Biffle: Chase for Sprint Cup not yet “a three-man race”

Leave a comment

One weekend after jumping six positions to fifth in the championship, Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle is telling those that have dubbed the Chase for the Sprint Cup as a three-man race between Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson to hold their horses.

Kenseth and Busch have finished 1-2 in the Chase’s first two events at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, while Johnson has started the post-season with a pair of Top-5 finishes.

As a result, the trio have some breathing room between themselves and the other 10 Chasers; Kenseth, Busch and Johnson are separated by 18 points, with fourth-place Carl Edwards and Biffle farther back at 36 and 38 points behind Kenseth, respectively.

But with eight races still to come, a lot can change in the title picture.

“It’s somebody’s opinion and everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I can’t imagine with eight races to go that somebody would be willing to say, ‘Oh, this is a three-man race,'” Biffle said Friday at Dover International Speedway.

“Take for instance last week – we finished third and moved up six spots in the points to fifth. I don’t know how one would say it’s a three-man race. Now, if Kenseth goes on and wins the title does that mean it’s a three-man race or does that mean it’s a one-man race? I don’t know.

“I just think there are more than three cars in this thing right now.”

Lest anyone think Biffle is simply venting about not getting enough ink in the papers as his title rivals are, the Washington native also said that wasn’t the case.

“Am I surprised they’re not talking about Carl? A little bit. Am I surprised they’re not talking about [my team]? Not really because we tend to slide a little bit under the radar all the time anyway, so it doesn’t bother me,” he said.

“It gives you motivation to do well and compete every week and try to get what you can. Like I always said before, if you’re winning races or you win the championship, they have to talk about you so put yourself in that position – put yourself in the position Matt is and they’re gonna be talking about you.”

Biffle will start 19th in Sunday’s AAA 400 at the “Monster Mile.” With no Top-10 finishes in his last six starts at Dover, he’ll be looking to get back on form there this weekend.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.