Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Greg Erwin knew what beat him and Greg Biffle at Indy, so they played their cards the other way this time, and won big

 Greg Erwin and Greg Biffle turned the tables on Jeff Gordon and their rivals to win Sunday's Pocono 500 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR) 

   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   Deja Voodoo?
   That's what it almost looked like down the stretch here Sunday:
   Greg Biffle lost the Brickyard 400 just a week ago, when taking four tires on his final pit stop, while dominating Indianapolis – only to watch in frustration as his rivals beat him by just taking two.
   This time around, however, the tables were turned. Biffle pulled off the victory with a two-tire stop late....and it was Jeff Gordon feeling frustration after losing with his own four-tire stop.
   Early in Sunday's Pocono 500 crew chief Greg Erwin tried a two-tire stop with Biffle. And it didn't really appear to be the way to go. So when Erwin made the same call on the final round of stops – to get track position – there some raised eyebrows.
   But Erwin and Biffle both said their strategy was so obviously right that they were surprised Gordon and four other contenders had all opted for the four-tire stops which doomed them.
   "The first time today it worked really -- if you look at the net position, which is what we look at," Erwin said. "Obviously it's going to slip and slide, and the first couple guys on four are going to get you more often than not, unless you're the leader and you can get out in front.
    "But when you can be in front, in clean air, then two tires obviously had the largest advantage.
    "We probably netted six or eight positions running order on the track.
    "Then at the end you got to give a shout out to our 'pit bulls.' That was a two-tire, gas-only stop, and we came in third and out with the lead."
    Well, side by side for the restart with gambling Sam Hornish, who didn't stop at all. Hornish was pretty much a sitting duck for anyone with fresher tires, and Biffle quickly took advantage. And Biffle was long gone, sprinting out to a five-second lead as his challengers battled each other back in the pack.
    "We put him on the front row, put the clean air on the nose....." Erwin said.
    "It work out the first time, so we went for it again.
     "Besides, we got beat on it last week, remember?"
    And Erwin laughed.
   Finally Erwin can laugh, and Biffle can smile.
   "It was a no-brainer to put (just) two tires on," Biffle said. "Our tires had (only) six laps on it. So I can't believe all those guys took four tires.
    "I was surprised those guys, like Jeff Gordon and those guys, doing four.
     "But they probably hadn't done (only) two all day. And if you don't do two tires all day, you get to the end of the race, you can't just bolt two on because you don't know what it's going to do."
    To which Erwin nodded too knowingly "Like Indy."
    But now, finally, Erwin and Biffle are back in the hunt weekly, and they can toy with strategies and tactics, instead of just struggling to get their cars to turn in the middle of the corners.
   Which has to please Roush.
   "He's excited," Biffle said of his conversation with the boss from victory lane. "When he was telling me what he thought of me, he was proud what happened today.
    "I'm just so thankful we were able to put Roush Fenway back in victory lane. It's been a long time.
    "There's a lot of people working on these cars...the fab guys back at the shop have been working night and day to try to figure out what we're missing...the engine guys have been working really hard on this new engine. And my team has been working really hard -- working out, working on pit stops, strategy.
    "It finally paid off.
     "This is a different front-suspension package. We've been to the track with two dozen different ones the last two years trying to figure out why are these guys beating our ass so bad. This hopefully is the one that's it.
    "We went to Chicago (July 10th), and we qualified fourth, and passed for third place coming down to the end of that race, and I had to beat (eventual winner (David) Reutimann and Carl. I was a little better than Carl, I was pretty sure, but I don't know about Reutimann.
   "But never got the opportunity: The engine broke.
    "That could have been our first win.
    "And Indy could have definitely been our second win.
     "I think as a team we're on the right track. I'm really happy about that."
    And so certainly is team owner Jack Roush.

      [Note: You can use Twitter as an easy headline service for mikemulhern.net stories, with our instant Tweets to your mobile as soon as our newest NASCAR story is filed. And mikemulhern.net is mobile-friendly for viewing. You can also use the orange RSS feed button as a quickie headline service on your laptop or home computer for mikemulhern.net stories, by creating a Live Bookmark RSS feed on your web browser's toolbar. Or you can create a Google Alert for mikemulhernnet.]


Was the Biffle win show business?

With Jack Roush in the hospital and Ford needing a win, I wonder if persons unidentified somehow helped to maximize the opportunity for a popular Roush team victory? A convenient caution perhaps or maybe less than strict pre and post race inspections? Old time race fans can remember many cases where a win was unexpected but heart tugging or timely to keep a team in contention. Coming only a few weeks after Earnhardt Jr's win in the #3 Nationwide car which also was heart warming (and frankly suspicious) when several teams got together to help Dale put the #3 into Victory Lane, one has to wonder if the winner's name was marked down in advance of the event. Let's just not ask Denny Hamlin to comment!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com