Rain Cancels NASCAR Sprint Qualifying

 at Martinsville Speedway

Rain forced cancellation of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Martinsville Speedway on Friday, meaning the field will be set by points for Sunday's TUMS QuikPak 500.

Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings going into this weekend’s TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway.  Biffle held a Q&A session on Friday afternoon at the track while the rain continued to fall.

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – THOUGHTS ON THE NEW CAR AT THIS TRACK.  “I have a hard time getting to most people’s bumper here.  I did give Jimmie a shot down there in the corner last year, though.  He was leading and I was running second, so I figured I would at least have to give him a shove, but that’s about it. Jeff is right.  Before you would just touch the car and it would lift because it was sloped and now they’re real flat.  Really, the idea is to get them to lose a little traction and not to shove him forward and, really, that just kind of shoves the car forward when you bump him.” 

WILL THE RAIN AFFECT THE RACE?  “I agree with Junior that probably the qualifying or this rain probably isn’t gonna affect the race.  It looks a little iffy whether we have practice in the morning time, but I think the most important thing is to get some race practice in and see what your car is gonna be like, and the track is probably gonna change a lot from the time that we practice until we race on it, so that’s something we’ll have to try and calculate because of the amount of rain and the lack of rubber being down on the race track from the trucks and qualifying and all that, so we’ll just have to wait and see.” 

HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR AGE HELPS YOU ON THESE TRACKS?  “That’s the first time I’ve been the old guy.  I don’t think it really makes that much of a difference.  I think that morally your age probably more so experience than anything.  A few years into competition, I’m gonna say like Junior and myself, I would imagine that experience at that point really doesn’t matter, but you take somebody like Clint Bowyer, probably, that has less years in Nationwide and Sprint Cup, those guys could still make mistakes or do some things.  I’m just using him as an example because he’s just a couple years into this series, but I raced the Truck Series for three years and the Nationwide Series for two and you see a lot of things over that period of time and you learn a lot of things about what you don’t want to do and how you get yourself into trouble and how to stay out of trouble, so I think that kind of experience is just real valuable.  I see experience as the age thing to me.” 

WHAT DOES MARTINSVILLE MEAN TO YOU AND HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF IT LOST A RACE?  “We’ve lost a lot of events that a lot of fans in our sport is known by – one Rockingham and then Darlington losing a date, but the unfortunate part about progression, like the chase format and big business, we have a tremendous amount more of sponsors and Fortune 500 companies involved in this sport and there’s gonna be change.  You just have to accept that. I think it’s bad when a race track loses both of its dates.  I think it’s bad when we leave a race track behind, but if a race track can maintain a date with being able to expand this sport or our schedule, then at least I think that’s acceptable.  But if Darlington lost its other date or whatever the cases are, end up in the same position as Rockingham, I don’t think that’s good for our sport to do that.” 

THERE WILL BE NO CHANGES WITH THIS CAR NEXT YEAR.  ARE YOU OK WITH THAT?  “I agree 100 percent with Junior on that.  It’s just as we talked about the race track here and new facilities or new race tracks or changing dates.  I think everything stands a chance for improvement.  You can improve just about anything you do and when NASCAR deems it time or necessary, I’m sure that there are small things that we can do or work on doing to the car to try and enhance it handling-wise or whatever the case might be, but I think it’s a fair statement to say that you can improve anything, but I think it’s a good starting platform now.  Certainliy we would like NASCAR to let us move the bodies around and do all kinds of things and that’s why they created this car, so I think we would welcome any opportunity to work with them on making whatever kind of changes they felt necessary, and I think they might learn something from the Nationwide cars – switching it to the COT.  If they spent enough time there, they might learn some things about that car that once they bring in that car and get it established, they might bring some of those features over to this car.  That’s just a guess.”

DO YOU START TO THINK WHAT IT’S GOING TO TAKE TO CATCH JIMMIE WHEN HE GETS THROUGH A WRECK AT TALLADEGA LIKE HE DID AND OTHERS DON’T?  “Yeah, what’s that one show on TV?  My Name is Earl?  He’s living right.  Jimmie didn’t make it through that wreck because of his skill, he made it through that wreck because he was at the right place at the right time and made the right decisions – turned the wheel the right way.  I’m not saying he just went through there blindfolded.  Certainly, he had to maneuver around the cars, but it would have been easy for somebody to come off the wall and clip him, but he made it through and that’s just luck of the draw.  I wasn’t gonna make it through because I was the one that got hit in the rear bumper and turned around, so I pretty much didn’t stand a chance of getting through that crash because I think I was the one involved in starting it, but that could go the other way very easily.  Something happened to Carl last week and something can happen to anyone of us at anytime.  I’m not saying that something has to happen to Jimmie for us to catch him, but it’s 86 points and we’re just gonna have to finish in front of him obviously to be able to catch him, so we’ll just continue to try not to make mistakes on the race track, which, knock on wood, I’ve been able to do so far – I haven’t made any mistakes – so just keep after it.  Hopefully, our tide will turn and it will come in our favor.” 

JEFF GORDON SAYS THERE ARE ONLY THREE GOOD PIT STALLS HERE?  “I need to go find Jeff and find out where those three are because I sure as heck don’t know where the three good pit stalls are, but, yeah, I was standing in the back of the room when they asked him what he thought about qualifying getting rained out and I’m sure he was thinking that he didn’t want to see that happen – provided we were gonna get to start up front.  Carl, I don’t think, has qualified real well here either, so we’re all gonna get to start in front of him.  But it certainly is gonna help us, I’m not gonna lie to you.  Last week, I felt like we may have been able to qualify better than third.  I think we had a really good car, although it wouldn’t have been much better because I only had a couple spots to go, but it is no doubt going to help us.  But, there again, I don’t know how we would have turned out here qualifying.  We’ll find out tomorrow with how good our car is running, but there’s no doubt it’s gonna help me here.” 

IS THERE A BETTER WAY TO DO QUALIFYING IN THE CHASE?  “I don’t know what else you could do.  People try to make more of it than there is.  If you plan an outdoor activity and it rains, unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about it.  The schedule that we have, there are other people here racing besides us and the Craftsman Truck Series needs to get on the track just as well as we do, so I don’t know what you could do differently.  And we certainly can’t start the race without having any practice, so we’ve got to have at least an hour minimum of practice in order to qualify and then you take qualifying and it just doesn’t leave anytime for race practice.  I think it’s unfortunate, but I don’t know of any other solution.” 

DO YOU THINK SHORT TRACK RACING COULD BE A SAVING GRACE FOR THE ECONOMY?  “I’m not a financial analyst, but one thing I have a hard time understanding – you know I’m trying to pay attention to all  the stuff that’s going on – and certainly the fuel prices have affected a lot of people.  When gas goes to $4 a gallon, we’re all panicked.  We’re all trying to find what kind of car we’re gonna drive and the automakers can’t sell a car anymore and the sales fall out and then their suppliers are laying jobs off and everything is happening. 

"And then you see the financial analysts say that oil prices are dropping to an all-time low and oil is going back to where it was and they say that’s bad, that says we’re going into recession.  Well, I thought that’s going back where it was last year when we all paid $2 a gallon for gas, and I think that directly affects the people sitting up in the grandstands – those folks that have to make a decision whether to go out for dinner or fill their tank up with gas so they can go to work or take their kids to soccer practice and all that – your direct money out of your pocket everyday – and a lot of that comes from the gas pump.  So I don’t know what I think but I think with the oil going back down it’s helping, but there’s so much other stuff going on that it’s beyond repair.  I think Junior hit the nail on the head.  I think it could get a little bit worse before it gets better.”

            Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings after dropping two places last weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.  Edwards held his Q&A session Friday afternoon outside his team hauler.

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – THIS DOESN’T WORK OUT TOO BADLY FOR YOU.  “No, I was thinking about it once I saw the weather forecast and it might be a better qualifying position than we would have had, considering my history here qualifying, but it also gives everybody else a great qualifying spot that we’re racing against, so I don’t know if it’s good or bad.  It helped us at New Hampshire, I think, a lot, so it is what it is.” 

WHAT’S YOUR FRAME OF MIND AFTER LAST WEEK?  “Last week was real disappointing.  You go through that denial stage when you’re sitting on pit road and you think, ‘It’s OK.  We just lost one lap,’ and then we lost two and then we lost three and then it sunk in that this is that bad race that you just can’t control.  Really, I think it’s 35 points a race we have to make up or something, and that’s assuming that Jimmie doesn’t have any bad luck, and I feel like all we can do now is just go race as hard as we can.” 

DO YOU THINK JIMMIE CAN HAVE ANY BAD LUCK?  “I don’t know where Jimmie gets his horseshoes, but he’s got amazing luck, and they do everything right, too, so we just have to hope for something strange to happen.” 

HOW HARD DOES THAT MAKE IT FOR YOU?  “I say that, but I don’t know if we really do have to have anything happen.  We can run well enough.  It’s completely reasonable for us to run well enough in these last five races to just earn enough points to make it up.  It’s not gonna be easy, that’s for sure, but we can do it.” 

THIS IS NINE QUALIFYING SESSIONS CANCELLED THIS YEAR.  “That’s probably raised my average.  Bob and I have an average going and it’s like 22nd or something.  It’s terrible, but anytime you don’t get on the track and you don’t get to run your car, I mean, we come here to race and to do our jobs and everybody has to stand around in the rain and that’s no fun, but it is what it is.  We can’t control the weather.  I mean, everybody does the best they can.” 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE THAT MAKES IT HARD FOR YOU?  “When I first came here I got into turn one and I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’  You have to turn that corner 500 times.  Everytime I’ve come back I feel like I’ve gotten better.  I talked to a lot of veterans – Bobby Hamilton helped me a lot before a race here and I’ll never forget the things he told me.  The last time we were here, we actually ran really well and ran out of fuel on the last lap and still finished ninth.  We were running extremely well, so everytime I’ve come back I’ve felt better, but, for me, this place is unlike anything I grew up on.  It’s the same size as a lot of the tracks I raced on, but they were all dirt so racing a short pavement track with a stock car has taken me a while to get used to.” 

WHAT WOULD YOUR THOUGHTS BE IF THEY TOOK A DATE AWAY FROM HERE?  “It would be neat if we raced at 36 different tracks.  That would be cool.  Go to places like Rockingham or maybe go run the Cup cars somewhere like Montreal or go to some of these venues that don’t have a Cup race – Kentucky would be a lot of fun – but the competitor in me wants to go to tracks that I run really well at so if they took a race away from here and went to Kansas with it, that’s only gonna help our team because of how well we run at Kansas, but if I figure this place out and run well here, I definitely wouldn’t want them to take a date, so I think it depends how well you run at the place.  Everybody likes the hot dogs.  They fill the seats.  Fans love it.  It’s a great place to race, I just haven’t had the luck here.”  HAVE YOU HAD A LOT OF HOT DOGS?  “No, I haven’t.  I’ve heard horror stories about it.  Maybe that’s the deal.  Maybe I need to eat more of them and I’d be better off.”

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO SEE NASCAR CHANGE ABOUT THE CAR?  “I think it’s fine if they just leave everything like it is and then we can focus on the racing and focus on the stuff that we’re already working on.  I think Brian France said it best a year ago when he said, ‘Look, we’ve changed enough for a while.  We just need to go race.’  I don’t know about you guys, but the races we’ve seen are awesome.  Dover was awesome.  Kansas was fun.  They’re all ending up to be great races and I’d be excited if they didn’t change anything.” 

ARE YOU LEARNING MORE ABOUT THIS CAR AND IS THAT HELPING?  “There is a lot about this car that’s different and as we learn and get better, I think you’ll see guys being able to drive them harder, change the setups to make them do some things that in the beginning they were tough to do.  It seemed liked they were so hard to get to turn for awhile, but now everybody kind of has the ability to go on either side of it.” 

IS EVERYTHING SETTLED AFTER TALLADEGA?  “I think everything is good.  Everybody shook hands and I think now we can get back to racing.  That’s what we need to be doing.  That’s what we’re here to do is race and I’m just excited to try to make up some points.” 

WHAT DOES THE CHASE TEACH YOU OVER 10 RACES?  “I think you just have to keep going.  You just have to keep working.  There’s no telling what’s gonna happen.  It seems like every week a new wave rolls in of, ‘Oh man, it’s all going this way.  It’s gonna be a two-man race or a three-man race,’ and then it changes every week.  So you just have to kind of stay even on that and not get caught up in the ebb and flow of the points.  Heck, the last lap at Homestead could flip the thing upside-down, so the trick for us is to just focus on what we can do for the next five races.” 

IS THAT EASY OR HARD FOR YOU TO DO?  “It almost makes it easier.  We really don’t have anything to lose.  We’re here to win a championship, so I think, in a way, having that bad race, hopefully that’s our bad race and our bad luck, and we can just go out and race.  So I think, in a way,  it’s easier to come from behind like that and not have that pressure every week.  All we have to do now is just go win.” 

WILL KYLE BUSCH’S SEASON BE LOST BECAUSE OF HOW HE’S DONE IN THE CHASE?  “I don’t know.  I hope not.  What Kyle has done deserves huge respect.  I think that will go down in history no matter what happens the rest of the season.  And that’s something to, we’ve had six wins and we’ve had the best season I’ve ever had and we can still win the championship, so you can’t get down.  I don’t know where Kyle is in points, but he can still fight for everything he can, I mean we all can, so I don’t think that will get lost.” 

WHAT WAS YOUR DEMEANOR SITTING IN THE CAR LAST WEEK WHEN THE IGNITION BOXES FAILED?  “I tell you what, last week sitting there in that race car with that ignition box, and I’m watching my jackman in there changing the box and the guys are out there racing and I thought, ‘That’s it.’  That’s the bottom.  There’s no worse feeling than that, especially knowing after we got back out that race was as fast or faster than any car on the track.  I mean, at will I could run faster than the leader everytime.  It’s so easy to sit here and say that, but, man, that was a bad day.” 

WERE YOU CALM AS THAT WAS GOING ON?  “Yeah, so the therapy in that was I ran the rest of that race 16 laps down and had a lot of time to think about how we just have to keep going forward and there’s nothing we can do about it.  If it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone, so that’s just the way it goes.” 

SO DID YOU FORGET ABOUT IT THIS WEEK?  “I had a really good week.  I had a lot of really neat things go on and I’m just excited to be here and racing.  That was just such a bad race.” 

WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF LAST WEEK?  “Sometimes I’m just real, real competitive.  That’s the deal.  I think that it’s almost like you’ve just got to laugh it off and move on.  That’s all there is to it.  We’re here to do jobs and I really enjoy the racing.  That’s the most fun thing in the world, so as bad as last week was, it just makes me more excited to go forward for the next five races.” 

BUT YOU CAN’T JUST FLIP THE SWITCH.  ARE YOU SAYING YOU HAVEN’T CHANGED?  “I’m real competitive.  That’s just the way I am, but I’ve got to sometimes keep that on the race track.  There’s a time for that and a time to sit back and laugh at yourself or whatever is going on.  I think everybody has those times when they let it cross over a little bit.” 

WHY 25 CAUTIONS THE LAST RACE THERE?  “I don’t know why there were so many cautions at Memphis.  That was pretty crazy.  I like racing there a lot, though.  The tires, you can move around a lot there.  It’s fun going back and forth that weekend – just showing up to race is pretty cool – but I don’t know why there were so many cautions.” 

THE LAST WEEK TO FLY BACK AND FORTH.  “I don’t mind it so much.  It’s kind of fun.  The best part about it is riding with Kenny Wallace in the plane because he’s a complete lunatic, so that will be fun.  I think he’s riding back with me, so we’ll have a good time with it.  I think Bobby East is practicing and qualifying the car, so we should be good.” 

IS THIS RACE MORE OUT OF YOUR HANDS BECAUSE OF STRATEGY?  “I think the driver plays a huge part in this race.  Pit strategy is huge.  This is a cross.  It’s not a road course in that it’s absolutely the most important thing when you pit, but it’s pretty close.  Every lap the driver has to do his job here.  This is a driver’s race track, so it’s a good mix.” 

HOW HARD IS IT TO KEEP TRACK OF WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING PIT-WISE?  “Yeah, it is a little bit difficult.  You have to kind of be aware.  It’s easy if you’re up front because you’ve been racing around those guys and there aren’t as many guys to worry about.  It’s tough when you start ratcheting yourself back and trying to go forward and take two tires maybe or staying out.  Those things get kind of tough and it’s really hard when all the guys behind you do whatever you didn’t do and that just ruins it, so you’ve got to really watch.  It’s tough.”

GREG BIFFLE PRESS CONFERENCE – DO YOU EVER JUST WANT TO THROW YOUR HANDS UP TO JIMMIE AND SAY, ‘HAVE A BAD DAY?’  “You don’t want somebody to have bad luck, but, certainly we know that they’re gonna have to slip a little bit and we’ve seen them slip a little bit this year so far in the chase.  They’ve been able to fight their way back.  Dover, at one time they were barely hanging onto the top 10 and at Charlotte they didn’t run so good at one point, and I think there are a couple other races, so there have been opportunities, but as strong as they are, they’ve been able to come back at the end.  Like last week at Charlotte, he was falling back pretty fast and was in kind of the same situation I was – real tough to drive – but five or 10 more laps, we probably would have gained 10 points on him because there were a lot of guys bearing down on us and I think we were a little better, so the time will come.  I think it’ll give us our opportunity to gain a little bit and we’ll just keep looking for it.” 

IS THERE ANY RELIEF THAT YOU CAN JUST DO WHAT EVERYONE ELSE DOES AS FAR AS STATEGY?  “Absolutely.  We know we’re in a great spot.  This will be the best we’ve ever started.  We’ve got a great spot on pit road.  The problem is the race is 500 laps, so we have to maintain that position throughout the day.  We know we’re gonna have to be solid on pit road.  We’re gonna have to get our car running good.  We just looked over the setup about how we’re gonna start.  I think we’ve really done our homework on being able to get our car to run fast here for the race, and starting up front certainly is gonna help us not have to make some track position moves – two tires or no tires or whatever – to get up to the front.” 

IF IT’S THE LAST LAP AND THE 48 IS IN FRONT OF YOU, DO YOU MOVE HIM?  “Winch bumper.  I’m gonna give him the Warren Winch bumper on 499.  No, certainly, you’re gonna try and get the position from him, but we’ve raced each other real respectfully all season.  We saw Jeff Gordon try to bump him out of the way and it’s hard to do here at Martinsville.  Everybody is gonna try the little bump-and-run deal, but you’ve got to be careful about it at the same time.”

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