Greg Biffle smiled when he was asked to recall the memories of his last experience at the Sprint Cup race now dubbed the NRA 500. In an instant, he cobbled together a mental slide show of images.
“Spraying that champagne. Being in victory lane. The cowboy hat. The guns,” said the Vancouver, Wash., driver.
For Biffle, the night of April 14, 2012, in Fort Worth, Texas, was one he won’t soon forget. Biffle woke up that morning 559 days removed from his last victory, which occurred in Kansas in October 2010. Biffle desperately wanted to end the 49-race winless streak, but he wasn’t tormented by it. He could take solace that, at the time, his name was at the top of the Sprint Cup standings.
He also knew he’d had success at Texas Motor Speedway, having triumphed there in the same event in 2005. Biffle enjoyed competing at the track, and he’s developed a firm understanding of its idiosyncrasies, its contours and the way the tires grip the pavement during the race.
“I just like the challenges of this place,” Biffle said.
If there was a race where he could achieve the result he wanted, this seemed to be the one. But when the green flag dropped, Biffle soon discovered he would be in for a fight, dueling with perhaps the sport’s best driver, Jimmie Johnson.
That night, Johnson led 156 laps — the most in the race. Biffle was lurking behind him as the field motored along in single file. With about 32 laps to go, he made his move and eventually maneuvered his No. 16 Ford past Johnson’s car. He clung to the lead through the finish, winning for the 17th time on the Sprint Cup circuit.
“Greg has always run really strong here,” fellow driver Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw said.
That has certainly been true in his past nine Sprint Cup races at TMS, where Biffle has finished in the top 10 in each of them.
Biffle is still learning how to handle Ford’s version of the Gen-6 model that NASCAR introduced this year, and he acknowledged it’s been a gradual process.
“The car’s acting different every place we go,” he said.