Biffle has no regrets following Edwards tiff
June 18, 2013, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
“If this same situation arises again, and I’m a third of a straightaway out front, I’m not going to back up a third of a straightaway lead to help him get paper off his grille,” Biffle said of Carl Edwards on Tuesday during a teleconference with reporters. “If it’s six car lengths, or five? No problem. And we all understand that. But you can’t ask another competitor to give up a quarter, or a half, or a third of a straightaway lead. It’s just not practical, it’s not feasible.”
Biffle held a substantial lead over Roush Fenway Racing teammate Edwards with less than 50 laps remaining Sunday when the engine on the No. 99 car began running hot because of trash on the front grille. Concerned about overheating on a fast 2-mile track that places a lot of stress on engines, Edwards requested that the No. 16 car back up to help remove the debris -- assistance that Biffle, trying to end a 27-race winless skid, didn’t believe he was in position to provide.
The decision didn’t sit well with Edwards. “He ain’t our teammate,” he said to crew chief Jimmy Fennig over the radio. Biffle -- who won by nearly 3 seconds -- said he and Edwards briefly discussed the matter on a Monday competition call that also included crew chiefs and engineers, but planned to talk about it further.
“We’re going to sit down and talk a little bit about it, and just the expectation, the understanding of, what can you do to help another competitor?” Biffle said. “Certainly I’ve backed up to Carl before to get stuff off his grille, he’s done the same thing for me. But at a big race track like Michigan, there’s a certain, probably, distance that a guy can back up, and at the same time, you have to ask yourself -- is it advantageous for me?
“There’s a lot of things that play factors in there. Our crew chief also had a strategy that we needed to be so many seconds ahead of the second-place car so we could pit under green and come back out, and if the caution came out, we’d still be on the lead lap. And that’s exactly what happened. We pitted, we were on pit road when the caution came out. The very thing he was trying to put himself in position for happened, and we came out the leader in that sequence, and ultimately that’s probably what ended up winning us the race.”
Edwards’ engine held on until the caution, and the debris was removed during the subsequent pit stop. The pole winner for the event, he finished eighth. Car owner Jack Roush said after the event that he backed Biffle’s decision to maintain track position with such a large lead over the field.
“We want to work together at all costs,” Biffle said. “But we have to be reasonable about what we’re asking one another to do. When I got the message Carl had paper on his grille, I had paper on my grille, too. I was looking for somebody as well, a lapped car to get the paper off. He was a long, long ways behind us by the time the message got to us, and I didn’t feel like it was close enough that we could help him.”
As for Edwards’ cutting words over the radio about his teammate’s loyalty -- Biffle said he understands drivers sometimes utter things in the heat of the moment that they might phrase differently once they’re out of the car.
“We all have different reactions when we’re in the car, or when we just get out of the car and our finish isn’t the result we wanted because of a certain situation. I’ve done the same thing. In fact, there was something I’ve been quoted saying as well which isn’t what I meant, but it’s what I said at the time,” he said.
“In the meeting on Monday, he was looking for every way we could work together as a team. He thought it was great for our organization that we sat on the pole and won the race, the 1,000th race for Ford. I haven’t read all the stuff. I did see the front page of something, I don’t remember what it is, that ‘He’s not a teammate of ours,’ or ‘We’re not teammates,’ or something like that, I’m not sure. But I understand. I’ve been there. And sometimes things get taken out of context as to what you actually meant and what you said. I understand that part of it.”