NASCAR & Auto Racing

Off to fast start, Biffle hopes to avoid speed bumps at Martinsville

Greg Biffle always approaches races at Martinsville Speedway with trepidation.

In his first nine starts on the .526-mile, paperclip-shaped oval, ¡§The Biff¡¨ had a best finish of 17th in the fall of 2004.

But a seventh-place run at the tiny Virginia track last October has Biffle excited, if still a bit nervous, heading into Sunday¡¦s Goody¡¦s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville.

¡§Martinsville over the years has not been my best track, but certainly the last couple of times I¡¦ve been there I¡¦ve gotten tremendously better,¡¨ Biffle said. ¡§I remember the last race there I was bumping on the back of the 48 car (of Jimmie Johnson) for the lead. So that was a highlight of my career, if you will. „mSo I¡¦m really looking forward to going back this week.¡¨

The Roush Fenway Racing driver is also fired up about getting off to a great start this season.

He is second in NASCAR Sprint Cup points after being inside the top 10 in all but one race so far. His lowest finish was a 15th in California, and his last three finishes have been third, fourth and fourth.

¡§I¡¦m just looking to continue that top-five streak,¡¨ he said. ¡§That¡¦s really our focus, and the reality is that if you put yourself in that top five, you¡¦re in a position to win, so it kind of goes hand in hand.¡¨

Biffle isn¡¦t willing to say that Martinsville owes him, but it was one of the tracks that cost him a title in 2005 when he finished just 35 points behind champion Tony Stewart.

In the last seven races of that year¡¦s Chase, Biffle had five finishes of seventh or better. But 20th-place finishes at Martinsville and Texas were his downfall.

¡§Yeah, certainly if I would have gotten a 10th at Martinsville I would have won the title,¡¨ Biffle said.

He blames at least some of his Martinsville problems on his team¡¦s inability to make brakes last ¡V a key to running well there.

¡§I think that particular race (in 2005) Matt (Kenseth) finished 18th, Mark (Martin) finished 19th and I finished 20th,¡¨ Biffle said, referring to other Roush drivers that year. ¡§All of us as a group were not that good at Martinsville, and I still think we have some work to do as a group.¡¨

After that second-place finish overall in 2005 ¡V a year in which he won six races ¡V Biffle went into a protracted slump, missing the Chase each of the past two seasons, falling to 13th and 14th in the standings.

Now, after finishing last season strong and a lot of hard work over the winter, it appears he is back in the thick of the championship battle. But Biffle isn¡¦t taking anything for granted.

¡§This sport is so humbling and so tough,¡¨ he said. ¡§One day you feel like you¡¦re pretty good and the next day you¡¦re way behind. It is hard to keep a level head and a level playing field and keep consistency.

¡§Our program is really, really running well, (but) I¡¦m really nervous about Martinsville this weekend,¡¨ Biffle said. ¡§Like I said, that place has not been my best race track in the past, but I¡¦m excited about it now because we ran so well there last time.

¡§Texas and Phoenix, I can¡¦t wait. I want to win a race bad. I¡¦m not saying I can¡¦t win at Martinsville, but it is more likely for me to win at Phoenix or Texas than Martinsville.¡¨