Tag Archives: Greg Biffle

Will Hendrick Continue or Roush Return to Form at Michigan?

To say that Roush Fenway Racing has made the Michigan International Speedway their playground in NASCAR is an understatement. Since 2002, a Roush driver has won nine races, one race every year from 2002 to 2008 plus a race in 2012 and 2013. They have more race wins at Michigan than any other Sprint Cup team.

Greg Biffle is the most recent Roush driver to lead the charge. Biffle leads all active drivers with four wins there. His most recent win goes back to this race in 2013. His statistics for Michigan are like Jimmie Johnson’s are at many of the other speedways. He has a driver rating of 107.1, an average finish of 10.9. His average running position of 8.9 is incredible.

In 2014 the Roush Fenway Racing Drivers of Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr had their worst showing ever in this race. Greg Biffle led the team with a finish of 20th followed by Edwards 23rd and Stenhouse 27th. No laps lead and equally painful qualifying positions. In the August race those same drivers did a little better. Biffle scrambled for a 10th place finish, Stenhouse 15th and Edwards 23rd again. In Roush Fenway Racing standards their showing at Michigan last year was dismal.

Meanwhile, Hendrick Motorsports drivers of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon took full advantage of the opportunity to win the races at Michigan. In fact all four of the Hendrick cars were in the top ten in June and three of the four in August; Jimmie Johnson 1st and 9th, Jeff Gordon 6th and 1st, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 7th and 5th and Kasey Kahne 5th and 16th.

This season Jimmie Johnson has won at three of the five 1.5 speedways but those he didn’t win he had issues leading to damage. Johnson finished 9th at Fontana, Michigan’s 2 mile sister speedway. Stewart Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick has also dominated the 1.5 mile speedways including coming in 2nd at Fontana. They are also a Hendrick associated team.

This weekend all eyes will be on Roush Fenway Racing at their home track. Greg Biffle has shown some improvement this season but overall the Roush teams are still struggling. This weekend will tell the story whether or not there has been any improvement. In the mean time it looks like the Hendrick teams have an edge to continue where they left off last season.

If you cannot get to Michigan International Speedway Sunday, June 14th 2015 for the Quicken Loans 400 it will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 starting at 1:00 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 304998 Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images

Statistics for Michigan International Speedway

Rank Car No. Driver Name Average Finish Driver Rating
1 16 Greg Biffle 10.9 107.1
2 48 Jimmie Johnson 15.3 102.5
3 20 Matt Kenseth 11.7 101.3
4 99 Carl Edwards 9.7 100.5
5 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 12.7 98
6 14 Tony Stewart 10.1 95.8
7 24 Jeff Gordon 15.4 93.6
8 22 Joey Logano 14.9 91.8
9 4 Kevin Harvick 11.5 90.2
10 41 Kurt Busch 21.3 89.9
11 2 Brad Keselowski 14.8 89
12 5 Kasey Kahne 17.1 89
13 18 Kyle Busch 18.9 88.3
14 11 Denny Hamlin 15.3 88.2
15 55 Brian Vickers 17 86.3
16 15 Clint Bowyer 14.6 82.5

 

NASCAR and SpongeBob SquarePants It Just Makes Sense

This week NASCAR returns to the Kansas Speedway for the for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 Sprint Cup Series race. In addition to being the title sponsor of the race there will be cars featuring some of the characters.

The kids cable channel Nickelodeon is sponsoring the race and featuring one of their most popular shows SpongeBob SquarePants. NASCAR racing is lots of fun but how about adding in some guaranteed fun including some specially painted cars.

Greg Biffle, driving the No. 16 Cheez-It/ Patrick Star Ford Fusion

Michael McDowell, driving the No. 95 WRL/Larry the Lobster Ford Fusion

Casey Mears, driving the No. 13 Squidward Tentacles Chevrolet SS

David Ragan, driving the No. 55 Aarons/SpongeBob SquarePants Toyota Camry

It is sad that because of sponsorship issues there aren’t more cars getting in on the fun and getting painted up with some of the other Bikini Bottom characters. We need Krusty Krab and Plankton. We could have a crew chief sporting the Sandy Cheeks character because in Bikini Bottom anything is possible even a scientist squirrel from Texas.

It’s really fun to be part of the Nickelodeon lineup for the Kansas race and get to feature Patrick Star and Cheez-It on our No. 16 Ford,” Biffle added, “Nickelodeon does a lot to bring sports to kids, which is something that is important and I’m glad to be a part of it.  Kansas is a good track for us and Saturday night races are always exciting.  Hopefully we can get another Kansas win.

Greg Biffle is on to something. Call it a gimmick or just special sponsorship, adding some extra fun to the whole NASCAR race makes it more memorable. If this can bring more fans to the sport and great memories; than this is a win for everyone.

Let’s keep the SpongeBob SquarePants fun going, nominate the driver you think should be Gary in the comment section below and remember “Life is EXTREME as you wanna MAKE IT.”

If you cannot make it to the Kansas Speedway for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 it will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 Saturday, May 9 2015 at 7 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: Michael Waltrip Racing You Tube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XjE4PggdY4

Jimmie Johnson with his SpongeBob Fire Suit at Charlotte in 2004. Credit: 85113 Sherryl Creekmore/NASCAR
Jimmie Johnson with his SpongeBob Fire Suit at Charlotte in 2004.
Credit: 85113 Sherryl Creekmore/NASCAR

Greg Biffle – We are Dying a Slow Death

All NASCAR fans know that Roush Fenway Racing did not do very well last year and started out this year more or less the same. Could it be worse than we know? Did Greg Biffle let out some frustration during qualifying at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California? We probably won’t know for sure but it does look that way.

Last year Greg Biffle made the Chase for the Sprint Cup on points and Carl Edwards made it via winning a race but mostly the flagship Roush Fenway Racing drivers were not a threat to win every week and perhaps any week especially at the 1.5 and 2 mile tracks they are known to be good at. The talk all last year is they know they are behind and will catch up. Well this year is another year and it is simply not looking good.

Carl Edwards bolted for seemingly greener pastures. The jury is out on that but it seems to get greener every week. Greg Biffle is left to be the elder statesmen of the Roush team so when he says “We are dying a slow death” it is troubling. To be fair here is the full quote.

It’s been a challenging year and a half for us and it’s no different this weekend than normal. All of our cars, I think our best car is 26th or 27th. So that’s just not acceptable for how good of a team we are and how hard everyone works back at the shop and our engines.” Biffle added, “We just got to figure this out. You Know we’re dying a slow death and we just got to work hard and figure out where the speeds at and get the cars trimmed out. Show up closer than we do for the weekend is the main thing we need to work on. Seems like we’re getting speed in. The very last run was our fast run but just not quite fast enough yet.

Greg’s statement only leads to many thoughts. The first and main thought is what happened to “One Ford”? Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, the Penske Racing team, seem to be making those Fords work. Richard Petty Motorsports driver, Aric Almirola driver of the famous no. 43 is 14th in points Sam Hornish Jr. driver of the No. 9 who is 24th in points get their chassis from RFR. It was hoped that Hornish’s connection to Penseke would provide a benefit.

Let’s let the Elephant into the room. Did Roush Fenway Racing do something to Penske Racing when they switched to Ford such that they will not ever help? Will there never truly be “One Ford?”

The season isn’t lost yet for Roush Fenway Racing but it doesn’t look good. Greg Biffle is 16th in points, Trevor Bayne 26th and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 27th but if they keep this up time will run out.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will lead the Charge for Roush Fenway Racing at Auto Club Speedway starting 27th. Greg Biffle will start behind him 29th and Trevor Bayne will start 36th. All of these starting position are bad. The only hope is that this is a 2 mile speedway with multiple groves and it is a long 400 mile race. They can get to the front if they can find some way to make their cars faster. Unfortunately their recent history suggests that will not happen.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit: 307241 Jeff Gross/NASCAR via Getty Images

Strategies to Make the Chase for the Sprint Cup

Last year NASCAR changed the rules for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The goal of those changes was simply to make the racing better. Without exception the racing in 2014 was better than it has been making these changes a big success. There was some initial controversy on how teams made the 16 car Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Win and Your In: This is the one part of the rules that caused the most consternation among fans. The thought was that a team might luck into a win then steal the championship without really earning it. In reality last year showed that will probably never happen.

Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger had lack luster regular seasons finishing 22nd and 23rd respectively. They each won a race to put them into the Chase field. Almirola won the July race at Daytona and Allmendinger wining at the Watkins Glen road course. The reality is that those teams did not improve during the regular season so their performance in the chase was only marginally better. Almirola finished the season 16th or last of the Chase drivers. Allmendinger did improve a little but finished 13th.

Kasey Kahne was also not having a good year. He finished the regular season 13th in points and would have missed the Chase had the rules not been changed. He made it with his win one week before the last regular season race at Atlanta. Just like Almirola and Allmendinger Kahne’s team did not improve and took that into the Chase finishing 15th.

Consistency: This is how Championships are won. Consistency, out pointing your competition has been the foundation for Championships in NASCAR forever. With the new rules it looked like Consistency as a Championship strategy was dead. 2014 proved that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, and Greg Biffle entered the Chase by being the top drivers in points who did not win a race. They finished the regular season 6th, 8th and 10th respectively. Of the three Matt Kenseth with his ten top five finishes looked like he would take Consistency into the Chase and possibly win a Championship. Note all three in spite of not winning would have made the Chase under the old rules.

The reality was that while Matt Kenseth maintained his consistency Ryan Newman’s team steeped it up in the Chase finished second in the race at Homestead behind Champion Kevin Harvick to end up second in the Championship. They showed that one could race old school out pointing the competition and win a championship without winning a race.

Missing a race or more:  Another controversial part of the rules to make the Chase is where a driver can miss a race due to health or other issues, then win a race and with NASCAR’s approval make the Chase. The only requirement is that the driver has to remain in the top 30 in points. Gone are the Iron Man days, where a driver would race hurt to get the points and stay in the Championship.

Denny Hamlin had to miss the fifth race of the season at Auto Club Speedway due to a piece of metal in his eye.  NASCAR approved that he missed a race due to this medical problem and Denny Hamlin finished the regular season 19th in points. More importantly Hamlin won the May race at Talladega Superspeedway putting himself in the Chase.

Hamlin’s team would have been 17th or perhaps as high as 14th in points had he not missed that race. They proved that this rule works enabling teams to salvage a season. More importantly they proved that an ever improving team that did not have early consistency can also win a Championship by peaking at the right time during the Chase. Denny Hamlin finished the season third in the Standings.

Wrap up: What was learned last year in the regular season is that racing for maximum points is still a winning strategy. The new rules for making the Chase only provides additional options. The option to salvage a season if you happen to miss a race. The option to make the Chase while vastly improving your team throughout the regular season. Make no mistake about it your team must be at the top of its game regardless of how it made the NASCAR Chase when the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.

Feature Photo Credit 301215 Richmond International Raceway

 

NASCAR Race to the Chase Report Card

On January 30th 2014, prior to the start of this season, NASCAR introduced the new format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. It is one of the biggest changes to the Chase since NASCAR implemented the Chase in 2004. It was billed as a format that put the emphasis on winning races over consistency- “Points Racing”.

We have arrived at a format that makes every race matter even more, diminishes points racing, puts a premium on winning races and concludes with a best-of-the-best, first-to-the-finish line showdown race – all of which is exactly what fans want,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO.

The 2014 Race to the Chase is over, the Contenders for the Chase for the Sprint Cup are known; but how did it work out? Was winning really enhanced? Did we have more race winners than we typically do in the 26 weeks leading up to the Chase?

When it comes to having more winners and/or a premium on winning it doesn’t really look like it changed much, if at all. During the first 26 weeks there were 13 different winners, seven of which were multiple winners. The average for the last eleven years was 12.55 different winners and 6.09 multiple winners. See the chart below:

Year Winners Multiple Winners
2014 13 7
2013 13 6
2012 14 7
2011 15 5
2010 11 6
2009 13 7
2008 10 4
2007 14 5
2006 11 7
2005 12 6
2004 12 7
Average 12.55 6.09

 

Was there a premium on winning? This can be looked at two different ways. The first, were there any drivers that would have made the Chase via points that missed the Chase because they didn’t win. The answer is no. The three drivers who made the Chase via points; Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle finished the regular season 6th, 8th and 10th in the standings. They would have been in the Chase anyway.

The other way to look at the winning premium is who made the Chase via winning that would not have otherwise made the Chase. Kasey Kahne (13th in points) and Kyle Busch (17th in points) would have made the Chase via the Wild Card. Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger would not have made the Chase but they each won one race. They essentially took up the four additional spots provided in the Chase via this new format.

When I started the research for this report card I really thought I would find something different. Throughout the season there were times when winning seemed important. Who can argue that Kasey Kahne and his team didn’t work hard at Atlanta in order to make the Chase? How about AJ Allmendinger at Watkins Glen?

In the end though one just needs to look at the top of the points standings; all of the multiple winners are right there. They didn’t win and then ride around waiting for the Chase. They kept at it so that they can be in Championship form for the Chase. The top five in points—Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Jimmie Johnson—all have at least three wins and are poised to enter the Chase in a dominant way. These guys are real Championship Contenders.

Sure it’s conceivable that one of the others who got into the Chase might win the Championship, but watching those other drivers above there is no way each and every one will fail.

I originally thought at the beginning of the season that the Race to the Chase didn’t change by much. There was, though, a sense of excitement from a fan perspective that if my driver wins, they are in. That was unmistakable from the first race when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won until Atlanta when Kasey Kahne won.

I give the Race to the Chase a B+ but the year is not over.  It’s about to get ramped up when the Chase for the Sprint Cup starts. Win and you move on to the next round with the final race deciding the Champion right there on the track. The driver who is in front wins the Championship. No points racing there.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway, Sunday September 14th for the MyAfibStory.com 400. If you cannot get to Chicagoland it will be broadcast on ESPN starting at 2 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 301215 Richmond International Raceway