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

‘One and Only’ Kyle Larson wins Outlaws opener at Knoxville Raceway

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Paul Arch/World of Outlaws
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The magic of dirt racing wins for Kyle Larson continued Thursday night at Knoxville Raceway, where he scored his third consecutive World of Outlaws victory at the famed half-mile track to open “The One and Only.”

After starting 10th, Larson sliced through the field and passed pole-sitter Logan Schuchart to lead the final eight laps in the No. 57 of car owner Paul Silva.

“Just an awesome race,” Larson said after earning $10,000 for his second consecutive NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory (after winning at Pevely, Missouri, last Saturday), his sixth Outlaws victory this season and 14th of his career.

LARSON ON NASCAR‘I’d love an opportunity if it came’

“I was able to track Logan down and hit the bottom really well in (turns) 1 and 2 and got a run on him.  It felt like I needed to take advantage of that before we got to heavier traffic and slid him and felt some contact. So, glad to see him not in the wall or anything like that. Just, hard work there. Heartbeat is up again.”

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson scored his sixth World of Outlaws victory Thursday (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).

It was the fourth Knoxville victory this year for Larson, who swept a World of Outlaws doubleheader weekend June 12-13 at the Sprint Car Captial of the World. He has more than 30 victories this year in sprint cars and midgets.

The One and Only continues Friday night with another $10,000 feature race that will set the starting lineup for Saturday’s Brownells Capitani Classic, which pays $50,000 to win.

The event is the Outlaws’ richest purse of 2020 and subs in for the annual Knoxville Nationals, which was canceled for COVID-19 concerns. Larson, a two-time Knoxville Nationals runner-up, has said winning The One and Only would be on the same as Knoxville’s signature event because of its tough three-day format.

Through the first of three nights, Schuchart and Larson are tied for second in The One and Only points standings, which factor in qualifying, heats, dash and feature races. Aaron Reutzel, an All Star Circuit of Champions stalwart who finished third Thursday, leads with 430 points.

A crash in Thursday’s 25-lap feature eliminated past Outlaws champions Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz after Cory Eliason spun in front of Sweet in Turn 1 to start the wreck, which also collected Sweet’s teammate, James McFadden. Sweet and Schatz finished outside the top 20, which moved Schuchart into the points lead for the 2020 season.

Schuchart still seemed slightly miffed after finishing second to Larson.

“As the race went on, I felt like I wasn’t hitting my marks as good,” he said. “I would have liked to of had a little bit better of a race with Kyle there. I wish his slide job was a little better there, but he’s got a reputation to live up to. That’s where you let other people make the rules and maybe we’ll get him next time.”


RESULTS

NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps) – 1. 57-Kyle Larson [10]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart [1]; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel [2]; 4. 2-Carson Macedo [24]; 5. 41-David Gravel [6]; 6. 21-Brian Brown [7]; 7. 71-Spencer Bayston [3]; 8. 18-Gio Scelzi [15]; 9. 12N-Joey Saldana [5]; 10. 5-Ian Madsen [19]; 11. 17A-Austin McCarl [21]; 12. 1A-Jacob Allen [11]; 13. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [16]; 14. 7S-Jason Sides [20]; 15. 24-Rico Abreu [22]; 16. 4-Terry McCarl [13]; 17. 2KS-Brooke Tatnell [18]; 18. O9-Matt Juhl [23]; 19. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [25]; 20. 83-Daryn Pittman [9]; 21. 11K-Kraig Kinser [17]; 22. 15-Donny Schatz [8]; 23. 26-Cory Eliason [4]; 24. 49-Brad Sweet [12]; 25. 9-James McFadden [14]; Lap Leaders: Logan Schuchart 1-17, Kyle Larson 18-25; KSE Hard Charger Award: 2-Carson Macedo[+20]

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson celebrated with his family and team after the first night of The One and Only (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).