Concord, N.C. (May 25, 2009) – The biggest factor in the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 was not speed or tires or pit stops or mulit-car accidents, it was rain. Greg Biffle started 16th with the 3M Ford Fusion and immediately dropped back with a loose racecar. He was still loose when the first red flag for rain came at lap 70. The crew worked on the car and Biffle was 13th when what would be the final caution for rain came out on lap 220. Biffle pitted for four tires as the team hoped green-flag racing would resume after the rain. That would not be the case and Biffle was credited with a 20th-place finish.
Biffle was 25th in the first practice of the weekend on Thursday and then prepared to qualify that evening. He was 16th in time trials and reported that the car was extremely tight. The crew worked to correct the handling of the 3M Ford Fusion and in the first practice on Saturday, Biffle was second on the board. With Happy Hour shortened by rain, Biffle and the team remained confident about the 600-mile race.
With pre-race festivities complete on Sunday, the cars were pushed to pit road. A dark cloud, however, was looming at the south side of the racetrack. Just as most of the cars were rolled to pit road, the rain began to fall. At exactly 8:30 p.m. on Sunday night the Coca-Cola 600 was postponed until Monday at noon.
The forecast for Monday wasn’t much brighter but the green flag dropped shortly after noon and Biffle quickly reported that the car was too loose. A yellow flag for rain on lap seven allowed him to pit for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. As few other cars pitted, he restarted 34th on lap 11. He made his way up to 24th before the competition caution came out on lap 40. Biffle pitted for two tires and adjustments. The strategy paid off and he restarted eighth on lap 44.
Rain began to fall again on lap 70 as Biffle was running 11th. He pitted for four tires and a track bar adjustment and returned to the track in the 17th position only to be brought back down pit road for a red flag. The rain had fallen enough to stop the on-track activity for an hour while the track was dried. Green flag racing resumed on lap 79 and Biffle was in the 13th position as a few teams pitted after the red flag and before the restart.
Biffle was extremely unhappy with the car’s handling and was running 17th when a round of green flag stops began on lap 125. He pitted under green for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment on lap 129. He was 14th when the green-flag stops were complete on lap 134 and maintained that position until a caution and eventual red flag for a military solute came out on lap 162. The field made laps under the yellow flag from lap 165 to lap 176 when the second red flag for rain was put out.
The track was dried and green-flag racing resumed on lap 179 with Biffle in the 15th position. He had made his way up to 13th when rain brought out a caution on lap 220. Crew Chief Greg Erwin directed Biffle to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment with hopes that the track would be dried again.
Unfortunately, the rain continued to fall and the race was called at lap 227. The 3M Ford Fusion was sitting in the 20th position on the grid and that is the finishing position the team was credited with in the race results.
“We took a risk on that last pit stop,” said Biffle, “and it just didn’t pay off for us this time. It is so hard to know how these rain delays are going to play out. Looking back, we probably could have played it safe with a two-tire stop but we had to make a gametime decision with all of the information we had. We’ll just take this finish and get ready for Dover next weekend.”
Greg Biffle and the 3M team dropped one position to 10th in the Sprint Cup point standings. They are 274 points behind leader Jeff Gordon but 26 points ahead of 13th. The 3M team will return to the track on Sunday, May 31st at Dover International Speedway.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing operates 9 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; Three in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Colin Braun; and one in the Camping World Truck Series with Braun. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Robin Johnson at 704.720.4645.