After struggling the first six races this season, Greg Biffle finished eighth last weekend for his first top 10 finish of the season since Daytona in February.
“Last week was a huge uplift for us,” Biffle noted. “We had really struggled as a team and organization even though Carl (Edwards) got a win. We have struggled a little bit this year on speed, especially the intermediates which has been our strong suit – Las Vegas and California.
“We were fast right off the truck last week and had good speed, qualified good and ran good. That gave us some confidence coming here this week that hopefully we are starting to get the zero ride height and new aero package down a little more and going to be more competitive.”
A win could do a lot of things for Biffle as a win virtually puts you in the Chase for the Championship – or does it? Some people have questioned the theory based on the fact that there have been seven different winners in seven races. However, Biffle still believes in the theory – as long as you’re decent in points.
“It will fall back on points after wins,” he noted. “If you are 20-something in points, you might be the odd guy out so to speak. We feel like we are not great in the points, I think we are in the low teen’s but even if we are in the low teen’s and had a win, that would put us into the Chase probably. If we can maintain our point position, obviously get a little higher than we are, and if we won we would move up in points we would feel pretty safe. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went over 16 winners by a number or two but I think you are pretty safe if you have a win.”
Of course, getting a win at Darlington isn’t going to be easy as it is one of the toughest to win at.
“I don’t know how every other driver feels but this is probably the toughest place we race at as far as concentration and what it takes to get around here,” Biffle commented. “You drive the corner close to 200 MPH, about 190 MPH and the car slides up and hopefully stops about six inches from the wall as you are pushing the power to it. It just takes a lot. It is really hard to manage and it is easy to step over that edge and get a little stripe on the side of it. Hopefully it is a little stripe and not a big stripe and hopefully I keep the right side clean this weekend.”
Coming off of the race at Texas, Biffle was one of the five drivers that participated in the Goodyear tire test at Michigan International Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We’ve had a busy week at Michigan and felt like our car had good speed there too,” Biffle commented. “We will continue to try to build on it and hopefully have a good run here. Maybe we can add to that list and maybe be in here tomorrow night talking about it.”
Biffle says the test was important based on the problems that happened at Las Vegas and Fontana. While Goodyear continues to use the same compound, NASCAR has adjusted the rules with a ‘no minimum ride height’ rule.
“The tire is getting so much load on it when it is on low air because the car is sucked to the ground so hard and has more downforce than it ever did,” Biffle explained. “That is probably most likely what is causing these tire issues. The cars have more speed and more downforce. I would say that could potentially be a problem at any place we are going that fast and put that much load on the tire and low air. That can be a deal anywhere. Maybe those construction side walls and that tire combination is a little different.”
The test showed the speed that Michigan could potentially have later this season, though, as drivers were hitting 216 mph going into the corner. Biffle says the higher speeds didn’t change how he drove the track, as he still drove the track the same.
“Let’s keep in mind that it was 40-something degrees with a track temp of 66,” Biffle added. “So it was cold temperatures with high grip and they were testing tires that had more grip. They put a tire on the car that we are not going to race that went that fast. So on the standard tire I think the MPH was down maybe three or four MPH from that. I am not so worried about those end of the straightaway speeds. We slow down a bit in the corners, that is the thing.”
For Biffle to run well, it is important as his contract is up at season’s end. Biffle noted today that he feels that they’re close to getting it signed.
“There are a lot of moving parts to a contract and a lot of new people at 3M but I know the folks are going up there next week to visit some more,” Biffle added. “I have a feeling it is getting closer. I know there has been a lot of activity. The program works really well for them and we have the America Red Cross on the car this weekend so it is a good program for 3M and I think they are happy and it looks like we are closing in on an announcement. Hopefully here soon we will have something.”