Greg Biffle, who led the NASCAR standings last month, is 11th among 12 drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
ORLANDO, Fla. — The struggles of Greg Biffle in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship remind me of the infamous meltdown involving former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora when asked to assess his team’s playoff chances.
“Playoffs?” Mora asked incredulously. “Don’t talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?”
That is the sort of pain Biffle is feeling these days.
Once upon a time, he was the points leader during the regular season. Biffle, who is from Vancouver, Wash., went on an 11-week run leading the pack, ending at Pocono in Pennsylvania in June, then went on another three-week run through the Sept. 2 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
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But those are long-lost glory days for Biffle, who has finished 13th, 18th and 16th in his last three races, pretty much destroying any shot he had at the championship.
He ranks 11th among the 12 Chase drivers going into the unpredictable tentacles of Talladega, the Alabama track where the combination of restrictor plates and a superspeedway make it dicey for everybody.
Biffle is 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski. That’s more than an entire race when you consider the standard 43-driver field and the distribution of points on a sliding scale. The only Chase driver doing worse than Biffle is Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who is 72 points behind with seven races to go.
Sorry, but hasta la vista and we’ll see you next year, boys.
“All I can do is drive the car,” Biffle said after finishing 16th in Dover, Del., last weekend when he dealt with pit-stop issues that crushed his chances of winning.
Biffle had a strong car and seemed on his way to a top-10 finish midway through the AAA 400 when his tire changer didn’t switch out his right-front wheel properly on a pit stop, forcing Biffle to go back to the pits and dropping him three laps down.
Biffle went nuts, lashing out at his pit crew in an expletive-filled tirade. Can’t say I blame him.
“The tire changer knew automatically,” Biffle said. “I saw him know the right front was loose and that would have got us one lap back, which would have got us about, probably, standing here right now, 10 points or so.
“So we gave up an extra six, eight or 10 points, maybe, on losing one more lap to come around and change the lefts with nothing wrong with them.”
The frustration level is high, and understandably so. Biffle knows he is toast.
“That really takes us out of the title hunt,” he said.
Yep. Consider the greatest comeback in the Chase belongs to Jimmie Johnson, who trailed Jeff Burton by 165 points (using different scoring values) at this juncture in 2006 before coming back to win the championship. That would equate to about 40 points in the current system.
But this isn’t a two-man race. There are 10 drivers ahead of Biffle, who would need a meltdown from almost all of them at some point to contend.
Not going to happen.
“Now we’ll just work on being in the top 10,” Biffle said.