Kenseth and Biffle left Daytona Beach quite willingly Saturday night after a great night in the Coke Zero 400 turned into a disappointing ending.
Biffle and Kenseth led a total of 77 percent of the laps in the 160-lap race and clearly had the evening’s top cars, but the circumstances of restrictor-plate racing blocked them from victory lane in the race’s final moments. Tony Stewart passed Kenseth for the lead on the final lap and won for the fourth time in Daytona’s summer race.
After the colored history Kenseth has had at plate races this season, it’s likely he’s anxious to set foot Friday on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway property, site of the 19th Sprint Cup race of the year -- and the unofficial start of the second half of the season.
The relatively flat Loudon, N.H. one-mile oval is categorically the opposite of high-banked, super-fast Daytona and its tendency to yank victory away in the final moments. NHMS puts more power in the hands of the drivers and allows them to have much more control over their destinies.
Kenseth has seen the highs and lows of the wicked nature of plate racing this season. He won the Daytona 500 but then saw a possible Roush Fenway Racing victory disappear at Talladega when he and Biffle couldn’t connect in the late-race draft. Remembering the Talladega problems, Kenseth tried to stay with Biffle on the final laps of Saturday night’s race at Daytona, but Stewart maneuvered in such a way that the RFR drivers broke apart on the last lap, and the victory disappeared into the hot Daytona night.
“I’m really disappointed,” Kenseth said. “We thought we had one of the best cars. I was hoping it was going to be me or the 16 in victory lane. I don’t know, it’s hard to figure out.
“The 500 went one way, and then we lost Talladega because I didn’t keep Greg with me good enough. And then this race Tony got separated and I got separated from Greg because they pulled him off me. I should have just stayed on his door and stayed with him and let the chips fall where they may, but I didn’t know what else was coming, so I slowed up to try to bring Greg with me because he had been so good all night and I was hoping to get a run. Before I got a run, Tony got outside of him, and then I don’t know what happened because everybody started wrecking.”
Such wackiness is not likely at New Hampshire, where Kenseth and Biffle (pictured above, leading the pack last year at Loudon) will arrive still sitting in fine points shape as the tour moves into the hot stretch of summer.
With eight races remaining to the Chase for the Sprint Cup cutoff, Kenseth is a solid first in the point standings, having increased his lead to 25 points over No. 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. with Saturday night’s finish. Despite his last-lap ills Saturday, Biffle moved from fourth to third in points and trails Kenseth by 44 entering New Hampshire.
Carl Edwards still sits on the edge of Chase qualifying in 11th place. He is 31 points out of the 10th and final Chase qualifying spot, currently held by Clint Bowyer.
“It is a flat, simple race track, and that makes it really hard because most people know how to get around it, but you have to have the car perfect and drive perfectly,” Edwards said of NHMS. “This one has bumps and is big, fast and slippery and looks like it would be a tough race track, but since it is tough for everyone it gives you an opportunity to take advantage of people. A place like Loudon, if you have a weakness it really shows up. Trust me; I have been passed by a lot of cars at Loudon.”
Kenseth and Biffle have struggled to win at Loudon -- Biffle has the one and only victory there for the pair, but their overall record at the track is encouraging. Each has five top fives, and Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in half of his 24 appearances at the speedway.
Source: Ford Racing