Greg Biffle may have not qualified for this years Chase for the Nextel Cup but their goal remains the same: win races. After losing the title to Tony Stewart in 2005 by just 25 points, Biffle was a favorite to dominate the Chase race this ...
Greg Biffle may have not qualified for this years Chase for the Nextel Cup but their goal remains the same: win races. After losing the title to Tony Stewart in 2005 by just 25 points, Biffle was a favorite to dominate the Chase race this season.
That just didn't come to fruition for the No. 16 Roush Racing Ford team.
"It certainly hasn't been the season that we had hoped for," Biffle explained. "It started very early in the season with running out of gas three times in the first 10 races. That certainly got us behind in the points - got involved in an accident in Daytona and then ran out of gas three times - that was difficult. I had two engine failures early in the season - one at California and Talladega - and hadn't had an engine failure in three years in the series.
"The season definitely didn't get off to a good start with an accident at Texas with a very, very good car. That got us so far behind in the points that literally we were kind of on the outside. We made up a rapid amount of points quickly, but then sort of leveled off and had some bad races after that - things that could have been prevented that we kind of missed at the shop. We went to Pocono and finished second, and we came back to Pocono with the same car and had something messed up with the suspension and finished in the twenties, so we've made a lot of mistakes.
"I've made some mistakes driving the race car. I got myself involved in an accident at Martinsville, so it's been an up-and-down season. It wasn't what it should have been. We came up short in the chase and we know why. It's obvious. We know why we came up short and we'll just try and prevent that from happening next year."
Biffle was victorious in just one race this season compared with the series high six wins he scored last season. That combined with eight finishes of 31st or worse killed his chances of competing for his first series championship.
He is now 12th in rankings vying with reigning Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart for that coveted 11th place finish. So, is there a new stratagem being hatched at Team 16? Not really, the focus now is simple, "We race for wins, points and for next year. Those are the three things we're concentrating on."
Compared to last year, where Roush Racing had all five teams competing for the Cup; this year the dominate organization has just Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin contesting for the title. Martin has struggled at times this season but Kenseth has been one of the most dominate drivers on the circuit.
"That's something we sat in the conference room and talked about today because we're trying to analyze our aero program, the tire is a little bit different," said Biffle of why some Roush teams are performing better than others. "We're looking at their race setup, it's real similar to what we're doing, and when Matt won the championship a few years back, the whole Roush organization was doing very poorly.
"I'm not saying that's where we're at now, but Matt looks like he's clearly ahead of the rest of the Roush cars by a little bit. It's not like it was when he won the championship in 2003. All of our cars were really running bad then and my question was, 'Are we headed back in that direction again? Is Matt the only guy that's running good?' Which isn't the case because I finished sixth and Mark finished fifth and Mark's in the chase, but my concern was, 'Are we slipping again? Are we missing something?' Everybody is working as hard as they absolutely can to be the best that we can be and we're trying to learn from what they're doing and paying attention.
"It's just the way things happen."
No matter the 'spin' it's still a bit of a slap in the face to miss out on the hubbub of the final ten races of the NASCAR season. Earlier this year, Biffle stated that if 'you didn't make the Chase you were a nobody', having missed it he is a little more reticent about that statement now.
"We're doing the same thing. Every question in here so far - this morning I got up at 7:30 and every question has been about the chase and none of it involves me and that's why I said that at Talladega," explained Biffle. "That's what our focus is and that's why I said that. We're doing that (working on next year). We're gonna probably switch a few crew guys around. We tried something at Richmond with the setup on the race car that was kind of a gamble thinking it might work here, and it worked so-so at Richmond. I don't think it was the best. We finished sixth. I don't think we're gonna try it here, but it's something I wouldn't have done if I would have been on the bubble of making the chase. I wouldn't have tried it, but this has given me some opportunities.
"We're talking about bringing some different suspension stuff and a different race car - a brand new car that's out of the wind tunnel that we've never raced before. We're gonna race it probably at Kansas without testing it, which is unusual for us because we don't know what to expect. If we were in the chase, we probably wouldn't do that. We'd bring something that's a known product. Even though we have something that we think is better, we probably wouldn't do that without testing it first, but we're probably gonna go ahead and do that, but certainly we don't want to leave out 11th in points. That's our goal as well."
While the former Truck and Busch series champion could never be called a nobody he and his teammates certainly will spend the last ten races of the season on the outside looking in; with plenty of time to figure out how such a strong 2005 season didn't propel them to a championship in 2006.