Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Greg Biffle may finally be rallying his way back in the title chase

   Oops, should have just taken two. Greg Biffle pit stop late in the Kansas 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

    KANSAS CITY, Kansas
   So maybe this is a new beginning for championship challenger Greg Biffle, as well as Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon.
   Those three were the big winners in Sunday's Kansas 400, all finally showing some championship spark, after weeks of troubles.
   Yes, Stewart's win, his fourth of the year but only the first since early August at Watkins Glen, was a big mover.
   And Gordon too.
   But those two have been expected to challenge strongly for the Sprint Cup.
   And it was Ford's Biffle who was the day's biggest surprise…prompting perhaps a new look at his title hopes.
   Biffle not only led more laps than anyone else, 113 of the 267, he was finally able to handle those amazing Rick Hendrick-engineered machines.
   Only a late race pit stop gamble, that went the wrong way, cost Biffle.
   Crew chief Greg Erwin wanted a two-tire stop, because Biffle's car worked well on two tires, and because clean air is always important and Biffle came into the final round of caution-flag stops as the lead.
   But Biffle waved him off and said 'Four.'
   Costly mistake.
   Still, Biffle heads to California's Auto Club Speedway this week back in the hunt and with some momentum. He's just 114 points down to tour leader Mark Martin, who had an off day (though pulling off a seventh, when he should have finished much worse), with seven races to go in the 10-race chase.
   California is a very good track for Biffle, as are most of the upcoming events.
   What makes Biffle's day so surprising is that the Ford teams have all struggled throughout the season, since teammate Matt Kenseth won Daytona and California the first month of the tour.
   And Biffle himself hasn't won in over a year.
   So, yes, while Jimmie Johnson and Martin still probably have an edge over the field overall, with amazing Juan Pablo Montoya hanging really, really tough, and now with Stewart and Gordon back on track, if Biffle and Erwin and team owner Jack Roush can back up this run with another strong outing at the two-mile Los Angeles track, they might yet be able to mount a hard championship charge over the final weeks of the season.
    And Biffle, despite the loss, was trying to be upbeat: "We had a really good day. It felt good to run back up front again. Quite a bit different.
    "It's the first time I've really been able to run the top (groove) as well. So maybe we found out what some of these other guys have been doing that we haven't.
    "It feels good. Company wide. Carl Edwards finished 10th…and Matt was running well before he had an engine problem."
   But Biffle knows now he should have listened to Erwin: "I feel bad. At the end I wanted to take four tires, and the crew chief wanted to take two…and I decided I wanted four.
    "That was probably the wrong thing to do….because these cars really like to be up front. The guy behind you has a big disadvantage in (dirty) air. Even though the track is really wide, your car has got to work in that lane.
    "Once, I caught Dale Jr., and I was running three-tenths or four-tenths a lap faster…and I just stalled out. I couldn't do anything because he was running the line I was running, and I couldn't really run anywhere else.
    "I think whoever gets out front at the end of these things is going to be hard to beat."
    Nevertheless there is no denying the emotional boost Biffle, Erwin and Roush got Sunday. They've been pretty much whipped by the Hendrick guys all season, but this afternoon Biffle had the car to beat.
    "It's quite a bit of emotion for us today, because we really, truly have not been running up to standard this year," Biffle explained.
    "At one point late in the race it looked like we were going to have this thing won fairly easily…depending on how the cautions fell.
    "We were able to beat them on the restarts.
      "That was real exciting for our team to run like that.
     "…and then a little letdown at the end.
    "But I know what I did wrong. I know I made a mistake.
     "But we're sure excited to be running good again -- especially going to some tracks we like: like California.
    "I'm having the time of my life, I know that."
   But for teammate Edwards, though he finished 10th, it may be all over but the shouting, unless something surprising happens. Edwards, who won nine races last year but none so far this year, is 165 points down….but he'll have to 'pass' nine men to make it to the top of the standings.
   And as strong as most of the title challengers are running – the top-finishing seven were all chasers, and 10 of the top 11.   
   "It's still a frustrating day," Edwards conceded.
    "I thought Greg was going to win it. It's too bad he didn't.
    "But we did run better, and that was good, that was good.
    "We're real solid here; we have just got to be a little faster, a little better.
     "With Greg running as good as he did, and our car being as fast as it was, there's a lot to look forward to."

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