Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Greg Biffle has had a darned good summer, now can he carry momentum through the rest of the chase?

  Greg Biffle has been strong much of the season, particularly strong since mid-July. Can he make a strong bid for the Sprint Cup championship? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   FONTANA, Calif.

   Barely a week after sensing his title hopes doomed, Greg Biffle is suddenly looking pretty good in this championship chase.
   Putting Biffle's Kansas win in some perspective: Remember Greg Biffle's 'winning' move at Daytona, back in February?
   Yes, it was the right move....but foiled by NASCAR's newest green-white-checkered rules, which shook up the final miles of the season opener.

   Then began the long drought for Biffle and the rest of the Ford teams, as the stock car tour began digesting the reemergence of the Richard Childress teams and the up-and-down performances by the Rick Hendrick teams.
   But now it's looking like this could well turn out to be quite a year for Biffle and crew chief Greg Erwin after all.
   Things looked dim for the Ford bunch much of the season, winless until Biffle's breakthrough at Pocono in August.
   But the way Jack Roush's guys ran at Kansas, well, something has certainly changed over on that side of the NASCAR garage.
   So just how much did the championship chase tighten up at Kansas last weekend, with Biffle's win and Denny Hamlin's off-day?
   Well, Biffle did put himself back in the hunt, rebounding from bad days at Loudon, N.H., and Dover, Del. "But we've got a lot of work to do -- being 85 points out of the lead, and a four-time champion leading the points," Biffle concedes.
   That's Jimmie Johnson, of course. And Johnson won here in the spring, beating Kevin Harvick.
   But this has been a very good track to Biffle too over the years.
   And Biffle isn't the kind of guy to choke under championship pressure. Heck, he could well become the first driver in NASCAR history to win all three major series titles if he can win this season's Sprint Cup crown.
       "I certainly think being in any championship hunt gives you the mindset and discipline it takes to win a championship," Biffle says. "This is my fourth appearance in the chase, and we went right down to the wire in 2005, and we were close in 2008, finishing third.  I feel I've got the experience."
   Yet Johnson atop the points three races into the 10-race chase should be concern, naturally.
   The year Johnson pulled that title-winning comeback with four straight chase wins is still hanging over this battlefield.
   Biffle, though, senses Johnson is 'vulnerable.'
   "They didn’t get off to a good start at Loudon...and everybody is vulnerable," Biffle says. "They've had more races this year that were hit-and-miss than the team normally has.
     "They're not clearly running away with this thing yet.  We're not going to throw in the towel.
     "We're going to have to wait three or four more races before we get a clearer picture."
    Still, California, Charlotte and Martinsville are the tracks ahead, and Johnson is renown for his performances at these three. 
    "Jimmie has won a lot at California...but maybe he doesn't come out of California with a win, or even a top five," Biffle says.

    Another point to ponder: the Kyle Busch David Reutimann tangle at Kansas. Busch brushed Reutimann early; Reutimann retaliated with a hard brush later, that damaged Busch's car. Busch is one of the 12 title contenders; Reutimann is not.
   "It doesn't matter if you're in the chase or out of the chase...or it's the end of the season, beginning of the season," Biffle says. "It doesn't really matter.
    "What you have to ask yourself is 'Is it worth it for me to wreck a guy to get him out of my way, to spin him out?'"
    Biffle said Busch's first brush wasn't "just a racing deal."
    "We saw Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin get together and spin at Loudon -- that was a racing deal to me," Biffle said.
    "It looked like Kyle (at Kansas) ran straight back into the back bumper of David and spun him out and wrecked him. 
     "It probably doesn't matter who you are – you're probably not going to get away with that in our sport today. 
     "I don't think being in the chase or out of the chase makes a difference. 
      "I have to ask myself 'Why did Kyle Busch spin out David Reutimann?'
      "That would be where I would start."

    The Roush men, across the board, were markedly impressive at Kansas.
    "We've been getting better and better and better," Biffle says.  "I've talked a lot about the Chicago race (July) being the turning point."
   Biffle  had the best car at Chicago but blew the engine. "It looked like we were on our way to winning that race, like we were at Kansas," Biffle said.
   "Carl (his teammate) ended up finishing second in that race. 
     "Then we went to Indy and nearly won that race; we finished third. 
     "And then we went to Pocono and won. 
     "We went to Michigan (mid-August) and led the most laps.
     "So really, our 1-1/2-mile and two-mile program has been super-strong ever since Chicago, and I feel the Fords are back on track. 
    "We still have a lot of work to do on our short-track program, and on our slower race tracks...Martinsville and Phoenix. Phoenix has been a great race track for us, but the last couple times there we've been off a little; and at Richmond and Martinsville and some slower-in-the-center (of the turns) tracks, we haven’t been as good as our competition.
   "But as far as the bigger tracks and the faster places, I think  we're right in line with everybody else.
    "We're going to get our fair share of wins now."

    Still, Biffle figures that untimely caution at Dover – while he was pitting under green – cost him 50 points. And that still aggravates him: "We ran seventh, eighth, ninth...and even ran top-three...and ended up getting caught by a caution flag and getting two laps down," Biffle says.
    "If that wouldn't have happened to us, we would be 30 or 40 points out of the lead right now.
    "So there is tremendous pressure to make every position count, not to make mistakes driving the race car and in the pits.
   "I've lost one of these championships by 35 points (2005), and I hope I don't lose it again by 35 points, because I'll be thinking about that Dover race for a long time."

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