Sprint Cup Driver Review: Greg Biffle

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.

Running ninth on the final standings table this year was Greg Biffle…

No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2013 Stats: Ninth Place, One Win, 4 Top-5s, 13 Top-10s, 124 Laps Led
Average Start: 16.1
Average Finish: 14.4
DNFs: 0

Estrada Says: Biffle’s good start to the season (four Top-10s in the first seven races) was halted by three finishes outside the Top-30 in a four-race stretch between Richmond and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. When that was over, Biffle had tumbled from fourth to 13th in the championship. But he quickly got back in the Top-10 and then bolstered his run to the Chase with a win at Michigan in June that also served as car manufacturer Ford’s 1000th win in NASCAR. Once in the post-season, Biffle kept in the fight early with Top-10s at New Hampshire and Dover but was unable to continue the pace; he logged just one more Top-10 in the last seven events.

DiZinno Says: If it’s possibly to be merely “anonymously good,” that’s how I’d describe Biffle’s 2013 in total. He and the Roush Fenway Racing team were rarely bad enough to run outside the top 15, but they were rarely good enough to be a world beater. The Fords, in general, just weren’t on the same level it seemed as the Chevrolets and Toyotas in terms of outright pace, and Biffle was a perfect example of that. After three poles in both 2011 and 2012, he didn’t qualify fastest a single time this year. Additionally, I can’t help but wonder if the loss of Matt Kenseth to RFR had an impact on him. Biffle and Kenseth had worked together in the Roush family for more than a decade, and without that available setup and teammate to bounce ideas off of, I think there was a step back in performance.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”