Biffle says Johnson circumvented testing rules

Updated: November 5, 2005, 4:51 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Greg Biffle set off a controversy Saturday, accusing Hendrick Motorsports of some shady business in testing.

Biffle is third in the season points, chasing Tony Stewart and Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson heading into Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

He said Johnson got around NASCAR's rules, which limit each team entry to seven private tests during the season. Biffle said Johnson tested a car with the No. 25 of teammate Brian Vickers displayed on it at a recent test at Phoenix, where the series heads next week.

"Johnson was driving the 25 car," Biffle said. "Does he race the 25 car? Why was he driving the 25 car?"

Johnson shrugged off Biffle's comments.

"We went out and did a test and everything was cleared with NASCAR and fine," Johnson said. "I was there filling in for the No. 25 team."

Biffle didn't think it was fair.

"I think what it is is a lack of people wanting to police it," Biffle said. "I watched [Johnson's crew chief] Chad Knaus on TV brag about [how] they saved all their tests for the Chase. It's not his test."

Biffle said his own Roush Racing entry abided by the rules.

"The 16 team tested as many times as NASCAR allowed us to test in the rule book," he said. "Under the conditions, the way we read the rules, we tested all of our tests and Phoenix was our last test."

Biffle insisted none of Roush's five Cup entries, all of them in the 10-man Chase for the championship, "phonied a number and changed the driver and got a different crew chief so that we could beat the rule to go test somewhere.

"All of our teams are out of tests. Could we go to Homestead (Fla.] and test the [No.] 71 car and then enter [Roush Truck Series driver] Todd Kluever in the thing? Yeah, but we're not going to play that game."

Johnson didn't like the way Biffle aired his displeasure.

"I find it interesting someone chooses to use the media to file a complaint instead of going into the truck and talking to NASCAR," Johnson said. "So, with that in mind, I think he's barking up the wrong tree and, if he has a problem, go to NASCAR and let them take care of it."

NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said the Hendrick team did not break a rule, although it might have violated the spirit of the rule. He said NASCAR is working on a revamped testing policy that it hopes to be able to announce by the end of the year or early in 2006.

"We're addressing that [situation] in our new testing policy," Hunter added. "We just don't know where we're going to land with that, yet. In the past, we've tried to take into account the possibility of a driver being sick or injured or having a sponsor obligation, so we wanted to give them latitude to put another driver in the car.

"We're trying to address all the issues so, when we announce a new test policy, we can eliminate some of the loopholes and gray areas we've had in the past. But these teams are pretty shrewd and they'll find a way to make it work to their advantage within the rules."

Last practice
Elliott Sadler and Chase contender Carl Edwards were the fastest drivers during Saturday's practice sessions for the Cup series.

All of the fastest laps came in the first of two 45-minute sessions on a somewhat cooler track.

Sadler, who won at Texas in the spring of 2004, led the way at 187.143 mph. He was followed by Edwards, last week's Atlanta winner, at 187.123 and pole-winner Ryan Newman at 186.961 in a backup car. Newman, another Chase contender, had to switch cars and will start Sunday's race from the rear of the 43-car field after crashing on the second of two laps in Friday's qualifying.

Series leader Tony Stewart was seventh in practice.

Toys on the hood
Dale Jarrett has a unique paint scheme on his No. 88 Ford this weekend. It is a motif designed by his three youngest children for a Toys for Tots campaign.

The bright lime green and tomato red design replaced the UPS signature brown on Jarrett's car for the Dickies 500. It was a replica of the hand-painted pictures done by the Jarrett children, ages 10-17.

"The kids had a fun time in doing something for kids," Jarrett said. "The most important thing with it -- that the message gets out that what we're trying to do and the Marines have been doing for years with Toys for Tots."

Local Marine Corps Reserve units and volunteer organizations collect and distribute toys to needy children in all 50 states during the holiday season.

Jarrett qualified 29th for Sunday's race.

Voting favorites
Nearly 4 million votes have already been cast online for the Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., the winner the last two seasons, led by about 200,000 votes going into this weekend, ahead of Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace. Voting continues at through Nov. 21.

The NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award dates to 1956, making it one of the oldest awards in NASCAR. Bill Elliott won the award a record 16 times, and Richard Petty won it nine times.

Since voting starting Feb. 1, more than 3.9 million votes have been cast this year. That exceeds the previous record of 3,852,309 votes in 2004.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press