LITTLETON, N.H. – official release — Ford Racing photo — NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. traded in their stock-car racing skills for a chance to learn some rally techniques in the Ford Fiesta ST during an afternoon at the Team O’Neil Rally School in Littleton, N.H. on Thursday.
Both Ford drivers received some tips from owner Tim O’Neil and Rally America Two-Wheel Drive champion Andrew Comrie-Picard.
“I learned an awful lot driving the Fiesta ST and it’s amazing what that car will do,” Biffle said. “Rally driving is so much different than what we’re used to because it’s front-wheel drive, so you use the brake in a lot different manner than we do. You almost use the brake for traction as you’re turning and staying on the gas, so it was a great experience for us to be able to see the different driving techniques.
“It was so much fun learning how to put the car into a drift because I haven’t done those things in front-wheel drive cars, so I learned a tremendous amount about what this Fiesta ST is capable of, and I really didn’t want to leave. I was having so much fun.”
Biffle is one of two Roush Fenway Racing drivers, along with Carl Edwards, to be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Getting acclimated to the rally car, though, proved to be more of a challenge than making the Chase.
“I don’t think I ever got 100 percent comfortable behind the wheel, but I learned a lot,” he said. It’s intimidating how fast the car will go down through the woods and how they’ll turn. The brake actually stops the car from sliding or spinning out and it’s just not something that we’re used to.”
“Growing up racing sprint cars on the dirt I was always comfortable sliding around on dirt, but the way you do it with these front-wheel drive cars and the way you use the brake was like nothing I had ever really driven,” he said. “You transfer the weight to the front so the rear slides around and you have to get it sliding back and forth from the left to the right to make certain corners, so it was totally different. Once I kind of trained my mind to do that it was a lot of fun, and I wanted to keep making laps.”
Stenhouse, RFR’s youngest Cup driver at 26, didn’t rule out a rally-car race at some point in the future.
“I would definitely love to do a rally car race,” he said. “I felt comfortably out of control through the woods. I hung a few wheels off, but it reminded me of when I road dirt bikes through the woods growing up.”