Biffle gets fresh start on season By Dave Rodman HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2000) A year ago, Greg Biffle took a poor qualifying effort and turned it into a fourth place finish in the season opening Florida Dodge Dealers 400K at Homestead-Miami...
Biffle gets fresh start on season By Dave Rodman
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2000) A year ago, Greg Biffle took a poor qualifying effort and turned it into a fourth place finish in the season opening Florida Dodge Dealers 400K at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Of course, anyone who knows anything about the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series knows what Biffle did after his "slow start" extended through May.
All he did was win nine times through the rest of the season and end up within fumes of cashing in with his first NASCAR Touring Division championship. While the NASCAR 2000 NCTS season began a week ago at Daytona International Speedway with the inaugural Daytona 250, Biffle was happy to be in Homestead Friday after he qualified his No. 50 Grainger Ford on the outside of the front row next to red-hot Bud Pole winner Joe Ruttman.
Starting second, Biffle is anxious to shake off the ramifications of his rough start at Daytona, in which a seeming top-5 truck was knocked into the wall by his teammate Kurt Busch with less than 10 laps to go, relegating him to 11th at the finish.
"I'm glad we are done with Daytona and are here in Homestead," Biffle said. "We had a great truck in Daytona and should have gotten a good finish but we had some issues with the truck late in the race."
It showed on Friday. In the early practice sessions, Biffle didn't cloak much of his promise, running sixth in the morning behind nemesis Jack Sprague and fourth in the afternoon to former teammate Ruttman. He was tickled, but disappointed, after qualifying.
"It was pretty good," he said of his single lap Bud Pole effort. "I feel really bad for the guys because they built me a great truck, though. I got after the gas out there in 3 and 4 a little bit fast and the truck stepped out there on me and I had to wait for it."
Most of the drivers fell off from their practice speeds, and minute mistakes like that seemed to cost them the precious time needed to overtake Ruttman, who at 55 isn't letting any moss grow underfoot. Biffle, for his part, showed no part of easing off the pace that led to those nine wins and four Bud Poles.
"The guys have definitely brought me a great truck down here to Homestead and we hope to put the Grainger Ford F-150 in the Winner's Circle for the first time in 2000 here tomorrow," he said. "I did pretty well in Homestead last year so I am looking forward to hopefully having another good race down there this weekend."
After that, Biffle said equaling his success of last season might be another story altogether.
"I am pretty nervous about whether we can repeat what we did last year," he said, seeming slightly uncomfortable at being asked about backing up his record breaking 1999 season. "A lot of guys are better than they were a year ago. And, don't forget, we fell into a lot of those wins -- a bunch of 'em.
"If we could win two or three times I'd be thrilled. There's no way we can even think about winning that many races. I'm more concerned with the point championship than I am in setting any records for wins."
If Biffle can tame his exuberance to the degree he did last year, counting on crew chief Randy Goss and his team to give him the piece he needed to collect when the possibility to win a race was delivered, he could excel again.
But he'd have to dodge bullets like the one that bit him Friday.
"It looked like we had a shot at the pole until I got to Turn 3," Biffle said, "and that was about it. I had a good lap going and I feel bad. The guys have worked real hard the last few weeks to give me a great truck and we haven't gotten any results, so hopefully here tomorrow we'll do something good.
"I just got a little too free leaving Turn 4 and had to give up a little more throttle than I should have. I ended up giving up the pole to my old teammate Joe Ruttman, so he's the king so far this year."
But Biffle hopes that in 23 more races, he'll be the one on the throne.