Joliet, Ill. (September 16, 2012) – The 10-race Chase to the Sprint Cup Championship kicked off Sunday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway. Biffle and his 3M team had a successful season going, leading the standings for a total of 15 weeks prior to the Chase, giving them motivation to regain the lead in the Chase. The 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway proved to be a tricky start for the Pit Bulls. The team tried different options throughout practice on Friday, but couldn’t hit on the right setup. Biffle started 22nd and was extremely loose throughout the race. By the end it seemed as if they were going to salvage a top-10 finish, but the last set of tires didn’t agree with the 3M Scotch Blue Ford and Biffle was left with a 13th-place finish.
The 3M Team has had some solid runs at 1.5-mile tracks, so kicking off the Chase at Chicagoland seemed like a perfect way to get a solid finish. In practice on Friday it just seemed as if each adjustment wasn’t exactly what the 3M Scotch Blue Ford needed. Biffle qualified 22nd on Saturday and the team went back to a previous setup for Sunday’s race.
From the drop of the green flag Biffle slowly made his way forward, while reporting back to his team that he was a little loose everywhere on the track. Crew chief Matt Puccia took a big swing with adjustments on the first green flag stop, calling for four tires, fuel, a left-rear wedge adjustments and a shim out of the left-front shock. The changes helped Biffle on the track, but he still needed more.
The team took another big swing on the next stop putting a rubber in the left-rear, while making a track bar adjustment along with four tires and fuel. Despite the adjustments the loose handling continued. Throughout the course of the race Puccia and Biffle kept making adjustments and towards the end it seemed as if they were heading in the right direction.
Before the final stop Biffle reported back that he needed a “tick” more wedge and they would be okay. He made his final stop four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment with 37 laps remaining. Three laps later Biffle came over the radio struggling to drive his Ford. It seemed as if for some reason the last set of tires just didn’t agree with his 3M Scotch Blue Ford. Biffle crossed the finish line 13th, while Brad Keselowski won the first race of the Chase and took over the points lead. The 13th-place finish dropped Biffle back to eighth in the point standings, 19 points out of the lead.
“We were really going good there at the end and we did our last stop and the car just went bad,” said Biffle. “It just got way too loose and we were hooking the bottom. I don’t even really know what happened. We were driving up through there and the car was getting better and better and it never fails – the last stop of the day we put our tires on and it went bad.”
Next up, the Sprint Cup Series will head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Sylvania 400, the second race in the Chase. Coverage begins at 1:00pm ET on Sunday, September 23rd on ESPN.