Greg Biffle

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Truck Series practice report from Texas Motor Speedway

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Austin Hill posted a top speed of 185.816 mph in the final Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hill recorded 28 laps around 1.5-mile track. He also had the best 10-lap average at 182.020 mph.

The top five was completed by Brett Moffitt (185.778 mph), Brennan Poole (185.452), Stewart Friesen (185.408) and Todd Gilliland (185.338).

Kyle Busch was sixth fastest.

 

Click here for the speed chart.

First practice

Johnny Sauter was fastest in the first practice session

Sauter posted a top speed of 185.580 mph. He recorded 16 laps in the session.

He was followed in the top five by his ThorSport Racing teammates Grant Enfinger (185.376 mph) and Ben Rhodes (184.489).

The top five was completed by Busch (183.723) and Moffitt (183.082).

Greg Biffle, who will race for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the June 7 Truck race at Texas, made 14 laps in the session in Busch’s No. 51 truck. His fastest lap was 181.616 mph, which was good for P13 before he was replaced by Busch.

The session was stopped once for a fire in the No. 1 truck of Bayley Currey. Currey was able to exit his truck.

Click here for the speed chart.

 

Greg Biffle to make NASCAR return in June Truck Series race in Texas

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Former Cup Series driver Greg Biffle will return to NASCAR in three months, competing for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the June 7 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

To prepare for the race, Biffle will share Kyle Busch’s No. 51 Toyota during practice today at the 1.5-mile track.

Busch will drive the No. 51 for a majority of the two practice sessions, which run from 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. ET and 6:05 -6:55 p.m. ET. There is no TV coverage.

Biffle, 49, hasn’t competed in NASCAR since the end of the 2016 season when he parted ways with Roush Fenway Racing.

“As we were putting the finishing touches on our driver lineup for this year, we found ourselves looking for someone to drive the No. 51 Tundra in the June race and we are fortunate to be putting a driver of Greg’s caliber behind the wheel,” Busch said in a press release. “I’ve been friends with Greg for a long time and we’ve always joked about how it would be cool for him to drive trucks again. When this opportunity came about the talks got serious and we both decided it was smart decision.

“Not only is he capable of stepping right in and getting another win for the No. 51 team as we work towards the Owner’s Championship, he will also be an experienced teammate for Harrison (Burton) and Todd (Gilliland) to lean on that weekend as they try to secure a spot in the playoffs and pursue another Truck Series Driver’s Championship for our organization. Once we worked things out with Greg to race for us in the June event, we made a last-minute decision for him to get in the truck and make some laps in practice today and began working on getting all of the proper approvals and paperwork completed so that he is able to do so.”

A 16-time winner in the Truck Series and the 2000 series champion, Biffle hasn’t competed in a truck since the 2004 season finale in Miami. He won at Texas in 2000.

“I’ve always said that I would return to NASCAR in the right situation and when Kyle and I started talking about that KBM needed a driver for the June Texas race I felt like this was the right opportunity to return to the track and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be able to drive such good equipment,” Biffle said in a press release. “I started my career in the Truck Series and it was one of the greatest times of my life, so it’s going to be a lot of fun to get back behind the wheel of a truck.”

Biffle said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” that he and Busch had talks after the 2016 season about a possible full-time ride in the Truck Series, but that he wasn’t ready for that commitment at the time.

Biffle’s sponsor for the June 7 race will be announced later.

Roush Fenway Racing won’t field Xfinity Series team in 2019

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Roush Fenway Racing will not field a team in the Xfinity Series for the first time in more than a quarter century, RFR President Steve Newmark confirmed Wednesday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Roush Fenway Racing first ran in the Xfinity Series in 1993 with Mark Martin, who won seven of 14 starts that season. The organization has won a record 138 Xfinity races. Roush Fenway Racing also has captured five Xfinity driver titles — Greg Biffle in 2002, Carl Edwards in 2007, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011-12 and Chris Buescher in 2015.

Newmark told Claire B. Lang on SiriusXM’s “Dialed In” that the focus is on strengthening the Cup program with Stenhouse and Ryan Newman, who joins the team to drive the No. 6 car this season.

“We’re going to focus exclusively on both of those Cup teams (in 2019) and realized we needed to allocate all of our resources there,” Newmark told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ve fluctuated on the number of the teams in the Xfinity Series and a lot of that has been based on need. We’ve been four, we’ve been one, and I think (2019) we’ve decided on how we’re positioned we’ll step out of that for a year and see how that goes and just focus all the resources, all the engineering, all the wind tunnel on making sure that we perform to our expectations at the Cup level.”

Asked if sponsorship was a key factor in the decision, Newmark said: “There’s no doubt that sponsorship plays a factor in everything that we do. For better or worse that’s the way NASCAR is structured right now and sponsorship is the lifeblood for the teams. My hope is that at some point in time we continue to evolve to a model that moves a little bit way from that. But that was just a factor. We had a great run with Lilly Diabetes, five full seasons, we handled the Ford driver development program last year and the Xfinity Series is something that Jack (Roush) has always been passionate about.

“But when we look at where we are and what we needed to focus on, we just felt like that all the resources should be dedicated to Cup. We’ve always used Xfinity as a feeder series … for Cup, and when we look at our drivers, we’ve got those guys locked up and we think that they’re going to be with us for a number of years. We look at the engineering talent, we look at our crew chiefs, and we kind of felt like we had all the pieces of the puzzle in place and so really what we need to do is go out and execute at the Cup level and we’ll see where we end up in Xfinity in the future.”

Last season, Roush Fenway Racing fielded two full-time Xfinity teams: Ryan Reed in the No. 16 and Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric and Ty Majeski splitting time in the No. 60 car as Ford development drivers. Reed finished 11th in the points. 

ISC president cites ‘issue with star power’ for attendance drop

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — International Speedway Corp. President John Saunders cites “an issue with star power” as a contributing factor to the company’s attendance decline.

“All in all, the attendance was a little softer than expected,” Saunders said Thursday morning during ISC’s conference call with investor analysts to discuss results from the second quarter. “We still have an issue with star power. Hopefully this stable of young drivers coming along will start to win and build their brands.”

Ryan Blaney, 24, says he’s tiring of the discussion.

“This whole young guys need to win now thing is getting old,’’ Blaney said Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. “We’re trying. We’re trying our hardest. It’s not like I go out there and I’m happy for fifth every single week. Every other guy under the age of 25 I’ll just say is the same way.

“It’s not a competition here between young guys and old guys. It’s a competition between 39 other cars and yourself. No matter what your age is, experience level, everyone is trying to accomplish the same goal.

“I think it would be healthy for the sport if we see just more variation in general of winners. How many winners this year? Six. Come on now. You can’t just put that on the young guys for not winning. That’s a lot of other people that aren’t winning too.”

Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon said he’s not bothered by Saunders’ comment but raises a question himself.

“I just want to know what we do about it,” Dillon said Thursday. “How do you move forward with that because the guys that are in this sport are talented enough to win. We haven’t made any changes this year to the packages that we’re running. Each and every week you probably can guess … who the top three guys are probably going to be. I bet if everybody had to bet their house on it, they’d take between three guys right now, maybe four. I bet he would too.”

Bubba Wallace, 24, wasn’t thrilled with Saunders’ comment.

“There’s a lot of boring stuff that we still have that has been the same thing at ISC tracks that we could update to get more fans out,” Wallace said. “It kind of goes hand in hand from us behind the wheel to people that are here hosting us. It’s a group effort.”

ISC stated that attendance for its six Cup weekends in the second quarter was down about 10 percent. Those six events were races at Phoenix, Auto Club Speedway, Martinsville, Richmond, Talladega and Kansas. Other tracks operated by ISC include Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

ISC stated that it had an increase in attendance with the Richmond event.

ISC cited weather, construction at ISM Raceway (Phoenix) and “a general trend of lower sales at live sporting events” for impacting revenue.

Saunders said on the call that “these headwinds are further impacted by recent retirements of star drivers.”

Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are among drivers who have exited the car in recent years.

Only two of the first 17 Cup races this season has been won by a driver under the age of 30. Dillon (Daytona 500) and Joey Logano (Talladega) were both 27 when they won. They’ve since had birthdays.

Former champions Kevin Harvick (five wins), Kyle Busch (five) and Martin Truex Jr. (three) have combined to win 76.5 percent of the races this season. They’ve also combined to lead 47.2 percent of the laps this year and won 48.6 percent of the stages.

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Carl Edwards ‘enjoying life’ on the farm

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Former driver Carl Edwards says he’s “having fun, enjoying life” and doesn’t have plans to return to racing.

Edwards talked with host Claire B. Lang on “Dialed In” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday night.

Edwards shocked the sport when he announced in January 2017 that he was leaving. He returned to his home in Columbia, Missouri.

“I’m basically just doing what I told everybody I was doing, spent a lot of time with friends and family and traveling a lot, farming a lot and really enjoying it,’’ Edwards told Lang.

Asked about any return to racing, Edwards said: “I don’t have any plans to come back. I do miss a lot of people.’’

Asked about any potential political ambitions, Edwards said: “You never know. I think like probably almost every person listening to this channel right now, I really believe in, I believe in America, I believe the Constitution is the set of rules that let us have all this success and freedom. I care about that being there for generations to come. If sometime in the future there is a chance for me to help that cause, try to lend some assistance to not letting us get off track, then heck yeah, I would consider, but, no, there is not some campaign started. I’m not going to be doing anything anytime soon.’’

Edwards made his Cup debut in August 2004 at Michigan International Speedway, finishing 10th in a race won by Greg Biffle.

Edwards won 28 Cup races in 445 starts. Every retired driver who has at least as many wins and is eligible for the Hall of Fame has been inducted. Jeff Gordon is eligible for the first time this year. Edwards and Tony Stewart will be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration next year.

Edwards’ 28 wins includes the 2015 Coca-Cola 600 and 2015 Southern 500. He won four Cup races at Bristol and Texas, his highest victory total at any track. Edwards also won 38 Xfinity races in 245 starts.

At the end of the interview Wednesday, Edwards was asked if he had any final words for fans.

“I think I would just say thank you to everybody,’’ he said. “Thank you to the fans, the competitors and everyone, the tracks and NASCAR. That part of my life was just spectacular. I wouldn’t trade one second of it for anything. And then I would say, I just hope everybody out there is enjoying what they’re doing and you’re getting the most out of every day and really having fun.’’

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