Greg Biffle’s win last week at Texas was his first of the year ending a 49-race winless streak and lengthened his points lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
With the win, it showed Biffle to be much more than just a flash in the pan who might be gobbled up by the Jimmie Johnson’s and Tony Stewart’s of the series. No, this version of Biffle has the look of a being a champion who could become the first to win Championships in all three major NASCAR series.
The odds at the LVH Super Book also reflect the sudden change in perception. Although Biffle has finished no worse than 13th in any race this season, he was still listed at 12-to-1 to win the title going into Texas. After proving he could close out a race with a dominating performance, the LVH dropped him to 8-1 as one of the favorites just behind Johnson and Stewart (5-1).
Biffle has now proven to be one of the elite in the series on the type of tracks that win championships, which is the 1.5 and 2-mile tracks. Stewart may have two wins on those tracks (Las Vegas and California), but he laid an egg at Texas and no one on the No. 14 team can explain why, either.
Biffle, on the other hand, now has a win at Texas, third at Las Vegas and sixth at California which suggests his team is dialed in on these tracks and won’t be going away anytime soon.
Guess what kind of track comes up this week? Of course, another 1.5-mile track. The schedule is littered with them. You can’t win the Chase unless you can run well on the 1.5-mile tracks, which five of the 10 Chase races are.
Biffle could get greedy after satisfying his winning thirst last week because Kansas Speedway has been virtually owned by him. No one has a better average finish at Kansas (8.3) than Biffle and no one looks better than him right now. He’s got the best of both worlds in his favor right now: current form and past history.
He has two wins at Kansas, but what’s amazing about his runs there is that they have been great even when their team was going through funks. He hasn’t finished worse than 12th since 2003 and has finished in the top-3 in six of his last nine starts.
A driver who took an immediate liking to Kansas at the same Biffle did when they were rookies in 2002 is Johnson. JJ is just behind Biffle in career average finish (8.4) at Kansas and has won two of the last five races run there, including last fall. He finished runner-up last week at Texas, his second such result on a 1.5-mile track this season.
Stewart is a two-time Kansas winner and should be given a free pass for last week at Texas. It was just one of those freak things that happens once in a while. They couldn’t get his primary or back-up car set properly at Texas, but their winning Las Vegas and California notes should serve them well at the flatter Kansas layout. The banking is flatter than Vegas and almost the same as California.
Jeff Gordon won the first two Kansas races in 2001 and 2002 and has eight top-5 finishes in 12 career starts. Gordon looked strong last week at Texas with a fourth-place run and may have had a car capable of winning, but the long final green flag run never allowed him to get into position close to the leader. His run last week was his first top-5 of the season and moved him up to 17th in the standings.
Clint Bowyer is a Kansas native and has always given it his best on his home track with a best of runner-up in 2007 and a career average finish of 12th.
The Michael Waltrip Racing team has been flexing their muscles at almost every track and are on the brink of finally breaking through with a win. Last week it was Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr who finished in the top-6. This week, look for Bowyer to be up there.
Brad Keselowski finished first and third in the two Kansas races last season and Carl Edwards finished fifth in both. Matt Kenseth had his best career finish last fall with a fourth-place finish, which is kind of surprising because of how well Kenseth usually does on these type of tracks. Kenseth should have a much better record there.
Keselowski’s win last year was also a surprise, but it’s very rare that surprises happen at Kansas. The driver who wins the race can usually be identified earlier in practice runs. It’s one of the better tracks where great practice times translate to race day.