- Marty Smith, ESPN
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TALLADEGA, Ala. -- By disclosing that Roush Fenway Racing is re-negotiating its contract with Greg Biffle, team president Geoff Smith may have indirectly increased the driver's value.
Biffle told ESPN.com Friday that Smith's comment has produced intrigue in the Nextel Cup garage regarding the driver's contract status. He is an elite driving talent. Teams are calling.
"The biggest thing that's been a bit of a deterrent for me is that Geoff Smith put in the paper that we're negotiating -- Roush and Greg Biffle -- an extension," Biffle said. "And in my eyes there was no reason for that. I'm under contract."
Biffle is under contract with Roush Fenway through the end of the 2008 season. But when the sponsor of the No. 16 Ford, AmeriQuest, told Roush it would like to terminate its contract at the end of the year, and that Roush should seek alternative sponsorship, it created a bit of an issue for the team.
Biffle described the difficulty in getting a three-year sponsor commitment based on a driver that has just one year left on his deal as all but impossible.
"The sponsor's not going to say 'Oh yeah, sign me up,'" Biffle said. "[Roush] has to have me signed up for three more years in order to go sell that. They can't sell something they don't own."
Hence, Roush Fenway Racing wants to lock Biffle up to a longer-term contract, to ensure potential sponsors he'll be there for the duration of the relationship.
Smith told ESPN two weeks ago that they had many interested sponsors, and had begun renegotiation of Biffle's contract. He said the package Roush is offering Biffle is "on the upper end," of the market.
Biffle said that lead executives from some other teams to believe his contract was up at the end of the current season, rather than next year's.
"So now I've got all these teams that are looking to add a team or a driver calling me," Biffle said. "Not every team, but there's been a few because of that quote."
Biffle said he wants to remain at Roush Fenway, and echoed Smith's sentiment that the team has its pick of potential sponsors.
"More, versus us looking, we're trying to decide who's the best fit for our company," Biffle said. "I think [I'll be here]. It'd be kind of ridiculous for me to leave. I've been there 10 years, kind of the senior guy.
"The reality is I'd have to go the rest of this year and all of next year knowing I'm leaving – one of those Kurt Busch/Jamie McMurray sagas, a lame duck. I don't want to be in that situation. I want to spend the rest of my career trying to win multiple titles, and then be happy participating some other way.
"I'm extremely happy where I'm at, but a couple of guys have inquired about my contract status. Geoff making that quote started a whirlwind. If we were 'just looking for a sponsor,' that never would have come up."
Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.