Greg Biffle

NASCAR: Entry list set for Sprint Unlimited; David Gilliland out, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in

20 Comments

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the fourth driver to be added to Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited to fill the 25-car field.

Stenhouse is in the race after David Gilliland’s team withdrew. A spokesperson for Front Row Motorsports said the team did not have sponsorship for the event and elected to skip it.

Others who were eligible to compete in the 75-lap exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway but won’t are Brian Scott, Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger.

Replacing them are Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Casey Mears and Stenhouse.

NASCAR announced in December it was expanding the Sprint Unlimited field to 25 teams. The event is open to all 16 Chase teams from the previous season along with pole winners from last year, former Unlimited winners and former Daytona 500 winners. Any remaining spots go to the highest remaining drivers in points.

—-

2015 SPRINT UNLIMITED AT DAYTONA
Entry List

1-Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing/McDonalds)
2-Brad Keselowski (Team Penske/Miller Lite)
3-Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing/Dow Chemical)
4-Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing/Jimmy John’s + Budweiser)
5-Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports/Great Clips)
10-Danica Patrick (Stewart-Haas Racing/GoDaddy)
11-Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing/FedEx Express)
13-Casey Mears (Germain Racing/GEICO)
14-Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas Racing/Mobil 1 + Bass Pro Shops)
15-Clint Bowyer (Michael Waltrip Racing/5-Hour Energy)
16-Greg Biffle (Roush Fenway Racing/Ortho)
17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing/Fastenal)
18-Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing/M&Ms)
19-Carl Edwards (Joe Gibbs Racing/Arris)
20-Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing/Dollar General)
22-Joey Logano (Team Penske/Shell-Pennzoil)
24-Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports/AARP Drive to End Hunger)
27-Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing/Peak-Menards)
31-Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing/Caterpillar)
41-Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing/Haas Automation)
42-Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing/Target)
43-Aric Almirola (Richard Petty Motorsports/Smithfield)
48-Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports/Lowe’s)
78-Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing/Furniture Row)
88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick Motorsports/Nationwide Insurance)

Greg Biffle on bigger leadership role at Roush: “My input has to be the best it can be”

8 Comments

With Carl Edwards’ departure to Joe Gibbs Racing, Greg Biffle finds himself as the elder statesman at Roush Fenway Racing.

Biffle, who has competed for Roush in Cup full-time since 2003, will be paired with third-year Sprint Cup driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who has run part-time at NASCAR’s top level for four seasons.

That means things will be different for Biffle. Back when he was teammates with both Edwards and Matt Kenseth (who left Roush to join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013), the veteran trio would often come to a consensus on solutions to their problems.

But with Stenhouse and Bayne, Biffle recognizes the importance of having his own ideas be sound ones.

“I’m not necessary going to be heard louder or have more input,” he said about the situation. “It’s that my input has to be the best it can be. Because there isn’t any more that have lateral experience like Matt and Carl, sitting on both sides of me.

“We had an equal voice on how our car drove and what we felt like the problems were. Now, a little more of that comes on my shoulders.”

From Biffle’s perspective, the biggest difference between having veteran teammates and younger teammates is how they’ll react when the car isn’t doing so well.

Biffle used Kenseth as an example of what veterans can do.

“He knows if that thing is gonna be fast on Lap 20 or has a good idea,” Biffle said. “That’s the experience you lose with newer guys that don’t have that big textbook of experience: ‘I’ve been here and done this before, I know what this feels like. Probably not gonna be good later on.’ That comes with time. It’s the only thing that comes with.”

On the other hand, Biffle says that younger drivers are open to new ideas and not settled in “old habits.”

“They’re not, ‘Oh, I’ve tried this, it didn’t work, and I tried that and it didn’t work.’ When you have new guys, they’re willing to try anything – springs, different lines on the race track,” he said. “Those things may work today with the car we have and the aero package and the tires.”

Biffle feels optimistic that he, Stenhouse, and Bayne can do well together. He insists that Roush has made strides in solving the issues that have plagued their cars, in part because the lack of preseason testing has allowed the team to focus on finding said issues.

With that in mind, Biffle looks forward to starting the year on better footing performance-wise.

“We had major issues that we’ve ironed out, and feel like in 2015, we’re gonna come out fairly strong,” he said. “Are we all the way there yet? No. But we feel really strongly that we’re going down the correct path now. It’s only up from here.”

Biffle’s Backslide
As Roush Fenway’s fortunes have declined in recent years, so have those of its veteran driver, Greg Biffle. He’ll look to stop both trends in 2015.

2012 – Two wins, 12 Top-5s, 21 Top-10s, 3 Poles, Avg. Start of 9.9, Avg. Finish of 10.2, 5th in Points
2013 – One win, 4 Top-5s, 13 Top-10s, 0 Poles, Avg. Start of 16.1, Avg. Finish of 14.4, 9th in Points
2014 – No wins, 3 Top-5s, 11 Top-10s, 0e Poles, Avg. Start of 18.7, Avg. Finish of 16.4, 14th in Points

Ryan Newman — and his brass knuckles — are ready to fight for Sprint Cup crown in 2015

Leave a comment

Having come one position short of the championship last season, Ryan Newman is ready to fight his way to the Sprint Cup title in 2015.

His wife is even willing to help him in his quest.

“My wife got me some brass knuckles for Christmas, so I’m kind of looking forward to this year,” Newman quipped Thursday during the final day of the NASCAR media tour in Charlotte.

Newman was loose and carefree  during Thursday’s session. Known for his dry wit, Newman had a few other zingers in his half-hour discussion with the media.

One of the best involved Jeff Gordon.

“I told Jeff after Homestead that it was his fault I didn’t win the championship,” Newman said. “He looked at me kind of funny and I told him, ‘If you’d have taken Harvick out (at Phoenix) like I did Larson, you’d have been in the Chase for the championship and so would I.’

“And then I would have won the championship because we beat him at Homestead. I see everything that happened at Homestead being his fault.”

But then Newman turned serious and conciliatory. He may like to kid Gordon, but he’s also going to miss him when Gordon completes his final full-time season this year.

“I just look forward to the opportunity to race him again,” Newman said of Gordon.

Newman was one of three drivers to qualify for the 10-race Chase on points – Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle were the other. Newman advanced through the first three elimination rounds of the Chase based solely upon consistency.

By doing so, it showed the caliber, strength and determination of his team.

“Everybody stepped up, everybody from myself to (crew chief Luke Lambert), the team, the pit crew, the engine guys did an awesome job of stepping up,” Newman said. “There was a point back around May when we got looking in the wrong direction and were behind. They did an awesome job of continually stepping up and bringing better and more competitive pieces to the racetrack.

“In the end, to see the end result, it was an awesome thing to be part of.”

If he makes the Chase and goes through without winning again, Newman feels he has as good of a chance of finishing first this season as he did last year.

“Even though there was no W’s in the win column,” Newman said, “we achieved some amazing things for a first-year team, me with the organization, us as a team, us as a driver-crew chief combination. There’s no reason why we can’t keep that incline going.”

At first, Newman was a bit skeptical of the new Chase format when it was introduced last January. He had concerns about how it would unfold and be accepted by fans, let alone his fellow drivers.

“I saw potential for it, but I didn’t think it was going to explode the way it did,” Newman said. “I think we saw gunpowder laying on the floor, but we didn’t know who was going to light it, when it was going to light and how much of it was going to go off.

“I think every bit of it went off, and then some. Every part of the Chase was interesting from a dramatic standpoint from Matt Kenseth wanting to throw a punch to us racing our way in to other guys getting beat out as we raced our way in. Every aspect showed the growth and potential we have for our sport.”

 

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA’s Media Tour coverage continues at 4:30 p.m. ET

Leave a comment

NASCAR AMERICA’s coverage of the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte continues today with a one-hour, live show that starts at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

If you can’t watch on TV, then STREAM IT online and on your mobile device through NBC Sports Live Extra.

Here is what’s on tap for today’s show:

· We’ll talk with the “Roushkateers” of Roush Fenway Racing’s Sprint Cup stable: Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and newcomer Trevor Bayne. Also, don’t miss our in-depth analysis of Stenhouse’s new hairstyle and where it stands among the best in NASCAR history.

· Our Charlotte team also talks with the King, Richard Petty, and his team’s driving tandem for 2015 – Aric Almirola and Sam Hornish Jr. Additionally, Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano discuss what they need to do to turn their successful 2014 seasons into a championship in 2015.

· And with 25 days left to the Daytona 500, we’ll look back on the 1990 Daytona 500 where a quarter of a century ago, Derrike Cope passed Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the final lap to score one of NASCAR’s greatest upsets.

If you plan to stream, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified. Once you plug those pieces of information in, you’ll have access to the stream.

Again, CLICK HERE at 4:30 p.m. ET to watch NASCAR AMERICA.

Roush Fenway Racing looks for big rebound in 2015

2 Comments

It goes without saying at Roush Fenway Racing: If Jack’s not happy, no one’s happy.

Jack, of course, is team co-owner Jack Roush. And while RFR had some decent showings in 2014, qualifying Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, it wasn’t a great overall season for RFR. The team’s three Fords had two wins, both by Edwards.

Roush made a number of changes during the offseason, particularly with crew chiefs. Bob Osborne moved to Trevor Bayne’s team, and Nick Sandler replaced Mike Kelley as Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s crew chief.

Kelley remains with Stenhouse as car chief, while Sandler – formerly team engineer for Edwards (who left for Joe Gibbs Racing) – will get his first opportunity as a Sprint Cup crew chief.

Greg Biffle, who is the dean of Roush Fenway Racing having joined the team in 1998, kept crew chief Matt Puccia.

Roush is confident his team will rebound in 2015.

“The glass is definitely more than half full,” Roush said. “The hole in our performance was in the mile-and-a-half and two-mile racetracks, which had typically been our strengths. I characterize our changes as tweaks, rather than revolutionary changes.

Biffle, 45, is the elder statesman of Roush Fenway Racing. He struggled through last season, failing to win while managing three top fives and 11 top-10 finishes.

“Last year was certainly a very tough season for us,” Biffle said. “This offseason, with no testing going on, we’ve really agonized over it, but I really feel like it’s been a turning point for Roush Fenway. It gave us the opportunity to step back and look at potentially where we made the wrong turn in the road.

“When you’re racing every week and trying to do this and testing and doing all these things, you’re looking at the problem down low. It wasn’t until we got up higher and really looked at the landscape and decided we made some wrong decisions back possibly over a year ago on the direction with our cars, we really feel like we’ve found some things we’ve done wrong and have righted those things.”

Trevor Bayne, who won the 2011 Daytona 500 for Wood Brothers Racing, will move into Cup full time in the No. 6 Ford and essentially take Edwards’ slot.

“I think Roush Fenway Racing is turning a corner and hopefully we turn it pretty fast here and we can go and contend for some wins this year,” Bayne said.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski