Aiming For History

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For one reason and one reason alone, I’m going to be a closet Greg Biffle fan for the next eight weeks. I simply love to see records broken and high standards achieved.

As a member of the motorsports media, my job is to remain impartial. But, with what’s at stake for Biffle, one can’t help but pull for him to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.

If Biffle is able to pull it off and win the big prize, he’ll become the first driver in history to win championships in each of NASCAR’s three elite divisions — the Sprint Cup Series, the Nationwide Series and the Craftsman Truck Series.

Some might like to see Jimmie Johnson win his third consecutive Sprint Cup Series crown, putting his name next to Cale Yarborough’s as the only drivers to do so. That would be pretty cool to see, too.

Some might want to see Jeff Gordon win his fifth Sprint Cup Series title, or to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Carl Edwards win their first. The latter two would certainly be a breath of fresh air for the sport.

But, let’s take a look at Biffle’s quest. Biffle won the 2000 Craftsman Truck Series championship after missing out on the title by only nine points to Jack Sprague the previous year. In 2002, he took home the top prize in the Nationwide Series with an impressive season.

That put him on a very short list of drivers who have won championships in two of NASCAR’s elite divisions. The only other driver to accomplish that is Bobby Labonte, who won the Nationwide Series title in 1991 and the Sprint Cup Series crown in 2000.

And, unless Labonte decides he wants to race for a Craftsman Truck Series championship later in his career — which seems highly unlikely — Labonte won’t turn the NASCAR hat trick. It seems highly unlikely that anyone else would, either, in the near future.

Edwards could possibly do it, if his ego would ever drive him to do double duty in the Sprint Cup Series and in the trucks. He’s already won a Nationwide Series championship (in 2007), and seems destined to win a Sprint Cup Series title sometime down the line.

Biffle’s success in NASCAR has come, as the old John Houseman Smith Barney commercial used to say, “the old fashioned way. He’s earned it.”

He spent three years in the Craftsman Truck Series, winning Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors and a title before team owner Jack Roush gave him a shot in the Nationwide Series. He won Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors in that division, too, before winning a championship.

That led to Roush putting him in the No. 16 Ford in the Sprint Cup Series. He narrowly missed turning the rookie hat trick, losing out to now teammate Jamie McMurray for the honor in 2003.

Although he hasn’t enjoyed the amount of success he had hoped for since joining the series full time in 2003, Biffle has won 14 races six years and is considered by many to be in a group of the sport’s best drivers.

When all is said and done, Biffle may not go down as one of the 50 greatest drivers in NASCAR history. But, he has put himself in a very unique position to accomplish something that might not ever be duplicated.

That’s a standard that I wouldn’t mind seeing set eight weeks from now at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2008

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