Biffle has knack for making history at Kentucky Speedway

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistJune 24, 2012 

  • Greg Biffle at Kentucky Speedway

    Sprint Cup

    Year Start Finish Laps led

    2011 21 21 0

    Nationwide Series

    2007 11 10 0

    2006 30 7 41

    2005 21 30 6

    2004 7 2 81

    2002 9 2 59

    2001 37 2 0

    Camping World Trucks Series

    2000 2 1 53

When they write the history of Kentucky Speedway, Greg Biffle could get a full chapter all his own.

On a rainy Saturday night in June, 2000, the Vancouver, Wash., product won the first NASCAR-sanctioned event ever held in Sparta, a trucks race.

"It's always pretty special to win the first race somewhere," Biffle said last week. "That was a special win for me in what was a pretty special year, the year I won the trucks championship."

Two years later, Biffle was involved in the most dramatic stock-car finish ever at Kentucky Speedway. In a race in what is now known as the Nationwide Series, Biffle had the lead on the final lap only to see a hard-charging Todd Bodine take the high line into Turn 4 to try a daring pass.

The two cars bumped once, then again, before Bodine got his nose in front while Biffle's car ended up sliding sideways.

At the finish line, Bodine got the victory while Biffle crossed sideways before his car come to rest in the middle of a giant Oreo cookie (one of the race sponsors) logo in the infield grass.

"It was a pretty spectacular finish," Biffle said. "To cross the finish line sideways racing for the win, that's something you remember. The bad thing about that, I didn't win the race."

When the Sprint Cup Series returns Saturday night to Kentucky Speedway, Biffle would seem to have a big chance of adding another memorable moment to his Sparta history.

So far this season, Biffle, 42, has piloted the No. 16 3M Ford he drives for Roush Fenway Racing on four mile-and-a-half tracks. That, of course, is the same distance as Kentucky Speedway. His finishes in those four races are: third (Las Vegas); first (Texas); fifth (Kansas); and fourth (Charlotte).

In other words, he's been strong on the cookie-cutters.

"We've been good on the mile-and-a-half tracks this year so far," Biffle said. "That doesn't guarantee us anything at Kentucky. But Kentucky is definitely a place where we feel like we should have a chance to win."

A year ago, when the Cup Series ran in Sparta for the initial time, Biffle shaped up as one of the race favorites then too. Not only had he won his only truck race in Sparta, he also had three career second-place finishes at Kentucky Speedway in the Nationwide Series.

Biffle finished last year's Quaker State 400, however, in 21st, the same position from which he'd started.

"That's one of those deals where the results don't really tell you the story," Biffle said. "We had our car in the Top 10 for a lot of the race but we had to pit late for fuel. That's what left us back there in 21st."

After a dispiriting finish of 16th last year in the Sprint Cup season points standings, Biffle has been resurgent in 2012. Going into Sunday's road race at Infineon Raceway, he stood third in the overall points behind only his Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Prior to Infineon, Biffle was second in the Cup Series in laps led (527) and fourth in percentage of laps run in the Top 15 (82.3).

Those are the metrics of a driver with a legitimate chance to contend for a championship. Biffle knows that a season when he has good cars and a team hitting on all cylinders is an opportunity that needs to be maximized.

If he could add a Sprint Cup title to the championships he won in trucks (2000) and what is now the Nationwide Series (2002), Biffle would be the first driver ever to win season titles in all three of NASCAR's national touring series.

"That would be a cool thing to achieve," he says. "I know it's something people mention to me a lot. If we get to the Chase, you'll see me all out in those last 10 races trying to do it."

In the meantime, Biffle's connection with Kentucky Speedway goes back so far, he's been at the track for both of its two major traffic meltdowns.

Before Biffle won that first truck race in 2000, torrential rain had turned the brand new Speedway's parking fields into a massive mud pie, leading to a gigantic traffic snarl.

Last year's first Quaker State 400 turned into another imbroglio after Kentucky Speedway's traffic infrastructure and parking plan collapsed amidst the arrival of a crowd in excess of 107,000 fans.

This year, Biffle has advice for fans attending the Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.

"Get there early," he said. "Tailgate. There will be a big concert (Chris Young) before the race. There'll be drivers signing autographs. There's plenty to do. Get there early and take the traffic out of play."

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com

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