Biffles Busch Series stop in
Sparta a warmup for Winston Cup
By Don Ward,
(June 2002) Greg Biffle comes into the Kentucky Speedway in June looking for the same success he found here during the Sparta, Ky., tracks inaugural 2000 season.
Back then, Biffle was in his third year of driving a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series vehicle for sponsor Grainger Industrial Supply of Chicago and team owner Jack Roush when he won the Kroger 225 in Sparta. It was the opening weekend for the new track, and Biffle was its first NASCAR guest in the Victory Circle. Biffle went on to capture the 2000 Truck Series championship with five total victories and posting 18 top-five and top-10 finishes in 24 events.
The following year, after three years on the Truck Series circuit, Biffle moved up to compete in the NASCAR Busch Series, quickly making a name for himself and his Grainger sponsor and Roush Racing Team. The now 32-year-old Vancouver, Wash., native won an impressive five races and two poles, earning $1.6 million in 33 starts. Those accomplishments, combined with 16 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes, earned him the circuits Raybestos Rookie of the Year award.
Biffle didnt waste any time proving himself at the Busch Series level by scoring a second place and two runner-ups in the first four races of 2001.
He won his first Busch race in his eighth race, the Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway, on April 14. He finished second to Kevin Harvick at the Kentucky Speedway in June 2001. He earned a reputation as a top qualifier, after having notched 25 top-10 starting spots and an average starting position of 8.6.
Last year was great, and I learned a lot, said Biffle by telephone May 22 from his Mooresville, N.C. home, where he was recooperating from a crash May 19 in Nazareth, Pa. But Ive still got a lot to prove at the Busch level before I move up.
This year, Biffle has certainly given the fans some excitement over the first 11 of 34 events. He has captured six top-five finishes and placed sixth three times. His best finish was runner-up to Jeff Burton at Darlington on March 16.
But perhaps his most memorable race at least for the fans and the media came March 23 in the Channellock 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway when Biffle tapped the left rear quarter of rival Harvicks brand new AC Delco Chevrolet, sending Harvick crashing into the wall and out of the race.
The Kroger 300
Presented by Oreo
Distance: 300 miles, 200 laps (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Qualifying: Friday, June 14, beginning at 8 p.m. (EST)
Race: 8 p.m. (EST) Saturday, June 15
Admission: $30 Friday; $45-$75 Saturday. Gates open 3 p.m. Friday; noon Saturday.
Also at the Speedway: NASCAR Hills Bros. All Pro Series The Kentucky 150, 10 p.m. Friday; Dishwalla performs at 5:45 p.m. Saturday; Legends Race at 5:45 p.m. Saturday. NASCAR Goodys Dash Series 700 WLW 100 at 11 p.m. Saturday.
Drivers to Watch
Jack Sprague, Spring Lake, Mich. (Points leader after four top-5 finishes in 12 races.)
Scott Riggs, Durham, N.C. (On a three-win streak.)
Jason Keller, Greenville, S.C. (Two wins; 2nd in points)
An angry Harvick climbed out of the car and raced to Biffles crew chief, Randy Goss, then waited for Biffle to emerge from his Grainger Ford after the race. The two had a heated, face-to-face exchange in the pits that caused a melee between crew members and TV cameras before NASCAR officials broke it up.
Harvick had some pretty strong words for Biffle following the ordeal. Biffle, meanwhile, was apologetic, saying the bump was an accident. That accident, however, put Biffle in the series points lead after finishing fifth in the race.
Thats just racing at Bristol, Biffle said afterward. There will be some fans mad at me. I feel bad. I didnt do that on purpose. I was on the receiving end at Richmond when it was a racing deal. Its just a racing deal here, too.
The incident rekindled another confrontation between the two young drivers that occurred in the 2001 season at New Hampshire. That time, the two nearly came to blows after an accident involving their cars.
These days, Biffle considers the incidents with Harvick part of racing. We still talk. Were as good of friends as we can be considering were competitors.
Biffle has always been competitive. Before racing cars, he was active in several sports. He was a two-time wrestling state champion in the 122-pound weight class and an accomplished high jumper. He and his father, Jack, attended an oval race track one night near their home in Vancouver and decided it would be fun to get involved in racing. Hes been doing it ever since.
Ive always been a race nut. I love anything mechanical, says Biffle, who is single and owns motorcycles, 4-wheelers, jet skis and an airplane. His father and mother, Sally, and brother, Jeff, still live in Vancouver, where his parents own a steel construction company.
After this second full year on the Busch circuit, he plans to compete full time in the Winston Cup Series next year. He entered his first-ever Winston Cup race April 28 at the California Speedway and finished 13th, one lap down. He plans to enter four more Cup races this year.
Its really tough at Cup level, Biffle said. The cars and drivers are different. Its going to be a big challenge for me next year. But Im going where the competition is.
I want to show up with the most competitive stuff I can.
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