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CHARLOTTE -- Greg Biffle brings five top-10 finishes at Charlotte into the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend, including a runner-up finish in 2008. A week after qualifying for the All-Star race by finishing second in the Showdown, Biffle talked about what it takes to be good at Charlotte and looked ahead to next week at Pocono.
Q. YOU HAVE 600 MILES HERE FOLLOWED BY WHAT ALWAYS SEEMS LIKE A REALLY LONG RACE AT POCONO NEXT WEEKEND. HOW DO YOU COMPARE THE TWO?
A. They are completely different. Pocono always seems long just because the track is so big. Here, you really feel the race. There isn’t a lot of time to think about what is going on. It is action packed for 600 miles. This is a pretty tough, intense race. You have driver fatigue here. It takes a lot to get through this race.
Q. ARE YOU SURPRISED YOU WERE ABLE TO STAY UP FRONT ON OLD TIRES THAT LONG IN THE SHOWDOWN AND HOW WILL THE COMPOUND GOING TO AFFECT THE 600?
A. I think the compound is really okay. These cars are track-position sensitive. We know that staying out and staying up front means you don’t need tires. Track position is enough to overtake tires.
Q. WHICH OF THE POCONO CORNERS IS THE TOUGHEST AND WHY?
A. I think the hardest is the tunnel turn. It is tricky to not be loose in and you really have to commit to that corner on exit. There is a lot of speed to be had there. If you don’t slow down too much and re-accelerate coming out you are good, but the tunnel corner is the trickiest.
Q. OBVOUSLY YOU WANT TO WIN EVERYWHERE, BUT THE 600 IS ONE YOU REALLY WANT TO GET ISN’T IT?
A. Yeah, it is an important race for us. We are at home, in front of our hometown crowds. A lot of people want to have a Coca-Cola 600 trophy, similar to Daytona or Brickyard. This is a big race.
Q. WE HEAD TO MICHIGAN IN A COUPLE WEEKS. ROUSH HAS SUCH A GREAT TRACK RECORD THERE, CAN YOU PINPOINT WHY?
A. I don’t know why we run so good at Michigan. I really like the race track there. I won a couple times in the truck series there and I just love the way that track is laid out. Overall we have had a lot of success there as an organization, but I don’t know why that is exactly.
Q. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE NASCAR TURN THE FOCUS BACK TO SOME OF THE “CROWN JEWEL” RACES AND BRING BACK THE $1 MILLION BONUS LIKE THEY HAD IN THE PAST?
A. Certainly we wouldn’t be against them offering $1 million to win a race. That was a neat deal. It would be something for the fans, something for the competitors to shoot for, but we are trying to win every week anyway. It would be neat to bring that back though.
Q. WHEN IS A TEAMMATE A TEAMMATE? DOES IT CHANGE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE TO THE END OF THE RACE?
A. Yeah, I think it does. When you are racing a teammate there is a lot of give and take in the beginning or middle even. When it is down to 10 to go, or three to go then you are racing every guy the same and trying to win. I still use a little bit of caution around my teammates to alleviate those Monday morning meetings that are awkward. You still have to race hard though and some things are going to happen.
Q. DO YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR TEAMMATES TENDENCIES AS IT GETS LATER IN THE RACE?
A. Yeah, you have to gather at the end of the event that you are going to have to race them just like you would anybody else to get that spot. You are all trying to win and that is how you approach it.
Q. EARLIER YOU SAID HANDLING IS WHERE YOU FELT YOU NEEDED TO CATCH-UP, RATHER THAN MOTOR. HOW TOUGH IS THAT AT A PLACE LIKE THIS?
A. It is a tough place to test at because the track changes to rapidly. This place will change two or three-tenths of a second just with a cloud coming by. This race track is real sensitive to temperature and it can be difficult. You come in and make a change, go back out and all of a sudden the sun goes behind a cloud. It can mess everything up. If you can get a constant temperature and constant situation it is easier.
Q. DO YOU HAVE TO GIVE UP SOMETHING DURING THE DAY TO BE BETTER AT NIGHT?
A. You try to find a balance. There are some things that we need to do and try to do during the day in order to be better at night.
Q. EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT SIMULATION BEING THE KEY TO CATCH YOU GUYS UP, BUT THAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU AS THE DRIVER CAN’T PARTICIPATE IN. IS THAT FRUSTRAING FOR YOU?
A. Yeah it is. It used to be that the computer was never good enough to analyse what the car would do on the race track. People would say, ‘Oh, the computer says if you do this the car will be better’. Then you go to the track already knowing what it is going to do and you go try it and it does what you thought it was going to do. Those days are changing but it isn’t perfect yet. Some simulation stuff like will say things that don’t come true. You have to get to the race track and try things out. It is a combination of the two.
Q. SOMEONE CAN HAVE THE RIGHT SIMULATION THOUGH AND GET A STEP AHEAD RIGHT?
A. Absolutely … once you perfect that model you will certainly accelerate past your competition because you will be better when you unload off the truck each week.
Q. WHAT IS IT ABOUT POCONO THAT MAKES IT SO TOUGH? OR IS IT JUST BECAUSE IT IS SO ODLY SHAPED?
A. That is the thing; it is like being at three different race tracks at the same time. You go through turn one and two very bumpy and hard breaking into it. Then you get to the tunnel turn and it is a real quick turn where the wall comes up really fast. In three and four it is long, sweeping and fairly smooth. To get your car to be able to drive all three of those technical elements at the same time is really hard.
Q. WHO DO YOU FEEL SHOULD BE THE NEXT INDUCTEE IN THE HALL OF FAME?
A. I am a proponent of Benny Parsons. The list is just huge. There are so many deserving guys, I hate to go down the list, but Benny would be the first guy that jumps to my mind.
Q. IF YOU COULD PICK ONE TRACK TO PUT IN THE CHASE THAT CURRENTLY ISN’T, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
A. I think it would be cool to put a road track into the chase. I think a road race or something like that would be a good track to be in.