Five races into the 2011 season, Greg Biffle was nowhere to be seen in the point standings top 12. He was on the way to something few would have predicted – his second winless season since he started racing Sprint Cup full time in 2003.
Fast forward to a year later, and The Biff is The Stuff. With three top-five and four top-10 runs in five races, he sits atop the point standings entering Race Six Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
It’s a turnaround that should put Biffle in the hunt for what would be his first Sprint Cup championship.
“It certainly has been a relief for myself and I know for the 16 team, all the guys, the entire company, that we've gotten off to a start like we have,” Biffle said Wednesday.
“We've been in position to win a few races, and then also we've been in some spots where we know we need to be a little bit better – for instance, Bristol and California. We were not as competitive as we wanted to be.
“We were a top 10 car, but we're not satisfied with that. In some cases, we were top five. We're striving to be the best and on top. We have a little ways to go.
“But certainly we have started off, you know, tremendously. … Every kind of race track we've covered so far, we've been competitive at. That really makes us feel good about the rest of the season, as well, as how we've started.”
Biffle said he is prepared for a possible turn for the worse.
“I know that we're probably not going to lead the points the whole way,” he said. “So, I'm happy and proud of our team fighting to stay in the points lead running as good as we can every week. But the reality is I know that we may not. If and when that happens, certainly I'm not going to let that take the wind out of our sails. … We're going to work as hard as we can to keep the points lead, keep in the top five, keep in the top three.
“Whatever it is, it doesn't matter. We're going to show up at Martinsville, Texas, Talladega, Kansas, we're going to show up and run as good as we can, try and win to get points for the Chase. Hey, if we continue to lead the points, that's a bonus.
“That's the attitude. We've all got a positive attitude. If we're not leading the points, we still are going to have that positive attitude.”
Biffle said crew chief Matt Puccia is the key to his surge.
“Matt has got a plan, and he's leading this team like a 10-year veteran crew chief or a five-year veteran crew chief that's won multiple races or championships,” Biffle said. “It's just clear he's got a great group of guys together. I give him a lot of credit for where we're at today.
“I'm not doing a lot different behind the wheel. I'm giving it a hundred percent all the time, focused. My head's in the game, paying attention to the car's setup, stopping in the pit box. I mean, I'm doing all the things that I had been doing. It's just the results are different.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.