Hampton, Ga. (October 26, 2008) – With the end of the season clearly in sight, Greg Biffle and the 3M/Dish Network team knew they would have to finish up front in order to catch Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team. That was the plan when they arrived in Atlanta. Unfortunately rain caused practice on Friday to be very brief and the team just didn’t seem to have enough time to get the Dish Turbo HD Ford where it needed to be for the race during practice on Saturday. Biffle struggled with an ill-handling racecar for the entire race but drove it to a top-10 finish in the end. The 10th place finish puts Biffle third in the point standings, only two points behind teammate Carl Edwards in second.
After attempting to dry the track for several hours, NASCAR finally sent the Sprint Cup teams out for what amounted to about 10 minutes of practice on Friday afternoon before the rain returned. Qualifying was cancelled and the field was set by points for the 10th time this season. At the end of Saturday’s two practice sessions, Biffle and the team still felt the Dish Turbo HD Ford wasn’t quite ready for the race and they might have to rely on pit stop adjustments to help the handling on Sunday. They were correct.
Biffle started on the outside of the front row and fell to third when Edwards got by shortly after the drop of the green flag. He maintained the third position until the first caution on lap three and restarted third on lap six. Biffle was able to overtake Edwards on lap seven for second but soon reported that the car was too loose on corner entry and tight through the center of the turns. He was running fifth when the second caution of the day came out on lap 30.
Crew chief Greg Erwin and the team opted for four fresh tires, a track bar adjustment and Sunoco fuel when Biffle brought the Dish Turbo HD Ford to pit road on lap 36. The crew picked up two positions in the pits and Biffle restarted third on lap 39. Over the course of the next green-flag run Biffle reported that the car was getting looser and looser. By the time a round of green-flag stops began on lap 85, Biffle was in the 17th position. He pitted on lap 89 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He was still 17th when the pit cycle was complete on lap 101.
Biffle maintained the 17th position until David Ragan got by just before a caution came out on lap 109. Biffle stayed out and led lap 112 before pitting on lap 113 for four tires, fuel and wedge, air pressure and spring rubber adjustments. He restarted 18th and was able to get by Jeff Burton before the next caution flag flew on lap 130. Biffle pitted for four tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment as he was still unhappy with the car’s handling.
Another long green-flag run ensued and Biffle was able to gain and maintain the 15th position through another round of green-flag pit stops. Just as teammate Matt Kenseth had put Biffle a lap down on lap 207, a caution came out and Biffle was the Lucky Dog. He took the opportunity to pit for another track bar adjustment and a second spring rubber adjustment. Biffle restarted from the 15th position on lap 215.
Biffle pitted twice more during cautions on laps 254 and 290 for further adjustments but still struggled with an ill-handling racecar. He decided to stay out during a caution on lap 298 to gain track position and restarted ninth on lap 302. He was able to hold onto the ninth position for eight laps but then quickly fell back to 16th which is where he was running when the final caution of the day came out on lap 312. Erwin called him in for four tires, a wedge adjustment and an air pressure adjustment.
After restarting 16 with eight laps remaining, Biffle picked up six positions for a 10th place finish.
“I don’t know why, but the car obviously was not right,” said Biffle. “We were awful in practice and just never got a handle on it. We tried some different things on it in the race. We tried a whole grocery list of stuff on it today but we just couldn’t get it to go. That’s all we could do. We were way too tight at the end. I think I could have gotten about four more spots but it was just unfortunate. The team worked hard on the Dish Turbo HD Ford today but that’s all we could do.”
Greg Biffle and the No. 16 team are now third in the point standings. They are 185 points out of the lead which is currently held by Johnson and two points behind Edwards in second. The team will return to the track on Sunday, November 2nd at Texas Motor Speedway.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.