"We have to walk that fine line of not killing people and creating excitement."
That's not necessarily anything new heard in NASCAR considering the dangers of the sport and it's history, but those words on Thursday during a test at Michigan International Raceway certainly provoked a big response.
Perhaps that's more because of who spoke them. Greg Biffle has won numerous races in all three of NASCAR's national series and has championships in two of them - Trucks and Nationwide. For most of this season he has been the Sprint Cup Series points leader.
During his career, Biffle has certainly not been known for tossing out "pipe bombs" - comments that invoke instant controversy or criticism. He's generally fairly reserved and thoughtful in his comments, although he has had his share of run-ins on and off the track with other drivers.
Perhaps that's why his comments seemed to stand out. Perhaps that's also why more attention should be paid to them.
Here are a couple of the questions addressed to Biffle during his media availability on Thursday. Everyone should consider his answers carefully.
THINK IT IS GOOD FOR THE SPORT OCCASIONALLY TO HAVE A TRACK LIKE THIS WHERE THE
SPEEDS ARE WAY UP THERE? IS THAT DANGER GOOD?
Biffle: “I think so. I don’t see anything
wrong with this. It definitely is going to gain some attention going 218 miles
per hour and I don’t know, it has been a long time since we have gone that fast.
I think that it is good for our sport to have a little – lets face it,
controversy is why we have all these reality shows right? – a little action and
controversy doesn’t hurt us from giving us something to talk about. It is worthy
of talking about. It is fast and a new track and not quite as smooth as Pocono
was but it is pretty fast.”
SOME OF THE CRITICISM HAS BEEN
THAT THE SPORT HAS GOTTEN TOO SAFE AND SOME OF THE REASON PEOPLE TUNE IN ON
SUNDAY IS BECAUSE WE ARE NOT CRAZY ENOUGH TO GO 218.
Biffle: “Yeah, but we don’t want to
kill anybody either. We have to walk that fine line of not killing people and
creating excitement. I think the biggest thing is that when people say that it
is too fast or whatever is that it makes it hard to race other cars at that
speed. You look at the places we go the absolute fastest and sometimes those
aren’t the best races to watch. Sometimes the tracks that are a little bit
slower put on a little better side-by-side action and more bumping and grinding.
I promise you that you aren’t going to bump somebody at 218 mph, I promise you
that. It isn’t going to happen. Saying that just because we are going that fast,
doesn’t mean it is going to be a great race. Just because the speeds are the
thrill or excitement. TV tames it down a lot. Watching in the grandstands here
and watching on TV at home is a lot different. It numbs you from that speed.
High speed doesn’t always mean exciting racing. Sometimes a little slower speed
actually could be a little more exciting and thrilling. You are seeing guys root
and gouge and go.”