KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Greg Biffle took exception to so many counting him out of the Chase after only two races.
Sure Biffle got off to a bad start in the playoff race with a pair of disappointing runs in New Hampshire and Dover. But the Roush Fenway Racing driver says his win in Sunday's Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway is a better indication of what his team is all about and its championship aspirations.
"This is a 'go, no go' for us," Biffle said after his second victory of the 2010 season. "You know, everybody asked us last week if we're out the Chase, have we given up, whatever the case was. The 16 team will never give up.
"We're just going to approach each race like we did today: 'qualify the best we can, do the best we can in practice, execute the best we can at the racetrack.' We're going to go to California and do the same thing, Lowe's, Charlotte Motor Speedway, you know, see what happens."
The way Biffle sees it, only good things are going to happen in the coming weeks. That's because Kansas is a track very similar to a number of speedways left on the Chase schedule and Biffle is very positive about his intermediate program.
"Yeah, my confidence is really high coming in here, going to California, Charlotte," Biffle said of the 1.5- and 2-mile tracks waiting in the weeks ahead. "You know, I got a lot of confidence. We've won at a lot of these tracks before. This is one of 'em."
Biffle started the Chase out with back-to-back wins two years ago only to see his championship hopes fizzle out as the playoff stretch wore on. But in his mind this year could be different and perhaps a reverse trend will carry him to title contention.
"I just needed to figure out a way how I was going to win the race," Biffle said after his second career Kansas triumph. "We kept working on it, adjusting on it. We want to win these races. We want to have the trophies. They've been talking about all the other guys, so we'll give 'em something to talk about for the next couple weeks."
That's the kind of talk Biffle would love to hear.
"What's wrong with Ford?" was a common cry through the first two-thirds of this Sprint Cup Series season. By their own admission, the Blue Oval brigade was missing something and both the Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports camps were struggling to say the least. But just past summer's midway mark, something began to click and the missing ingredient that Ford had been searching for seemed to at long last be found. Biffle's win at Pocono hammered the point home and since then consistent finishes, and now another Biffle victory Sunday at Kansas, have Ford headed more than in the right direction.
Denny Hamlin regretted the firestorm he created last week in Dover when he took back some of the comments he made about Richard Childress Racing earlier in the week. Team owners Joe and J.D. Gibbs persuaded Hamlin that sometimes the best approach is to not always say what's on your mind at a certain time or place. Whether the controversy took Hamlin's focus off the main prize of a Sprint Cup championship this weekend isn't known. But a 12th-place finish and handing the point lead to Jimmie Johnson surely wasn't on the Kansas 'to do' list.
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Joe Gibbs Racing's issues Sunday weren't relegated to Hamlin's average finish and loss of the point lead. Kyle Busch found himself in an angry battle with David Reutimann that featured two separate incidents, the second a possible lethal blow to the No. 18 team's championship dream. Reutimann, who took exception to Busch's comments after last August's Bristol race, made no bones about the fact he was retaliating for Sunday's first incident when Busch made contact with the No. 00 Toyota. Busch is fully aware of the payback idea and has made it clear he'll use that tactic when he feels necessary (again rewind to Bristol and the infamous Brad Keselowski tangle). However the stakes are obviously much higher now that the Chase is in full swing, something all drivers running for a title should keep in mind during the 'Boys Have at It' era of NASCAR.
While some drivers who are playing out the string with their current team before moving on in 2011 shine, such as Paul Menard who will leave Richard Petty Motorsports for Richard Childress Racing at year's end, others are not performing well at all. Menard's current RPM teammate Kasey Kahne hasn't had much to shout about in recent weeks along with Marcos Ambrose, who'll bolt JTG Daugherty for RPM next season. Ambrose notched a lackluster 34th-place finish Sunday and hasn't had a competitive run in weeks. There's not much to gain when moves for the next season are announced with so much racing left in the current campaign.
There were no attendance issues to discuss with Sunday's near sellout crowd at Kansas. This weekend was the first for the new track policy of selling individual race weekend tickets rather than a season package that included an Indy Car-truck series event. A crowd near 80,000 was on hand in picture-perfect weather, which is no doubt an encouraging sign for track management who will host two Sprint Cup dates in 2011.
"Thank goodness this one isn't a controversial win. Last time people were skeptical if I kept my speed up. I think I kept up plenty of speed this time." -- Greg Biffle, who scored a rain-plagued Kansas victory under caution in 2007.
Listen to race winner Greg Biffle's post-race news conference (18 minutes, 24 seconds)
"I got wrecked. You guys can sugarcoat it all the time, but he wrecked me." -- David Reutimann on Kyle Busch.
"At the end of the day, it's just racing." -- Kyle Busch's crew chief Dave Rogers
"It's a great position to be in. But it's way too early to think about defending." -- Jimmie Johnson on his point lead.
Jimmie Johnson -- That sigh you no doubt heard from a great many of NASCAR Nation was Johnson doing what he does best -- perform during the Chase. A so-so car was turned into a runner-up finish and just like that after three races, Johnson is on top of the championship standings at exactly the right time of the season.
Paul Menard -- He's not acting like a lame duck driver at Richard Petty Motorsports by any means and in fact is turning in some of his best performances at the Sprint Cup level. He started the weekend with a second place qualifying effort and backed it up with a top ten run.
A.J. Allmendinger -- For the second week in a row, Allmendinger proved why RPM made the commitment to keep him in the fold. The No. 43 was nowhere near as dominant as it was in the early part of last week's race in Dover at any point Sunday in Kansas. But the mark of a solid race team is to make adjustments during the heat of battle and Allmendinger's crew did just that and was rewarded with another top 10 finish.
David Reutimann -- Was a prerace favorite because of his win at Kansas's sister track Chicagoland Speedway earlier this season. But Reutimann found himself in a feud with Kyle Busch all afternoon that included a payback punch thrown that put a serious dent in the championship hopes of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
Kasey Kahne -- Weekend got off to a great start when Kahne won the pole but the frustration that has followed his final season at Richard Petty Motorsports continued when he slapped the wall and severely damaged his car just past the halfway point of Sunday's race.
Clint Bowyer -- His tumultuous week didn't end with a trip to his hometown track. A dejected Bowyer announced to the media he thought his championship hopes were over before the weekend ended and a mediocre 15th place finish more than likely sealed that prediction on Sunday afternoon.
The west coast beckons as the Chase moves to Hollywood (well fifty miles east anyway) to Auto Club Speedway for a 400-mile race at the Southern California track that will be its last as part of the Sprint Cup Series championship portion of the schedule.