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LONG POND-- Greg Biffle used a two-tire stop during the final caution to gain track position and win Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, giving Ford it's first NASCAR win of the season.
GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW
Q. YOU WEREN’T HAPPY WITH YOUR CAR EARLY. HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO WIN?
A. Greg Erwin and those guys just never gave up. This 3M Ford Fusion, it was mostly engine. This engine ran so good. I abused the crap out of it all day and this one is for Jack. We know he’s watching and we’re thinking about him. I need to thank Sprint and the fans and 3M and everybody for not giving up on this team. We’ve been really tough and answered all the questions about the Ford and there it is. Ford is running really good. I just wish I would have won last week, too.
Q. WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO TRY AND GET THIS CAR BACK IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE?
A. It’s been really tough. We’ve worked so hard. RPM and all the guys over there have helped us and it’s been a team effort. The guys at the shop, everybody has been working really hard on these cars. We had a great run at Chicago, a great run at Indy and we came here and won. It’s a lot of everybody’s hard work paying off right now.
Q. HOW BIG IS THIS FOR YOU?
A. I forgot what to do. This is big. I was really excited to see Elliott Sadler win yesterday in the Truck Series and I kind of feel the same right now. We know we have a great team and I know I can do it behind the wheel and we were able to prove it today.
JACK ROUSH STATEMENT
It’s a proud day for Ford, Greg Biffle, Greg Erwin, 3M, the Pit Bulls, and all of the wonderful sponsors who have stood by us these last few months. I’m comforted in having Robbie Reiser at the helm in my absence and know that things are in good hands, but this couldn’t have happened without the support of Ford and all of their technical assistance they provide, and, of course Doug Yates and his collaboration with Ford on the new FR9 engine can’t be overstated. They’ve done a wonderful job and this is just the beginning of the rewards that have resulted from all of their hard work.
ELLIOTT SADLER – No. 19 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion (Finished 34th)
I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m a little sore, I think, from where the belts grabbed me. It knocked the breath out of me pretty good, but it’s definitely the hardest hit I’ve ever had in a race car. These new cars are built to be safer and if I can get out of that and walk through that, I think it did its job. I’m not sure what happened. I know some guys got spun out or moved around up in front of us, and I saw some smoke. Everybody started checking up and I checked up, but whoever was behind did not and ran in the back of us and knocked me down through the grass. It’s not the day we wanted to have with the U.S. Air Force Ford. It’s just a tough day.
Q. AFTER WINNING YESTERDAY HOW DO YOU PUT THIS IN PERSPECTIVE?
A. Yesterday was a great day and it’s still a great weekend. It was so cool. All my guys on my 19 car and everybody at the U.S. Air Force and Stanley and Coca-Cola and everybody called me and congratulated me. That was a great win for us. I messed up today. I spun out on the frontstretch, but my team didn’t give up. We were fighting our way back through it and just didn’t make it to the end. I’m just glad I’m okay. I’m glad my team at home does a good job of building safe race cars.” ARE YOU OKAY? “Yeah, I’m okay. I’m a little sore. The breath definitely got knocked out of me. It was probably the hardest hit I’ve ever had in a race car, but I’ve got to thank all my guys back at home that put these things together. It knocked the engine out of it. I know it knocked the swaybar tube and the whole swaybar out of it and the whole left-front wheel assembly, but I’m still in one piece so it did its job. The way it hit the guardrail back there was pretty tough. It’s not the run we wanted to have with U.S. Air Force car, but we’ll go get ‘em next week.
Q. WHAT DID YOU SEE?
A. I saw smoke and some cars sideways up in front of me. I didn’t know what happened until I just saw a replay in the infield care center, but they started stacking up in front of us and everybody started slowing down and I started slowing down too, and somebody ran in the back of me. I have no idea. I haven’t seen the replay, but somebody just ran into the back of us and turned us inside through the wet grass into the guardrail, so I was along for the ride. It was a very hard hit. I’m a little sore through my chest and my stomach, but that’s from where the seatbelts did their job and grabbed me and kept me in the car, so I’m thankful for that.
DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion (Finished 14th)
I think we were gonna finish about 15th to 20th. Our car had speed, but wherever you came out of the pits is kind of where you ran. We got kind of beat up there for the first couple of laps. Everybody else had a little fresher tires than we did, but once we evened out we were okay. Donnie Wingo made a good call there at the end. It’s not a win, but it’s good to see Biffle in Victory Lane. That’s a win for the team. We always want a little bit more, but that’s a lot better than we ran in June, so we’ll build on that.
Q. SOME RFR GUYS TALKED ABOUT TAKING MORE CHANCES IN THE RACES. WAS THAT SOMETHING YOU PUT INTO ACTION ON THAT LAST STOP?
A. Where we’re at in the season we’ve got to be risky and I think that we’ve learned from watching some of these other teams. They take a lot of chances and they put themselves in position, so I think that’s something we’ve got to continue to work on and it’s fun to race like that. When we have a car that’s somewhat decent to drive, you can take a chance like that.
PAUL MENARD – No. 98 CertainTeed/Menards Ford Fusion (Finished 13th)
Track position was big. We fought that all day, so we took two tires at the end and that was probably the best the car had been all day. That decision really had more to do with the rain and track position was pretty big.
CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion (Finished 3rd)
Q. HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP TODAY?
A. It’s a long day, but that’s a Ford in Victory Lane. Ford makes the best cars on the road and here at Roush Fenway Racing we’ve been working really hard on these Fords and it’s cool to see Greg get that victory. That’s a good run for us, that’s a great points run. I’ve got to thank Aflac and Scotts and all these fans for sticking around, but Aflac always has me under their wing. It’s cool they’ve been sticking behind us and, hopefully, we can make a run for this Chase and maybe we can get the next win. But that’s good for all of us. Get well, Jack.
CARL EDWARDS PRESS CONFERENCE
That’s a few weeks in a row we’ve run really well. That’s what we needed. It’s cool to see a Ford in Victory Lane, especially with everything that happened this week. I spoke with Jack this morning and he kind of put out the message that he wanted to talk to all of us before we got in the race cars. It’s pretty cool to say the least to have a race win for him and two cars in the top three. I feel like we’re building a little bit of momentum towards the Chase and that’s what we need. We haven’t run the way we’ve run in the last month for a long time, so it’s a good day for us.
Q. HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE SAFETY SITUATION AT THIS TRACK WITH SADLER’S ACCIDENT?
A. No, I didn’t see the hit. I don’t know what happened. From my standpoint, though, this is a fine race track. I feel safe driving on it, but I didn’t see that hit.
Q. HOW WAS JACK THIS MORNING?
A. He was Jack. ‘Don’t mess anything up. Don’t wreck.’ ‘I hope I don’t break any parts for you and I’ll see you soon.’ He was excited for the race today. I could hear it in his voice. He’s been through a lot this last week. He needed a race today. I wish he could be here, but he really needed that victory. That’s pretty cool. I’m sure he is very hard to handle for all those nurses right now in the hospital.
Q. WITH 80 TO GO YOU WERE 10TH AND THEN IT LOOKED LIKE ALL OF YOU GUYS WERE SHOT OUT OF A CANNON. WHAT HAPPENED?
A. I felt like it was kind of a lottery. I started one time, I don’t know if it was that restart, but one of them all of a sudden I was like, ‘Oh, there are two guys in front of me. There must be more out there.’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m running third for a second.’ I couldn’t believe how much ground I made up on one of the restarts and then on one of them I went back to 15th or 16th, so here on those first couple of laps after the restarts it really depends how everything shuffles out and the lane you pick and how you draft with everyone. There was no big adjustment, we just got lucky on that last one.
Q. HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH ALL THE STOPS AND STARTS?
A. The hard part is wondering if you’re gonna go racing or not. I think we’ve all done this long enough that you just don’t want to let those thoughts kind of creep in, so you just focus and imagine you’re gonna run the thing to the end no matter what and keep your eyes on what’s important. But we’re in the same boat as you guys. We don’t really know what’s going on, at least I didn’t. You just, for me personally, you’ve just got to keep focused and, until they call it and you’re out of the car and they announce the finish, you’ve got to keep racing.
JAMIE ALLISON, Director, Ford North America Motorsports
Greg Biffle earned it. That was no fluke. I just talked to Jack on the phone and there's no question this is a great, feel good moment for him that takes away a little of the physical pain he's been feeling this week. So this win is for Jack first and Ford second.
I've said all along that the road to victory is paved with second and third place finishes, and we've had plenty of those the last five weeks. We knew we were getting better. We could see it, and we had to be running good enough to be in position to win. That victory today was made possible, though, through great teamwork between the Wood Brothers, RPM, Roush Fenway and Roush Yates Engines. Everyone has played a part of getting us here by working together to make the program better. It has truly been a One Ford effort at the root of it all, but there's a lot of Jack Roush's spirit behind it all as well.
NOTE - Ford also won the World Rally Championship event in Finland and won two gold medals at the X Games.
GREG BIFFLE WINNER’S PRESS CONFERENCE
It’s been a hell of a day. Hitting the wall on the first turn of the first lap, coming off turn one I just scraped it and I knew it was gonna be a long day from there. It lost the nose in the middle of the corner. I got out of the gas and it just never stopped and I couldn’t understand why. I had a lot of trouble through the first part of the race with the front of the race car just not wanting to turn the front tires. Greg did some shim adjustments on the front and we did some tire pressure and some wedge and track bar and got the thing handling fairly well. Late in the race, I don’t know if it was the cool weather or the mist or what, but when it started cooling off, to me, that thing was like a completely different race car. I don’t know what happened to it, but it simply took off. I was getting ready to pass Denny Hamlin, I had two tires and he had four and coming off turn three over here the caution flag came out. The car was just phenomenally fast there at the end. I felt really good – a solid top-five finish – and it feels good to get in that position knowing, ‘Hey, no matter what happens we’re gonna finish in the top five because our car is so fast right now.’ I had that feeling at Chicago and, unfortunately, we had an engine failure, and I felt like that at Indy last week. I wish I was up here talking about two in a row, but it was dang close. Man, the car just took off at the end. It was really nice. It’s been a long time and the guys have been working really hard. I beat the hell out of the engine today. It shouldn’t be running, but it still is and I’m thankful for that. It got the durability test today, I can promise you.
GREG ERWIN, Crew Chief – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion
I’m pretty surprised, really. This team is all about fight and the 16 guys have been up and down, and this core group of people that we’ve had with us now since about the end of 2007 all the way through the 2008 season we’ve hung at each other’s backs. Being able to come out and over the last three weeks show the improvement that the team has shown. The qualifying efforts have been significantly better. The results have been better and it means a lot to finally capitalize. We feel like we’ve been just this far off for quite a while and for it to come out and turn out like it did, especially with the way it started off, it didn’t look very promising, but, certainly, the weather came to us and the track conditions came to our setup. We were on the fortunate end today, so we are very grateful.”
Q. WHY DID YOU TRY TWO TIRES AGAIN WHEN IT DIDN’T WORK THE FIRST TIME?
A. The first time it worked, really, if you look at the net position. That’s what we look at. Obviously, it’s gonna slip and slide and the first couple of guys on four are gonna get you more often than not, unless you’re the leader and you can get out in front. When you can be in front in clean air, then two tires obviously had the largest advantage, but we probably netted six or eight positions, running order, on the race track before the next pit cycle cycled out and at the end you’ve got to give a shout out to those Pit Bulls. That was a two-tire, gas-only stop that took us from about third and came out in the lead – with the 77 there, but we knew what was going on there and we knew what kind of strategy they were gonna play. So it still put him on the front row and put the clean air on the nose and it did seem to kind of work out the first time, so we went for it again. Besides, we got beat on it last week (laughing).
GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED
Q. WHAT DID JACK SAY?
A. I have to tell you that when it got to be five to go I started thinking about it. I started thinking that this race was meant to be. It’s for Jack and then I thought spending all the time I’ve spent with the Ford people and how desperate they are to prove that they’ve got good product. They’ve got great cars and trucks, but they want to improve on the race track, that they want to win. And then I thought about all the 3M guys, but Jack mostly. I just thought, ‘This is gonna be a great day if I can complete this thing.’ In Victory Lane he told me that he had never met somebody that had the will to win like I do. He didn’t say that because I drive for him, he said he feels that out of any of the drivers. That kind of put goose bumps on my arms. I’m glad that he thinks of me like that. I give 110 percent all the time. I’ll never give up. No matter how grim the outcome can be, I’ll still be digging no matter what and that’s what I did today. I just kept after it in the race car and took every advantage that I could get and later and later in the day the car just really started going. These guys wanted me to slow down at the end and that’s tough. I used to be in that situation quite a bit, being out front with a five-second lead, slow down, take care of the car, take care of the fuel, take care of the engine and just back it down a little bit and that’s hard to do inside the car.
Q. HOW WAS JACK?
A. He’s excited. When he was telling me what he thought of me he was proud of what happened today. I’m just so thankful that we were able to put Roush Fenway back in Victory Lane. We know it’s been a long time. There are a lot of people that have worked on these race cars and touched them, and the fab guys back at the shop have been working night and day to try and figure out what we’re missing, and the engine guys have been working really hard on this new engine, and my team has been working really hard. They’ve been working out, working on pit stops, working on strategy and it finally paid off. I’ve said it two or three times, this is kind of a different front suspension package. We’ve been to the race track with two dozen in the last two years trying to figure out why these guys are beating our butt so bad, and this hopefully is the one that’s it. We went to Chicago and not a lot of people remember that race, but we qualified fourth and we passed for third-place coming down to the end of that race, and I had to beat Reutimann and Carl, and I was pretty sure I was a little better than Carl. I don’t know about Reutimann. I never got the opportunity because the engine broke, but that could have been our first win, and Indy definitely could have been our second win. So, as a team, I think we’re on the right track. I’m really happy about that.
Q. HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU THINK THE RACE WAS ABOUT TO END WITH THE WEATHER?
A. I’m not superstitious, but this has happened to me I don’t know how many times. I’m sitting there in fourth and I’m going, ‘It’s starting to rain,’ and I see the 5 car is a few spots back and the 33. Those are the guys I’m racing for the Chase. I’m like, ‘Man, I hope this thing rains out. We can get a good top-five and get out of here.’ And then we have a pit stop and we’re getting ready to go green and then it stops and we’re sitting there. The 77 is the leader and I’m second. I’m like, ‘This wouldn’t be bad, but there’s a long way to go and a lot of racing left.’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘This wouldn’t be bad if I ended up second.’ So then off we go again. I was fairly comfortable that I’d be able to beat the 77 on no tires with my two and my car was pretty decent, so I felt like that. But if there would have been some more cautions, my car was pretty fast. Who knows if he was running as hard as he could, but I could beat the 14 on lap time if I wanted to. But I thought it was over a few times to be honest with you. I did.
GREG ERWIN CONTINUED
You go through that. We’re getting better and better looking at this weather and it’s not an easy call to make, but you look at what the guys are gonna do around you. You know about where you’re at in your fuel window. You know you can or can’t make it to the end on gas, so you’re committing to pitting at least for gas, and then whether it’s gas only or right sides. Pretty much a lot of it was straight up. The final call, we knew last week I didn’t think that there would be as many cars that put two on. We figured there would be a couple, and this week I started second-guessing myself. I said, ‘You know what, I’ll bet you there are gonna be three or four cars that put four on that last stop,’ and they did. I guess it was the 14, the 29, but they all lined up in a row on four tires and I said, ‘Boy, oh boy, if they come on through that field on four tires and get up there and win this race, we’re really gonna feel bad,’ but it just didn’t work out so I’m pretty happy.
GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED
Q. WHAT DOES ENDING THIS STREAK MEAN TO YOU?
A. I never doubted myself whether I had the ability to win at this level. I guess sometimes you can start doing that, but I never did. I was just frustrated that we hadn’t capitalized on some of the opportunities that we’ve had. I’ve made a mistake. We put two on and should have put four. We put four on and should have put two. Kansas last year we were kicking their butt and just decided to put four on. We’ve got the fastest car and I was too loose to beat them and we lost that race, and last week. So I hadn’t given up faith that we would be able to get back in Victory Lane. I didn’t anticipate, although we do run good here, I didn’t anticipate it being here. I was thinking that Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta – those are some of our good race tracks coming up into the Chase. Hopefully, we might get a couple more before Richmond.
GREG ERWIN CONTINUED
Q. ANY FAMILY AND FRIENDS HERE?
A. I did. I had my brother here. I brought my son up with me this weekend and it was kind of nice. With two races a year here I normally get to see my mother here a couple of times. I didn’t get to see her yet this weekend, but it’s cool. When I was a little kid I used to come up here and hang out with my dad and my uncles. I was here the day Tim Richmond won his comeback race here, and used to watch Cale Yarborough zing around here and thought it would be pretty cool to do that someday, but who knew. You’re a little kid back then, but it was great for my son to be able to see this. He doesn’t get to come with me much and he misses out on a lot, so I’m pretty happy for him. I think he thinks that this is pretty cool.
GREG BIFFLE CONTINUED
Q. WHAT WAS THE STORY BEHIND THE REV CHIP?
A. Last week at Indy, we had a discussion about running the car on the rev chip. They want us to come off the throttle instead of running it right up against the rev chip. Now, as you can imagine, an engine turning 9700 or 9800 RPM and it missing all of a sudden, that the timing belts and all the valvetrain and everything is going crazy inside the engine. They don’t want to put the extra harmonics through it, and I only hit the rev chip a couple times, but I ran it up to the rev chip, didn’t get on the rev chip. I don’t know a lot down there in turn one. I kind of felt handicapped having to use third gear in turn one, just because I had to slow the car way down and turn it early and then drive it through the corner and up off onto the straightaway. I tried not to shift and I was two-tenths of a lap slower, three-tenths of a lap slower when I didn’t do that. I really feel like our car wasn’t handling as good as it needed to be, and I couldn’t carry the momentum through there that the other cars could, so I just had to drive it the way I did. I had to slow down, I had to put it in third, and turn the corner slow and give it gas and speed back up again. That was the only corner I did it on. I tried all I could do. I tried to run the top, the bottom. I tried to roll through there in fourth and I had more steering wheel in it, and then it would snap it loose, instead of being in third it could drive off straight. So I just said, ‘The heck with it. I’m gonna shift and if the motor blows up, the motor blows up.’ But that was the only way I could survive was shifting, so that’s what I did.
GREG ERWIN CONTINUED
Q. HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU TAKE TWO TIRES?
A. I think it was twice. Once early and once at the end there.
Q. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO THE TEAM?
A. Just picture yourself working 60, 70, 100 hours a week, 40-50 weeks out of the year and coming up short and watching these guys kick your butt every week and bask in the glory, and being able to walk in front of those guys at 6 o’clock every Monday morning, look them in the eye and tell them, ‘Hey, we’ll go get ‘em next week.’ That’s what you’ve got to do and there’s not many doubters on that team. They’ll do anything I ask them to do. Anybody in that company will do anything we ask them to do. They’ll build us whatever we ask them to build us, and they’ll come in here and they’ll fight until they throw the checkered flag. Whether you’re fifth, 10th, 12, wherever you’re at, there is really no quit in any of those guys that are with me and work around us in that 3M 16 shop. It’s gonna be a lot easier tomorrow morning to stand in front of them, I can tell you that. It’s a big momentum boost and perfect timing.
Q. IS IT FAIR TO SAY THE TOOLS ARE AVAILABLE NOW FOR GUYS TO WIN RACES?
A. Yeah, there is and I’m surprised there’s not more focus on that now because everybody has said, ‘What’s wrong with our race cars?’ And we’ve all complained that our race cars aren’t what they need to be and I don’t think they’re there yet. Really, we’re on the right track. I certainly feel like when I show up every week now that I probably have a car I can compete and win with, but we still have a little bit more work to do. Kind of one disappointing aspect of it is this suspension package, if you will, is Matt didn’t run as well at Chicago as I anticipated him to run. The 99 ran really good, and I mean he ran decent, but it wasn’t magic on his car for some reason. I thought he’d be right there and they’re still fighting a little bit, but I thought he’d be better right off when we put this suspension package on, but they’re working on it and figuring it out.
Q. THOUGHTS ON SAFETY AT POCONO.
A. I didn’t see the crash. You have to fill me in where it happened. Was it in the same area or same zone as the bad crash the last race? That’s how the other crash in the spring race occurred. The 9 got down in that grass and then came across in front of the field. I didn’t see what happened. It’s dangerous to have grass next to where you’re running 200 miles an hour. That’s all there is to it. It’s just the way it is, the way these race tracks have been built forever. This is a great race track. It’s so much fun to drive, and Talladega and Daytona had that same issue and they added pavement, like a skid pad or whatever you want to call it, so when the car does get out of control or gets going that direction, you still have some control Because once you hit the grass, especially with it wet, with it dry it’s gonna make a little difference, but if you hit the grass wet, you’re along for the ride. It feels like you pick up speed when you get in the wet grass. They’ll have to look at it. I understand times are tough and we might go a half-dozen races and nobody ever gets in that grass, ever, but this is two races in a row somebody has been over there playing around.
Q. THEY’RE GOING TO PUT IN SAFER BARRIERS.
A. I didn’t hear that. That’s great. We applaud the race tracks for doing safety stuff for us and we understand that the times are tough and they need to do fan items. We need to cater to the fans in the infield, whether it’s concessions or bathrooms, and accommodate them and all that, but, certainly, we all appreciate 100 percent of them thinking of us on the race track and the safety of the drivers out there. We can never do too much for safety and we’re blessed to have the things that have gone on in our sport have probably saved a lot of lives because of what we’ve done since then.
Q. IF THERE HAD BEEN A CAUTION WITH 5 OR 10 TO GO COULD YOU HAVE HELD THEM OFF?
A. You know, that’s a good question. The lap times we were running, we were running pretty dang good lap times and my car was driving really good. I mean, my car was driving so good. It would have been a shootout for sure. It would have been lane choice. Who got the jump on the start. Did we end up three-wide. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Last week, if I would have taken two would I have won? I don’t know, so it would have been a shootout. I was ready for it, though.