Biffle ready to make move in Chase
FORT WORTH, Texas -- For Greg Biffle, the real Chase for the Nextel Cup championship begins Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
With only three of the 10 races remaining in NASCAR's playoff-style title race, Biffle is third in the standings. He trails leader Tony Stewart by 75 points and runner-up Jimmie Johnson by just 32.
Most people have all but handed the championship to 2002 champion Stewart or two-time series runner-up Johnson, drivers with a considerably higher profile than Biffle.
But that's OK with the driver of the No. 16 Ford.
"Let them have the attention. I believe we've got a great chance to win this thing," Biffle said. "It could get real interesting."
Ryan Newman won another pole, his eighth of the season and 35th overall, but crashed on his second lap and will have to move to the rear for the start of Sunday's Dickies 500. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon was second, followed by Chase contender Matt Kenseth. Biffle qualified seventh.
Later Friday, Newman also claimed the pole for the O'Reilly Challenge 300. He will be going for his record sixth straight Busch Series victory Saturday.
Biffle ended last season with a victory at Homestead, Fla., then got off to a fast start in 2005, winning five of the first 15 races. One of them was a dominating victory in April on the 1-mile Texas track.
The Roush Racing driver cooled off after that, and is winless in his last 18 races. But Biffle does have a history of running well on intermediate-length tracks such as Texas, and he's the most recent winner at two of the three remaining tracks.
The only negative for Biffle as he faces the culmination of NASCAR's second Chase is his last showing at Phoenix, site of next week's race. An engine problem relegated Biffle to 41st place in the spring race there.
Still, Biffle, the only driver to win championships in both the Busch (2002) and Craftsman Truck Series (2000), likes his chances.
"I believe that we can win these races," he said. "We've got our best race cars and I'm prepared. And we've had some success [at Texas] in all three NASCAR series."
As a dark horse to win the title, Biffle isn't feeling any undue pressure.
"We're going to do the best we can," he said. "If we can win, we're going to win. If we can run in the top five, we'll run in the top five. We'll take what we can get and see where we are.
"I know my team is more focused than I've ever seen them. It's an exciting position to be in right now."
Crew chief Doug Richert said the team brought the same Taurus that Biffle won with here in April.
"It's had some body updates, but it is also the same car we finished seventh with at Atlanta last weekend," Richert said.
Biffle gained some ground on both Stewart and Johnson in Atlanta, finishing seventh. Stewart was ninth and Johnson 16th.
"Yeah, there's really nothing decided yet," Stewart said. "I extended my lead over Jimmie [from 15 to 43 points], but Biffle gained on both of us, and those guys behind him aren't out of it, either."
Carl Edwards, who won at Atlanta, and Ryan Newman are tied for fourth, 107 points behind Stewart. Mark Martin is 143 behind and Matt Kenseth 155 back. A big week by any of that quartet combined with some misfortune for the drivers ahead of them, could tighten things up considerably heading into Phoenix.
"All I know is we're feeling good about where we are right now," Biffle said. "There's nothing we can do to control what other people do on the racetrack, so we'll just give it our best and wait to see what happens."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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