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The Biff Man Parts Ways With Roush Fenway

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 22 2016
Greg Biffle and team owner Jack Roush are breaking up. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

Greg Biffle and team owner Jack Roush are breaking up. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Greg Biffle’s 19-year tenure at Roush Fenway Racing ended abruptly Monday, with the veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver citing a relationship that had “kind of run its course.”

Biffle, RFR’s longest-tenured driver, has raced the No. 16 Ford in Cup since 2002. Biffle joined bugnotesRoush Fenway in 1998, winning championships in the Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series and finishing as runnerup in Cup in 2005.

“We’ve had an incredible run and I am so appreciative for the opportunity to be a part of Roush Fenway,” Biffle said in a team release. “For a kid that grew up Washington, I’m extremely proud of everything we have been able to accomplish over the last 19 years _ both on and off the track. I’ve enjoyed every minute. I’m excited about the next chapter of my life, and I look forward to exploring other opportunities _ particularly in radio and television _ both inside and outside of NASCAR.

“I’m thankful to Jack Roush for the opportunity to have driven his race cars for all these years. It’s very rare in this sport to have been able to stay with one team this many years, and to have been as successful as we have been.”

During an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, “The Biff-Man” described his parting with RFR as a “mutual agreement.” He added that while he has received multiple offers to drive in 2017, including from JTG Daugherty, he remains a free agent.

“It’s been a tough decision to make,” Biffle said on SiriusXM. “I’ve kind of been faced with it several times throughout my career. I felt like it had kind of run its course. I felt like it was time for

Greg Biffle says the time has come to move on. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Greg Biffle says the time has come to move on. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

me to move on and explore some other opportunities. I’ve enjoyed my time with Roush, and Jack has meant a tremendous amount to me.”

Biffle, who will turn 47 in December, has 19 Cup victories _ the most recent in 2013. His best Cup season was in 2005, when he recorded six wins and a career-best 15 top-five results en route to a second-place finish to Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing in the final standings.

“I’m so competitive of a person,” Biffle said during the SiriusXM interview. “It truly crushes you to put 100 percent effort in _ the guys at the shop, the whole team _ everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction and working as hard as they could, and the results just aren’t what we wanted them to be. Whether it’s right or wrong, it was like, ‘Let’s do something different for both of us.’^”

The Vancouver, Wash., native was recommended to Roush by the late NASCAR Hall of Famer Benny Parsons. Biffle brought Roush Fenway and Ford Racing its first NASCAR championships in the Camping World Truck Series in 2000 and 2002 in the Xfinity Series. He came up 35 points short of being the only driver to win a championship in all three major series with his runnerup finish to Stewart in 2005, when Greg led the Cup series with six victories and paced more than 1,300 laps.

In what proved to be his final start for RFR, Biffle drove the No. 16 Roush Performance Parts Ford Fusion to a 17th-place finish Sunday in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Biffle started 21st but his car was hampered by an electrical short that resulted in multiple battery changes during the race. Biffle won the season-ender on the 1.5-mile HMS layout during Ford Championship Weekend for three consecutive years, 2004-2006.

“I don’t have the words to say what Greg has meant to this organization,” team-owner Roush said. “He is a true racer who has always exhibited a will to win and an intense passion for speed. For almost two decades Greg has given us an opportunity to run up-front and compete for wins.

“Greg exemplifies what every owner hopes for in a driver and I’m extremely thankful for having him as part of our organization. I know that Greg and I will maintain a strong friendship and I look forward to leaning on him on occasion as we continue to work on improving our performance.”

Biffle is the latest veteran driver to have exited RFR in recent seasons. Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, and Carl Edwards walked away from the Roush organization for more competitive rides in Toyota Camrys at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Biffle, one of only 17 drivers to make 500 consecutive Cup starts, qualified for the 10-race Chase for the Championship playoffs on eight occasions. Overall, Biffle has started 835 NASCAR races _ having won 55 times in the three major series _and led almost 12,000 laps.

“Greg Biffle has done so much for Ford during his NASCAR career and all we can do is thank him for being such a hard-charging competitor and loyal ambassador to our brand,” said Dave Pericak, Global Director, Ford Performance.  “Greg has achieved many milestones with us and no matter where his career path takes him from here, he’ll always be a welcome member of the Ford family.”

Among his career highlights for the “Blue Oval,” Biffle captured the 1,000th victory for Ford in NASCAR on June 16, 2013 at Michigan International Speedway.

“One of my fondest memories in NASCAR is being able to welcome Greg to Victory Lane at Michigan when he won our 1,000th NASCAR race,” said Raj Nair, Executive Vice President of Product Development and Chief Technical Officer, Ford Motor Co. “We had so many Ford employees at the track that day and it’s a moment that I’ll always cherish.  We wish Greg nothing but the best and thank him for all he’s done in representing Ford on and off the track.”

Biffle is tied with the late Davey Allison for 11th-place on Ford’s all-time Cup Series wins list at 19, and ranks fourth for most Ford victories in NASCAR’s top three series combined with 53 _ 19 in Cup, 18 in Xfinity and 16 in NCWTS.

“As much as the trophies and championships, I will cherish the memories and the relationships forged during our run,” Biffle said. “We had some great teams, fast race cars and some really outstanding partners over the past two decades. I’ll always be thankful to everyone that gave us the opportunity to go out and accomplish the milestones that we have been able to.”

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Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying seventh Cup championship Sunday from Homestead-Miami Speedway was a rating’s winner for NBC Sports Group. NBC and NBC Sports Network’s dual coverage of Johnson’s victory for Hendrick Motorsports in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 delivered the most-watched NASCAR race of NBC Sports Group’s season, based on fast national data provided by The Nielsen Company.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, joined NASCAR icons “King” Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as the only seven-time champions in NASCAR’s premier touring series.

The Chase for the Championship involving four drivers on NBC and NBCSN averaged 6.08-million viewers and posted a combined 3.51 national HH rating, marking increases of plus 16 percent (vs. 5.22-million) and  plus-12 percent (vs. 3.14 HH), respectively, over 2014’s presentation on ESPN.

Excluding last year’s decade-high Championship finale, which was delayed into primetime by rain and celebrated four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon’s retirement, Sunday’s race was the most-watched and highest-rated NASCAR season-finale since Tony Stewart’s championship winning drive for Stewart-Haas Racing over Carl Edwards of Roush Fenway Racing in 2011. That race ended with Stewart and Edwards tied in points, with the former prevailing by the 5-1 wins tiebreaker.

Viewing Sunday peaked from 6:45- 7 p.m. (EST) with more than 8.4-million viewers and a 4.8 HH rating as the Championship Four featuring Edwards and 2015 champion Kyle Busch, both of Joe Gibbs Racing, and Joey Logano of Penske Racing battling Johnson in the closing laps.

Compared to the prior four Cup races presented on NBC in 2016 (excluding the rain-impacted event at Charlotte Motor Speedway), Sunday’s race was up 37 percent among average viewers.

The top 10 markets for the Cup race were as follows, with HH Rating and HH Share in parentheses:

Greenville (10.8/17); Greensboro, N.C. (10.7/17); Indianapolis (8.6/14); Knoxville, Tenn. (7.7/12); Richmond-Petersburg, Va. (7.4/11); Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (6.8/11); Charlotte, N.C. (6.8/12); Buffalo, N.Y. (6.5/10); Fort Myers, Fla. (6.4/10) and Orlando, Fla. (6.4/12).

In addition, digital consumption generated 4.67-million live minutes across NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and connected devices, a 16 percent growth vs. last year’s race.

And Saturday’s Xfinity Series Championship, won by native Mexican Daniel Suarez of Joe Gibbs Racing, was the series’ best race on NBC Sports Digital. It earned 1.04-million live minutes-streamed, a 163 percent increase vs. last year’s Championship event.

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Toyota secured its first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturer’s Championship with a sixth-place finish by Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday, capping the car-maker’s 10th year of Cup competition.

Camry drivers won 16 of 36 races in 2016, giving Toyota the manufacturer’s title in all three NASCAR national touring series.

“Capturing our first Cup Series Manufacturer’s title is a tremendous accomplishment, and one that has been a goal for Toyota since entering the series 10 years ago as underdogs in this ultra-competitive series,” said Ed Laukes, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA. “With the partnership of great teams like Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing, Toyota has been able to break through and become the first different manufacturer to earn this championship in 13 seasons.

“Toyota has now won manufacturer’s championships in all three NASCAR national touring series, and to have reached this amazing milestone really speaks to Toyota’s commitment to not only NASCAR, but also to motorsports endeavors around the globe. We’re proud of the effort put forth by each of our Toyota teams, and all of the Toyota team members that have allowed us to reach this goal.”

Five Camry drivers collected Toyota’s 16 wins this season, including 12 by Joe Gibbs Racing and four by Furniture Row Racing. Busch and Martin Truex Jr. led the group with four wins a piece, while Carl Edwards (three victories), Denny Hamlin (two), and Matt Kenseth (two) also added victories.

In addition to securing the 2016 NSCS Manufacturer’s Championship, Toyota claimed the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Manufacturer’s title at Phoenix International Raceway and the NASCAR Xfinity Series Manufacturer’s championship at HMS. Toyota drivers also won multiple championships across the NASCAR national touring series, with Daniel Suarez winning the driver’s championship in the NXS and Kyle Busch Motorsports taking the owner’s title in the NCWTS.

Toyota first entered Cup competition in 2007. Since joining Cup, Toyota drivers have won 95 races and captured 90 poles in 360 races.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 22 2016
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