Biffle gambles for top five, needs speed for win
August 03, 2014, Stu Hothem, NASCAR.com
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LONG POND, Pa. -- On Friday, Greg Biffle said he had the best car that he had driven in a year, but his optimism waned, as did his speed, in Sunday's GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway. It cost him a shot at a win and a spot in his sixth Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in seven years.
A fuel-strategy gamble by crew chief Matt Puccia gave the #3MThrowback Ford Fusion the lead from Kevin Harvick with 25 laps to go. Carrying his sponsor's 1942 logo on board, Biffle ran out front, and it looked like another throwback to August of 2010 when he won at the Tricky Triangle.
When AJ Allmendinger had an accident at Lap 140, Biffle was only able to hold off a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. for three laps after the ensuing restart. He lost the lead to the eventual winner with 14 laps left.
"We had a 20th-place car and got track position and drove our butt off. We did everything we could. We had a good strategy there and we might have been able to sneak one out.
"That's all you can do (is gamble). We had the balls to do it, and we did it and it didn't work."
It was his third top-five finish of the season and first since May at Talladega, and the leader of Roush Fenway Racing going forward with the departure of Carl Edwards in 2015 was best in class for his organization.
But winning is all that matters to Biffle, and speed, along with a positive attitude, is what he needs to get to Victory Lane.
"We just keep working at it," Biffle said. "I'm not going to give up. That's not the way to win races. We'll keep working hard and try and find some speed for next week."
Next week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen, and Biffle expects to gamble again at a road course where he has his worst average finish (23.1) of any track. Then the team heads to Michigan International Speedway, where Jack Roush has more wins than any other team (13), but the team struggled in June with Biffle finishing 20th.
Before the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, Biffle and his RFR teammates tested at Michigan, and the team found some of the speed that has been missing for much of the season. So far, that test knowledge hasn't translated to the track, but Biffle is glad that the team got some time under its belt at the facility.
"The speed (from the Michigan test) hasn't panned out yet for here and other tracks, but we feel good that we did do the test at that track," Biffle said.
Biffle can take some solace in having the biggest jump of any driver in the points standings, up three spots to 13th and a provisional spot in the Chase Grid. He would be seeded 16th, one point ahead of fellow winless driver Kasey Kahne.
Biffle was also surprised and pleased that he outran Jeff Gordon, who led the most laps (63) before finishing sixth.
"We beat the 24 car, which I’m not sure how we did that. They were definitely the fastest car, but we feel good about it. We’ve got to keep working on our car and trying to find the rest of that speed."