It’s all coming back to Greg Biffle.
After two months of slow “ramping up and ramping up,” Biffle’s return to NASCAR competition has arrived.
The 49-year-old retiree will be employed once again this week as he drives Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. It will be Biffle’s first NASCAR race since the 2016 Cup Series finale in Miami.
“Yesterday I got my uniform on, got in the truck, helmet on, radio plugged in,” Biffle said Tuesday of his race week routine. “I had a debrief meeting a week or so ago with (crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) …. discussed what to expect, how we’re going to do practice and what not. It’s been fun to get a chance to get back into the routine so to speak.”
It won’t be the former Roush Fenway Racing’s driver first time on a NASCAR track since 2016. In March, he got to the chance to shake down Busch’s truck during practice at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I just really got an idea of what the track looked like and how his truck drove,” Biffle said. “I think that’s a huge advantage to help me for this weekend and to kind of have an idea what it drives like.”
And how does it compare to the truck Biffle last drove in 2004 in Miami?
Well, it has been 15 years.
“To be perfectly honest with you I don’t even remember what they drove like in 2004,” Biffle said. “It’s been so long ago. But I will say this: it felt more like what I’m used to driving, which was a Cup car. They’re kind of on bump stops (in the suspension), more coil bound springs, which is the way the Cup car was in ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08 when I had a lot of success at the Cup level. They drive similar to that. So it was kind of no surprise to me.”
When it comes to Texas, the 1.5-mile track is one of Biffle’s favorites and he said it was one of the “deciding factors” when he chose to compete in the race. He won there once in a Truck in 2000 and twice in Cup.
But the track has changed since Biffle’s last race there. It was repaved in 2017 and the banking in Turn 1 and 2 was reduced by four degrees and the width of the racing surface was expanded from 60 to 80 feet.
Also, the track applied a traction agent in those turns to help improve competition (but it will not this weekend). The traction agent threw Biffle off in his first time out on the track.
“Whatever they’re doing kind of looks like the (racing) line, the groove if you will,” Biffle told reporters in March. “When I come down the frontstretch and I’m kind of looking up I see that black line and so I’m like, ‘OK, that’s kind of the groove.’ Then all of a sudden you realize the corner’s over there, you’re about passed it. It took me a lap or two to figure it out and get my bearings.”
A trophy in his first race in three years isn’t the only motivation Biffle has for Friday night. The race is the first of three in a row NASCAR is calling the “Triple Truck Challenge.”
Should Biffle pull off the win, he and his team would pocket a $50,000 bonus from Gander Outdoors.
“I’ll tell you I haven’t worked in three years, so that would be great for the bank account,” Biffle said.
And what about after Friday night? In March Biffle said he “could be talked into more races, maybe.”
But Biffle said Tuesday “I don’t know exactly what I want to do.
“I’m using this opportunity to get back in the seat, work out Kyle’s schedule for him so he has a driver for this event, which he really needed,” Biffle continued. “Certainly all options are open for me. I said earlier I doubt whether I’d do a full-time Xfinity or Truck (season). I think I’m still on that page, although in the right circumstance I would consider a short return, maybe a year or two. I’m not ruling that out I guess.”