In this week's 12 Questions interview, Greg Biffle says there's always something interesting happening on the track – even when there are no caution flags. Oh, and he also discusses the whole peeing-in-the-car thing.
Our series of weekly NASCAR driver interviews continues with Sprint Cup Series points leader Greg Biffle, who has won two races so far this season. We spoke with Biffle prior to the Bristol race.
SBN: What percentage of your career races can you remember?
GB: Oh gosh. You know, I remember a lot of highlights. But out of every race I've participated in? Maybe 10 percent.
SBN: Wow, that few?
GB: Yeah, because you've got to think of how many races I've actually run. I couldn't name the specific races, but I remember things that happened. I can't even remember something specific about Sonoma; I mean, I remember the race, but nothing stood out. I don't remember dipping the tire off with 10 to go and almost losing it or something like that, you know what I mean?
SBN: What was the first win you got in any form of motorsports?
GB: It would have been in a Street Stock type of car. Hobby Stock, Street Stock, it has a bunch of different terminologies around the United States. But that was the first thing I won in. You had to be 16 to have a NASCAR license, so that's when I started racing.
It took a little bit before we won, because we didn't know what the hell we were doing. I mean, we really didn't know what we were doing. It's kind of funny, I remember being afraid to touch the suspension – the upper A-arm and the spindle and all that. I was like, "I don't know enough about that. I'll work on the engine, the brakes, wheel bearings. But the other stuff, I don't know anything about it."
I didn't become an expert by any means, but I ended up building that (suspension) stuff from the ground up just four years later. So it's kind of funny how that transition happened.
SBN: Who is a clean driver you really enjoy racing with in NASCAR?
GB: There's a few of them, but probably the guy I race with the most right now is Tony Stewart.
SBN: Have you always gotten along with Tony pretty well?
GB: Well, not always. (Laughs) I don't think you could say you got along well with every driver all the time. I've had run-ins with Mark (Martin) when he was my teammate and Jeff Burton. So you've had run-ins a time or two with everybody.
I would say I race good with my teammates and Mark, and actually (Juan Pablo) Montoya and I race pretty well. I know sometimes he's a pain in people's asses, but I can see when he's faster than me and I think he respects that. When I'm faster than him, he'll give me room to race.
SBN: On the opposite side of that, is there anyone out there who always races you like a jerk?
GB: Not really. I couldn't really say anybody right now. But typically, it's not a guy who runs in the top 10. It's when you have a bad pit stop or something happens where you get mired back a little bit and you have a guy where it's just lap after lap and you have a tough time even trying to get beside him.
SBN: What's your personal code of conduct on the track? When do you decide to go hard?
GB: I try and save that for the last 50 laps of the race a little bit. But I'm pretty agressive even when I'm not trying hard that last 50 laps. I respect all the guys I race with because I expect the same back. So the old saying about treating people how you want to be treated goes both ways.
SBN: Do you have a mental list of people you owe for on-track payback?
GB: No. I don't do that.
SBN: Why not?
GB: Because it's water under the bridge. Plus, right now, I guess I don't have a list because I haven't had a lot of trouble. There will be times when you're not happy with the way a guy drove you down into the corner three-wide or put you in a bad position, but that stuff happens.
If I worry about what happened two weeks ago or a month ago, I'm not thinking about what I need to be doing now.
SBN: If you could turn back time and team up with somebody who doesn't drive now, who would you like to team with?
GB: David Pearson. I enjoyed talking to him (at a joint 2009 media appearance at Darlington), I enjoy watching the old footage and listening to what people say about him. He was a great driver, and I like the things he accomplished and the things he did.
SBN: When is the last time you got nervous about anything?
GB: Shoot...I'm nervous about stuff all the time.
SBN: Like to the point of butterflies?
GB: Well, I wouldn't say butterflies nervous. But we'll be at the sand dunes at Silver Lake (Michigan), filming some stuff, and I'll be jumping my sand car. And there's an amount of nervousness to that when you're jumping that thing – stuff can go wrong, you know what I mean?
I was also nervous when the caution flag came out (at Michigan) after (Jimmie) Johnson broke. But I think that's what raises your sensory system and your adrenaline and makes you so good at not making a mistake – because if you're not nervous, I don't think you're alert as what you could be.
Now, butterflies-in-the-stomach nervous? Probably the last time I got on stage to talk to 2,000 people or something. I don't like that. There are two kinds of nervous for me.
SBN: You meet so many fans through appearances and autograph sessions, and sometimes the fans can ask awkward or uncomfortable questions. Do you have any stories along those lines?
GB: I can't think of any recently, but one that's always awkward to talk about – and you get it a lot – is people wonder what you do when you have to go to the bathroom and you're sitting in there for four hours. I'll be at the Sprint Stage and there's 100 people there and I've got a mic, and people are like, "What do you do when you have to go?"
Well, then you have to explain how the whole body system works, right? When you're out doing an activity when you sweat out a gallon and a half of liquid, you're looking for anything you can drink – not finding a place to go to the bathroom. That's really the way it works, you know? So that always seems like it's awkward, no matter who asks it.
SBN: If you had to choose one of these jobs after you retire, would you rather be a NASCAR broadcaster or a high-ranking NASCAR official like Robin Pemberton or John Darby?
GB: Oh man. I'm going to go with broadcaster. I admire (Mike) Helton and Pemberton and Darby and what those guys do. It's a tough line to walk all the time: To police the sport, to be fair, to not make mistakes – which everybody does – and to be criticized by so many people. I mean, I suppose I'm in that position now – I'm driving the car, so I can be criticized by 100,000 fans. If you were a broadcaster, you'd still be critiqued on what you say and what your opinion is by all the people watching, but it seems like it's a little less pressure.
SBN: What's a question you get asked a lot that you're tired of answering?
GB: Where is Matt (Kenseth) going next year? I get that a lot. Not as much anymore, though – it's almost like people have kind of come to the conclusion that nobody knows and he's not going to say, so we're going to quit asking.
SBN: I've been asking each person to give me a question for the next interview. Last week, Kyle Petty wanted to know this: With declining TV ratings and attendance and questions about the sport's future, what role do you think the drivers have in helping NASCAR grow again?
GB: I think the drivers have a significant role in that. We can all sit around and talk about how bad our job is or how stupid we think this or that is, but the reality is we need to talk about the positive things. I feel like I'm a pretty good steward of the sport and I feel like I bring a lot of new fans to the sport.
I was just in Idaho and there was a fairly large group of snocross racing guys who hadn't been to a race. Now they're scheduled to come to a race. I've met people all over and encouraged them to come, and a lot of them enjoy it and plan to come to more.
I think it's important for us to talk about how exciting our sport is and explain how exciting it still is when there are no caution flags and the cars aren't that much different. Because there's still a race. Even though the guys aren't going in the fence and wrecking, there's still a competitive race going on.
No matter what, even if the cars are 20 car lengths apart, somebody is going somewhere. This guy is catching that guy, this guy is the fastest car, that guy is two laps shorter on fuel than another guy. There's always something playing out; you just have to be involved in that in order to be excited about what's going to happen.
Because that's what we're all sitting there watching, right? "What's going to happen?" People say there's no excitement if the top five cars are separated by 20 car lengths because you know they're probably not going to run into each other. But there's some excitement there on who is going to stop first and things like that. That really holds true for almost every race, and I think that's part of our job to explain that to the people who are sitting up there and watching. There's more to it than what you're looking at.
SBN: Can you help me with a question for the next interview?
GB: Yeah. What's the worst or most-disliked time for someone to approach you for an autograph? Like going from the hauler to the car while practice is going on, or walking into the garage or what?
ARCHIVE: See all the 12 Questions interviews from this season.