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

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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

Eli Tomac’s near-perfect season ended perfectly

ProMotocross.com
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From the start, Eli Tomac wanted to go into the season-ending race at Ironman Raceway with the 2020 red plate already in his possession. That final race has been know to devolve into muddy conditions and it is best not to leave things to chance.

For a rider with an almost perfect record of overall podium finishes, one would not have thought there would be much drama at the end of Round 11 at Budds Creek, but it took until the last lap of the final moto for Tomac to achieve his goal.

One reason was that Tomac’s near-perfect season was not so perfect. From the very beginning at Hangtown, Tomac struggled with poor starts to his events. Getting a bad jump out of the gate and finishing fourth in Moto 1 that weekend was not the auspicious beginning he wanted in search of his third consecutive 450 outdoor championship.

The hallmark of Tomac’s season has been overcoming bad starts. He rode through the field at Hangtown and nearly stood on the podium. Then he won Moto 2 and finished second overall. It was his first of nine consecutive overall podiums. Tomac came back the following week for a perfect sweep at Pala.

In Round 3, Tomac once again got off to a bad start. He finished fifth in Moto 1 at Thunder Valley – and then won Moto 2 in a duplication of his opening round.

In Round 5, Tomac had his worst performance until that time. He finished seventh in Moto 1. Nearly halfway through the season, a pattern was firmly established with his Moto 2 win.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

One should recall that the hallmark of Tomac’s season was strong finishes. Four the next four weeks Tomac failed to podium only one time in a moto. On that occasion, he would stumble in Moto 2 at Spring Creek in Round 8 before scoring his second perfect race at Washougal.

And that is where it got interesting. Tomac left Washougal with a 50-point advantage over Marvin Musquin. It was just the scenario Tomac had seesawed his way through the season to achieve. But it was too good to be true.

In most of his previous bad performances, there was an extenuating circumstance for Tomac’s bad start: a fall or an off course excursion. This time, he simply rode an uninspired race and finished seventh again to match his worst single moto performance. He could not fully rebound in Moto 2 and finished third.

For the first time in 2019, Tomac failed to stand on the overall podium in fourth. Worse still, he lost 10 points to Musquin and no longer had his one-race cushion.

But this is a season of recovery for Tomac. At Budds Creek last week it was reported that Tomac’s lackluster performance in Washington was due to his overdoing his chores on his Colorado ranch. Rested and restored, Tomac scored his third perfect race with Moto 1 & 2 wins. And this time, he looked sharper than he had in any previous race.

Tomac did all the could do by winning both motos, but in the closing laps at Budds Creek he needed a little help to clinch the title. As it turned out, Tomac needed the perfect performance to clinch his third consecutive championship.

In Moto 1, he narrowly edged Ken Roczen and Musquin, to give the three championship contenders a sweep of the top three spots; that was not enough to regain his cushion.

Roczen was close enough to force Tomac into The Ironman needing to score points to permanently affix the red plate on his Kawasaki in 2020, but just as Tomac’s season has been marked by second half improvements, Roczen’s has been marred by a lack of performance in the second motos.

Musquin passed Roczen late in Moto 2 last week and could have extended the drama one more week if he could have caught second-place Jason Anderson. Musquin could not erase an 11-second deficit to the runner-up and now Tomac’s almost perfect season has a distinctly perfect feel to it.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

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