Rebound Biffle: ‘This year is my year’
By RICK MINTER / Universal Uclick
Greg Biffle’s rebound appears to be for real. The veteran driver, who hasn’t performed up to expectations in recent seasons, broke a 49-race losing streak on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, and has led the Cup points standings since the third race of the season, at Las Vegas.
In the eyes of many observers, Biffle’s victory validated his position atop the points standings. For others, it raised the possibility, although it’s still very early in the season, that he could become the first driver ever to win a championship in all three of NASCAR’s elite divisions – Camping World Trucks, Nationwide and Cup. Biffle won the truck title in 2000 and the Nationwide crown two years later.
But as Biffle pointed out in his winner’s interview at Texas, where he defeated five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in a late-race duel, the higher a driver advances up the NASCAR ladder, the more difficult it is to win races and championships.
“When I moved from the truck series to Nationwide, it was a huge step,” Biffle said. “It was much, much harder. And when I moved from the Nationwide to the Cup Series, I had no idea that the competition was going to be what it was.
“I knew it was going to be hard. But man, it’s tough, and there are a lot of great drivers in this sport and a lot of good equipment. … But this year is my year, so I’m going to keep after it all the way to Homestead.”
Biffle has come close in the past. In 2005, he led the Cup circuit in race victories with six, and tied his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards for second in the championship standings, 35 points behind winner Tony Stewart.
He was third in 2008, but the next three seasons saw him win just two races – at Pocono and Kansas in 2010 – and finish outside the top five in points.
Midway through last year, Biffle’s team got a new crew chief as Matt Puccia replaced Greg Erwin. The results began to change almost immediately.
Like Biffle, Puccia’s career has seen him make stops in all three NASCAR divisions, and like Biffle, he’s a longtime member of Jack Roush’s race team. Saturday’s victory at Texas was his first in the elite Cup series.
“Jack gave me this opportunity in the Truck Series and I got my first win with Roush in 2008 with Erik Darnell,” Puccia said. “It’s been a great progression with the company.”
Also like Biffle, he’s looking forward to the upcoming stretch of races on the schedule.
“We’ve got some good race tracks coming,” he said. “We’ve got Kansas and Richmond and Talladega and Darlington, and as we look ahead there’s not one race I can’t say we can’t go and run good and be in contention to win every week.
“So we’re looking forward to getting going the next part of this little stint here.”