Roush has new strain of Killer B's By Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 17, 2000) Greg Biffle's first teammate in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was 53-year-old Joe Ruttman in 1998. His teammate last year was 34-year-old Mike Bliss. This year, it's 22-year-old Kurt Busch. At this rate, his next teammate will be piloting a Big Wheel around the NCTS circuit. In all seriousness, though, Biffle has come full circle in his brief but spectacular NCTS career. He has gone from wide-eyed rookie to sought-out veteran in only 700 days or so.
"I've gone from the 'old bull' to the 'young bull', haven't I?," Biffle said when asked to compare his teammates. "I think Mike Bliss and I were able to exchange some notes, and Joe Ruttman taught me a lot my first year. I have learned a tremendous amount. Hopefully I can return the favor to Kurt Busch, and try to get him acclimated as quickly as possible to these trucks."
But when a driver falls eight points shy of a championship, when he comes back the next year the obvious question is 'how is that new teammate going to help him?'. What wisdom can a young transfer student from the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring, possibly impart on a guy who had it figured out better than anybody last year, with a series-record nine victories to his credit?
"I think he's a good, aggressive young driver," said Biffle of Busch. "I see a lot of my characteristics and driving style within him.
"And hopefully when we're struggling at a particular race track, he can pick up the slack a little bit and help us out. We were struggling big at Bristol last year, got some notes from Mike Bliss, and we sat on the pole there and had a decent run. So, that's what teammates are for, to exchange information and help out. I'm sure he'll be able to do that. I think we'll be able to give him more information than he can give us, but at particular tracks he'll be better than us, and we'll be able to use some information from him." jjjjj For his part, Busch is concentrating on his listening skills right now. While testing at Daytona International Speedway last weekend, his name was well below Biffle's on the speed chart. But at Daytona teammates are more helpful on the track than in the garage area. Drafting could help team owner Jack Roush's Killer B's swarm to the front of the pack in the inaugural NCTS race at DIS.
"That's what teammates are all about - helping each other out," said Busch, the defending champion in the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring. "We've been talking a little bit. Neither one of us know much about Daytona. He's got a little bit more experience because he's been in the Truck Series. He's been very helpful thus far."
Busch is now like Biffle was two years ago, only six years younger. Biffle was 28 when he entered the NCTS fray. The question is -- will Busch have frayed nerves, especially at a track like Daytona?
"California Speedway (is the biggest track I had previously been on). That's a two-mile track and we get up to speeds of 202 there. That's pretty fast. I drove a Winston West car there. But every time you tack on another half mile, it's like night and day from the last track.
"It's a huge difference from anything I've ever been to, and just to be here at Daytona is like a dream come true for me," he said. "But having Exide and Roush Racing behind me is going to make my job a little easier and we're going to get after it come race week."
He'll be getting after it with a whole field full of competitors with a chance at victory, thanks to the wonders of drafting. Someone is going to play his cards right, and it just might be the kid from Las Vegas.
"The draft is going to be huge," said Busch. "I've looked at the schedule - it's the 42nd annual Daytona 500 and it's the inaugural truck race here. So, it's a pretty neat event, nostalgia-wise. It'd be neat to be the winner of the first event. We're just going to hang out, and see how things play out and hopefully we'll be there at the end."
If both Killer B's are there, the sting could be on.