Fontana, Cal. (February 25, 2008) – It appeared that Greg Biffle had one of the cars to beat as racing got underway on Sunday evening in Southern California after a two-hour delay for rain. When the red flag was put out for the return of rain after 86 laps of racing, Biffle was fourth on the board and feeling confident about his chances in the 3M Ford Fusion. When the green flag dropped on a sunny Monday morning, however, it was a different story. The track conditions had changed and Biffle chased an ill-handling racecar for all of the remaining laps before finally taking a 15th place finish.
With practice and qualifying both rained out on Friday and a grim forecast for Saturday, the 3M team knew they would need to be on top of their game when the did get track time. That finally came on Saturday afternoon following the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. The teams got around 40 minutes of practice in before the rain came again. Biffle was third on the speed chart at the end of that practice.
As the field started by last year’s point standings, Biffle started on the outside of row seven for the 250-lap event. He quickly drove the 3M Ford into the top 10 and pitted during a caution on lap 14 for four tires, fuel and a minor air pressure adjustment. The team picked up five positions in the pits, sending Biffle out fourth for the restart on lap 18.
Biffle soon reported that the car was a little tight but was running sixth when the second caution of the day came out on lap 21. The red flag was put out for incident clean-up and remained out for just over one hour. The next caution would be for rain on lap 41 and this time Biffle took the opportunity to pit for four more fresh tires, fuel an air pressure adjustment and a wedge adjustment. The crew sent Biffle out eighth for the restart on lap 47.
It seemed that the adjustments had done the trick and Biffle raced his way up to sixth before a caution on lap 70 allowed the team to make a pivotal decision to take on only two tires. With two new right-side tires and a wedge adjustment, Biffle restarted third on lap 73. In one lap, he passed Jamie McMurray and J.J. Yeley for the lead and held off Jimmie Johnson until another caution for rain came out on lap 82 despite the fact that Johnson had four fresh tires.
Biffle pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment and the crew sent him back out onto the track in the fourth position. The field would not restart on Sunday night, however, as the rain fell harder and saturated the race surface. After attempting to dry the track for several hours, NASCAR called the race just before 11:00 p.m. The race would restart at 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning.
Biffle restarted fourth on lap 91 after a good night’s rest but soon reported that the 3M Ford had no grip in the right rear tire. He had fallen back to 11th when a round of green flag stops began on lap 122. Biffle pitted on lap 123 for four tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment and an air pressure adjustment. He was right back in the 11th position when the green flag pit cycle was complete on lap 129.
The 3M crew would go on to make seven additional adjustments during five more pit stops over the course of the race. Biffle got back up to the 10th position after the crew picked up four positions in the pits during a stop on lap 169 but he fell back to 18th on lap 224 as he reported that the car was still just too loose. He was able to get by Juan Pablo Montoya, McMurray and Mark Martin in the closing laps of the race for a 15th place finish.
“This was a marathon California race, for sure,” said Biffle. “It felt like the 24 Hours of Daytona or something. We ended up with a 15th-place finish; not where we wanted, but it will be a good start to the season for the 3M team.”
Greg Biffle and the 3M team are now ninth in the point standings. They are only five points behind Jimmie Johnson in eighth and 73 points out of the lead currently held by Kyle Busch. The team will return to the track on Sunday, March 2nd at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun and Joey Clanton; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.