Greg Biffle was winless for the first time in seven fulltime seasons in the Sprint Cup Series last year. His struggles were company-wide, as the five-car effort from Roush Fenway Racing combined for only three victories.
The driver of the No. 16 Ford talked about the disappointment of not winning and how his team expects to turn things around this year during a recent national telephone conference call. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: What have you done since the end of last season to give you hope things will be better in 2010, especially since there's no testing?
Biffle: Really, truly, we need to wait until California, Atlanta and some of those other racetracks because Daytona is kind of in a class of its own. It's hard to get a feel for where you're at competitive-wise at a restrictor plate track, but we've worked very hard this winter getting weight out of our cars, getting the center of gravity down, lightening them, working hard on our data acquisition and trying to understand our modeling better - working on aero. Combining the technology, somewhat, from the (Richard Petty Motorsports) group, or the old Evernham stuff, has helped us a little bit, I think. I think we were able to help them a little bit, so we were able to put two technologies together. We did a tire test in Phoenix for Goodyear. Kasey Kahne did one in California for Goodyear and I'm doing a test next week in Texas, so I think we're going to have a good mixed bag of data coming back into the organization from those three race tracks before the season starts, and, hopefully, more throughout the season. Hopefully, Carl (Edwards) gets a chance and David (Ragan) and Matt (Kenseth) to do some more tire testing, and then if NASCAR makes a few rules changes along the way, that gives a chance for all the cars to get on the racetrack. If they're going to do a mass tire test, like before Indy, those kinds of things help us, so we just look forward to those opportunities. If they ever come up, we're right there to take advantage of it. I think we're doing everything we can to be better.
Question: Last year there were only seven full-time Ford teams, and with the addition of Richard Petty Motorsports there will be 10. Will that make a difference?
Biffle: Certainly, we've added a couple of good, quality guys that won races last year or came close to winning races, so that's certainly going to help the Ford camp pick up some more wins. We're really excited about that. Like I said, we've already consolidated some of those technologies and I think it's really helped us and is going to help us.
Question: How much do your teams share information?
Biffle: Last year we shared information across the board with the Yates (Racing) organization and we feel we've worked hard, and we've talked a lot about it, that we feel like this year we want it to be the same as it was last year, and I think they're all for that. They've said it's going to be an open book across the street, so I think it's going to help both of us. We're going to put our bump-stop technology together and all the things we can do, and I think it's going to help us all.
Question: What goes on during a tire test?
Biffle: It's not quite like a test because you don't have as much control, but you do get some track time to get on the racetrack, get your car running good. They want a good, drivable car - kind of like a race setup - so that they can put sets and sets and sets of tires on it and you can give them a good, accurate comparison of the sets of tires and not how your car his handling. So you get a few hours to work on your car and get it driving good, and get to try a few things that you might not at a normal race, but that's about it. Then you go through all those sets of tires and usually when you finish up, or you get close to the end of the second day, you look forward to possibly getting a couple more hours or another hour to try another combination or another setup that you can try to get some data on. That's another thing that's important is we've got on-board data during these tests, which we don't on race weekends, and, in turn, we can bring that back home and study it for the next month or two and see if there's anything to be learned from that data. We can see if we can decipher anything from it that might help us, so you get a little bit of extra extended practice when you wouldn't for a race weekend, but it's certainly not like being at a two-day test.
Question: How much of the offseason was spent on improving for 2010?
Biffle: Prior to Christmas we really just talked about what we needed to do and we worked on it some, but we did have a tire test in Phoenix that we went and did, but really since the New Year - this week - we've worked really hard. I've been at the shop everyday and we've been in meetings and doing different things. We've got a lot of exciting stuff. We've lightened our cars up, which we feel is going to be important to help get some more ballast in them and get the weight balance correct. We've come up with new geometries, new shock packages, new bump stop stuff - some of it has been through the merger and some of it has been through what we've learned. We've worked very, very hard and all the guys are really, really excited about it. We can't wait to get to the race track with our cars at Texas next week. That's going to be our first real true test, our first opportunity to get on the track.
Question: Does the offseason allow you to rest, both physically and emotionally?
Biffle: Actually getting some time off does. This off-season I'm doing a little bit more traveling and it's a little busier than it was last year. Last year I really laid low. I really stayed home a lot and didn't do a lot, and, I tell you, when Daytona came around and getting ready to go to Phoenix and all that, I was really charged up and ready to go. I'm looking forward to driving to the airport and getting on the airplane and going to the racetrack, versus when you get to the middle of the season and the end and it's like, 'Gosh, I can't wait until it's over.' But that really charges your batteries up, having some time to spend at home, but we have some tests scheduled, a sponsor summit. I've got a few appearances right before the season starts. I'm planning on going to the desert with my buddies, and then I'm going to do a little three-day vacation before I go to Daytona, so the month of January and beginning of February is pretty active prior to the 500.