Greg Biffle ran better than he ever expected in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
But his second-place finish only made him feel worse about the frustrations of the past year.
“It’s been well-documented how badly we’ve been running,” Biffle said post-race. “I decided if I finished in the top 10 tonight I was going to stand on the door-top and be all excited and cheer.
“Then I finished second and I’m not happy.”
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Biffle was trying to conserve fuel, as was race leader Carl Edwards. Biffle’s crew warned him he wouldn’t have enough fuel to hold off Dale Earnhardt Jr. for second place, but Biffle was more willing to gamble on catching Edwards.
It never worked out, with Edwards taking the checkered flag for the first time at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We knew Carl was going to try and make it” without pitting, Biffle said. “I was sure hoping and praying he’d be a lap short.
“He’s smart, he knows how to save gas. He’s won a lot of races like that.”
Edwards returned the compliment: “Greg Biffle is tenacious. He’s a really good competitor. Darian (Grubb, his crew chief) said we’d make it (on fuel), but I didn’t know if he was lying.”
Biffle knew he was in trouble with two laps left when the fuel-pressure light in his Ford flickered on.
“They told me to try to stretch the fuel window and save” second place, Biffle said. “I made the decision to try to beat Carl.”
As Biffle said, it’s been a rough start to the season. His 10th-place finish at the Daytona 500 was the best of his season prior to Sunday.
The value of winning races increased last season when NASCAR changed to Chase format. Winning a race automatically qualifies you for the Chase. That played into Biffle’s post-race frustration and he had to keep reminding himself this race represented progress.
“That’s basically my first finish in the top 10 – really racing in the top 10. It’s been a year and a half. So this is a huge improvement for us,” Biffle said.
“At Texas the car was a little more predictable to drive, but not a bit more speed.”
Biffle said the team had a bit of a breakthrough working in the wind tunnel, improving the car’s aerodynamics. Biffle said part of the issue with his team’s poor results has been missed set-ups.
“Springs and shocks,” Biffle said. “I can’t believe we’ve missed with that for a year.”
Biffle’s team tested at Dover, where the Sprint Cup series races next Sunday, and he’s had success there in the past, so he feels his team is on an upswing. But it might take a few days to get over coming so close without winning.
“I’m upset I didn’t win. I was close,” Biffle said.
“I really, really wanted to win. I feel good about finishing second, but it got me reminiscing” about days in Victory Lane.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell