Biffle credits two-tire call for solid finish
Like clockwork, Greg Biffle brought home yet another top-10, this one a fourth-place finish in the first of 10 races that will crown the 2005 Nextel Cup champion. With his run, Biffle is second in the points race and, more importantly, feeling the confidence.
"Stayed out of trouble, not a scratch on the car, fourth in the first race for the Chase," said Biffle, summing up his day -- and pretty much his season to date.
Though Biffle is a five-time victor this year, he believes what makes him a threat to win the Cup is his consistency. When teammate Kurt Busch won the title last year, it was on the efforts of nine top-10s in the final 10 races of the year.
Biffle's hoping to grab a win somewhere over the next nine weekends, but if he can rack up nine more fourth-place efforts, he'll be doing just fine.
"That right there could have very well been the race that determines the championship, the very first one, for us," Biffle said.
The reason: Biffle might have been knocked out of the top 10 in the final running order if not for a gutsy call to change just two tires during a green-flag pit stop that got the No. 16 out early and improved his track position.
Before that, Biffle was waffling from 11th to 15th, struggling to fight into the top 10. After making up ground on pit road, though, Biffle was in a dogfight trying to snatch third from his other teammate, Matt Kenseth.
"Calling two tires there under green, that was a pretty bold move," he acknowledged. "I'm just happy to see our sport is so equal, to see the 12 and the 20 race for position, and me and the 17, after 300 laps, to race for position like that is pretty incredible."
He ultimately lost the race for third, but he did get his 16th top-10 of the year, and his fifth in a row. With the Chase format pitting 10 drivers against one another over just 10 races, that sort of consistency is rewarded. And Biffle is down with that.
"I love it," he said. "It makes us drive our butt off out here every week. Just as hard as we could run right there."
For Biffle, now's the time to be under that kind of pressure. After winning five times, he feels like he hit a bit of a slump and found it tough to secure top-10s. Still, the team stayed among the top three in points and locked up a Chase spot several weeks ago. In that time, free from the pressure of making the playoffs, Biffle said the team cured its ills.
"The last four races we scored more points than anybody," he said entering Sunday's race, "and we feel really good about that. We feel like we kind of came back, and, even though he haven't got a win, we still feel like we've been really solid."
And solid is what it'll take to win the title. His sixth, seventh or eighth win of the year? Yeah, that'd be nice. But what the Roush racer is really looking for is locking up as many points as possible. Sunday's run sent him and his group into the final stretch on exactly that note.
"It couldn't have been better," he said, the smile impossible to wipe off his mug. "Awesome. I wish I would've gotten third, there -- I thought I could've beat my teammate but I couldn't get position on him. But, it absolutely couldn't have been better."
Rupen Fofaria is a freelance writer living in Chicago and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.