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The Search Goes On For Erwin And The Biff

| Contributing Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 15 2010

Crew chief Greg Erwin, left, and his driver, Greg Biffle, are on a search for speed this weekend in Dover. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Bill Fleischman | Senior Correspondent

Dover, Del. – Racing is all about speed. Right now, according to crew chief Greg Erwin, the Roush Fenway cars don’t have enough speed. Erwin guides Greg Biffle’s No. 16 Ford team.

“Although the points situation is all we tend to talk about through the summer – who’s in the Chase and who’s not – right now I’d take a couple spots being out of the Chase to have a couple wins under our belt this year,” Erwin said this week. “As a racer, (winning) is why we’re here. We just flat don’t have the speed. We’re searching pretty hard, but we don’t have speed to challenge for wins at the majority of these races.”

Biffle is seventh in NASCAR Sprint Cup points. Last year, for the first time in his seven seasons with Roush Fenway, Biffle never visited victory lane. His last win was in the September 2008 race at Dover International Speedway, where Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400 will take place.

Returning to the Delaware oval gives Biffle’s team some optimism. Biffle (14 career Cup wins) has won twice at Dover and his six top-five finishes. But Erwin says optimism only carries a team so far.

“We have one of the better averages there the last couple years, but you can’t rest on that,” the Hatboro, Pa., native said. “The minute you do, somebody’s coming up with a better mouse trap and they’re beating you.

“You have to constantly be searching. That’s where the real trick comes in my job, knowing when it’s time to move on to something because you’ve proven to yourself and your driver that it’s better.”

That said, Erwin said sometimes crew chiefs think too much. In the final practice session before last Saturday night’s race at Darlington, Biffle hit the fence.

“We got one lap on the backup car before we had to qualify,” Erwin said. “The qualifying effort (17th) didn’t reflect as good as we were with the primary car nor did the race effort (22nd). We made some poor adjustments on the car the way based off the way that backup car drove. (They were) poor decisions on my part. We should’ve stuck with all the exact same stuff we had in our primary car that wrecked. Instead, we wound up outsmarting ourselves.

“A lot of times we think we know things that we really don’t. There’s enough uncertainty in this business that you’re left impressions of how things how things work that are long lasting yet untrue.”

In the last six races, Biffle’s best finishes are two top 10s. When a race team is struggling, Erwin admits he has sleepless nights.

“A lot of Sunday nights are sleepless, along with early Sunday mornings,” the Clemson University graduate said. “(The job) isn’t easy.”

Biffle and teammates Matt Kenseth (fifth) and Carl Edwards(11th) are in the top 12 in points, but they haven’t won a race this year either. The last Roush Fenway driver to win was Jamie McMurray, last November at Talladega. McMurray now drives for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

– Bill Fleischman is the long-time auto racing beat writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and a frequent contributor to RacinToday.com

| Contributing Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 15 2010
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