Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More than 16 million kids have some sort of dental disease -- a number Greg Biffle hopes to reduce. (Give Kids A Smile)
More than 16 million kids have some sort of dental disease; a number Greg Biffle hopes to reduce. (Give Kids A Smile)  

Getting kids to smile
one mouth at a time

Biffle turning personal experience into positive with 'Give Kids A Smile'       

Greg Biffle, currently the Sprint Cup Series points leader, answers this week's six questions.

1. Prior to last Saturday's Capital City 400 at Richmond International Raceway, you participated in the "Give Kids A Smile" program that resulted in nearly 400 children getting free dental health care at the track. Why are you so passionate about this?

Biffle: I don't want to tell the kids, but when I was growing up I should have gotten braces then. My brother and I both wrestled in high school and when you're wrestling, having braces is not a good thing. I was 13, 14 years old. It was my turn -- but I was absolutely not getting braces. I refused. I waited until I was old to get them.

Greg BIffle (Give Kids A Smile)
Once you start learning and get educated about it, you're kind of amazed it's gone so unnoticed.

Kids' dental health has gone under the radar. It's important.
I'm so happy now that I did it. It's nice to have your teeth right. ... And as it turns out, I would have been way happier wrestling with braces on than driving a car with them on. To have that helmet squeezing your cheeks, your mouth gets real sore.

2. And the braces you wore were made by your sponsor, 3M, right?

Biffle: Yes, it was a 3M braces system that they have. Actually, I'm glad I did wait -- because over time they invented the braces system, with a wire that snaps in and allows teeth to move side to side, keeps them aligned. Permanent wires are bonded to back of teeth now. I got my braces removed last year about this time.

3. Did anyone in the garage make fun of you for wearing braces at 40-plus years of age?

Biffle: You would think people would give you a hard time about it, but they didn't. Maybe a few fans, but you're always going to have that.

4. So this program is something you can really identify with personally?

Biffle: I'm blessed to have sponsors who allow me to be part of this. It's very important to me, anything that can improve the health of the kids. Dental and general health care are a big part of 3M's business, and 3M is a big supporter of the Henry Schein [Inc.] organization and the American Dental Association, which put on the free screening and free care for the kids through this Give A Smile program. So it's pretty neat.

It's a great thing they're doing. It's most important to educate the kids. The kids have the decision to pick up the toothbrush as well, so we're trying to stress the importance of dental health and educate them on what it's about. There are over 16 million kids that live with dental disease. There are so many things you probably don't know about. Once you start learning and get educated about it, you're kind of amazed it's gone so unnoticed. Kids' dental health has gone under the radar. It's important, and I learned about it through this program.

5. Being first in points for much of this season and winning at Texas sure has put a smile on your face. What's been the key?

Biffle: Better preparation, being prepared for the weekends. The cars are better coming out of the shop. I've got a new group of guys, a new crew chief in Matt Puccia, a new over-the-wall crew. A different guy calling the race. It's all those things.

In our sport, it's never any one big thing, it's a dozen small things. It's kind of funny because one thing can keep you from running competitive. So you have to get them all right. Last year we were fixing them one at a time, and we never could get there. I noticed it at the end of the season, but Matt couldn't come in and fix it all at one time. And they didn't want Matt fixing too much because they knew the dynamics of the company [at Roush Fenway Racing] were going to change. They were like, 'Hold on.' But when the season was over, he got carte blanche to do what he felt he needed to do to make our team competitive.

6. Do you like more or less flying under the radar?

Biffle: Yes. There's a lot less pressure. Look how many people keep asking Dale Earnhardt Jr. when he's going to win his next race. That's every week that I see it.

The expectation level when you're not that focus -- when the flashbulbs aren't going off every time you walk in a room -- well, then I can over-deliver and everybody's happy. That's starting to change, though, with the more success we have and the more attention people start to pay to us.
You always look to see what you can do to try to stay ahead of the curve. Even when you win, you wonder when is the next time you're going to win. It's not necessarily being worried, but making sure you're paying attention. ... If you want to keep smiling, don't get complacent.

By Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM
May 01, 2012 1:54 PM, EDT

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