not when you're racing a guy side-by-side you say, 'I'm gonna run my car 100 percent right now for the next 10 laps and just see what I've got,' if you are saving a little bit. A lot of times these days we're running so fast you're 100 percent all the time, but if you do have a good enough car that you can do that, you still have to make sure that you run it hard each tire run to make sure what the track is doing -- is it getting tight or loose. A lot of times you'll haul butt for half the race and then the thing will get tight and you can't fix it. We loosened it up, but now I'm too loose getting in but I'm still tight in the middle and you tire pressure and spring rubber and track bar and you can't fix it. So it's just a matter of not keeping up with the track, it's a matter of not being able to fix your car, and then that guy who has been way too loose the whole race, all of a sudden the track kind of starts coming to him because nobody can get it to turn. So that's kind of what you see, but you're right, Atlanta does do that for guys and, hopefully, we're gonna be on the receiving end of that when it comes down to the end of the race."
DO YOU GET SATISFACTION FROM STEALING SOME THUNDER FROM THE CHASE GUYS?
"Yeah, absolutely. I love it. We all know it, the story is the chase and the chase contenders and the points championship. That's the story. I'll say it now and I've said it before, if you don't make the chase, you're kind of left out, you're on the outside. That's what you've got to do is you've got to make the chase to be one of the guys that's gonna get talked about all the time. Last week, I finished seventh at Martinsville and that was a win for me. I was jumping up and down and I was hooting and hollering because the brakes didn't burn off the car, which they've done everytime I've been to Martinsville and laps down and all that and I finished seventh. I tell you what, you went and interviewed Jimmie Johnson, but I was happier than he was for sure. But when they did the rundown after the race they skipped over me. They said, 'Juan Pablo is eighth and on down they went.' I was like, 'Dang it, I finished seventh at Martinsville and they forgot about me,' but it's fun to come here and mess with these guys because we've got the race cars and the team to be in the chase. We hadn't earlier and it kind of felt the same last year. We missed the chase and toward the end of the season we kind of got a little mojo back and won Homestead and got going, but it seems we're a little more relevant now. We finished good at Loudon. We finished good at Dover and then we won at Kansas, so we feel we're really coming into our own right now. I think this momentum is gonna carry over. My next real test is Phoenix. How we run there is gonna be real important for me because that's the next COT race and, truly, that's what really matters to us for next year. Right now it's to win races and be in the Bud Shootout. Thank goodness we got this pole."
HOW MUCH ARE YOU FOLLOWING THE RED SOX?
"We're really following it, Jamie and I. We went to the game, I think it was Wednesday night, the first game of the series and we had a great time. It was pretty awesome. We got there and had pretty good seats in the upper deck. The place was sold out and we were real lucky to get seats and I had a great time. I drank a couple beers. I had a hot dog. I had some peanuts and did all the things you're supposed to do at a game, so that was a lot of fun. Then I watched the second game last night and was excited for them to win, but I'm really following it. I'm a pretty big baseball fan. I hadn't really paid much attention to it in the past because I didn't really have a team to root for or didn't really have an interest, and now that I do have an association, it's fun to have an interest and a team to root for."
LIFE IS GOOD RIGHT NOW.
"Yeah, they are. I can't believe it. If I would have known I was gonna run this good, I would have gotten married about five years ago (laughter). That'll teach me. I waited way too long. I might have been working on my second or third championship by now. I'm pretty excited about it. We've been running good before and after. We didn't run very good the race of my marriage. Charlotte was a pretty dismal event for us. We had the Busch race won, which I was pretty excited about that, but Clint had it get away from him and got us, but the Cup race we were off a little bit. Right at the end I got the thing going, but didn't have any luck. Everytime we pitted, the caution would come out, but after that it's been good." Ford Racing