The clock is ticking for Greg Biffle.
Although he ranks 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in points standings, the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion driver sits 17th in Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Grid, on the outside looking in, with just four races remaining before the postseason, because he has yet to record a victory.
But, Biffle remains confident entering Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (1 p.m., ESPN).
“We feel like we can win one of these last four races, so that’s what we’re focusing on is winning one of these last four and getting our way into the Chase that way,” Biffle said, whose precarious position on the Chase Grid has everything to do with his lack of wins this season. “But certainly we’re hanging on by a shoestring to make it in on points if it comes down to that.”
A wild ride of off-the-track developments further adds to the pressure. Biffle must carry the weight of proving he can be Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 1 driver following the impending departure of Carl Edwards at the end of the season.
Luckily, Biffle gets a shot to go for victory at Michigan this week, a track where he has won a career-best four times, including two of the last four races. He boasts 10 top-five finishes in 23 Sprint Cup starts there in addition to a pair of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins. Additionally, Biffle owns the series-best average running position (8.9) and driver rating (107.8) at the D-shaped, two-mile Brooklyn speedway located in the scenic Irish Hills area of southeastern Michigan.
“I cannot wait to get there,” said Biffle, whose four wins are most among active drivers. “Do I think we’re going to have the fastest car? I’m hoping we’re close … I feel like we’re going to be running in the top 10.”
Since team owner Jack Roush entered NASCAR in 1988, RFR has accumulated a course-record 13 Sprint Cup checkered flags with five different drivers.
“It’s just been one of those racetracks like Homestead or Darlington for us that I really like,” said Biffle of RFR’s success at Michigan. “I like the layout. I love the way it races, and we’ve just been super successful there.”
Thirteen points separate top four entering Mid-Ohio.
The upper echelon of the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings can be described with one word…tight.
A mere 13 points separate the top four drivers with only a dozen races remaining on the season.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Chase Elliott holds a 12-point series lead over JR. Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, sitting just one point ahead of third-place Elliott Sadler and fourth-place Ty Dillon, who are tied in the standings.
“As far as the points (total) goes, like I’ve said all season long, I don’t get too caught up in it, I don’t pull it up during the week, I don’t worry about it,” said Elliott, following the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen. “When you get caught up in that, that’s when I think things can go south, so just trying to focus on running well and contending for wins I think is the best way to go about a championship.”
Elliott will go for the win this Saturday in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio (2:45 p.m. on ESPN), where he will race on the 13-turn, 2.25-mile road course for the first time. He hopes to build off of his sixth-place finish at Watkins Glen, which he described as “decent” after the race.
“I think we’re capable of running top five in all these events, including the companion races, road courses or whatever,” Elliott said. “I personally need to step up and be a better road racer, try to figure out how to keep up with those guys and try to figure out how to beat them.”
On paper, the only way for Elliott to be a better road racer is to win on a road course. In addition to his top 10 run at Watkins Glen, he finished fourth at Road America earlier this season. Overall, Elliot boasts three wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s and an average finish of 9.0 in his rookie campaign.