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Penalty, pit call combine in eventful day for Biffle

August 08, 2011, Mark Aumann, NASCAR.com

LONG POND, Pa. -- Upset by pass-through penalty, driver makes up spots with late call to stay out

Greg Biffle started ninth and finished eighth Sunday at Pocono Raceway. But that failed to tell the story of a very eventful day which saw him hanging on at the tail end of the lead lap when the race was barely 100 miles old.

Biffle bent in his left front fender after contact with teammate Matt Kenseth less than 20 laps into the Good Sam RV Insurance 500, and promptly compounded the mistake by switching lanes while trying to get into alignment for a Lap 23 restart.

"I don't know if you have to be in the two lanes next to the wall, or can I pick any lane because it's definitely five or six lanes wide back there. "

--GREG BIFFLE

On the incident with Kenseth, Biffle said he tried everything he could do to avoid getting into his teammate.

"Maybe Matt didn't know I was out there or didn't know I was up as far as I was," Biffle said. "I got on the brakes as hard as I could to get my nose out of there because I saw he was coming all the way over and just clipped his bumper a little bit. I was up a lot further than that, but I hate that happened."

The fender began rubbing the tire, sending white smoke trailing behind Biffle's No. 16 Ford in the corners. When another Roush car, this one driven by David Ragan, crashed hard in Turn 3 a few laps later, it gave Biffle the break he needed to get the fender pounded back out.

It was a lengthy pit stop, which put Biffle nearly an entire lap behind the field under caution. And when the pace car turned left into the pits on the Lap 23 restart, Biffle was still trying to get lined up in position.

He moved from the top lane to the bottom, a move NASCAR officials determined was a violation of the rule prohibiting changing lanes on a restart, and Biffle returned to the pits one lap later to serve a pass-through penalty.

Even after the race had ended, Biffle was confused as to why he was docked.

"I know you can't change lanes until you cross the start/finish line, but I wasn't even in the race at that point," Biffle said. "I was like 20 car lengths back trying to catch the field. I don't know if you have to be in the two lanes next to the wall, or can I pick any lane because it's definitely five or six lanes wide back there.

"Can I just choose one, or are there specific lanes I need to be in? I don't know. I was just coming to try and get caught back up again, and I guess it still matters when you're back there. Even when nobody is around you, you still can't change or move side to side."

That put Biffle in a huge hole, one which required some serious shoveling all day long just to get him back into the top 10. A lot of that came from some steady calls on the pit box by crew chief Matt Puccia, who kept adjusting the setup and decided to bolt on four fresh tires every time the No. 16 Ford came in for service.

Biffle worked his way back into the top 20 just before the rain delay shortly after the halfway mark, and continued picking off the competition one at a time once the race resumed 100 minutes later.

"Our car was off just a little bit, but clean air meant a lot," Biffle said. "My car drove pretty good when I got up towards the front. We were still off just a little bit. I don't know. We've just got to go back and keep working on our cars a little bit."

And when Juan Montoya and Kasey Kahne got together with 20 laps to go, Biffle stayed out when many of the other lead-lap cars pitted, a move that resulted in him restarting seventh and finishing eighth.

"We lost all of our track position there and that hurt, but we stayed out and had the right pit strategy," Biffle said. "We stayed out and that's what got us the finish."

What could have been a disastrous hit in the points wound up as a small net gain for Biffle, when all was said and done. He remains 13th, but gained eight points on 11th-place Denny Hamlin and 11 on 12th-place Clint Bowyer. That leaves Biffle 44 points behind Dale Earnhardt Jr., who holds the 10th and final spot.

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