By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas — The Biff is back on top of the NASCAR world.
After not making a NASCAR national series start since 2016, Greg Biffle returns to the Gander Outdoors Truck Series with a humbling comeback victory for the ages as he took the checkered flag in Friday’s SpeedyCash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Thanks to crew chief Rudy Fugle’s strategy call of staying out in the closing laps, the 49-year-old beat two-time Truck Series champion Matt Crafton by 0.963 seconds to score his 17th career victory. It’s Biffle’s first series win since October 26, 2001 at ISM Raceway, when Crafton was a rookie in the series.
Furthermore, it’s his third win out of the last four Truck Series starts, with the only non-win taking place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004, Biffle’s last truck start until Friday’s race.
Biffle said it was a learning curve to get around Texas as the configuration has changed and the trucks aren’t anywhere near the same as it was during his prime years at Roush Fenway Racing from 1998-2000, when he was a regular in the series.
“It feels really good to be able to come back and drive a good fast truck. I’ve learned a tremendous amount tonight,” said Biffle. “I wasn’t sure the first part of this thing. It went green and I felt really good about the speed of our truck. Then the second and third run, I didn’t feel like I was figuring out how to get around these guys.
For 18 laps, Biffle was out in front but earlier in the race, he realized that it wasn’t going to be an easy race after his competitors, notably Anthony Alfredo, got by him. This left him alarmed, but with a strong truck he has from Kyle Busch Motorsports, the team was able to prevail when it mattered most.
“We ended up getting the lead and then guys drafted right by me. I knew I had my work cut out for me to figure out the draft of these trucks and what they drive like. They made it easy for me,” Biffle explained. “They gave me a really good truck. Pit stops were phenomenal. We worked really good in practice with the three sessions to get the thing driving the way it felt good to me. We worked really well together, and it was a great opportunity for me. I’m so happy to be able to come back and run that well.”
The No. 51 truck has now won six out of the first nine Truck Series races, the first not named Kyle Busch, who won all five of his allotted races.
While winning races, the regular drivers, Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland, has struggled tremendously on matching the boss. It’s led to controversial remarks from Busch last week that if they can’t compete for wins, their jobs are at risk.
Burton wound up fifth and holds the final playoff spot. Gilliland on the other hand, crashed after his struck snapped out of control and hit the Turn 1 wall, ending his night in 27th and dropped to ninth in points, the first guy out of the playoffs.
Fugle said the entire KBM organization has to remain consistent for the remainder of the season and contend for wins, which neither young drivers have to their name up to this point.
“What a year (KBM has had). Obviously, Kyle is in the headlines for a lot of things of what he says,” said Fugle. “When you look at things, we just got six out of nine wins, and the three places we didn’t win was at Daytona, which is what it is. Then at Dover and Kansas, we got a third-place finish over some of the other guys. We got to get going little bit better and more consistent.
“Harrison (Burton) fought and finished fifth tonight, so definitely we’ll try to make the trucks better so it’s easier to drive — communication, crew chief, engineer, driver. Kyle will keep working on that with everybody to get where we are able to achieve. Us two are working together and Kyle got involved, being on phone with both of us and we were able to make good decisions.”
Now with a win under his belt, the question remains if he’ll run the remaining two races of the Triple Truck Challenge as he won a $50,000 bonus. If Biffle is given the nod for both races at Iowa and Gateway and wins both, he’ll end up half a million dollars richer.
“I’ve always said when I got out of the car, I was going to retire at the of 2016,” said Biffle. “I wanted to do something different and wanted an opportunity where I had something competitive to drive. This was the right opportunity and if that comes up, I’ll certainly consider it in the future. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Even all the wins Biffle’s amounted across all three national series, including the 2000 Truck Series and 2002 Xfinity Series (then known as the Busch Series) titles, and ending up second in the 2005 Cup points, he added that winning a race under this magnitude ranks high, considering he hasn’t been in a major race since his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series days were over.
“It ranks really high, I’m going to be honest,” said Biffle. “To be able to come back after being out of the seat for as long as I have, and not ever driving this package before or drive a truck for 15 years. I think this certainly ranks really high for me.”