Biffle Ready To Drive The Blues Away
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Greg Biffle on Wednesday, sounded genuinely excited about ending the current NASCAR off season and getting back to work. For a couple of reasons. The usual one about missing the sport he loves. And also to get the dang taste of 2009 out of his and his team’s metaphorical mouths.
Biffle said time will tell if things will improve for Roush Fenway Racing in 2010, but his gut and some off-season advances say they will.
“We’ve worked very, very hard and all the guys are really, really excited about it,” Biffle said. “We can’t wait to get to the race track with our cars at Texas next week (for a tire test). That’s gonna be our first real true test, our first opportunity to get on the track.”
The 2009 season was just OK for Biffle and his team. They made the Chase, alright, but after that there was very little to provide emotional heat during the cold winter the country has been experiencing.
For the first time in his career as a full-time Cup driver, Biffle failed to win a race last season. Or even a pole. He entered the Chase as the 12th and final qualifier. He finished the season seventh in points and with 10 top-five finishes.
Making things worse around the office for Biffle was that he was the top dog for Roush Fenway in 2009. Carl Edwards was the only other driver from the five-driver team to make the Chase and like Biffle, Edwards failed to win a single race in ’09.
When Biffle left Las Vegas after the annual awards banquet, he had a variety of plans for his off season. Chief among them was making improvements for 2010.
“Prior to Christmas we really just talked about what we needed to do and we worked on it some, but we did have a tire test in Phoenix that we went and did, but really since the New Year – this week – we’ve worked really hard,” Biffle said. “I’ve been at the shop everyday and we’ve been in meetings and doing different things. We’ve got a lot of exciting stuff.”
“We’ve lightened our cars up, which we feel is going to be important to help get some more ballast in them and get the weight balance correct. We’ve come up with new geometries, new shock packages, new bump stop stuff – some of it has been through the merger and some of it has been through what we’ve learned.”
Ah, the merger. It was with Richard Petty Motorsports as that team hooked up with Roush Fenway’s cousin team, Yates Racing.
So, while Roush Fenway had to trim one team – that of Jamie McMurray –from the stable bearing its name, it has brought others into the data-sharing fold.
In all, it looks like there will be 10 Fords on the Cup tracks this year. Should help, Biffle said.
“Certainly, we’ve added a couple of good, quality guys that won races last year or came close to winning races, so that’s certainly gonna help the Ford camp pick up some more wins. We’re really excited about that. Like I said, we’ve already consolidated some of those technologies and I think it’s really helped us and is going to help us.”
So, one big Ford team?
Should be, he said.
“Last year we shared information across the board with the Yates organization and we feel we’ve worked hard, and we’ve talked a lot about it, that we feel like this year we want it to be the same as it was last year, and I think they’re all for that. They’ve said it’s going to be an open book across the street, so I think it’s going to help both of us. We’re going to put our bump-stop technology together and all the things we can do, and I think it’s going to help us all.”
Of course, nobody will know exactly what’s up for 2010 until teams get to Daytona and then they will only know what’s up with the restrictor plate program. A more accurate read on how the season will go will wait until racing heads west after Daytona.
But Biffle talked and sounded confident this week. Then again he did a year ago at this time, too.
– Jim Pedley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgOne Comment