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Biffle confident he can climb in standings

May 21, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com

Biffle confident he can climb in standings
Coca-Cola Racing Family driver not fretting past problems

Related: Visit the Coca-Cola Racing Family NASCAR site

Coming off a two-win 2012 season and perhaps an underappreciated fifth-place finish for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, Greg Biffle understandably has high hopes for the year.

Yes, that’s present tense.

Two rough race weekends -- 36th-place finishes at Richmond and Talladega -- have been the difference between “The Biff”’ having some wiggle room well among the championship leaders and his current points position of 13th -- one spot out of the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying field.

The good news for Biffle is that he is only 15 points behind sixth-place Kasey Kahne entering Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he has top-five finishes in three of the last five races and won the pole position in the last points race there in October.

"I hate using the same old analogies, but we still have time to claw our way back up in there."

-- Greg Biffle

With the exception of a shock problem on his No. 16 3M Ford Fusion at Richmond and getting caught up in the inevitable “Big One” at Talladega, Biffle has been racey if not victorious. And following his season best fourth-place finish in April at Texas, he was ranked as high as third in the standings.

“Well, certainly it was disappointing at Richmond, we had a shock failure,’’ Biffle, 43, said Tuesday. “Then getting caught up in the wreck in Talladega. You can never predict what's going to happen at Talladega, for sure.

“Darlington, we finished 13th. Wasn't the run we were really looking for, but wasn't that bad. At least that felt like we were getting back on track. (Overall), it is disappointing 'cause we were up in points, had a little cushion to work with so if we did have some kind of issue, it wouldn't drop us down so much.

“But it's a long season. I hate using the same old analogies, but we still have time to claw our way back up in there. If we get a good couple finishes in a row, a couple top-fives, win one of these races, I certainly think we're going to be right back in the hunt.’’

If Biffle one day finally hoists that Cup trophy, he will be the only driver in NASCAR history to win championships in all three national series. It’s something he is uniquely positioned to do, and it has been a motivating influence ever since legendary car owner Jack Roush plucked him out of the tiny lumber town of Vancouver, Wash., in 1998 -- still a hardly known but highly promising talent that had caught the eye of late Cup champion Benny Parsons.

Biffle won the 2000 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship and the 2002 NASCAR Nationwide Series title. Buoyed by Roush Fenway Racing’s resources and commitment he never doubted he would complete NASCAR’s elite trifecta.

In 2005, Biffle came one pit stop away from winning the title -- a miscue at Texas Motor Speedway during the Chase, something that still haunts him -- while collecting a career-best six wins.

He has missed the Chase for the Cup only once (2011) since 2008, when he finished third.

With the departure of Matt Kenseth from Roush Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing this year, Biffle is now the longest tenured Cup driver in the RFR stable. And he is every bit up for the leadership role -- a job that would be even easier with a championship trophy to bring home.

Biffle has been fond of the new Generation-6 car introduced by NASCAR in 2013 and believes that attitude has helped in the transition. Many consider Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 -- the longest race of the year -- to be the car’s most grueling test to date. Then again, this race, highlighting the sport’s Memorial Day weekend of competition, has always been a challenge of strategy, skill and stamina.

And Biffle, a proud member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, expects this year’s version to be no different.

“Certainly the timeframe that you go through for a 600‑mile race and how much the track changes, the temperature changes, all those things create a huge factor,’’ Biffle said. “The start time ends a little bit into the evening. Charlotte has been one of the more temperature‑sensitive race tracks we race on.  Literally 5- or 10-degrees temperature swing in the track will create a lot different speed. That's the one thing that's really challenging.

“Normally a guy that's fast in the beginning won't be the fastest car at the end of the night. That tends to be probably the most challenging for the crews and the drivers.’’

And history bodes well for Biffle making gains in the standings even beyond Charlotte.

He has six wins at the next three tracks NASCAR will race on after Charlotte -- including two at Dover International Speedway, one at Pocono Raceway and three at Michigan International Speedway.

“We need to continue to get our cars better is where we're really working,’’ Biffle said. “We feel we're a little bit behind the competition, not far. But getting competitive and winning a couple of these races, points will take care of themselves.’’­­

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