Greg Biffle’s win on Sunday in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 proved to be a monumental win not only for himself but also his owner and manufacturer. The last time Biffle had visited victory lane was on Sept. 21, 2008 at Dover International Speedway. That was the second race of the Chase that season and it was also the second consecutive win for Biffle as he started the ’08 Chase with two victories.
Biffle at one time was thought to be on the fast track to becoming the series champion after finishing in the runner-up spot in 2005. He is no stranger to making the Chase as he has been in the last two, but this season hasn’t produced the kind of result that automatically locks him into one of the 12 spots that transfer into the Chase. The win kept him in 11th place in the standings with five races to go before the Chase field is set.
This hasn’t been the kind of year that Biffle or his owner Jack Roush imagined before the start of the season. Roush-Fenway Racing’s four-team operation was also winless on the year and to compound Roush’s woes, he was seriously injured in a plane crash earlier in the week. Roush has been in the Mayo Clinic getting treatment for facial injuries and the sight of Biffle in victory lane had to go a long way in helping him get back on his feet and once again resume his spot as one of the fixtures in the garage area.
While Roush has endured the pain of a winless season, he does have three of his four drivers in the top 12 in points. Former series champion Matt Kenseth leads the way in ninth followed by Carl Edwards in 10th and Biffle in 11th. All three drivers are not safe by any means as Kenseth has the biggest lead over 13th place driver Mark Martin by 152 points that can be overcome with five races still remaining before the Chase begins.
Suffering through the same winless season as Roush and his drivers was their manufacturer Ford. While Ford does have these three drivers in the Chase at this time, they would have to start from the first race at New Hampshire playing catch up as Biffle would be the only driver to receive the 10 bonus points for having won a race during the 26 races leading up to the beginning of the Chase. Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin would both start the Chase with 50 bonus points as of right now as both have five wins on the season.
Good news may be coming to the Commonwealth as a press conference has been announced for August 10 concerning Kentucky Speedway. Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns Kentucky Speedway, along with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and former NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip will be in attendance for what many in the sport believe will be to confirm that the speedway will host a Cup race in 2011.
NASCAR CEO Brian France said earlier this summer that both Speedway Motorsports and International Speedway Corporation had submitted requests to the sanctioning body to move races next season. Speculation on where Smith might get a date for Kentucky centers around the spring Atlanta race and New Hampshire’s June race.
Adding a race at Kentucky may just be the beginning of a new schedule as France has hinted that next season’s schedule will be taking on a diff erent look. California may be the ISC track that is giving up a date next season and it could be that Kansas will be getting the date as that facility is now part of a complex that will feature a casino.
Smith’s anticipated announcement of a race for Kentucky may not be the only announcement coming from the head of SMI in future weeks. There is still the question of when and if his Las Vegas track gets a second date. The popularity of the one race that is held there early in the season makes it highly possible that Smith will be making another announcement in the coming weeks about that track’s future.
It’s all about filling seats on race day in the sport and now it may be time for Kentucky to show the rest of the sport how it loves horsepower — the kind that uses four tires!
Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen
Watkins Glen (2.45-mile road course, 11 turns)
August 8, 1 p.m. TV:
MRN Defending champion: