Chain-reaction wreck costs Biffle points lead

By Dave Rodman, NASCAR.COM
July 5, 2005
03:12 PM EDT (19:12 GMT)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The "slowest wreck in the history of Daytona" -- as MRN Radio's broadcast described it -- cost Greg Biffle his one-week hold on the Nextel Cup point lead Saturday night in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

After losing 30 laps to the leaders while repairing the damage caused by the set-to with Michael Waltrip, Biffle finished 36th -- 31 laps down -- and is second in the standings -- unofficially 73 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

Biffle wasn't overly concerned about the deficit, heading to next weekend's race at Chicagoland Speedway.

"I think we're going to be really good at Chicago, and that we can go on and gain points at the racetracks that we can control what happens," Biffle said. "Here you can't control what happens -- nobody can.

"You look at the finishing order, and it doesn't really reflect what kind of teams and drivers that we have. It's just circumstantial where everybody finishes.

"Restrictor plate racing is just what it is -- it's going around in circles and putting on a show for the fans -- otherwise there's not a driver in the garage that would do it."

Biffle was running in the top-10 during a restart on lap 73 when Waltrip spun coming out of Turn 1 when a right rear tire deflated.

Waltrip's No. 15 Chevrolet, which was running fifth behind leader Tony Stewart, spun and contacted the right side of seventh place Joe Nemechek's No. 01 Chevy.

Nemechek's car wobbled and continued but Waltrip's went sideways to the apron. There, the right front corner of Biffle's No. 16 Ford struck Waltrip's car, sending it up the 31-degree banking at a sharp angle to clobber the outside wall.

Nemechek restarted the race in 32nd and maintained a good enough pace until he was running 11th at the final caution, with 14 laps remaining. Nemechek pitted for four tires, restarted 19th and finished 15th.

Nemechek's comeback enabled him to drop only one spot in the standings, from 17th to 18th.

Waltrip's wrecked car went directly to the garage, where it sat in 36th at the halfway point of the event. He ultimately parked before the finish and was 40th at the checkers.

Waltrip, who won the 2002 Pepsi 400 sandwiched by victories in the 2001 and 2003 Daytona 500, was bitterly disappointed at the crash, which knocked him from 15th to 17th in the standings.

"I had a flat right rear tire," Waltrip said after exiting the infield care center. "When we got going I started to realize it and tried to pull over, but Jeff Burton was bump-drafting me to get me going and just wrecked me."

Biffle, who was ninth on the restart, made two pit stops while his Roush Racing crew attempted to assess and repair the damage to his car, before he went to the garage on lap 75.

Biffle sat in 35th while his crew attempted to make sufficient repairs for him to attempt a return to the race.

"It just looked like Michael Waltrip cut a tire," Biffle said. "He got sideways by himself (so) I'm not sure what happened, but it's unfortunate.

"I'll tell you what -- we had a good car and had worked our way up to the top-10, or wherever we were. That's unfortunate, but it's part of restrictor plate racing.

"It's just a roll of the dice to see what happens here."

Biffle came into the event leading the Nextel Cup points for the first time in his career, after taking a 22-point lead over Johnson last weekend at Infineon Raceway.