Greg Biffle learned an unhappy truth in Sunday's Daytona 500: It's no fun being part of an experiment.
Biffle finished third behind Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Daytona 500, the best result the Roush Fenway Racing driver has ever posted in the biggest event in stock-car racing.
Judged purely on those terms, it was a great day for Biffle, someone not known as one of the elite NASCAR restrictor-plate racers. Still, it was an evening with a little bit of woulda', coulda,' shoulda' for Biffle and his team.
Prior to Daytona Speedweeks, NASCAR's policy on late-race restarts was very clear: One attempt at ending the race under a green-white-checkered flag finish.
But new this year, NASCAR has adopted a policy of making up to three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, something that worked decided to Biffle's disadvantage during this marathon race, which wound up with two overtime finish attempts and a distance of 520 miles.
Biffle took the lead from Clint Bowyer on Lap 199 during the first green-white-checkered finish and appeared to be headed to his first Daytona 500 victory.
Alas, it was not to be. Joey Logano, Bill Elliott and Boris Said crashed on the backstretch after the track went green, and on the next restart on Lap 203, Kevin Harvick and then McMurray knocked Biffle out of the lead. And on the last lap, Earnhardt dropped him to third, not what Biffle was hoping for.
Biffle pushed his former Roush Fenway teammate McMurray hard at the end, but tried to pass him too early, which resulted in him falling back to third in the final rundown. “I just made my move too soon,” said Biffle. “I tried it down the (frontstretch). It was just a mistake on my part, probably. I should have waited till down the back. I should have pushed him down (Turn) 1 and 2 again, then pushed him down the back and tried it on the short chute.”
True, Biffle took some satisfaction in seeing McMurray win.
“It was pretty cool,” he said. “I feel like I'm one of the guys that helped him get his first Daytona 500. … I'm really happy for him.”
Understandably, Biffle was less happy about the green-white-checkered rule, though.
“I was thinking, 'Why do I have to be the first candidate after the rule change to get the guy that didn't get the win?'” he mused. “You know, it's just the way it is. Like (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) said, we got to race by the rules. That's what they've determined that we're going to do. … But, you know, that's the way it is. We got to go by the rules. Yeah, I wish I was out there spraying some champagne right now.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief for SPEEDtv.com, the former Executive Editor of NASCAR Scene and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. He is the author of "Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of SPEED," and has appeared on television and radio shows to discuss NASCAR racing. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association. Jensen is the 1997 National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year and has won numerous national and state awards for news reporting, columns and feature writing. The Answer Man is back at SPEEDtv.com. Tom Jensen answers your questions during every race week and looks forward to hearing from you - please e-mail it to