Greg Biffle's victory last Saturday night at Darlington, S.C., helped him jump from 20th to 14th in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series standings. Once as far back as 38th in the rankings, Biffle now seems to be getting on track.
As the sport heads to the newly paved Lowe's Motor Speedway for Saturday night's Nextel All-Star Challenge and next week's Coca-Cola 600, Biffle talked about the challenges of racing on new asphalt at Lowe's and the way his season is finally coming up to speed during a break in testing. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: How is the new surface at the Lowe's Motor Speedway?
Biffle: You know, I think they did a tremendous job paving this place. It's really smooth. The surface seems to be really nice. The tires are on the safe side. They're pretty hard tires. It takes a little bit to get them to get some grip, although guys have gone out and run fast laps, like first or second lap on the racetrack. We haven't been able to do that yet. Maybe I don't have the guts to do that yet. I wrecked twice here last year testing. Just getting used to it. The racetrack, in my opinion, is going to be in the best shape for racing in I don't know what period of time, maybe a couple races, maybe a year. It seems real decent right now. New pavement has that kind of oil that comes up out of it. I don't know a lot about technical stuff about it. But it seems to be taking rubber. The cars seem to be driveable. My car is super tight. Just chattering the front tires, I can't get any grip in the front. I think a lot of people are having that problem. At least it's not the chatter in the rear tires, trying to wreck you every single lap. At least my car is not like that. I think it's going to be good.
Question: Drivers said Lowe's seemed to change from one day to the next during testing earlier this month. Do you think it will change for the better as you get closer to the Coca-Cola 600?
Biffle: I think it's definitely a starting point. We got to be here, we got to start getting rubber down. The all-star race is going to help us most. That's probably going to be more closer to the track conditions we're going to be facing. The more laps they put on the racetrack, the more races, the more stuff that goes on, the better it's going to get. We need to get to where it's not losing grip, but it gets rubber built up on it.
Question: What is your most-memorable moment from the all-star race?
Biffle: The hairiest moment is when Kurt Busch spun me out going into Turn 1. That was probably the scariest moment I've had in the all-star event. Last year we ran extremely well in it. I think we ended up third or fourth. We just couldn't quite run with the top guys. But we learned a lot for the 600. That's important. There's a lot of money on the line. What kind of happens is we take the best car and we keep it for the 600, then we take our second best car and run it in the all-star race. There's more money on the line in the all-star race, but your career or points, and the whole season is on the line in the 600. Hopefully we'll have two really good cars coming out of here and we can take the second best one to the all-star race.
Question: You seem to be concentrating a lot on fuel mileage during your test at Lowe's. Will that be an issue during the 600?
Biffle: We're not really paying attention to fuel mileage yet. Later on we will. We ran it out of gas yesterday just to see how far it would go. Really, our hands are so tied from the engine builder and the tuning of the engine, then how much fuel we can carry. There isn't a lot we can do different to try and increase our fuel mileage.
Question: NASCAR will use a smaller fuel cell at Lowe's because it is concerned about tire wear. Is that a good idea?
Biffle: We may see the larger fuel cell. We definitely are going to see the larger fuel cell back at some point in the near future, what with the tire wear we're seeing and how consistent the cars are running. I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see them back. I think there's more fun from lap 30 to 60 racing here. I hope it really doesn't come down to a fuel-mileage deal.
Question: You struggled so much in your first 10 races, were you concerned you wouldn't rally and get back into contention for the Chase for the Championship?
Biffle: It's really, really hard for me to consider us not a top-five team. It's super difficult because take Phoenix: We qualified second outside front row, just missed the pole by a little bit, and led the most laps only to end up running out of gas and finishing 16th. We're not fifth in points, but that sure states us as being a top-five team. Same thing for Talladega. We qualified seventh, ran very well there. We had early engine failure. We didn't shine as great there. But I look at our team as a top-five team. That's the way I go in and race, take each event. Whatever it gives us, it gives us. I go in with that attitude. You have to be positive. If you're down in the dumps, have a negative attitude, it reflects on your driving, it reflects on your pit stops, it reflects on how your car runs. I just go in there thinking that we're fourth, fifth in points, whatever, and we're that kind of team, and we're going to come out of here third or fourth or win. That's how I approach it. That's how I feel the position our team is in.
-- compiled by Don Coble