March 9, 2009 8:50 AM

After a Long Day in Atlanta, a Late Race Incident Leaves 3M Team with 34th-Place Finish

Atlanta, Ga. (March 8th, 2009) – For Greg Biffle and the No. 16 3M team, this weekend’s race in Atlanta was filled with adversity.  From an ill-handling car to a pit road penalty and finally a race-ending accident, the team saw it all this Sunday afternoon.  While the team was trying desperately to correct the handling of the 3M Ford, a caution came out as they were in for a green flag pit stop.  Then just as they were beginning to run steady lap times, the team received a pit road penalty for pitting outside of the designated pit box.  Finally, just as the lead-lap cars had completed lap 266, an incident in front of Biffle caused him to slow but two of the drivers behind him did not which resulted in severe damage to the No. 16 3M Ford.  At the end of the day, Biffle and the team were credited with a 34th place finish and are now 10th in the point standings.

After the first practice of the weekend on Friday, the team knew they might have an uphill battle in front of them.  Qualifying, however, provided a little confidence boost as Biffle turned in the fifth fastest lap in time trials.  The two practice sessions on Saturday still left the team guessing at what could be done to better the 3M Ford for the race on Sunday.  Final adjustments were made and the team prepared for whatever would happen in the 330-lap event.

Biffle remained in the top-five for the first few laps of the race and was running fourth when the first caution came out on lap 12.  He had reported that the car was a little loose, so the 3M team gave him four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.  He restarted fifth on lap 23 and was able to hang with the top 10 until a round of green flag stops began on lap 62.  Biffle had just dropped back to 12th and informed the team that the car was turning too hard on the left front.  He brought the 3M Ford to pit road on lap 66 and just as the crew was finishing the stop, the caution came out. 

The untimely caution put Biffle in the 10th position at the tail end of the lead lap in front of the leaders for the restart on lap 73.  Unfortunately, the car was still not handling to Biffle’s liking and he was unable to stay in front of the leader and went a lap down on lap 87.  By lap 92, Biffle had fallen back to 13th and was extremely unhappy with the car.  A caution on lap 102 allowed him to pit for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment, a rear bar adjustment and a shock adjustment. 

Biffle restarted 17th on lap 107 and was the seventh car one lap down.  With the car still not handling at an acceptable level, Biffle was still running 17th and had lost another lap to the leaders when a caution came out on lap 156 for debris.  He pitted for four tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment, another air pressure adjustment and a spring rubber adjustment.  He again restarted 17th on lap 167.  Biffle would pit three more times for major adjustments of the next 50 laps but was still running 18th and two laps down when a caution came out on lap 215.

As Aric Almirola, who was pitted in front of Biffle, continued to stop at an angle at the back of his pit box, Biffle was instructed to pit short in his pit box for the pit stop to keep from being blocked in.  After the team gave him four tires, fuel, a track bar adjustment and an air pressure adjustment, the official in Biffle’s pit determined that he had pitted outside of the rear of his pit box.  The penalty was a stop on pit road and the subsequent loss of another lap.

Biffle was running in the 31st position and was three laps down when he returned to the track. By the time the next caution came out on lap 260, he had picked up three positions but had lost another lap to the leaders because the penalty put him so far back in the field.  He pitted for four tires, fuel, another track bar adjustment and another air pressure adjustment.  When green flag racing resumed on lap 264, he was in the 31st position.  On lap 266, however, as a wreck was unfolding in front of him and he began to slow down, the two cars behind him did not and the incident resulted in severe damage to the 3M Ford Fusion.

“It was just a tough day from start to finish,” said Biffle.  “I don’t know what else to say other than that I don’t know how we were so far off on the setup.  Hopefully we can take something from today and use it to make sure it doesn’t happen again at another race.  We’ll have a good week off and be ready to get back the momentum we had earlier in the year when we take the 3M Ford to Bristol.”

Following their 34th place finish in Atlanta, Greg Biffle and the 3M team remain dropped to 10th in the Sprint Cup point standings.  They are 154 points behind points-leader Jeff Gordon but only 66 points out of the top five.  The Sprint Cup Series is not racing next weekend, so the 3M team will return to the track on Sunday, March 22nd at Bristol Motor 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.

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