INTERVIEW: Biffle returns to the saddle

Image by LaBounty/LAT

INTERVIEW: Biffle returns to the saddle

Insights & Analysis

INTERVIEW: Biffle returns to the saddle

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As the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway inches closer, the butterflies and anticipation begin for Greg Biffle.

The SpeedyCash.com 400 (Friday, 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1) will mark Biffle’s return to NASCAR competition for the first time since 2016, when he was a part of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. But more than that, Biffle is going to climb back into a truck for the first time since making a single start in the series way back in 2004.

“It feels good,” Biffle told RACER of his impending return. “The Truck Series is so much fun to watch and participate in, and it’s where a lot of drivers cut their teeth and get an opportunity. I really, really enjoyed racing the trucks, so it’s fun to be able to come back and run a truck race.

“I’m excited about it. It’s a good opportunity. Kyle [Busch] needed someone for this race, and I was looking for the right opportunity and the right time to get back in something, and this fit that criteria. I got asked earlier in the season, and kind of got prepared when someone needed some other truck races filled in. And that deal didn’t necessarily fall through, but they got it resolved on how they were going to work it. So, (this is) helping a team out and in the right situation is really what I wanted to do.”

Alongside young guns Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland, the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra couldn’t be in better hands when it comes to having a substitute driver. With 16 wins in 81 career starts, Biffle is also a former series champion (2000). He competed full-time in the series from 1998-00.

The curious part of Biffle getting ready to go to battle is that he doesn’t even know who he’s battling. Understanding the competition is a fundamental part of a driver’s toolkit, but, just one driver who was in the ’04 race that Biffle ran is still competing in the series today: Matt Crafton.

“You know what it’s like racing with Matt Crafton; you know what it’s like racing with [Stewart] Friesen or any of these guys. Gilliland or Harrison Burton,” said Biffle. “You get that these guys race this way and this guy arcs his corner entry this way, and I’m used to racing with him and I know his tendencies. I don’t have any of that. I’ve never raced with any of these guys before. It’s kind of funny, I (had a) meeting and I don’t even know what are the top 10 trucks typically every week.

“There’s a lot to learn in a short amount of time to come back and run just one race. Let alone, I don’t know the tire and aero package, how fast the tire goes off, how hard can you drive the truck and not use up the tires. That’s a difficult task to do in one day.”

Biffle got a brief chance to get acquainted with the No.51 when he turned a few laps in practice at Texas in March. Image by Jarrett/LAT

To prepare, Biffle will stick to the basics of re-watching the last few Texas races. Drivers look for what could be expected to happen again. Every race also has its idiosyncrasies, such as a section of pit road that drivers get called for speeding or if pit road is difficult to get onto. Biffle wants to be aware of the racetrack’s quirks, and whatever will keep him from making mistakes.

“Those kinds of things I’ll be looking for, and I’ll get familiar with these guys I’m going racing with,” said Biffle. “But the only way to get that experience is to be on the racetrack with them, and I’m not going to have that opportunity until it’s game time.”

Back in March when the series visited Texas for the first time this season, Biffle got to knock the rust off, so to speak, and get his first taste of what’s to come. In the brief amount of time it took him to scuff a few sets of tires in practice for Busch, who was racing the truck that weekend, Biffle picked up some confidence. While on track, one of the things he was able to do was take note of the new configuration of Turns 1 and 2, which he has no experience with.

“So yes, it gave me a whole lot of confidence … not knowing what to expect,” Biffle said. “Certainly, I feel a lot better about just having a 10 percent idea of what it drives like.”

Regardless of how long he’s been away or that he’s only making a guest appearance this weekend, Biffle’s agenda for Friday night is simple.

“I’m going there to win and the team’s going there to win,” he said. “That’s what I want to do. That’s what 30 other guys want to do. We’re all going there for the same thing. Now will I be happy if I don’t win? Well, yes. I’ll be happy if I run in the top five. I think that would be a success coming back and not racing with these guys, not knowing the aero package and tires, and run in the top five and have a solid day. I’d get out of the truck and be relatively happy with that.

“But I won’t be satisfied if you will, unless I win. And that’s a tall order. So, I’m not going there with the mindset I’ve got to win this race because that’s the wrong mindset to have. I’m going there to try and win that race.”

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