Despite qualifying fourth for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Greg Biffle was unwilling to overstate the progress made by his Roush Fenway Racing team in the early weeks of the 2015 season.
“We’re making progress, but we’re not there yet,” said the driver of RFR’s No. 16 Ortho Ford. “We’ve found some things (wrong) and we’re fixing them as quickly as possible, but there’s still work to do.”
Asked what was reasonable to expect from him Sunday night, Biffle hedged his bet, saying a finish of 10th to 15th would meet his expectations. The Washington native far exceeded even those expectations, authoring a season-best second place finish that comprised only his second Top-10 showing of the year.
It was anything but easy, as Biffle fell back almost immediately at the drop of the green flag, running the race’s second 10 while he and crew chief Matt Puccia danced on the agonizingly fine line between loose and tight. Late in the going – when it came time to make a decisive, late-race strategy call – Biffle and Puccia elected to roll the dice, remain on the race track and stretch their fuel mileage; hopefully to the finish.
End result? A solid runner-up finish behind fellow gambler Carl Edwards and a season highlight for a Roush Fenway Racing organization that is badly in need of highlights these days.
“I’m really excited for the team and the organization,” said Biffle afterward in his customary, pull-no-punches style. “It’s been well documented how bad we’ve been running, and so it feels good. It was kind of funny, 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.
“I finished second, (but) I’m not happy. I’m upset that I didn’t win. I was close.”
The veteran RFR driver said he hopes to build on Sunday’s finish, continuing the ongoing process of rebuilding the organization from one of the lowest points in its history.
“(What) we’ve found is the setup on the race car,” he admitted. “I can’t believe that we’ve missed it for a year. We haven’t found anything to get our cars to go faster, (but) we changed some minor stuff and all of a sudden, here we are!”
He declined to make any grandiose predictions for the future, cautioning that a one-day test on the Monster Mile earlier this season had failed to produce any major performance breakthroughs.
“Dover is definitely different, so we’ll see if the changes we’ve made -- the improvements -- will continue on.”
For now, Biffle is happy with his team’s progress and committed to building on the improvements that produced Sunday’s runner-up showing.
“We’ve met our first goal -- or at least my first goal -- to run in the Top-10,” he said. “We haven’t been able to do that for a year and a half, and we ran 600 miles (tonight) right in the Top-10. That’s a huge improvement for us, so now we’ll work on trying to get in the Top-5.
“The wins will come after that.”