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FORT WORTH - It wasn't pretty but Greg Biffle's 25th-place finish got the job done. When you string a dozen finishes among the top-five in 13 starts, a momentary glitch isn't going to deny Biffle and his Grainger Ford team the 2000 NASCAR...

FORT WORTH - It wasn't pretty but Greg Biffle's 25th-place finish got the job done. When you string a dozen finishes among the top-five in 13 starts, a momentary glitch isn't going to deny Biffle and his Grainger Ford team the 2000 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship. About all it meant was that Biffle, owner Jack Roush and the Randy Goss-led crew had to spray the champagne without their F-150 that won the June 9 Pronto Auto Parts 400 at Texas Motor Speedway and vaulted the team into a lead never to be surrendered. Icing on the cake, Roush Racing partner Kurt Busch moved to the No. 2 spot in the standings with just a single event remaining, the Oct. 28 Motorola 200 at California Speedway. Biffle's finish marked the first time a clinching driver had finished outside the top-10. Conversely, the 30-year-old native of Vancouver, Wash. became the first to wear the crown before the final race had been run. Biffle thus becomes the tour's youngest champion, its fourth and the first who didn't run a race in 1995 - the inaugural year of the NCTS. "The truck was really strong," said Biffle, the first former series rookie-of-the-year to win the overall title. "I wish we could have been in it to the finish (but) right now we're happy to win the championship." An hour after his accident, Biffle still was hard-pressed to explain why his truck suddenly broke loose in Turn 2 before contacting the outside wall. It could have been aero push, a suspension problem or even a flat, right front tire. "The tire was flat but we don't know if that was the problem," said Biffle. "This certainly isn't how I wanted to win the championship. I wanted to win it in victory lane." - O'Reilly 400 winner Bryan Reffner happily passed the tour's longest non-winning streak to Lance Norick who has gone 107 starts without a victory. Reffner reached a milestone at TMS, becoming the tour's 17th million-dollar winner. He's $1,009, 258 in his 112 appearances. Reffner also was the season's third first-time winner, joining Bobby Hamilton and Busch. His victory ended a record, 12-race drought for Chevrolet. The manufacturer finally logged its 80th win on the series. - Craftsman has been hit nine times to the tune of $90,000 by Bud Pole winners who also have gone to victory circle. Should the fast qualifier of the season's final race also win, the payout will equal the hundred grand the series sponsor ponied up for Ron Hornaday's 1999 victory in the tour's 100th race. - Houston was disappointed to lose Friday's race but looks forward to returning to TMS in 2001 as a member of PPI Motorsports' NASCAR Winston Cup Series stable. Houston has completed every lap of every race of the five he's run at the 1.5-mile superspeedway, has never qualified worse than ninth or finished below eighth. He was sixth and second, respectively, in the O'Reilly 400. "I think knowing the track will certainly help with the Cup cars," said Houston. - Texas favorite David Starr, making his debut in the Case Construction Equipment Dodge, dropped to 22nd after being flagged for jumping the start from his No. 2 position. Starr, however, rebounded to lead the race but faded to 12th when his Ram dropped a cylinder and overheated. Starr was the year's 33rd different race leader, breaking last year's record. Derrike Cope and Eric Norris became the season's 99th and 100th different drivers to start at least one race although neither finished. Eight drivers failed to qualify for the O'Reilly 400. At least seven teams have gone home from each of the past six events. Tryout or dry run? Take your pick when Scott Riggs drives a second Ultra Motorsports entry in the Oct. 28 Motorola 200 at California Speedway. Riggs, released by Impact Motorsports earlier this month, will drive the team's first Dodge Ram truck in a shakedown for the 2001 season. The North Carolina driver is said, by some, to be one of the team's two wheelmen next year. Winning at Richmond, along with the hire of crew chief John Monsam, has invigorated Phelon Motorsports. Driver Rick Carelli posted his fourth consecutive top-10 finish in Fort Worth. That's a record for the team that had Reffner in its employ in 1997-98. Guess who'll celebrate his 56th birthday on race Saturday at California Speedway. Easy answer, Joe Ruttman who hopes to add a fourth victory and ninth Bud Pole to a 2000 log that's the envy of the series' "kids."

-Owen Kearns-

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Derrike Cope , Bobby Hamilton , David Starr , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Lance Norick , Scott Riggs , Joe Ruttman , Bryan Reffner , Rick Carelli , Eric Norris , Jack Roush