Doug Richert knew that it was time to do something. His team was mired in a miserable start to the season and he was beginning to get the sense that it was weighing on his team. So Richert, crew chief for Greg Biffle's National Guard ...
Doug Richert knew that it was time to do something.
His team was mired in a miserable start to the season and he was beginning to get the sense that it was weighing on his team. So Richert, crew chief for Greg Biffle's National Guard #16 team called a meeting. He made sure that everyone working in his garage understood one simple fact. They were not going to quit and if they all continued to fight together, good things would happen.
After managing just three top-10 finishes in the first nine races of the season, Biffle was 23rd in the point standings. Biffle and everyone around him expected better. Since then, the group has finished seventh or better in three straight races, including a win at Darlington three weeks ago.
"We've had some tough luck getting the season started, but lately (we've) been extremely happy," said Biffle, the only driver on the circuit that has led laps in 10 of the first 12 races this year. "Now that we seem like we have our season on track, (we're) certainly excited about our outlook."
Biffle is 13th in the points and hopes to crack the top 10 with a strong run at Dover in the Neighborhood Excellence 400 on Sunday (1:30 p.m. Eastern on FX). He is the defending champion of the race.
"I'm definitely looking forward to racing at Dover this weekend," said Biffle, who also has two Busch Series wins at the one mile oval. "We're taking the car that we won with there last year and we won with it this year in Darlington. I think we'll have a good run in the National Guard Fusion this weekend and get a little closer to the top-10 in the points."
Biffle admits that he likes driving at the Monster Mile, but it's a track that demands a driver's attention for all 400 laps.
"Dover is a unique track and as a driver, you have to be on your toes," said Biffle, who led a race-high 150 laps in last year's race. "You want your car to be a little loose but at the same time, it can't be too loose. Dover is a more challenging racetrack because it's concrete. It is kind of bumpy where the sections of the concrete are cut. Because it's high banked (and) concrete, it makes it a pretty treacherous place as far as not being up on the wheel a hundred percent. You have to respect that place all the time, every single lap."
The driver feels like another solid finish at Dover will help close the 86 point gap that he needs to crack the top 10, but more importantly at this point of the season, he wants to make sure that his team still feels like a championship contender.
"I'll tell you what, it's really hard to keep upbeat when you're having what I would say are terrible races, lead all the laps, qualify outside front row, run out of gas on two laps to go, finish 17th or something," said Biffle, who has finished off the lead lap five times in 12 races this season. "That can really get to you. It can get in your head."
Biffle said that it's difficult to put past performances behind you when you're struggling, but that's exactly what his team has been able to do. The results are coming back and they are looking to make a charge through the next 14 races before the cutoff for the Chase for the Championship.
"We don't consider ourselves substandard because we're 28th in points or 30th in points," Biffle said. "We feel and we have in our mindset that we are fifth in points. That's what kind of team we are. That kept our momentum and our spirits up for going to the race, running as good as we could. We've simply had to put the last race totally behind us."
Despite making up 10 spots in the standings over the past three races, Biffle knows that the competition at the top of the standings is much tougher and they will need to stay on top of their game to get another shot at the championship.
"The next six guys in front of us are tough guys," said Biffle, who was second in the standings at this point last year and finished second behind Tony Stewart for the championship. "There's no easy way around the next six or eight guys in front of us. We're definitely going to have to race hard. Every position's going to count."
Biffle clearly believes that despite a rough start, his team is ready to challenge for the championship. He is looking to become the first driver to win the championship in all three of NASCAR's top divisions. He was the Craftsman Truck Series champ in 2000 and won the Busch Series title in 2002.
"I feel like our team is going to be really, really hard to beat the rest of the season because that first part of the season tested our toughness, tested our team as a whole," Biffle said. "I think that we proved that we've got. We're tough as alligator skin. It's going to take a lot to beat us down."