Greg Biffle tames wild Texas, wins Triple Truck Challenge bonus in NASCAR return

Greg Biffle rolled to a lucrative NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series triumph with a $50,000 payday in his comeback race Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway, sidestepping a flurry of crashes to win the first-ever race in the Triple Truck Challenge bonus program.

Biffle, a Gander Trucks champion in 2000, led just 18 of the 167 laps and guided his Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota into position for further bonuses over the next two races in the inaugural Triple Truck Challenge — “The Trip,” for short — pending Biffle’s availability on the entry list.

“Just excited to be here, man,” Biffle said. “I don’t even know what to say. Just so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to drive great trucks. This thing was really fast.”

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Biffle’s second truck win at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth track was the 17th of his Gander Trucks career. The event marked the 49-year-old driver’s first national series race since the 2016 Monster Energy Series season finale and his first race in a truck since 2004. With his high-profile return prodded along by team owner Kyle Busch, Biffle especially savored the briefcase full of extra cash presented to him in Victory Lane.

“That’s great. You know, I’ve been off work for a long time, so this is going to be great for us,” Biffle said.

Matt Crafton wound up second in the wreck-filled 400. Tyler Ankrum recovered from a spin to finish a career-best third, and Grant Enfinger and Harrison Burton closed out the top five finishers.

Biffle was able to finesse his fuel mileage over the final stretch, but still had enough oomph to sit .963 seconds ahead at the checkered flag.

“I haven’t been this excited in a long time,” said No. 51 crew chief Ryan “Rudy” Fugle. “It’s fun to win these things. I’ve won a lot of races, but never on fuel mileage — ever. I was praying to the fuel-cell gods there that we had enough fuel in the tank.”

Pole-starter Todd Gilliland and second qualifier Johnny Sauter made up the front row, but both drivers sustained heavy damage in crashes before the halfway point. The race was slowed by a record 13 caution periods, the most in the 44-race history of the series at Texas.

Sauter started second and led three laps, including the final lap of his Stage 1 win. But Lap 56 contact with Austin Hill’s No. 16 Toyota forced his ThorSport Racing No. 13 into the outside retaining wall in Turn 4.

Gilliland led twice for 32 laps, but lost control in a contest for the lead on a Stage 2 restart, backing his Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota into the Turn 2 barrier. The 19-year-old driver retired after completing just 69 laps.

“It still sucks that we’re out of this race — DNF — but still a lot of fun racing out there,” said Gilliland. “I was laying it all out there on the race track and I thought we were going to have something for them tonight. Just a couple more adjustments, but … I just need to be more patient. It’s not the end of the world if the 99 (Rhodes) gets by me right there and I finish this stage second or third. I just need to be a little bit smarter about that stuff. Felt really good to run up front. Proud of my Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra team. Hopefully we can come back stronger. We have an important couple of weeks right here. Keep the morale up and go into the next one even stronger.”

The series’ next race is scheduled Saturday, June 15 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Iowa Speedway. The race will mark the second event in the Triple Truck Challenge, with the third and final race of the new program scheduled June 22 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.