NASCAR Michigan Notebook: Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Face Uphill Battle To Make Chase

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Greg Biffle (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Greg Biffle (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Greg Biffle is feeling the stress.

Since NASCAR introduced the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format in 2004, there has never been a playoff in NASCAR’s premier series without a Roush Fenway Racing driver in the field.

That could change this season, unless Biffle or one of his RFR teammates (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. or Trevor Bayne) manages to win one of the next four races. Currently 18th in the Sprint Cup standings, Biffle isn’t in position to earn a Chase spot on points, and Stenhouse (27th) and Bayne (28th) are even farther out of the picture.

The good news is that Biffle is the series leader among active drivers with four victories at Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

The bad news, from Roush Fenway’s standpoint, is that Sprint Cup cars this weekend are running the same high-drag package first tried last month at Indianapolis, where Biffle finished 19th, Stenhouse 35th and Bayne 40th.

Accordingly, Biffle knows the organization faces a daunting challenge in trying to maintain a perfect record of qualifying for the Chase.

“We have four races and have to win one of them to get in the Chase,” Biffle said on Friday before opening Sprint Cup practice at MIS. “We have been very fortunate to make the Chase six of the last seven years (Biffle individually).

“We feel the pressure, trust me. This is a great race track for us. We just have to get it right (on Friday) and tomorrow in practice. Our car has to have the speed to be able to pull off a win. We felt like we have been close. Charlotte, last week and Pocono were all opportunities for us. This certainly could be a weekend for us.”


Beyond planning to run the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing next year, 19-year-old phenom Erik Jones doesn’t have any specifics about his 2016 deal.

But two trips in a Sprint Cup Series car—the first in a relief role for Denny Hamlin at Bristol, the second as a sub for injured Kyle Busch at Kansas—have heightened Jones’ eagerness to drive in NASCAR’s top series.

“JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) is working on a lot of things—a lot of things I honestly don’t know,” said Jones, who is competing for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title this year. “I’m kind of waiting to see how the rest of the year progresses.

“I do know that I’ll be racing XFINITY next year, but I don’t know sponsor, number or any kind of information like that. No plans this year (for additional Sprint Cup races), but I hope I get another shot soon. It was fun.”

Jones is currently third in the Truck Series points standings, trailing leader Tyler Reddick by 16 points and two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton by five.


Based on concerns raised by drivers with respect to high temperatures in the driver compartments at Indianapolis, where the high-drag aerodynamic package was first used, NASCAR is mandating that three of the 14 available ducts channeling air into the cars remain open, and without dampers.

To Jeff Gordon, there was a noticeable improvement.

“It seems to be helping on the track,” the four-time Sprint Cup champion said. “It seems like it’s not quite as hot, but it’s going to be hotter on Sunday. But there is just not as much air moving underneath the car and around the car, which can make that engine compartment a little hotter, too.

“There are so many factors—fuel mileage, pit strategy, track position, aerodynamics, and restarts. It’s going to be wild.”


NASCAR After The Lap, sponsored by Ford and Sprint, will return to Las Vegas for its seventh-consecutive year. The event will once again take place at the Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Hotel on Dec. 3.

Part of the Champion’s Week celebration, NASCAR After The Lap gives fans the chance to see the 16 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers field questions and trade barbs in an unrestrained, off-the-cuff atmosphere.

Additionally, from Aug. 14 through Nov. 22, NASCAR fans entering the NASCAR After The Lap sweepstakes will have the opportunity to win a 2016 Ford F-150 and two winners will receive an all-inclusive VIP trip for two to Las Vegas to attend the festivities. Fans can enter by visiting

Event tickets are priced at $20 and go on sale on Sept. 21. For fans unable to attend, will offer a live stream of the event.

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