|Biffle Grabs A 6th Place Finish At Michigan International Speedway; Remains Third In Nextel Cup Point Standings |
August 21, 2005
While Greg Biffle and the National Guard team went to Michigan looking for their third win in a row at the two-mile speedway, they would have to settle for their 12 th top-10 finish of the season.
The team unloaded the No. 16 National Guard Prism Ford on Friday morning and quickly prepared for the first of two practice sessions. Biffle went out and turned in solid practice times in both sessions but as the team did not focus on qualifying at all, he wasn't list at the top of the time sheets. The team opted to place their focus strictly on race setup as it was an impound race.
Saturday morning the Nextel Cup teams arrived at the track in the midst of a thunderstorm and it seemed likely that the field would be set by points for the second week in a row. The skies, however, cleared in just enough time to dry the track and start qualifying with little delay. Biffle took the track and turned in what would be the 31 st fastest time of the day.
As the field lined up for the start of the 200-lap event, Biffle took the green flag from the inside of row 16. Biffle immediately began a steady climb through the field and by lap eight, had made his way into the top 20. He reported that the car was a little tight but continued to pick up positions and was running 11 th when the first caution of the day came out on lap 26. Biffle pitted on lap 28 for four tires and fuel. No changes were made to the National Guard Prism Ford and the crew sent Biffle back out in the 11 th position for the restart on lap 30.
Biffle soon reported that the car had no grip but again made a steady climb through the field. He had made his way to the sixth position by lap 54 as it appeared that stray paper on the racetrack was becoming an unsuspected obstacle. Several drivers were reporting high water temperatures due to debris on the track sticking to the grill and blocking airflow. Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne were both running in the top five when they had to pit to remove the debris from their grills to avoid overheating.
On lap 74, the third caution flag of the day flew and Biffle was in the third position. He pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to try to correct the loose condition of the racecar. The crew sent him back out in the third position for the restart on lap 79 and he fell back four positions before the handling of the car improved and he made his way back by Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. He was running in the fourth position when the next caution came out on lap 95.
Biffle brought the National Guard Prism Ford in for two tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. He returned to the track in the second position for the restart on lap 101 but was able to take the lead from Scott Riggs on lap 110. Biffle maintained the lead until lap 113 when teammate Kurt Busch got by. Biffle immediately reported an extremely high water temperature and low water pressure. It was discovered that part of a windshield tear-off had gotten stuck to the grill of the No. 16 Ford.
Teammate Matt Kenseth got by on lap 115 but Biffle was able to maintain the third position until the next caution on lap 128. He brought the National Guard Prism Ford in for four tires, fuel and additional water to correct the low pressure. He returned to the pits on the next lap for more water to be sure the pressure would remain stable. The field restarted on lap 133 and Biffle was in the 31 st position.
Biffle was able to pick up 13 positions in the 10 laps that before the next caution on lap 143. Biffle and the team opted not to pit and took the restart on lap 149 from the seventh position. As seemed to be the pattern of the day, Biffle lost several positions immediately following the restart but slowly began to regain them through the green flag run. He had dropped to 13 th by lap 155 but passed Busch for fifth on lap 178 before a round of green flag stops began on lap 181.
Biffle brought the National Guard Prism Ford to the pits on lap 183 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The green flag stops continued throughout the remainder of the race and shuffled the field for an unlikely finish. Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs were able to make it to the end without the green flag stop followed by Kenseth, Edwards, Stewart and Biffle who had all pitted for fuel.
"We had a really fast car today," said Biffle. "We had a long day but this National Guard team never gave up. This one just got away from us but we were almost half a second faster than the field at different times during the race. It wasn't a bad day for the team and we got what we could out of it."
With the 6 th place finish at Michigan, Biffle and the National Guard team remain third the NASCAR Nextel Cup points battle and trail leader Tony Stewart by 252 points. They are 126 points behind Jimmie Johnson in second and hold a 37-point advantage on Rusty Wallace in fourth. The National Guard team will return to the track on Saturday, August 27 th at Bristol Motor Speedway.