MONTREAL,QB (August 3, 2008) – Greg Biffle and the No. 16 3M team will likely never forget Saturday’s race Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. For the first time in the 26 year history of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the teams raced on rain tires. It was a learning experience for Biffle, who had never raced in the rain before. The team had a strong showing, running eighth when the event was called early due to a lack of visibility on the track.
Biffle’s first laps in the 3M Ford Fusion came during qualifying. Colin Braun, an experienced road course racer, served as practice driver for the team while Biffle was tending to his Sprint Cup responsibilities in Pocono. Braun was expected to qualify the car as well, but when rain washed out all track activity in Pocono on Saturday, Biffle rushed to Montreal and arrived in time for qualifying, posting the 16th fastest time in the session.
Rain was on everyone’s mind as race time neared. The teams started the event on regular racing tires but with bad weather on the way Goodyear provided each team with one set of rain tires.
Biffle was up to 11th on lap four when the spotters began reporting of rain in turns 13 and 14. Two laps later, Biffle radioed in and said the track was “completely wet.” Eight laps into the event heavy rain set in and NASCAR history was made as the cars were brought down pit road to receive their first set of rain tires. NASCAR held the field on pit road for eight minutes to allow for the tire swap and also the installation of a driver’s side windshield wiper. Braun, having raced in the rain before, acted as driving coach during the red flag, giving advice to Biffle as well as Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and David Ragan. The field went green on lap 11 with the anxious competitors wondering how the event would turn out.
Lap times dropped considerably as the drivers cautiously paced the wet race track. The 3M Ford Fusion was up to ninth when the next caution fell on lap 20. Biffle said the track was “just slick.” Crew chief Eddie Pardue elected not to stop under the caution and Biffle restarted eighth. Biffle was still eighth when a long green flag run set in. Within their fuel window, Pardue brought the 3M Ford Fusion down pit road under green on lap 39 for fuel and four more rain tires. Biffle was back to eighth when the heaviest rain of the afternoon set in. With the drivers reporting almost zero visibility, NASCAR brought the cars down pit road and red flagged the race. With no sign of the rain letting up and nightfall coming, NASCAR called the race complete after 48 laps. The No. 16 3M Ford Fusion ended up eighth.
“I kind of was looking forward to this because I’ve never raced in the rain, but I don’t think I will be from now on,” said Biffle. “It was a lot of fun. It got a little hairy there when it started raining so hard. The car would hydroplane bad down the frontstretch and at 140 or 150 miles an hour hydroplaning is not very safe. It made it hard to see there at the end. It was raining so hard and everything was getting so wet. The guys said there was an inch of water in the right side of the car, laying on the floorboard, in the car. But it was fun. It was a lot of fun. I’m glad I made history today. The first time we raced in the rain.”
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.