Greg Biffle on Talladega

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M/Red Cross Ford Fusion – ON ALL THE TALK THIS WEEKEND OF TONY STEWART AND HIS CONTRACT SITUATION. “Obviously, he’s let the world know that he was unhappy about something at Gibbs. I think we’ve all been in that situation before. There’s certain ways to go about it, I guess, and he’s made it known that he wants to get out of his current contract at the end of the season, I guess, or whatever. We all go through that, we all go through contract periods and wanting to get out of contract early to go do something else is part of the sport, I guess.”

IS ANYTHING THAT HE’S DOING HAVE ANY EFFECT ON WHAT YOU’RE DOING REGARDING YOUR NEGOTIATIONS? “I don’t think so. It may open up a ride at the 20 car, I guess, at Gibbs Racing. It may be another option, but I don’t know. I don’t think it affects what I’m doing. I’m negotiating with Roush Fenway for an extension on my current contract, so I don’t think what he’s trying to do or going to do makes a difference.”

WHERE ARE YOU WITH YOUR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS? “Sort of in a holding pattern. We’re not in a big hurry to get it done, I think. We’re in that negotiation period, and like I said, I’m pretty confident that we’re going to be able to get to common ground on what I want and what they want.”

IF SOMEBODY THREW OWNERSHIP AT YOU, EVEN A PARTIAL OWNERSHIP, WOULD THAT SUDDENLY CHANGE THE WAY YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT THINGS? “They have. I have had offers of ownership of more than one team in the garage, and it’s definitely an intriguing offer. There’s a lot of things to consider when you’re an athlete in you’re in the position that we are in. Both Tony and I are, let’s say, we’re at the 60-percent point in our career. We’re not Kyle Busch, you know, 21 or 22 years olds. So, at some point we need to start thinking about how long we want to be involved in this sport and what we want to do in the future. So, those ideas to stay involved in the sport are very intriguing to us. And I’m sure that’s part of Tony’s thinking is, when I’m done driving the 20 car, or whatever car, what am I going to do in the future? And he’s probably watching out for himself, thinking ahead, and somebody’s made an offer or whatnot, and he’s considering it.”

THEY’VE TAKEN MORE MUSCLE OUT OF THESE CARS. WHAT KIND OF RACE DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE ON SUNDAY? “Well, certainly, at these restrictor-plate tracks, these cars, the power doesn’t really make that much difference in the race, I think. It doesn’t matter if we’re going 10 miles an hour faster or 10 miles an hour slower, I think we’re going to see the same kind of race because we’re all grouped up and we all have the same power. So, I think it’s probably the right thing to do to not get the speeds too high. And then one thing you have to remember is that we’re learning about these cars and we’re getting them to go faster and faster and faster. So, by NASCAR thinking ahead and taking a small amount of restrictor plate away, they’re kind of ahead of the curve. Instead of us getting out there and halfway through the weekend going, ‘Wow, these speeds are a little faster than we want to see, let’s make a change now,’ that’s probably not the right thing to do. I think they did the right thing by taking a little speed out. And over the next two years, gives us a chance to work those speeds back to what they’re calling a limit on the top speed.”

WOULD YOU RATHER THEY KEEP THE HORSEPOWER IN THE MOTOR AND MAYBE CHANGE THE WING ON THE BACK? “There’s certainly tons of ways to do it. I haven’t driven the car in different configurations. One think I wish they would do, we’ve asked them to do over and over and they’re not hearing us is make some kind of clear wicker on the back of the wing so that we can see inside the car. We had Nationwide practice here yesterday, a bunch of times I saw the guy’s hand up waving in the window. Guys are checking up, it’s easy getting out of the gas. These cars, you can’t see inside the cars, you can’s see the guy in front of us. And the one thing they say at the driver’s meeting every week, ‘If you’re coming to pit road, make sure you wave your hand. Wave the guy off.’ They can leave that out of the speech because we can’t see. We cannot see their hand. So, when guys get bottled up, that’s how a big wreck happens. Guys get bottled up a little bit, and then all of a sudden it’s a chain reaction. It happened to me here. I got spun out, I got shoved into the back of Carl coming off turn four. Simple little deal. Nobody got damaged, thank goodness. But, there’s a fact that I couldn’t see him slowing up, or couldn’t see him waving his hand or anything else. It’s a lot simpler than it is. They’ve made the promise to us for 12 months they were going to work on it. And I don’t see it on the car, I haven’t been to the car yet. I haven’t found out if we’ve got a clear wicker on the back of the car yet, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

BASED ON THESE CHANGES, WILL WE SEE A BETTER RACE HERE THAN WE DID LAST FALL? DO YOU GO RACE A LITTLE EARLER, A LITTLE LONGER? “I think so. The thing is, the drivers are getting smarter and smarter. We are figuring out that they only pay us for the 500th mile, or the last lap. So, there’s no more bonus money in there, other than that. Or points—basically, is what we call money. And so, there’s no need to race. There’s a need to size up the competition. So, there is a need to race for that. But when it comes down to it – we’ve joked about it amongst ourselves, a few of the drivers, that if you want to see an exciting race, make it a 200-mile race. This Talladega race is 200 miles. We’re going to race from the drop of the green flag to the checkered flag. We’re going to be five-wide. We’re going to be beating and banging. And we’re going to be going. But, a 500-mile race, there’s 300 miles that we just have to hang out. And then the last 200 miles we’re racing. The first 300 miles we’re just getting there.”

A LONGER RACE MEANS MORE TIME TO SELL CONCESSIONS. “Yes. And that’s the thing. You need time to sell beer and hot dogs and everything else. I don’t blame them. When I want to go to a baseball game, I want to watch all of the innings. I don’t want to watch three of ’em.”

THE ALL-STAR RACE WILL BE SOON. DO THE DRIVERS APPROACH THAT RACE DIFFERENTLY? “The All-Star race? Yeah, I think we do. The All-Star race is all about the money; there’s no points on the line. So, we’ll take a little more risk for reward, because we know that there’s not a lot on the line. Let’s face it, we have 26 opportunities to make the chase, and we have to take every one of those very seriously. This doesn’t count as that. This is a Saturday night race, what we’ve all done our whole career, lots of money on the line. That’s it. So, you’ll take a little more risk. You’ll drive it on the edge. Look at the length of the race. It’s not that 500-mile race. It’s that 200-mile race that we were just talking about. It’s go from the green to checkered. I think if the actual points race was that long, I think you’d see more racing. So, yeah, the All-Star race is short, no points, you’re going to see good racing.”

ONE MORE THING ON THE CONTRACT DEAL. DOES THE FACT THAT TONY STEWART IS HOLDING A LOT OF CARDS MEAN THAT EVERYBODY ELSE HAS GOT TO WAIT UNTIL HE PLAYS HIS BEFORE THEY PLAY THEIRS? DOES THIS SLOW THE TIMING DOWN ANY? “I don’t think so because I think the deals that are out there right now are pretty secure and pretty valid teams, big teams. Just another guy in the mix, I think. And, let’s face it, his contract isn’t up. So, how much we’d love to sit here and say he’s going to go somewhere else, unless Gibbs releases him he’s not going anywhere. Gibbs said they weren’t going to release him. Another way to look at this is, they might consider releasing him if they have another driver that they felt like with the quality, or experienced guy or whatever for that seat. If they said, we’ve got this guy to drive the 20, we’ll go ahead and release you. That could happen. But, that’s all speculation. What I heard I heard on the 11 o’clock news. I haven’t read the Internet or anything else, said they weren’t going to release him. Asked for a release and they weren’t going to release him. That’s all I know.”

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