Needing a victory in one of the final four Sprint Cup races before the Chase field is set is not the optimal time to change spotters, but that’s what Greg Biffle faces beginning this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
Car owner Jack Roush confirmed on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this week that Biffle’s longtime spotter, Joel Edmonds, is no longer in that role.
“The race was not perfect at Watkins Glen between the crew chief and spotter communication and based on that we made the decision to make a change,’’ Roush said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio about Edmonds’ departure. “It was time to make a change and we’re moving on.’’
Jason Reiner, who has spotted for Chase Elliott, will be Biffle’s spotter beginning this weekend. Baffle admits there will be challenges adjusting to a new spotter while also seeking a Chase spot.
“It’s not one of the changes I was looking for, but it was time to head down a different path, I think, for the company,’’ Biffle said Friday. “It’s not preferable to start out with a new spotter, especially with Bristol next week and four races before the Chase. It’s business, and we’ll work through it the best we can to get up to speed with listening to a new guy up top.’’
Biffle enters the weekend as the winningest active driver at Michigan with four wins. His last Cup victory was at Michigan in June 2013. Baffle ranks fifth in points scored at Michigan in the seven races there since.
Biffle is 80 points – more than a full race – out of the last Chase eligible spot. He has one top-10 finish in the last 10 races.
“We understand that we have four races and we have to win one of them to get into the Chase,’’ said Biffle, who has made the Chase six of the last seven years. “We feel the pressure, trust me.’’
Joey Logano will become the second Cup driver to test the Next Gen car when he hits the track today and Tuesday at ISM Raceway.
This test of the car, which is scheduled to debut in 2021, follows the session that took place Oct. 8-9 at Richmond Raceway by Austin Dillon. Logano will drive the same car that Dillon did. That car was prepared by Richard Childress Racing.
Logano explained what he was looking forward to with the new car:
“Just understanding, for one, just some durability stuff but also understanding what works and what doesn’t. I’d like to, once we get to some point, I’d like to make some longer runs just to kind of see where things go. There are so many differences with the car that we need to understand.
“I think it’s still very much in the beginning of the process. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to getting back in a race car.
Logano said he was “curious” how the car would drive with the independent rear suspension.
“I think that will be interesting to say the least,” he said.
The next text for the car is scheduled in January at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That will mark the car’s first test on a 1.5-mile track.
Rain washes out Snowball Derby, rescheduled to Monday
Rain has postponed the 52nd Snowball Derby Super Late Model race from Sunday to Monday at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
Track officials tried several times to dry the track, only to be met with recurrences of rain.
Even with the rain issue, one bit of significant news was announced: the track is granting a special provisional exception and expanded the race day field from its normal 36-driver field to 37 drivers. The reason: veteran racer David Rogers was presented with the Derby Dedication Award for his 32 previous starts in the Snowball Derby.
Monday will make Roger’s 33rd career start in the annual pre-winter event, breaking a tie with legendary driver Red Farmer for most starts in the race.
Rogers has had a challenging year, having battled and then overcoming lymphoma. Monday’s rescheduled race will be the Florida resident’s first start behind the wheel since he was officially declared cancer-free.
“David’s Snowball Derby dedication has been unmatched in the history of this race,” Five Flags Speedway owner Tim Bryant said in a statement. “We felt like being in this race served as real motivation for David in his battle with cancer this year, and we wish him the best of luck in today’s race.”
Also, driver Justin Bonnett, grandson of late NASCAR star Neil Bonnett, is recovering in a Mobile, Alabama hospital after undergoing surgery to repair a broken leg and treat burns to his face, hands and body. Bonnett was involved in a crash and subsequent fireball created by a fuel cell that broke away from a fellow competitor’s race car during Saturday night’s Snowflake 100 race at Five Flags Speedway.
Official: The 52nd Snowball Derby Super Late Model race at 5 Flags Speedway has been postponed to Monday at 4 p.m. CT.
The grandson of late NASCAR Cup star Neil Bonnett was seriously injured in a crash during Saturday night’s Snowflake 100 late model race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
Justin Bonnett suffered a compound fracture of the fibula and tibula and burns to his hands, face and neck in a fiery wreck that prompted him to be transferred to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama, according to a post on his team’s Facebook page.
According to various media reports, Bonnett was running 26th on Lap 54 when he was unable to avoid and made contact with the spinning car of Jarrett Parker.
Driving the No. 12, the same number his late grandfather carried for much of his Cup career, the younger Bonnett’s car was engulfed in flames after the fuel tank on Parker’s car became dislodged and caught fire, spilling fuel and flames across the racetrack. Here is a video of the incident, courtesy of Joshua Nelms, who shot the video, and Sidedrafting Productions, which posted it.
Bonnett’s car came to a stop on the apron between turns three and four, where he was quickly pulled from his car by safety crews, who also extinguished the fire. The race was red-flagged for a lengthy period of time afterward.
According to media reports, the 26-year-old Bonnett was taken by ambulance to a local Pensacola hospital, where he was briefly treated before he was airlifted to a hospital in Mobile.
It was upon arrival at the Mobile hospital that it was determined Bonnett would undergo late night surgery, according to several posts on his Facebook page, written by his aunt and Neil’s daughter, Kristen Bonnett Ray.
Later Sunday morning, Bonnett’s aunt posted this update on his condition:
Justin Bonnett still lives in Hueytown, Ala., home of the famous “Alabama Gang,” of which his grandfather was part of, as well as Bobby and Donnie Allison, Red Farmer, Jimmy Means, the late Davey Allison, Hut Stricklin and David Bonnett, Justin’s father.
The Snowflake 100 was a preliminary race for Sunday’s main event, the 52nd annual Snowball Derby. The 300-lap race starts at 2 p.m. ET.
Here are several additional posts on Bonnett’s wreck from social media:
Red Flag:"Everyone ran INTO the fire to make sure Justin Bonnett got out. Many brave people in the short track community. Justin was alert and asking for water, his leg is broken." pic.twitter.com/TmPByUvW0a
Hendrick Motorsports dropped the hammer with Byron’s Southern 500 scheme, almost a direct copy of a car Cole Trickle drove in the movie Days of Thunder, which Hendrick Motorsports advised on the making of.
City Chevrolet is a real car dealership in Charlotte, North Carolina, that Rick Hendrick owns.