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Biffle likes his team's short-track improvement

March 11th, 2014 8:10 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Biffle likes his team's short-track improvement

Greg Biffle liked the improvement Roush-Fenway Racing made on the short tracks like Bristol Motor Speedway last season.

However, he wasn’t happy about the trade-off.

The driver of the No. 16 Ford explained while he won at Michigan last season, it was the only win on the intermediate tracks for the Roush organization. 

“We have to be able to compete on every venue, short track, intermediate and the superspeedways,” he said. “We had to pick up our short-track program. It’s been a weakness with our team. We did that in 2013, but the problem was we lost our strangehold on the intermediate tracks. I wasn’t happy about the trade since there are more intermediates than short tracks.”

That doesn’t mean he has anything against Bristol.

In fact, it’s near the top of his wish list to win this Sunday’s Food City 500. He emphasized he’s extremely happy with the short-track improvement, which included a ninth-place finish in last August’s IRWIN Tools Night Race.

His point about the intermediate tracks is that drivers who do well on those have a better shot at winning the series championship. He also called those tracks, the organization’s “bread and butter,” where they usually were among the teams to beat.

“That’s been your bread and butter, and you roll off the truck top five,” he said. “When you roll off the truck and you’re 32nd, then you work on the car and you’re still 32nd. That hadn’t happened to us until last year and that caught us off guard. That’s a focus this year to get more competitive on the intermediate tracks.”

There is still a big emphasis on Bristol as one of the premier stops on the NASCAR tour. Biffle is still looking for a first win at the .533-mile oval where his best finish was third in the 2005 Food City 500. He qualified on the pole for the 2012 Food City 500 and led 41 laps before ultimately winding up 13th. 

Overall, he has six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 22 Bristol starts.

The 44-year-old Vancouver, Wash., driver is coming off a disappointing 22nd place finish at Las Vegas, another of those intermediate tracks. While he believes the Ford Fusion is a good race car, evident by Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski winning Sunday, Biffle said his team needs create better handling cars on the track.

Part of it could be the process. 

No longer does driver feel usually dictate the set-up of the car. The sport has changed where the car is set-up by engineers and it’s the driver’s job to adjust to that set-up.

“The sport has changed as technology has gotten better,”: he said. “Four years ago, I was the guy picking the shocks, the sway bar from what I felt inside the car. Today, the computer picks it because it’s like, ‘It creates a little different jacking force.’ That decision making has been taken away a little bit. I’m not saying it’s better or worse. They make the decision, then I tell them if it’s better or not.”

He explained it’s the same process with brakes where engineers pick the brakes based on scientific data instead of what is felt from the driver’s seat.

Regardless of those changes, Biffle remains as hungry as ever to win races. He has adopted film study much like football and basketball players do to study race patterns and such. There is always motivation to win, he explained, whether it’s a race on a local short track or the Food City 500.

“We never go out on the track without the motivation to win,” he said. “I want to win at a place like Homestead as bad as I want to win the Daytona 500. That never changes. All we want to do is win all the time, not matter what the stake is. If you pay us, give us a trophy or whatever, that pride from inside that comes from winning, that’s all it takes.”

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