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You Gotta Believe in Biffle

by Cathy Elliott
Friday, September 26, 2008


Greg Biffle lets his right foot do the talking
On our local radio sports talk program, we talk a lot about NASCAR.

We spend several minutes each week analyzing Jeff Gordon's performance in the most recent race, handicapping his chances for the next event, and trying to decide whether the four-time champion may be, in the complicated technical term listeners like to use, toast.

I believe not.

We then spend several more minutes talking about anything remotely related to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I truly believe that if fans could get information on the number of freckles Earnhardt has on the back of his left hand, it would generate a flurry of phone calls ranging from whether it's bad luck to have an odd number of concentrated melanin spots on a particular body part, to the potential aerodynamic effects of beauty marks in general.  There's a hot topic for you.

We then move on to discuss whether Earnhardt is an overrated driver and whether Rick Hendrick made a mistake in hiring him.

Again, I believe not.

The mention of Rick Hendrick's name opens the now-familiar Kyle Busch can of worms. The tone of these callers has changed from disbelieving to disparaging recently, coinciding with the precipitous downturn of Busch's prospects since the onset of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. "Kyle Busch" and "fan favorite" are terms you rarely hear in the same sentence. Some folks want to contend that Busch's 2008 season was a flash in the pan, otherwise known as fool's gold, and now the luster will just fade away.

Don't even be tempted to believe that. It's delusional.

We talk about the Chase as it unfolds, and discuss various drivers' hopes as they rise, or plummet, according to the vagaries of each week's race. Fans are very interested in whether or not Jimmie Johnson has what it takes – the perfect combination of equipment, skill and luck – to win his third consecutive championship.

I don't believe I'd want to bet against him.

We're in South Carolina, so some guy will invariably call and remind us that only one driver in history has ever won three consecutive Cup Series championships – Cale Yarborough. We don't really need this reminder, as no child is allowed to graduate from high school in the Palmetto State without first demonstrating that he knows and fully understands the significance of this piece of NASCAR history. Still, we never tire of discussing it.

This in turn always leads to the comment that if Yarborough and fellow legendary South Carolinian David Pearson were driving today, they'd show all these young whippersnappers like Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin a thing or two about "real racing".

I'm not exactly sure what to think about that theory, but I absolutely believe it would be a ton of fun to watch.

Someone we don't talk a whole lot about is Greg Biffle. This has become a real puzzler for me, so I posed the question recently, and this is what I learned:  We don't dedicate entire segments to Greg Biffle because he simply isn't a guy who draws much attention to himself. Once you get past the major surface facts – he drives the No. 16 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, he has won a couple of championships in NASCAR's support series, he made some pretty funny Subway commercials a couple years back – fans don't really know all that much about Biffle. Given his performance in the championship Chase so far, however, he is currently forcing millions of eyes to swivel and focus in his direction.

So here, for storage in your NASCAR information banks, are a few items of Biffle interest. (Friendly suggestion: You might want to memorize this stuff, in order to seem knowledgeable when discussing the top-ranked drivers of the 2008 season. I believe he'll be right up there.)

Biffle is the only driver in NASCAR history to win both the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championships, so if he wins the Sprint Cup Series title, he'll become the first guy to accomplish that feat, too. His Truck Series title in 2000 was the first NASCAR championship in any series for Roush Racing. His team is seldom embroiled in any type of mechanical controversy.

Biffle was "discovered" and recommended to Roush by the late racing champion and broadcaster Benny Parsons. At age 38, he is one of the more seasoned drivers on the circuit. He has won 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in his career. He finished second in the 2005 driver standings, behind champion Tony Stewart.

Biffle once guest-starred on an episode of the sitcom "Yes, Dear," playing one of the less flashy roles – himself. He played a NASCAR driver moonlighting in a local tractor-racing series on the show.

He is an avid animal lover and, along with his wife Nicole, has established the Greg Biffle Foundation. The Foundation's primary goal is to improve the well being of animals, by contributing generously to the Humane Society, no-kill shelters, spay and neuter clinics, and the Animal Adoption League.

NASCAR is a loud, spectacular sport. It certainly doesn't hurt a guy to have a famous name, movie-star looks or an athletic backflip going for him. But sometimes, the quieter guys, the ones who aren't constantly hounded by cameras and who like to keep their engines wide open and their mouths shut, can give us plenty to talk about.

Greg Biffle is a good sport, a good guy and, most importantly for this discussion, an extremely good driver. There is also a good possibility he could assume the role of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion after the final lap at Homestead-Miami is run in November and the 2008 season is complete.

Could this really happen? You'd better believe it could.

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