Icommentary:/I Biffle Set For 2002

11359Jpg
Of course, Greg Biffle isn’t going to admit it. Jack Roush would never let on about it.

But don’t think for a second that the two of them aren’t giddy about the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series season. The reason? Even though it’s virtually projected to be a two-horse race, Biffle has to be considered as the preseason favorite to win next year’s Busch Series championship.

“There’s a lot of teams out there that can win in the Busch Series next year,” Roush said. “We certainly believe we’re one of those, and we’re going to build on what we’ve done this year and hopefully be more successful next year than what we were this year.”

Such a response is expected from Roush. But consider the facts:

2001 champion Kevin Harvick is gone, concentrating his efforts solely on the Winston Cup Series next year. 2000 titlist Jeff Green is also gone, and will run only a limited schedule in the Busch Series next season.

Give Jason Keller his due. The driver of the No. 57 Albertson’s Ford has finished second and third, respectively, in the title chase the past two years, and he’s certainly capable of winning a championship.

It’s not likely to happen, however, given the fact that Keller won only one race this past season and hasn’t won more than two races in a season (1999) during his entire eight-year Busch Series career.

As a driver, Elton Sawyer is capable of winning a championship, but his team has closed its doors and he’s currently searching for a job. Even if he finds a ride, it won’t be a championship-caliber team.

Tony Raines and Mike McLaughlin can make a run, but Raines has never won a Busch Series race and McLaughlin has never had the consistency to challenge for a championship.

Scott Riggs is stepping into a tremendous situation with the No. 10 Nesquik Taurus at ppc Racing, but rookie drivers seldom win series championships, especially at NASCAR’s elite levels. The equipment is there, but it’s going to take a while for the driver and his new team to mesh together into a winning combination.

Veteran Jeff Purvis is another driver who should put together a solid season with the No. 37 Brewco Motorsports Chevy team. Purvis, however, has never been a consistent winner in the Busch Series before, and the No. 37 team struggled mightily during the course of the 2001 campaign.

For only the second time in five years, sponsor AC/Delco may find itself out of the championship picture. The No. 2 Chevy will have rookie Johnny Sauter behind the wheel. Although Sauter is an up-and-coming talent, see above, with Riggs.

The above teams are all top-five contending teams, but again, not of championship caliber, with the exception of Keller’s.

Which, of course, brings us back to Biffle and the No. 60 Grainger team.

Sure, Biffle and the Grainger team had its problems last season, but that’s typical for a so-called rookie team. It was their first year in the Busch Series, but this group has been together now for four years, including three in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Biffle won CTS rookie-of-the-year honors in 1998, finished second in the points in 1999 and won a championship in 2000.

This past season, he won the rookie-of-the-year award in the Busch Series, tying Harvick with a season-high five victories while scoring two poles, 16 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes in 33 starts.

Biffle did bend some sheet metal, but again, that was just his inexperience showing through while competing in a series for the first time. He’ll learn from his mistakes, and he won’t make the same mistakes again.

Just look at his track record. Biffle didn’t win a race during his rookie season in the truck series, but he came back to post an incredible nine victories his second season while losing the title to Jack Sprague on the final weekend. In 2000, he won five races and cruised to the championship.

Biffle gets better as time goes on, and 2002 shouldn’t be any different. Unless absolutely nothing goes right for the team next year and more bad luck befalls the team than has ever befallen any team, then Biffle should be standing tall as the champion.

“We’re really excited about next year,” Biffle said. “Basically this year was a school of hard knocks for us. We didn’t expect to come in and set the world on fire, but we did surpass our own expectations. We got off to a great start this past year and it just kept going. We made a lot of mistakes and there certainly is room for improvement, but we’re going to be able to learn from those mistakes and try to put them behind us.

“I guess you can say that we are probably one of the teams to beat next year, but you never want to say something like that because it can come back to bite you. We are, however, looking forward to a pretty successful year, and our goal is to win the championship. I think we’ll be disappointed if we don’t do that before we move up to Winston Cup.”

Photos

  • Kahne Edges Smith at Daytona
  • Kahne Edges Smith at Daytona
  • Kahne Edges Smith at Daytona
  • Kahne Edges Smith at Daytona
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Gardner Denver 200
  • Menard Back in Victory Lane
  • Menard Back in Victory Lane
  • Menard Back in Victory Lane
  • Menard Back in Victory Lane
  • Menard Back in Victory Lane
  • Menard Back in Victory Lane
  • Menard Back in Victory Lane
  • Menard Back in Victory Lane
  • Buckle Up 200
  • Buckle Up 200
  • Buckle Up 200
  • Larson Captures Charlotte Win
  • Larson Captures Charlotte Win
  • Larson Captures Charlotte Win
  • Larson Captures Charlotte Win
  • Larson Captures Charlotte Win
  • © 2014 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites