Biffle blasts to Pronto Auto Parts 400 pole By Dave Rodman FORT WORTH, Texas (June 8, 2000) If Greg Biffle wants a boost in the point standings this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, he did himself a big favor Thursday evening in Bud Pole ...
Biffle blasts to Pronto Auto Parts 400 pole
By Dave Rodman
FORT WORTH, Texas (June 8, 2000) If Greg Biffle wants a boost in the point standings this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, he did himself a big favor Thursday evening in Bud Pole Qualifying for the $588,037 Pronto Auto Parts 400.
Biffle won his third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Bud Pole Award of the season when he eked past Rob Morgan by .063-hundreths of a second. Biffle's lap of 30.315 seconds in the No. 50 Grainger Ford, an average speed of 178.130 mph around the 1.5-mile oval, earned the first pole for a Ford on a track of 1.5 miles or longer since Mike Bliss turned the trick at California Speedway on Oct. 18, 1997.
"I hope this is the start of us winning this race from the pole," said Biffle of the race that starts at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday. "We won from the pole a few times last year, so who knows? I'm more excited about how well the truck is running altogether."
"We've struggled a little bit with the F-150 body on the superspeedways," said Biffle, who won nine times last season but who has only one victory in 10 events so far this season. "I'm happy with the balance we've got now and it looks like Rob has figured it out, too."
Biffle's lap was well off the track record of 179.718 mph (30.047 seconds) set a year ago in Bud Pole Qualifying by Jay Sauter in Richard Childress' GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet. A bulletin issued by NASCAR prior to the Texas event accounted for some of the reduction.
The rules, previously applicable to events at tracks of two miles or longer, mandate that during practice; qualifying and the event trucks must maintain a minimum spoiler angle of 65 degrees. The previous TMS minimum was 55 degrees. Also, an 18-inch long "gurney lip" must be installed on the leading edge of each front fender. The changes increase the drag coefficient, thereby decreasing speed.
For the second time in the last three races, Morgan turned in his career best qualifying effort in the No. 46 Acxiom Ford. He was timed in 30.378 seconds, 177.760 mph. His run secured Ford's second front row sweep of the season and the first since Biffle and teammate Kurt Busch did the deed on the Portland International Raceway road course in April.
"We've done a couple of things," Morgan said of his continued assault on the front of the field. "First, this is a brand new truck that ran its first laps today. We hired Bill Ingle and under his direction the team has come a long way. We also changed our motor program. So it's just a lot of little things."
Behind the top-2 Fords, a Dodge, Chevrolet and a third Ford rounded out the top-5 qualifiers.
Dennis Setzer's Mopar Performance Parts Dodge Ram was third at 177.334 mph. Marty Houston in the Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet was next at 176.257 mph and Busch's Exide Batteries Ford was fifth at 175.690 mph.
Morgan said the sweep was more a coincidence that anything else. Rounding out the top-10 qualifiers were Bryan Reffner's Chevrolet (175.650mph), Jamie McMurray's Ford (175.615), Scott Riggs' Dodge (175.387), Andy Houston's Chevy (175.285) and point leader Jack Sprague's Chevrolet (175.001).
"If you look at the top of the field a lot of the frontrunners are up there," Morgan said. "I don't think it was the make -- the people up front just had fast race trucks."
Biffle, who scored his 11th career pole to move into a tie for fourth on the all-time list with former two-time NCTS champion Ron Hornaday, was happy for that.
"That was the fastest lap we've turned today," Biffle said. "The weather, I think, had something to do with it. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. I'd rather be tied for the most wins but that's good. I was concerned with the Dodges taking all the poles earlier this season. I never thought we'd be this good (in qualifying) on a superspeedway."
Biffle said he hopes he's able to duplicate his second place run last fall in the O'Reilly 300, when he overcame a 24-point deficit and took the point lead heading into the final race of the season.
"Last year was when we made the big point swing by finishing second here," Biffle said of Sprague, who he trails by 92 points heading into Friday's 11th race of 24 this season. "We gained 31 points or so here last fall. We're hoping to try to gain some points on him (Sprague). They're not running perfect yet and hopefully that'll give us the opportunity to gain some points. We want to lead a few laps and finish in the top-4 to gain some.
"If we make the right pit stops and drive the race real smart and stay out of trouble -- provided there's no mechanical failures we should be around at the end."
With only 37 trucks on the grounds for a 38-truck field, Carlos Contreras, Ryan McGlynn, Billy Kann and Jay Stewart filled the field using provisionals for the 34th through the 37th positions.