Biffle Has A New Gig

Friday, Feb 17

After his abrupt departure from Roush-Fenway Racing, Greg Biffle has a new gig. The gig is not in a car, but on television.

Biffle will join NASCAR on NBC’s “NASCAR America” beginning on March 1st. Biffle will be a recurring guest on the program.

Biffle made the announcement on social media:

Biffle competed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for 15 years. He had a career total of 19 wins, 92 top-fives, 175 top-10's, and 13 poles. Biffle only had four "did not finishes" throughout his career. 

While Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. each ran a full schedule for Roush-Fenway Racing (RFR) during the 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, XFINITY standout Ryan Reed made only one start for the race team at the top level. Driving the No. 99 Lilly Diabetes/ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes Ford in the Hellman’s 500 at Talladega last October, Reed finished 26th.
Reed was pleased with his Cup debut in a race that is known have tense moments. “Today meant so much to me,” Reed said after the race in an RFR post-race report. “I truly hope I was able to earn some respect out there. We always want a better finish than 26th, but with no mistakes and not a scratch on the car we’ll take that here at Talladega.”
Ever since 2014 when Carl Edwards won races at Bristol and Sonoma, RFR has been skunked as far as getting back in victory circle. Stenhouse, Jr. got close in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol in August (which ended up being a day race due to inclement weather) when he finished runner-up to Kevin Harvick driving a special tribute car dedicated to Bryan Clauson.
“We really wanted to get this (Bryan Clauson tribute) car into victory lane but it just wasn’t meant to be today,” Stenhouse, Jr. said in a team transcript after the race. “We made our car a lot faster throughout the race and came from two laps down to get back on the lead lap. We missed some wrecks and gave it all we had.”
Throughout the 2016 season, RFR seemed to have their peaks and valleys. One of their highs came in July during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway when they took home three top-10 finishes. “It was wild out there,” Stenhouse, Jr. said in a team report after finishing fifth. “Clint (Bowyer) was pushing me the whole last lap. I wasn’t sure we would be able to be pushed all the way through the corners but we were able to hold it in a straight line as best we could and get a top-five finish.”
Stenhouse, Jr. also finished fifth in the Auto Club 400 at Fontana in March and the Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega where he also led six laps. He ended the 2016 season with four top-five’s, six top 10’s and 22 top-20 finishes.
Bayne earned his best season finish of third during his summer visit to Daytona. The driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford did it by passing nine cars on the final restart of the Coke Zero 400 with only two laps remaining. “That was wild,” said the 2011 Daytona 500 champion in a team report after the race. “We restarted 12th and with help from the (No.) 3  car, we were able to get up to the outside and really make up some ground. We got behind the (No.) 18 down the backstretch and I pushed him with all I had.”
Bayne also finished fifth at Bristol’s spring event, the Food City 500, to give him a total of two top-five finishes for the 2016 season. He also earned five top 10’s, 20 top-20 finishes and led 34 laps in two races.
Sitting on the pole during the Coke Zero 400 was a high point for Biffle. The driver of the No. 16 Ford EcoBoost Ford went on to finish eighth in the 160-lap race despite being collected in the ‘big one’. “It was a rough night after we got in that wreck,” Biffle said after the race in a team report. “We got shuffled out of line and that will happen with speedway racing. We got pretty severe damage and were able to finish eighth.”
Biffle’s best season finish of fifth came during the New Hampshire 301. “It was a great run with the (No.) 18 car towards the end,” Biffle said in a post-race report from Ford Racing. “We are still working on these cars to get them faster. A great run for the NESN Ford Fusion today.”
Biffle finished sixth in Kentucky during the Quaker State 400 to give him a season total of three top-10 finishes. He also earned 20 top-20 runs and led 42 laps in six races.
2017 is looking a little different for Roush-Fenway. The team has decided to downsize to two cars. Bayne and Stenhouse, Jr. will return to the No. 6 and No. 17. The No. 16 charter has been leased to Chris Buescher as he makes his way to JTG-Daugherty Racing. Biffle has left the team and his plans are still unknown.
Co-owner Jack Roush is content with these adjustments. “We have been able to shore up our plans for 2017 and we feel that this will continue to move us in a direction that will yield improved performance and results,” he said. “We saw improvement in our cars and made substantial gains in our performance at times last season, and we will continue to build on that by maintaining a robust engineering group in order to take the next step by consistently running up front.”
NASCAR knew that rain was in the forecast for the entire weekend before cars got on track for opening Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday. The session started 19 minutes behind the scheduled time due to fog. 

Fog remained a factor for what turned into be just a 20 minute practice when rain came and halted cars from working on qualifying setup. 28 cars participated in practice, so if qualifying is rained out in the afternoon the starting lineup will be set by owner standings. 

Carl Edwards posted the fastest single lap speed at 179.802 mph, which was over one mph faster than Kevin Harvick, who recorded the second fastest lap. If rain cancels qualifying, the No. 4 Chevrolet would start from the pole on Sunday. 

Last year's pole-sitter for this event, Kurt Busch was third on the leader board at 178.649 mph. Paul Menard was fourth at 178.250 mph and defending Cup Series champion Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. 

Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears, Joey Logano, Greg Bffle and Tony Stewart rounded out the top 10. 

Three drivers were tied for most laps ran in the practice session at seven. Cup Series rookie Chris Buescher led the way in that category at 23rd. Michael Annett and Brian Scott also completed seven laps and were the two slowest cars on one lap speed. 

Notable drivers who didn't complete a lap were August winner, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon. 

Qualifying is set to role at 4:15 p.m. ET if rain moves out of the Pocono Mountains.

Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle, and Kyle Larson used the Sprint Showdown to run in tonight’s Sprint All Star Race. Chase Elliott and Danica Patrick won the fan vote in order to advance. After being washed out yesterday, today’s Sprint Showdown showed intensity from the drivers to make tonight’s race.

 

In the first 20 lap segment, Trevor Bayne became the surprise winner upsetting Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney who were running one-two before the final one lap dash, after the caution waved with five laps to go.

 

In a Ford press release, Bayne stated, “We had a fast race car for no practice and no teammates in the earlier practice.  My guys did a great job guessing where we should start at.  The car was good in clean air, but in dirty air I just couldn’t go, so with one lap to go all you’ve got is the restart and I kind of treated it like it was for the win for the All-Star Race for a million bucks.  You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get in.  I thought that would be our best shot.  I got a good restart and off two there was a tiny hole and somehow our car got through it without getting beat up, so we’ll take it.”  

 

When the caution flag flew in the first segment, Kyle Larson and others went ahead and took two tires because they knew that they would have to come down within two laps to take the mandatory two tires between segments. Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott started on the front row, but Blaney was black-flagged for jumping the restart. Bayne and Elliott battled it out on the final lap, leaving Bayne with a margin of victory of .005-seconds. During the segment break, Brian Scott was found to have a loose lug nut following the mandatory lug nut check after the pit stops.

The second segment started with Chase Elliott at the front, but once the segment started, he was tight, which caused him to drop in positions. Austin Dillon took the lead from Elliott. However, a possible tire issue occurred causing him to fall back, giving Biffle the race leader. Biffle was able to set sail to win the second segment.  

Greg Biffle, being one of the few drivers to play the four tire strategy, explains the decision that ultimately led for him to win segment two. “Brian Pattie is a very, very smart veteran crew chief in this sport and it was his call.  I was skeptical of it, trust me, but I tell you what, what really made the difference was we made a chassis adjustment, two left side tires, the car was really fast the last single lap that we made under green and I was able to pass four cars in one lap.  Then we came down and the guys ripped off a great two-tire stop like a lot of other cars did and got us out third.  Really, that’s what did it.  I was being as aggressive as I could be, and I knew it was 20 laps and I knew that was my chance.  The 3 car was a little bit loose and so was I, but I made some adjustments on my driving style and was able to get by him.” 

 

The third segment saw the momentum from Chase Elliott return, a momentum that was lost during the second segment. The last half of the 10-lap third segment saw Larson and Elliott battling for the lead. Coming off of turn four in the final lap, Elliott and Larson were neck and neck heading to the line. In a 2003 Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch at Darlington style, Elliott and Larson were beating and banging, using the wall as the mediator. Larson was able to hold off Elliott to win the third segment.

 

“I knew (Elliott) was going to be good on four tires and was probably going to win the fan vote, so I knew I had to win because I knew I wasn’t going to win the fan vote,” Larson said. “So, I did what I could do. Hopefully, they can repair the right side good enough or we can pull out the backup — or whatever. "I’m sure Chase is upset with me. He has all the reason in the world to be but hey, tonight we’re going for a million bucks and I’ve never had a chance to do that before. Hopefully we can get this car back in victory lane and hold a big check later.”

 

Elliott and Larson are allowed to go to a backup car for the Sprint All Star race, according to NASCAR, if they cannot fix their cars.

 

Qualifying for tonight’s Sprint All Star Race will begin at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1. 

In the two practice sessions on Saturday in preparation for the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, Joe Gibbs Racing looked to be the team to beat. In each of the two one-hour sessions, it was a JGR Toyota who set down a fast lap in the opening minutes that would not be beat.

Over the span of the two hours there were three separate incidents that would send two teams to backup cars.  

Practice One:

Carl Edwards paced the opening hour of practice at 187.906 mph. After qualifying fifth on Friday, the driver of the No. 19 car is looking to return to Victory Lane in Southern California for the first time since 2008. 

He was just ahead of another Toyota, Martin Truex, Jr. with Furniture Row Racing. The No. 78 team welcomed back crew chief, Cole Pearn, following his one-race suspension last week in Phoenix. He put down a lap at 187.632 mph. 

Third quick was Ryan Newman at 186.640 mph, more than two-tenths of a second off the fast time. Kyle Busch was fourth and pole-sitter Austin Dillon rounded out the top five at 186.587 mph. 

Just outside of the top five was Paul Menard in sixth, making all three Richard Childress Racing cars inside of the top six. The top rookie was Brian Scott in seventh. Two winners so far this season were mired down below 20th, Denny Hamlin 23rd and defending winner Brad Keselowski was just 24th fastest in the morning session.

The first incident of the day came when Aric Almirola slid into the wall off Turn 2, causing significant cosmetic damage. The team would repair the car and return to the track in the second session. The No. 43 car was 19th fastest.

The latter incident came when Kurt Busch pounded the wall right where Almirola did 20 minutes prior. The No. 41 car was not as lucky as the Stewart-Haas Racing team pulled out the backup car, something that Busch appreciated because he was not happy with his primary car on Saturday morning.  

Practice Two: 

In the first two minutes of Happy Hour, Matt Kenseth recorded a lap at 185.419 mph. This practice was in race condition as the Sprint Cup race on Sunday will start at the time that this practice ended. 

After being quickest in the first practice, Edwards was second fast, .015 seconds behind his JGR teammate. The No. 19 car was also one of the best on the long runs as were all of the Toyota teams. Toyota is looking for its third win in the last four races at the Auto Club Speedway, which is the backyard of TRD's headquarters. 

A trio of Fords filled the next three speeds, led by rookie Ryan Blaney at 185.161 mph. Joey Logano was fourth quickest and Almirola rounded out the top five after getting his car back on track following the incident in the opening session. 

Dillon finished the session the lowest he's been all week in sixth, just under a tenth of a second behind Kenseth. Keselowski made improvements to his car and finish Happy Hour 12th.

While the one-lap speed didn't show it, Kevin Harvick had the fastest car on the long run. He was only 27th on the speed chart, but had very little fall off in his tires compared to other teams. The California native is a two-time winner at his home track, the last win coming in 2011 with RCR. 

The biggest incident of the day came 32 minutes into final practice when Kyle Larson got loose getting into Turn 4, by the time he could correct it Greg Biffle drilled him in the rear and the tandem spun to the infield. The No. 16 car was on fresh tires, going approximately 20 mph faster than the No. 42 car at the time.

Larson would go to a backup car with a ton of cosmetic damage to the right rear of the car, while it looks like Biffle will remain in his primary car on Sunday. Before the incident the No. 42 team had the 26th fastest time, while the No. 16 team had the 15th fastest lap. 

The green flag will drop at 3:30 p.m. Sunday to start the Auto Club 400 where another driver will look to clinch their birth into the Chase. 

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