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Greg Biffle has had the speed this season, just not the luck. Maybe Kansas will be charmed

  Greg Biffle (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   KANSAS CITY, Kansas
   The Biff is fired up.
   He's had one of the fastest cars on the stock car tour all spring…yet he and crew chief Greg Erwin are approaching summer still winless.

   At least they've finally cracked the top-12.
   But that seems little consolation at the moment.
   Biffle and teammate Carl Edwards had the two best cars at Charlotte last weekend, but they didn't even finish top-10.
   Biffle, whose last tour win was here last fall, and who opened this weekend at the top of the speed charts, wasn't happy about Sunday night: "We took a really fast car and finished 13th with it.
   "We got the 'wave around' twice and 'lucky dog' once.
   "If we'd had a mediocre car we would have finished about 30th.
    "We drove from the back five times. We started at the dead back of the pack that many times.
    "We kind of saved ourselves really – it could have been bad, and we finished 13th. That was pretty damn good.
    "But we would loved to win that thing, and if the caution hadn't come out, we would have been really close.
     "Could-a, should-a, would-a…"
      It's been that kind of year for The Biff.
     Erwin, noting the zany finish at Charlotte, with drivers running out of gas in the final miles and crashing, says it would have been simpler and cheaper to skip the first four hours or so of the 600 "and give everybody just 11 gallons of gas, and cut the race to 29 laps – no way you could make it without stopping….."
     And gas mileage could again be an issue here Sunday.

     Biffle unloaded here fast, clicked off lap number one at 169.189 mph, and then went straight to work on race setup. And Edwards unloaded just a tick behind. Thus those two look to be Sunday favorites in the STP 400, and with Doug Yates horsepower in their Fords, that's no surprise. They could easily have finished 1-2 at Charlotte, if not for the untimely yellows that kept popping out during the middle of green flag stops, upsetting everyone's strategy.
     "Certainly I was extremely happy with the way my car performed at Charlotte…the way it drove and the speed it had," Biffle says.
    "Nobody could have predicted at the end that we were going to get that caution."
    Kevin Harvick stretched his fuel enough to make it to the end. But the rest of the challengers either didn't pit and then ran out of gas or pitted for gas and had to hope for a break.
    Biffle's crew was willing to roll the dice. But Biffle figured it differently.
    "The engineers felt like we were going to make it, at least to off of turn four, with the fuel we had left," Biffle said.
    "I think we did the right thing by pitting and getting fuel in the car…and not running out of gas on the track, like a lot of other guys did.
    "I think we did the right thing -- finished 13th, and salvaged a top-15.
    "I wish we could have been top-10, and wish we would have pitted the first time (at the yellow) we had the opportunity instead of coming with one to go.
    "The fuel pressure (before that final stop) was bouncing a little bit, and I knew it wasn't going to restart. I knew it was going to run out on the front stretch right in front of the whole field. That was not going to be a good outcome.
    "So I elected to come in and get fuel.
    "Looking back at it, I don't know what we could have done different. I conserved as much as I could on that last run.
     "Probably the only thing in hindsight would be to come get gas the first time pit road opened -- and not cycle myself behind the eight or 10 guys that stopped (the lap before). We would have had a better shot at the end."
    Indeed teammate David Ragan did stop a lap earlier and wound up second.

    Here, well, this track is another 1-1/2-mile 'cookie cutter,' but it has less banking than any of the 1-1/2-mile tracks on the tour. So Biffle says the corner speeds here are slower, and the setup is "more technical."
   In fact most drivers and crews early Friday seemed all but lost in practice, while Biffle and Edwards were both fast right off the truck.
   If that edge holds up, it's hard to say. Pole runs today (11:10 am CT) may not show much.
   "The first part of the session we were in qualifying trim," Biffle said, "and we were very unhappy with our race car in qualifying trim.
    "We were a lot happier with it in race trim.
    "The track is hot and slick. It is 92 degrees outside, and the track temperature is probably in the mid 140s.
    "And this place has gotten a little bumpier every year…it has lost a little grip.
    "It is hot, slick, and hard to get hold of.
    "That typically produces pretty good racing.
    "Everyone is complaining. But you look at your lap times, and it isn't that bad. It feels slow inside the car, though. You feel like you are going turtle pace….where last week (at Charlotte) it was pretty fast."

    The heat will almost certainly be a factor Sunday, with the race itself in the heart of the heat.
     Biffle himself did an ironman job at Charlotte against the heat – his cool helmet stopped working right at the start of the race, and he was in effect stuck with a hair dryer blowing in his face throughout the night.
     Early on his crew put a relief driver in the pits, though Biffle stuck it out.
    "It gets hot inside these cars," Biffle said in understatement. "The heat is manageable if you have air to your helmet…which unfortunately last week I didn't.
     "I had hot air to my helmet last week. The thing turned into a heater and was blowing scalding hot air. I mean it burned the side of my head.
     "I had my visor open so the air would go out, but I mean it was hot.
      "That was a little tough."

    Biffle got another dose of the heat during Wednesday's Goodyear test at Kentucky Speedway, added to the Sprint Cup tour this season July 9th.
    So did Biffle and the others who tested at Kentucky learn enough to get a leg up?
    Biffle insisted no.
    "The track was so dirty for the first part of the day, and it took awhile to get rubber down on the track," Biffle said.
    "Then the track started coming around, but it was real confusing because they'd painted a white line around the second groove and said to run from there up, and not run the part of the track (down low) where everyone is running here.
    "That was a little confusing.
    "We tried to run the top when we first got there, but then everybody migrated back to the bottom and ran where they normally run.
    "But it took a long time for the bottom to come in. And we ran different lines.
     "I felt like half the day I didn't know where to drive.
     "Visually we were trying to find references….and that track is so funny how wide it is. That is what makes it unique -- that it is super-wide. So when you are coming into the corner you are almost driving 90 degrees to the paving lanes.
    "It is odd more than anything. It took awhile to get used to it.
    "So I don't think it will give us a huge advantage, considering how long it took us to get going. We really didn't get any (car) testing done. We tried some springs, and dropped the track bar a little.
    "But by the time we got the track going, we were nearly out of time: We had to put on the Goodyear (recommended race) tires and do two 30-lap runs with like 25 minutes left.
    "I don't think we learned a whole lot."


   Matt Kenseth, winner at Dover, and teammate Greg Biffle (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Greg Biffle

We're big Biffle Fans since the Truck Series. He's a class act that has always treated us great. As far as we're concerned. There is nobody else on the Track.
He sure drove a heck of a race at Charlette last week. Sure wish he could have won the thing. He probably would have without that last Yellow.
I know there will be alot of wins in the futiure, and three, or four this Year.
Good luck. We'll be watching,and cheering for you.

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