DOVER, Del. —Greg Biffle finished a middling regular season as a driver who just couldn’t win.
Now, he’s the one who simply can’t lose.
Biffle traded a lengthy winless streak for a winning one when it mattered most. He made it a sparkling 2-for-2 in the Chase for the championship Sunday, using another late pass—this time with nine laps to go—to hold off Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards and bolster his bid for the Sprint Cup title.
“I feel like this has been coming for a while,” Biffle said. “There’s a lot of concentration right now. It doesn’t get more important than this.”
Up ahead for Biffle is a trip to Kansas City, a track where he won last season before starting a 33-race winless streak. That dismal skid seems as much behind him as his Roush Fenway Racing teammates Kenseth and Edwards were over the final, thrilling laps at Dover International Speedway.
While Biffle has been able to drive that No. 16 Ford into Victory Lane, he still can’t maneuver into first place in the Chase points standings. Biffle and two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson are both 10 points behind Edwards for the overall lead, but Johnson holds the tiebreaker.
Biffle knows the only way to catch Edwards is to keep winning races.
“We’ve got to beat the 99 car somehow,” Biffle said. “We’ve got to start stretching it out.”
That’s exactly what he did with the lead once he caught Kenseth and put away Edwards. The trio engaged in a fantastic run over the final 20 laps that had to have tugged at owner Jack Roush’s loyalties. Biffle, the winner last week at New Hampshire after passing Johnson with 12 laps left, made another textbook move to the outside past Kenseth to pull away.
“I thought I might be able to hang on, but I wasn’t sure,” Kenseth said.
Kenseth was second, and Edwards third in a wildly successful day for Roush Fenway. Kenseth had a disastrous Chase opener when an accident forced him out of the race and he entered 12th in the standings. He moved to 10th.
“The championship isn’t really on my mind at this moment,” Kenseth said.
Kyle Busch, the regular-season points winner, had another miserable race and a blown engine knocked him out early. He finished 43rd in the 400-mile race to drop to 12th and last in the Chase field.
“We’re out of the title hunt, that’s for sure,” Busch said.
Mark Martin was fourth and Chase drivers filled up the next five spots. Johnson was fifth followed by Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton.
Michael Waltrip finished 10th.
Other Chase driver results saw Tony Stewart in 11th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 24th, and Denny Hamlin was 38th. Hamlin’s car also was pushed to the garage, making it a bleak day for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Burton moved up a spot and is fourth in the standings. Harvick made the biggest jump, going from 10th to fifth. The rest of the standings are: Bowyer, Stewart, Gordon, Earnhardt, Kenseth, Hamlin, then Busch.
“It’s hard to tell (Busch) to keep his head up,” Stewart said. “There’s nobody who’s going to make him feel better right now and rightfully so.”
Edwards’ crew gambled on his final pit spot and took two tires while the other drivers took four. Kenseth took the lead on lap 377, and then the three teammates drove hard toward a close-and-clean finish.
Edwards said he understood crew chief Bob Osborne’s decision to go with two tires.
“That was a 50-50 call,” Edwards said. “I thought we were doing what we needed to do considering how we ran on two tires earlier.”
Biffle nipped at Kenseth’s bumper and kept inching his way past his teammate. Then Biffle pinched off Kenseth and got his nose out there to pass him down the backstretch. “The Biff” never let up the rest of the way on the mile concrete track.
“I couldn’t give up. It was my last chance to get him,” Biffle said.
Roush hopes this season doesn’t end like a rerun of 2005 when he placed five drivers in the Chase, but Stewart drove away with the Cup title. The runner up? Biffle.
Biffle finished third here in June, has reeled off six straight top-10 finishes overall on the Monster Mile and also won the race back in June 2005. Plus, Biffle has two more victories at Dover in the Nationwide Series.
“It was an exciting day to say the least,” Biffle said.
Biffle has looked little like the driver who only came seriously close to a victory a couple of times over the first 26 races. His lingering contract talks seemed to overshadow his performance and Biffle blasted his team over faulty equipment after a last-place finish in May at Darlington Raceway.
Whatever the reason, something has clicked with Biffle and crew chief Greg Erwin. He only led 29 laps—well behind Kenseth’s race-high 136—but he got all the only ones that really mattered.
“I have put more emphasis on this,” Biffle said.