DOVER, Del. – Momentum thy name is Greg Biffle.
The No. 16 from Roush Fenway Racing came on strong two weeks ago during All-Star weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the No. 16 hasn’t let up since. Friday Biffle qualified seventh for the FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway, another strong showing of speed the team has fought so hard to find.
“We were going to be close to the top of the board there and didn’t quite make the right adjustment on that last run. But what was encouraging was how close the lap times are, so we’re not far off the pole,” Biffle said. “We are less than a tenth off the pole. A tenth of a second, if I had one more chance at it I think I could do that.”
Sunday will be Biffle’s third consecutive top-seven start, fourth when including the non-point Sprint Showdown event. Not eligible for the Sprint All-Star Race, Biffle was forced to use the Showdown to earn one of the three remaining spots.
He did so handedly, starting on the outside of the front row and leading all 20 laps of the first segment to transfer into the main event. A weekend at the 1-mile concrete oval of Dover is welcomed, as Biffle holds four wins between the XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series.
“Momentum is kind of on our side. We’re getting the car to drive better, getting a little better setup under it and working on our chassis back at the shop,” he said. “We’ll continue to make these smalls gains and hopefully going into Pocono, Michigan, Indy we’ll see if we can get it up in the top-five. We’re up in the top-10 now, we need to get it in the top-five.”
The Sprint Cup Series veteran has finished 12th (Kansas) and second the last two weeks, a marked improvement from early in the season when he was openly critical of the organization’s performance. After qualifying 29th at Fontana with teammates Ricky @StenhouseJr. 27th and @TBayne6 36th, respectively, the elder statesmen openly voiced his open during a television interview.
“This is unacceptable,” he said. “We’re dying a slow death. We need to start showing up for the weekend closer to where we need to be.”
Though his frustration had won that team, Biffle, dating back to last season, has continually praised the organization for their dedication and hard work. Improvements were coming, Biffle said. Things were being found through research and development, he insisted.
At long last the proof is in the results and it made a runner-up effort in the Coca-Cola 600 was bittersweet. Though it was his second top-10, and season-best, finish Biffle was dejected with how close he had come to winning. But at the end of the day, he also understood how big of a step it was for the Roush Fenway program.
At Dover, both he and Stenhouse made it to the final round of Sprint Cup Series qualifying with Stenhouse starting two positions behind the No. 16.
“The Ford EcoBoost Fusion looks cool, and it has some good speed,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “I am really happy with our effort. It has been awhile since we qualified that well. Greg (Biffle) has been qualifying better the last couple of weeks. We were both similar right there and able to back up our time each run. That is a positive.”
And being back in the ballpark has Biffle seeing a confidence shift in the team.
“I think we are seeing a lot of that,” he said. “The other thing we are seeing is a lot of little pieces we still need to get, that we are missing, looking around. We feel confident that we can continue to get a little bit better, and that is giving the team a lot of confidence too.”
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