LOUDON, N.H. – Greg Biffle led the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings for 14 weeks during the 26-race regular season, including the last three weeks leading up to the Chase cut-off race at Richmond International Speedway.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver was given little in the way of a reward for his time atop the points during the regular season when he finished ninth at Richmond and was seeded fifth in the 12-man Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. The Chase will resume with its second stage in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Speaking at the Chase media day in Chicago last week, Biffle expressed some misgivings about the lack of recognition for the regular-season points leader.
“The way I look at it, and it’s not an unbiased opinion because I was leading the points,” Biffle said, “but I think anyone would agree to say the guy who wins the points for the regular season gets a three-point bonus, like a win, because, technically, it’s a win, right?
“I don’t think anybody would be against that saying, ‘Oh, that’s outlandish’ or ‘That’s too much,’ because it’s basically a win, in my eyes.”
In an attempt to put a greater emphasis on winning during the regular season, NASCAR officials awarded drivers three bonus points for each regular-season victory. Bonus points were applied to a driver’s points total, which was reset at the start of the Chase. Denny Hamlin, who recorded a series-high four wins during the regular season, was awarded 12 bonus points and climbed six spots when he was installed as the top seed based on his 2,012 points total.
“You got to remember, we have driven ourselves to the points format where winning is all we care about in the first 26 races, because that’s how we seed the Chase,” Biffle said. “Well it is, and it isn’t. It’s a double-edged sword, because you have to have the points to get into the Chase, but then the wins are the only things that seed us in the Chase.”
So what would be Biffle’s recommendation to address the incongruity?
“I think there’s two issues: one is the guy who is third in points should have a bit of a reward over the guy who is ninth in points, I really do,” Biffle said, noting how Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski, who had a combined nine wins among them, were tied for third, nine points ahead of winless Kevin Harvick.
“[The No. 3 seed] has proven through his team and his consistency and competition-wise on the track to be better than [the No. 9 seed],” Biffle said. “But what happens is we lose our memory and we think, ‘Oh well, now they’re points racing; they’re not going for the wins anymore,’ and that’s why we came up with this points system, so I think you can have both.”
Doug Coby said that if he had needed it on the final lap of the Whelen Modified Tour Race, he had a strategy to ensure that he took the checkered flag. As he put it, he would just “drive like a big jerk” as the race’s leader.
Fortunately for Coby – and for the rest of the field in Saturday’s race – it didn’t come to that. Coby crossed the finish line first, by 1.846 seconds, though it was under caution, for his seventh career win and his first at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coby took over the points lead in the process.
“We won the big race,” Coby said. “To come to this stage, it’s a really unbelievable feeling.”
Coby saw Ron Silk coming up behind him at the end and said he didn’t want to become his latest victim with third-place finisher Silk “kind of the master of last-lap passes here.”
There were some hard hits in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race on Saturday afternoon, with three drivers – Ben Kennedy, CJ Faison, and Dylan Presnell – transported to a local hospital for further evaluation after a crash with eight laps to go. All three were awake and alert two hours after the race concluded. After the track was cleared, Kyle Larson, driving the Rev Racing Toyota, survived to win the race over Corey LaJoie and Darrell Wallace Jr. Larson is the leading rookie in the K&N Pro Series East. Tony Stewart was the first person to congratulate Larson upon finishing the race.
In the final practice before the Sylvania 300 on Sunday, the Toyotas were the fastest cars in the field, and the Joe Gibbs Toyotas the fastest of those. Three of the top four fastest cars were driven by Joe Gibbs racers – Denny Hamlin (132.053 miles per hour, 1st), Joey Logano (131.683, 2nd), and Kyle Busch (131.207, 4th). Eight of the top 12 fastest times were contributed by drivers in the Chase. Jeff Gordon, who won the pole on Friday, recorded the 15th fastest time at 130.770. … Ray Parent, from Tiverton, R.I., took the checkered flag in the ACT Invitational, a 50-lap race that capped racing on Saturday.Continued...