Las Vegas, Nev. (March 11, 2013) – A rare rainy day in the desert of Las Vegas washed out qualifying, leaving the field to be set by points and Biffle starting fifth in his No. 16 American Red Cross Ford. On raceday the sun was out over the track and very unlike the weather the team practiced in. Biffle had one of the fastest cars in practice, but during the race, the handling just went away on the team causing him to struggle. In true Vegas fashion, Biffle and his crew chief Matt Puccia took a risky gamble with pit strategy to make up track position after falling off the lead lap. The gamble paid off with a 17th-place lead lap finish.
All the teams headed out to Vegas early for an open test session on Thursday leading into race weekend. At the end of the day Biffle was fastest on the board and excited about his chances to earn a pole starting position. Rain showers made a rare desert appearance on Friday, washing out all on-track activity, including qualifying. NASCAR set the field on 2012 point standings, which set Biffle up fifth in his No. 16 American Red Cross Ford.
After a few cloudy days the sun shone through on raceday and changed the handling from how the teams had practice. In the opening laps Biffle told his team he was “super loose” and could barely hang on. He fell all the way back to 17th by the first green flag stop on lap 38. Four tires, fuel, a rubber in the left rear, track bar and air pressure adjustments were giving to the Red Cross Ford in an effort to help Biffle on the track.
It seemed as if nothing would help and then some unfortunate luck got thrown in the mix. Just after making a green flag stop the caution came out on the track trapping Biffle two laps down. Puccia called for the “wave around” to at least get one lap back, but the overall handling woes were impeding Biffle’s forward progress on the track.
As the race was winding down a caution came out and that’s when Puccia and Biffle rolled the dice. The field was pitting and staying out would put Biffle back on the lead lap, but with only about 20 laps of fuel left in his Ford. The gamble paid off as the caution the team had hoped for came just five laps later. An effort was made on the final pit stop for huge adjustments to the No. 16, but once again they didn’t make a dent in handling. Biffle held on to the end and crossed the finish line 17th.
Matt Kenseth won the Kobalt Tools 400 by holding off a hard charging Kasey Kahne. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. Next up the Sprint Cup Series goes short-track racing at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500, coverage begins at 12:30 PM ET on FOX.
Food City 500
0.533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway
Sunday, March 17, 2013