The Frontstretch: 2012 NASCAR Driver Review: Greg Biffle by Huston Ladner -- Wednesday December 12, 2012

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2012 NASCAR Driver Review: Greg Biffle

Huston Ladner · Wednesday December 12, 2012


2012 Ride: No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
2012 Primary Sponsor: 3M
2012 Owner: Roush Fenway Racing

2012 Crew Chief: Matt Puccia

Stats: 36 Starts, 2 Wins, 12 Top 5s, 21 Top 10s, 0 DNFs, 5th in Points.

Best Finish: 1st – twice (Texas; April – Michigan; August).

Average Finish: 9.8.

Greg Biffle

2012 Team Ranking: First of three. Biffle may have had one fewer win than his teammate Matt Kenseth (including one less Daytona 500 trophy) but stronger consistency led to a slightly better finish in the Chase. As the regular season points champ, he gets the nod although the winless postseason, putting him 68 points behind 2012 titlist Brad Keselowski suggests there might need to be some kind of bonus for ending the first 26 races on top. Teammate Carl Edwards’ lackluster season, by the way leaves him a disappointing third in the pecking order as RFR had a bit of an “off year,” by its standards across the board.

High Point: While Biffle’s win at Texas in the spring may have been notable, his victory at Michigan was more important as it showed that he could be a viable contender in the Chase. At the Michigan race, he capitalized on Jimmie Johnson’s fuel mileage miscalculation and cruised to the victory, his 11th on a 1.5 or 2-mile oval out of 18 career Cup trophies. The win put Biffle in the top spot in the points and was a crowning achievement for a driver that had been consistently running at the front of the pack.

Low Point: The beginning of the Chase. Entering the postseason a title favorite, three straight lackluster finishes took Biffle out of the championship discussion before it began. At Chicago, he started 22nd and finished 13th, unable to keep pace with contenders Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski. It was only a small hole to dig out of, but he followed that with an 18th-place showing at Loudon and then a 16th at Dover, mediocre performances that put him far too back in the standings to contend. It’s a testament to his team that they would go on to have six top 10s in the rest of the Chase, a noble recovery that left them fifth in the final standings. But the damage had been done and Biffle was left to wonder again, what if.

Summary: In many respects, Biffle was a solid but not quite spectacular driver for the 2012 season. His two wins showed that he can still get the proverbial job done and he did lead 721 laps, which also indicates that both his career and the RFR organization has not fallen by the wayside. In addition, Biffle had to deal with the oncoming loss of Kenseth and the questionable performance of Carl Edwards. In fact, when considering all of the variables and adjusting to a new crew chief in Puccia, Biffle had a rather good year.

With the positives being noted, it has now been nine years since an RFR driver has won the championship and though Biffle had a quality season, he still wasn’t close to hoisting the big trophy at Homestead. For a driver who has won a Truck and Nationwide title, Biffle must feel a bit dejected that he was out of the championship soon after it began.

Off-Track News: Nothing notable. Biffle and sponsor 3M are in good shape, signed through 2014 and Biffle’s standing within the RFR stable is secure.

2013 Outlook: Hard to say. When the CoT came along, RFR was a little bit slow to adapt and that might be the case again with the Generation 6 car being implemented next year. In addition, the loss of teammate and good friend Kenseth will surely have some sort of impact. Biffle now moves into the role of elder statesman, especially with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. moving to Cup, and it’s hard to know how he will adjust to that situation. Both Stenhouse and Carl Edwards, Ford’s expensive signee have also proven to be more marketable, too, raising questions as to just how long the Blue Oval executives will stay happy seeing the No. 16 car come out on top.

2011 Grade: C.
2012 Grade: A good solid B. Biffle was a driver who was in contention to win a number of weeks and his 12 top fives are a testament to this notion. Unfortunately for him, his team was one that was a regular season stalwart but not one of championship caliber and faltered in the playoffs.

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