BRISTOL — Greg Biffle wants to peak at the right time of the season this time around.
The driver of the No. 16 Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing was leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup points a year ago when meeting the media to promote the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
He ultimately faded at the end of the season and finished fifth in the standings. This time around he comes to Bristol fresh off a milestone win.
His win at Michigan two weeks ago was the 1000th for Ford in major NASCAR competition. It also completed a turnaround for Biffle and his team, who held off the No. 48 of five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson over the late stages of the race.
“We had come off a rough patch where we had two or three 30-plus finishes,” Biffle said at the BMS Media Center on Thursday afternoon. “When the 88 car blew up at Charlotte, we crashed in the oil. We left here (at Bristol in March) fourth in points and were on a down spiral.
“We had a good solid run at Pocono and then to come back to Michigan and win, it was important. Then, the 1,000th win for Ford and to win for (car owner) Jack (Roush) who has won a lot of races at Michigan, it was a pretty big deal for us to get a first win of the season in that fashion.”
Overall, Biffle is responsible for 55 of those Ford wins. Besides his 19 wins in the Sprint Cup Series, he has 20 in the Nationwide Series and 16 in the Truck Series. He has championships in both of those series, although he’s still looking for a first Cup title.
Part of Biffle’s recent upswing is his team getting adjusted to NASCAR’s new Gen-6 race car. He explained the race car is like any new gadget that comes along and it sometimes takes a while to get everything figured out.
“The learning curve is a little shorter because the chassis is similar to the last generation car,” he said. “There is a pretty big rear suspension change with the cambered housing, no rear sway bars, so that’s a big change for us. I wouldn’t say we’ve been behind, but other teams have figured out things about the car which we’re learning.
“People are going to keep figuring stuff out like the 78 car has some things really working for them. They’re super fast, probably the fastest car at Sonoma. We’re always fighting to see who’s on the cutting edge.”
Biffle wants to be on that cutting edge at Bristol, where his career-best finish is third. Overall, he has six top-five finishes in 21 races at the high-banked oval, and he was also the pole winner for the Food City 500 in 2012.
He has been extremely durable at the track, running at the finish in 20 of the 21 races. Still, he wonders if his good luck is about to run out.
“I love coming here and it’s always such a challenge, a challenge to finish all the laps,” Biffle said. I take great pride in being able to finish laps like I have. I’m a positive person, but I wonder if I’ve gotten too lucky.
“I can’t tell you how many close calls I’ve had. I’ve seen my life flash before my eyes a dozen times. They’ve been wrecking, five or six of them caught up in a mess, and I’ve missed them by inches. But, you’re thinking sooner or later, you’re not going to be able to skim through.”