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Biffle hopes to snap streak among victorious company

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« on: November 09, 2007, 01:16:32 pm »

Biffle hopes to snap streak among victorious company
By Josh Pate, NASCAR.COM
November 9, 2007
01:13 PM EST
 -Sixty-two races. It doesn't sound like that big of a deal, especially since there have been Busch Series regulars who have competed full time for years without parking in Victory Lane. But 62 races? For Greg Biffle? In the Busch Series?

That, to him, is a long time.

So long, in fact, that it was in February at Fontana last year when Biffle led 52 laps and cruised by 2.25 seconds for his lone victory of 2006. He also won a race in 2005. And from 2001-2004 when he competed in three of the four seasons on a full-time basis, Biffle celebrated a total of 16 times with his lowest win total coming in 2003 with two.

But now it's been 62 races since he last won and with two events remaining on the schedule, he faces a winless Busch season for the first time since he ran just two events in 1996.

He thought he had that winless streak zapped last week at Texas. Leading the race with 35 laps to go and a comfortable margin between him and second place, Biffle felt a problem. His right-front tire was flat. He had to pit. Problem was, when the crew checked the Goodyears, none of them were flat. He finished 16th.

"I know the whole team was disappointed we didn't get that win, and I was too," Biffle said. "We've come so close to winning on several occasions this year and we've only got two more chances this season."

Saturday, however, may be his best.

Biffle enters the Arizona.Travel 200 (4 p.m. ET, ESPN2) as the only driver with multiple Busch Series victories at Phoenix, having won in 2001 and again in the spring of 2005. His worst finish in nine starts came in the 2006 fall race when he was 12th, with the rest being top-10s. And as far as running up front, Biffle has been the master. He's led 409 laps at Phoenix, more than twice that of any other driver.

But to say he's the clubhouse leader before the green has even dropped would be a stretch.

Ten different drivers have won at Phoenix. Eight of them are on the entry list for Saturday's race. The reason for their success varies.

"Phoenix is one of those places that I grew up racing on," said Kevin Harvick, who won the spring race last year and has six top-fives in 10 starts at the track. "I raced a lot in the Southwest Tour, Winston West and Truck Series races in Phoenix. I have learned the characteristics of the racetrack and the little things that you can do when your car is not handling perfect."

Most often, that's the case. The dog-legged turn on the backstretch transforms the miler into a tiny tri-oval with no part of the racetrack holding the same characteristic.

The frontstretch is banked just 3 degrees while the odd-shaped backstretch is 9. Turns 1-2 slide at 11 degrees, but Turns 3-4 are slightly flatter at 9 degrees.

"Phoenix is an interesting track because it's a mix between a short track and an intermediate track," said 2002 winner Scott Wimmer. "Turns 1 and 2 are a bit different from 3 and 4. That makes for quite a challenge because you have to set up the car somewhere in between."

Said defending race winner Matt Kenseth: "Each corner drives differently and you really have to have your car set up well in order to be competitive. If it's not set up right then you are in for a long day, but you'll have that at any track."

Biffle's crew chief Eddie Pardue feels the same way. He's using notes from previous short tracks this year, along with the car that Biffle drove to a sixth-place finish at Richmond and a second-place finish at ORP.

"This team is beyond ready to get a win this weekend in Phoenix," Pardue said. "Greg has a great record there with two wins already. We've got a good car for him ... It's frustrating because we've been so close to winning so many races this year, but we're not giving up."
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