Stats prove Biffle is Roush Fenway leader
August 01, 2014, Stu Hothem, NASCAR.com
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LONG POND, Pa. -- A week after Roush Fenway Racing announced Carl Edwards would move on at season's end, Greg Biffle was asked whether he had thought about his role as the clear leader of the team.
"I was going to make joke and say I've always been the clear leader there," Biffle said.
But statistics since 2012 suggest "The Biff" might not be kidding.
For the last two-and-a-half years, Biffle has a better average finish than Edwards (13.3 to 14.6), more laps led (943 to 908) and higher driver rating (88.8). While Edwards has more wins (4) over that timeframe, Biffle has more top-five finishes (18 to 16) and top 10s (39 to 37). He's also completed 429 more laps than his soon-to-be former teammate.
"After Matt (Kenseth) left we had that same thing, is it Carl or Greg, and what's funny is we did an interesting analysis of my finishes and wins and performance over the last few years over his, and it's a pretty interesting stat to look at, but Carl had been a great teammate and still brings a lot to our organization," Biffle said.
"I've won over 55 races driving there and 19 Cup wins, and I just felt like we can get this thing turned around so I made the decision to stay and be the anchor for Roush Fenway and do another three-year contract, regardless of sponsorship at that point. I made that commitment to stay and it's been a tough eight weeks since then."
For those last eight races, Biffle only has one top-10 finish (9th at Sonoma) and one top-10 start (10th at Daytona), and Biffle offered an honest assessment
"I think it's pretty obvious for all of us that this has probably been one of our tougher seasons for our whole organization. It seemed like we were really far behind, or we were up until this point, and we really shed some light on where our whole organization was when we did a Michigan test prior to Indy, and found what I'm gonna call a tremendous amount of speed in our race cars."
Following a frustrating effort at Indianapolis, Biffle said a half-day of meetings on Monday helped shed light on what the the Roush Fenway Ford Fusions have been missing.
After first practice on Friday, Biffle indicated that the team may have rounded the corner at the three-turn Pocono Raceway.
"This is the fastest I've been this season when unloading off the truck," Biffle said. "We were third or fourth-quick, which is faster than a lot of guys in qualifying trim and we were in race trim so we're really excited about how fast our car is here so far."
In addition to this newfound information after their cars, Roush Fenway also announced Thursday that Mark Martin will return to the team as a driver development coach. Biffle noted that his former teammate might have arrived just in time to take credit for the team's recent speed gains.
"I think he's gonna look like a hero right now," Biffle said. "As has been well documented, we've not been where we wanted to be this season.
"The last two weeks, we've closed in on this thing a huge amount when we unloaded here today and have that kind of speed. I haven't driven a car like that in a year. The race isn't over yet so Mark is just starting to get back into the swing of things."
Still seeking his first win of the season and a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the sixth time in the last seven seasons, Biffle reaffirmed the underlying reason for NASCAR's new win-and-you're-in system for making the playoffs.
"That's been the discussion all along is, 'What would you do for a win?' I would do anything for a win…" Biffle said. "If I'm running second at Richmond, the guy in front of me better watch out when it's coming down to the end of it, if I can get to them."
But he may not have to wait that long. If he doesn't earn his second Pocono win on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, ESPN), he likes his chances next week at Watkins Glen.
"It's definitely a fun race track, and I’m excited about these next races coming up with how we’re running and how we feel like we’ve closed in on the competition, but I always look forward to going a road course," Biffle said. "That's really been our best finish this year when we went to Sonoma, and we're heads-up with the competition, so to speak, because we hadn’t got that car attitude and aero all figured out yet, so that was a nice change and I'm looking forward to going back to another road course."
With a positive attitude on and off the track, Martin's addition may help leader Biffle move into this year's Chase and move the organization forward in 2015.
"We're really gonna turn our competition around from here to the end of the season, I think, and that could have Mark's name on it actually from a 10,000-foot view. But he can still bring knowledge and information and I think an outside perspective can help us continue to try and focus on areas we need to work in."