Biffle looking forward to improved performance in Chase

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Greg Biffle feels like his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team can be a surprise in the Chase for the Sprint Cup should he be able to clinch a post-season berth tonight at Richmond International Raceway.

Biffle has one win to his credit this regular season, and while he’s been relatively quiet in his bid to make the playoffs, he’s done enough to hold onto ninth in the standings (14 points ahead of 11th-place Jeff Gordon) as the final battle looms at RIR.

Outside of his victory this past June at Michigan, it may not seem like Biffle’s done enough in 2013 to have most folks picking him as a legitimate threat for a championship.

But while he admits that his Roush Fenway team has struggled at times this year while coming to grips with the new Generation-6 car, he insists that he and his team have been “underestimated.”

“As kind of a whole organization, we haven’t been as strong as we had been last year,” he said on Thursday. “[But] I think we’re getting it figured out. We’re not there yet, but we’ve also got 11 more weeks. So we continue to build on this, we think we have good stuff coming.”

Biffle can clinch a Top-10 spot in the Chase with a finish of ninth or better, but he feels that his top priority is staying in front of Martin Truex, Jr. and Ryan Newman, who are battling for the second and final Wild Card.

Still, it seems that trying to look at all the Chase scenarios has become a bit of a headache for him.

“I truly cannot figure it out…I’ve had a hard time doing the math,” Biffle said. “Somebody said ‘Ninth or better, you’re locked in.’ Well, when I look at it and try and understand it, it appears to me I need to be in front of the 56 [Truex] or 39 [Newman] car most likely.

“I need to be in front of both of them – big difference between ninth and being in front of those guys.”

F1 2017 driver review: Nico Hulkenberg

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Nico Hulkenberg

Team: Renault
Car No.: 27
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Abu Dhabi)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 43
Championship Position: 10th

Expectations were hard to peg for Renault heading into its second full season back in F1 with a factory team, but Nico Hulkenberg was surely expected to be the man spearheading its charge.

With teammate Jolyon Palmer severely underperforming, Hulkenberg did exactly that, bringing home all but 14 of the team’s points in the final standings. However, consistency was never something he truly found.

Many of Renault’s issues were down to reliability issues, sidelining Hulkenberg for six races – four coming in a five-race stint from Singapore to Mexico – yet he only scored points in consecutive races on three occasions.

When Hulkenberg and Renault were on form, they proved to be a potent combination, often topping the midfield fight and even looking faster than Force India come the end of the season. His run to sixth at the final race in Abu Dhabi was crucial for the constructors’ championship as Renault jumped Toro Rosso, securing an extra slice of prize money in the process.

But for a driver who was so often tipped as being a future star in F1, Hulkenberg still has a lot to prove. Renault is set to offer a good platform for the German moving forward with factory support, yet if he cannot beat new teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. through 2018, concerns will surely be raised.

Season High: Charging to sixth in Abu Dhabi despite a penalty.

Season Low: A tough run to 16th in Malaysia.