Biffle learning ins and outs as rookie By Shawn A. Akers MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 2, 1998) Through all that's happened to him in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Greg Biffle realizes that he's still just a rookie. He's...
Biffle learning ins and outs as rookie By Shawn A. Akers
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 2, 1998) Through all that's happened to him in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Greg Biffle realizes that he's still just a rookie.
He's experienced the highs, and he's definitely experienced the lows of big-time NASCAR racing, all in its initial campaign in the series. But then the 28-year-old Vancouver, Wash., native knows he's got so much more to learn if his NASCAR car is going to continue to progress.
Biffle may have given himself the wrong impression of the competitive nature of the series in his first two races of the year. In his very first race, at Walt Disney World Speedway in January, the driver of the No. 50 Grainger Ford F-150 stayed out of trouble and finished a respectable fifth.
The very next race, at Homestead, Fla., in March, he did one better and came home fourth. But then, the bottom seemed to drop out for Biffle. Things got a little bit tougher and the results were a little less desirable.
"It's more difficult than what I thought it would be after the first two races," said Biffle, currently 12th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings. "New guys have problems, and I didn't think it was going to be a breeze by any means. I thought it would be easier than what we've been dealt with all the crashes and stuff, and the misjudgments on my part. I really thought t would be better.
"I knew it was going to be tough going to all the new places for the first time. In the beginning, I thought it would be as tough as it is, and then after the first two I thought, well, maybe we could be top-five in points. Then, it just turned around quick."
The third race of the season at Phoenix, he crashed on the second lap after starting 16th, and wound up finishing 36th. Then, at Portland where he was a considerable crowd favorite, he won his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Bud Pole but was black-flagged for jumping the start. He wound up finishing a disappointing 26th in that event.
Since then, he has finished as low as 29th (at Bristol), and as high as second (at New Hampshire). He had an opportunity to earn his first series victory at New Hampshire, but was passed on the last lap by first-time series winner Andy Houston, who, by coincidence, is Biffle's biggest rival in the Cintas Rookie-of-the-Year race.
"That (the immediate races following his first two top-fives) was discouraging," Biffle said. "And the second-place deal at New Hampshire was hard to swallow. It's been a matter of error after error on my part. I figured it would be tough to race these guys, and I knew in some particular situations I would have to give up to be able to make it to the end of the races. I get on the race track beside some of the guys, and my truck ends up flat.
"I don't know if they are trying to intimidate you, or the rookie deal. Both of those things are probably something to look at. Gaining respect in the garage area like (Roush Racing teammate Joe) Ruttman has, or (Jack) Sprague or (Ron) Hornaday and that (Tony) Raines and (Stacy) Compton have, that takes a lot. It takes time."
Winning the Cintas Rookie of the Year Award was one of the team's major goals coming into the season, as was winning a race. He hasn't been to victory lane yet, but he does lead Houston by two points in the rookie chase with eight events to remaining.
"I think we are meeting our goals," Biffle said. My goal was to win a race. I really wanted to do that. Now, I've changed my focus to winning rookie of the year. That means on the short tracks, when the guys get to bumping, I've got to take the 10th-place finish or whatever, and go to the next race because I can't afford to go to the pits because I'll lose the rookie thing.
"I've got to keep on the track. I've got to get the best finish I can, and make it to the end with all the corners on the truck. I can't take the chances it might take to win the race, even if I've got the truck because I have to protect the rookie thing."
A true NASCAR veteran couldn't be prouder of a better philosophy and attitude.
Source: NASCAR Online