Sprint Cup - Biffle Regains Lead But Momentum May Reside Elsewhere
Now it’s Greg Biffle’s turn. Again. The early-season points leader is back atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following last Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 victory.
Biffle won for the second time this season, giving him three additional bonus points when the standings are reset for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™, which begins Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway.The driver of Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 16 Ford largely had dropped out of the championship conversation after losing the points lead in early June.
“Well, I know that a lot of people don’t expect us to win the championship and don’t expect us to compete for the title, but I don’t care what they say or who they want to talk about or what they want to talk about,” Biffle said. “We will be a factor when it comes down to Homestead, I promise you that.”
Biffle has every right to claim the mantle of a favorite. That’s because there really isn’t one as the Race to the Chase heads into its final three events beginning with Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
He’s the third different points leader in as many weeks following Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The provisional Chase seedings haven’t moved since Indianapolis when Johnson won for the third time to match victory totals of reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski.
Biffle is the 10th consecutive different winner – a run that began at Pocono Raceway in early June.
The top four in the championship standings – Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Earnhardt and Johnson – have separated themselves from the next six contenders.
Biffle has been the most consistent, posting top 10s and a win in four of his past five races. Earnhardt and Johnson each have three top 10s. Kenseth has a single top five and two finishes outside the top 20.
The pre-Chase momentum actually belongs to Keselowski, whose ranking (fifth) doesn’t reflect the current strength of his Penske Racing No. 2 Dodge team. Keselowski, hampered by early season mechanical problems, didn’t crack the top 10 until the first Pocono race on June 10.
Beginning with his June 30 Kentucky victory, the 28-year-old rising star has assembled seven consecutive top-10 finishes. Four of his last five races were top fives, the last two runner-ups at Watkins Glen and Michigan.
He battled Johnson late for the win at Michigan, Pocono and The Glen and claimed better finishes in all three races. It’s not yet a rivalry, but the No. 2 and Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet seem to be finding each other on the track on an increasingly frequent basis.
Keselowski might have the edge this week. He’s won the past two Bristol races and bids to become the track’s first winner of three straight since Kurt Busch in 2003-04.