Greg Biffle on bigger leadership role at Roush: “My input has to be the best it can be”

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With Carl Edwards’ departure to Joe Gibbs Racing, Greg Biffle finds himself as the elder statesman at Roush Fenway Racing.

Biffle, who has competed for Roush in Cup full-time since 2003, will be paired with third-year Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who has run part-time at NASCAR’s top level for four seasons.

That means things will be different for Biffle. Back when he was teammates with both Edwards and Matt Kenseth (who left Roush to join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013), the veteran trio would often come to a consensus on solutions to their problems.

But with Stenhouse and Bayne, Biffle recognizes the importance of having his own ideas be sound ones.

“I’m not necessary going to be heard louder or have more input,” he said about the situation. “It’s that my input has to be the best it can be. Because there isn’t any more that have lateral experience like Matt and Carl, sitting on both sides of me.

“We had an equal voice on how our car drove and what we felt like the problems were. Now, a little more of that comes on my shoulders.”

From Biffle’s perspective, the biggest difference between having veteran teammates and younger teammates is how they’ll react when the car isn’t doing so well.

Biffle used Kenseth as an example of what veterans can do.

“He knows if that thing is gonna be fast on Lap 20 or has a good idea,” Biffle said. “That’s the experience you lose with newer guys that don’t have that big textbook of experience: ‘I’ve been here and done this before, I know what this feels like. Probably not gonna be good later on.’ That comes with time. It’s the only thing that comes with.”

On the other hand, Biffle says that younger drivers are open to new ideas and not settled in “old habits.”

“They’re not, ‘Oh, I’ve tried this, it didn’t work, and I tried that and it didn’t work.’ When you have new guys, they’re willing to try anything – springs, different lines on the race track,” he said. “Those things may work today with the car we have and the aero package and the tires.”

Biffle feels optimistic that he, Stenhouse, and Bayne can do well together. He insists that Roush has made strides in solving the issues that have plagued their cars, in part because the lack of preseason testing has allowed the team to focus on finding said issues.

With that in mind, Biffle looks forward to starting the year on better footing performance-wise.

“We had major issues that we’ve ironed out, and feel like in 2015, we’re gonna come out fairly strong,” he said. “Are we all the way there yet? No. But we feel really strongly that we’re going down the correct path now. It’s only up from here.”

Biffle’s Backslide
As Roush Fenway’s fortunes have declined in recent years, so have those of its veteran driver, Greg Biffle. He’ll look to stop both trends in 2015.

2012 – Two wins, 12 Top-5s, 21 Top-10s, 3 Poles, Avg. Start of 9.9, Avg. Finish of 10.2, 5th in Points
2013 – One win, 4 Top-5s, 13 Top-10s, 0 Poles, Avg. Start of 16.1, Avg. Finish of 14.4, 9th in Points
2014 – No wins, 3 Top-5s, 11 Top-10s, 0e Poles, Avg. Start of 18.7, Avg. Finish of 16.4, 14th in Points

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III