It's no surprise that his competitors are keeping an eye on Greg Biffle and his #16 National Guard Ford team this weekend in California.
Biffle comes into the NASCAR Nextel Cup Fontana race as the defending winner and proved that he is coming back with a repeat on his mind by qualifying on the front row beside pole sitter Kurt Busch. Biffle also set a blistering pace during the second practice session on Saturday. He was the fastest car on the track, laying down a fast lap of 183.538 miles per hour. Tony Stewart was second fastest in the session, nearly half a mile per hour slower.
"We hadn't been that good," admitted Biffle, who finished second in the fall race at Fontana last year. "I hadn't been real comfortable in the car and we didn't leave ourselves enough time to switch to qualifying trim. We found some things that we really needed to get back to ground zero. I didn't really know what to expect out there. I think I left a little bit on the table in (turn) one just because I didn't want to overdrive because you can overdrive and lose a half-second or underdrive and maybe lose a tenth, so I chose to be a little more cautious."
Biffle started the season with a disappointing 31st place finish at Daytona last weekend. He blew a right rear tire and then got caught up in some contact that bent his steering. Biffle is anxious to get back on the track on Sunday where he feels he has more control of his own destiny.
"We got ourselves into a little bit of a hole in Daytona but I have no doubt that this team will turn it around this weekend," Biffle said. "We're taking a car that's already been to victory lane and we think it's going to perform even better this season. Here it's a whole different skill level and handling package and stuff. It takes probably a different skill set or different category of skills at Daytona -- where you position your car or how the air is and how fast your car is, so it's just a lot different."
Biffle has been a consistent threat to win ever since the end of the 2004 season. Last year, he won six times - more than any other driver on the circuit. He finished second to Tony Stewart in the Chase for the Championship and is a likely candidate to challenge again this year.
Biffle knows that before he can compete for his first Cup championship - he was the Truck Series Champion in 200 and took the Busch Series crown in 2002 - his team needs to put together consistently solid efforts for the next 25 races. He won't make the mistake of taking the "regular season" for granted.
"Obviously, you've got to make the chase first, so first things first - get in the chase," said Biffle, who also won at Texas, Darlington, Dover, Michigan and Homestead-Miami last year. "But I've been saying it all along since last year, I want to skip the first 26 races and I want to go right to the last 10 again. That's where they pay the money. That's the championship is the last 10, so kind of whatever we do in the first 26 has a big impact because you've got to make the chase and the higher up you are the better, but the real focus is those last 10."