BIffle, Crew Committed To Strong Finish In Chase
By Team Ford Racing Correspondent
CONCORD, N.C. -- Greg Biffle is ready to make some noise in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, starting with Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Biffle set a new CMS track record when he won the pole Thursday night with a lap of 193.708 miles per hour in his No. 16 3M/IDG Ford Fusion. On Friday, Biffle’s Ford was lightning fast again, as he topped the speed charts in the afternoon practice, running 187.065 mph. Kasey Kahne was second in the session, followed by Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin.
After a slow start to his Chase, Biffle, crew chief Matt Puccia and the rest of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford squad have rolled up their sleeves and gone hard to work. With four of the final six races in the Chase on 1.5-mile tracks, Puccia said the team is loaded for bear.
“We’ve been working pretty hard on our intermediate program over the last few weeks leading up to this race and next week at Kansas because some of the stuff that has worked in the past here, and in the first race when we ran so well, is kind of obsolete,” said Puccia. “ So we’ve spent a little bit of time working on our intermediate package and it seems like some of the stuff we’ve learned in practice is correlating into the performance.”
Carl Edwards was 11th in the No. 99 Kellogg’s Fusion during the first round of practice, with Matt Kenseth 17th in the No. 17 Best Buy Fusion, one position ahead of Aric Almirola’s No. 43 Smithfield Ford.
Kyle Busch, Regan Smith and Mark Martin topped the final Happy Hour session, with Edwards the best of the Blue Oval Boys in seventh and Kenseth and Biffle 16th and 18th, respectively.
The big news in Happy Hour was that Ryan Newman lost an engine after just six laps, so instead of starting third where he qualified, he’ll go to the back of the field for the green flag to begin the race.
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NASCAR fans are known for their passion, but the Richards family is taking it to a whole new level this weekend.
Peter and Linda Richards, along with sons Kirby, 19; Toby, 16; and Gavin, 9; journeyed 9,500 miles from New South Wales, Australia, for this weekend’s race. The jaunt is part of the family’s five-week North American holiday, when they’ll hit Los Angeles, New York City, Niagara Falls, Chicago and Las Vegas.
“We’re NASCAR fans,” said Peter. “We’re always watching the races at home; they’re on there usually Sunday mornings, and it’s fun for us. It’s something to do together. My wife’s the only one who isn’t too into it. But I believe this weekend we’ve won her over, too.”
“I’m outnumbered,” added Linda. “But it’s been a lot of fun. This is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday for us.”
Given that the Richards family is from Australia, they naturally wanted to meet their hero, Tasmania native Marcos Ambrose.
Needless to say, as soon as they approached Ambrose, the pilot of the No. 9 Stanley Ford recognized — and appreciated — the familiar accent.
“That was great; he seems like such a good fellow,” Peter Richards said after meeting Ambrose. “This whole holiday’s just been getting better and better. Every time we think it can’t get better, it does.”
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Ford Racing NNS Notes & Quotes
Dollar General 300 (Charlotte Motor Speedway)
FORD FINISHING RESULTS:
7th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10th – Michael Annett
12th – Reed Sorenson
24th – Kyle Fowler
26th – Kevin Lepage
27th – Jeffrey Earnhardt
29th – Stanton Barrett
33rd – Timmy Hill
RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 6 Cargill Beef Ford Mustang – THE ONE PIT STOP COST YOU SEVEN SPOTS. WHAT HAPPENED THERE? “We decided we were gonna try to fix the spoiler. I got in the wall on the first lap of that run and bent the spoiler back a little bit. We were running third there and came in and tried to fix it right there at the last second. We lost a bunch of track position and the car didn’t really drive as well in the back as it was when we were running up front. The Cargill Beef Mustang was a little bit better today, but we just made a mistake on a pit stop and we’ll go back and get ‘em next week at Kansas. We’ll just keep pushing forward. I’ve got to thank NOS, Nationwide Insurance and everybody that helps us do this every week in this series we run in. It’s a lot of fun. It’s disappointing at times, but we’ll come back and get ‘em. There are four races left, so there’s still a lot of time.”
HOW WAS YOUR NIGHT BEFORE THAT POINT? “We were kind of up-and-down. On the first run it was really fast and then we got tight, and then we got loose. I got in the wall a little bit and tried to fix the spoiler on the last pit stop and it cost us a lot of spots. After that it was tough to get our track position back and we finished seventh. That wasn’t what we wanted, but we’ve got four weeks left.”
THIS CHAMPIONSHIP REMAINS TIGHT WITH YOU GUYS FINISHING SO CLOSE TO EACH OTHER. “Yeah, but we’re not close enough. We’re losing points, so that’s not the way we need to be going.”
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Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, posted the fastest single-lap speed in Saturday’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Biffle, who won the pole for tomorrow’s Bank of America 500, along with crew chief Matt Puccia, spoke about how the weekend has gone to this point and what they’re looking for Saturday night.
WHAT WILL YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSION TODAY? “I think we’ve got a pretty fast car for tomorrow night. We’re just working on trying to get a good balance and good drive. A lot of guys are getting tight and then it’s falling off as far as speed, so we’re just continuing to try and work on the good balance in the car.”
YOU WON’T HAVE THOSE SAME CONDITIONS TOMORROW NIGHT IN THE RACE, SO HOW VALUABLE WAS IT? “I guess balance is the only thing we’re looking for and how is our total grip. Is it too tight? Is it too loose? We know the grip is going to increase, but you’re just trying to look for an easy-driving and good-driving car right now. My car drives pretty good, but we’re also kind of testing. We’re pretty happy with the car, but this practice time gives us a chance to try some different things and see how the car reacts.”
YOU’VE LED PRACTICE BEFORE, SO HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT YOU FOR TOMORROW NIGHT? “I think the main thing is just having a little extra track time to practice and try all of those different things. That’s the big thing that not only helps you here, but next week at Kansas and maybe some of the other places we’ll go to because you get a chance to try things that might make a difference at those tracks.”
MATT PUCCIA, Crew Chief – No. 16 3M Ford Fusion – YOU’VE WON THE POLE AND THEN TODAY’S FIRST PRACTICE SESSION, SO IS THE WEEKEND GOING LIKE YOU HOPED SO FAR? “So far. We’ve been working pretty hard on our intermediate program over the last few weeks leading up to this race and next week at Kansas because some of the stuff that has worked in the past here, and in the first race when we ran so well, is kind of obsolete. So we’ve spent a little bit of time working on our intermediate package and it seems like some of the stuff we’ve learned in practice is correlating into the performance, so it seems to be going well so far. This last practice is going to be the closest we’re going to have to our race conditions, so this is going to be the one we really go off of here.”
IS TOMORROW NIGHT A CREW CHIEF’S RACE? “I think they’re all about strategy now. It’s just really tough because track position is so big these days and it’s hard to pass at a lot of these places we go. Being up there in the front and in clean air is huge and this place is no different. You want to be in that top five all day long to be in contention to win the race. That’s what it’s going to take is to run in the top five, so strategy plays a big part in that and being able to take two tires, no tires or stay out is going to be big when it comes down to go-time tomorrow.”
WITH SIX RACES TO GO ARE YOU FOCUSING MORE ON WINNING RACES CONSIDERING WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS? “Right now we’re looking at performance and trying to win races. That’s the only shot we’ve got right now is to win races, so if we have to take chances to do that, we’re going to do that. If those guys are going to have any problems, we’ve got to be able to be in position and pounce, and the only way we’re going to do that is if we get some wins and have solid runs. I feel good about the races we have in front of us and where we’re at with our program, we just have to be able to capitalize on the good days and minimize the bad days.”